23 January 2019 Blogs

Collaborative Learning in Libraries

Intro Copy

"Tell me, and I will listen. Show me, and I will understand. Involve me, and I will learn." --Lakota Native American Proverb

Libraries have long been a place for anyone and everyone in a community to have access to knowledge and learning. While they used to be huge repositories of printed materials and books, social changes and technological innovations have made limitless amounts of various content available online. With support from the community and corporate partners, many libraries are now reinventing themselves by adapting their spaces to offer more collaborative learning opportunities. A few examples of libraries across the U.S. that support collaborative learning programs are highlighted below. Public Libraries  Chattanooga, Tennessee, Public Library "The 4th floor is a public laboratory and educational facility with a focus on information, design, technology, and the applied arts. The more than 12,000 square foot space hosts equipment, expertise, programs, events, and meetings that work within this scope. While traditional library spaces support the consumption of knowledge by offering access to media, the 4th floor is unique because it supports the production, connection, and sharing of knowledge by offering access to tools and instruction." Tempe, Arizona, Public Library "Our mission is to promote and support the Tempe Public Library's rich resources in order to encourage lifelong learning and facilitate community involvement." Community collaboration and citizen involvement is a key part of the Tempe Connections program. The library offers special opportunities to bring families with young children together and to build social connections between older adults, young parents and relevant community services. More than two dozen community organizations and educational institutions partnered with the city of Tempe to participate in the planning and delivery of program offerings.  Boston, Massachusetts, Public Library "The Kirstein Business Library & Innovation Center (KBLIC) invites media creators, innovators, job seekers, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, investors, coders, and makers to our new space. Business-minded individuals can enjoy an inviting and modern space with over 5,000 square feet of printed resources, flexible seating, innovative technology to conduct business research, and dedicated areas for collaborating on projects with colleagues or developing a new career skill." Salt Lake City, Utah, Public Library The library's mission is to promote "free and open access to information, materials and services to all members of the community to advance knowledge, foster creativity, encourage the exchange of ideas, build community and enhance the quality of life." Its location at Library Square, includes locally owned and operated shops and retail services. The library's contract with the retailers requires them to be community-focused. More than 1,000 other groups and organizations meet at SLCPL, and most partner to share programming, training, broadcasting and event planning. Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, Public Library Pelican Rapids, in rural northern Minnesota, had a population of approximately 2000 in the early 1990s. After a turkey processing plant opened there that employed a large influx of Bosnian, Latino, Somali and other immigrants that spoke little English, the library remade itself as a multicultural learning center. Immigrant patrons take advantage of the library's computer-based ESL classes, check out foreign language books and videos, and use the free internet service to read foreign newspapers online. Immigrant services include multilingual story time for children and the Readmobile that visits trailer parks in the area. Nashville, Tennessee, Public Library The library and their community partners provide a wide variety of programs in literacy, culture, public affairs, education, design and local history. "We invest in programs that help the library empower our community, ignite children's imaginations, and foster lifelong learning throughout Nashville. Thanks to private donations, sponsorships, and partnerships, we are able to provide our neighborhoods with vital opportunities at no cost to participants, cultivating a better future for everyone." School Libraries Francis W. Parker School, Chicago, Illinois This private independent coeducational day school's library "hosts collaborative projects that allow students to engage in experiences that encourage creativity, collaboration, and adaptability….Working collaboratively with others across grade levels, building mastery year after year, students develop the skills and mindset to impact their school and the world as thinkers, doers and makers."  Jesuit High School, Portland, Oregon The Catholic college-preparatory school's 7,100 square foot Clark Library was completely renovated in September 2016 to create more collaborative work areas for their students. Principal and English teacher Paul Hogan said, "We were ready to redesign the space to create more flexible, informal seating arrangements and increase opportunities for collaborative learning." To make more space, librarians eliminated about 30 percent of printed materials, since many are available on online databases. The library still has quiet study spaces, but there is also an open, social research environment.  Kent Denver School, Englewood, Colorado The library at the private nonprofit coeducational college-preparatory school for grades 6-12 is the "information and innovation hub of the school, and it is also an interactive and collaborative learning commons." The space includes technology experiences (virtual reality, laser cutting, 3d printing, maker supplies), research and technology help (information and digital literacy instruction, 30 databases for academic research, access to 110,000 e-books), as well as books and magazines.

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These are just a few of the modern libraries that are encouraging and facilitating active learning by creating new spaces and programs that support collaboration between citizens, students, teachers, librarians, and their local, and even global communities. Want to learn more about collaborative learning in libraries? Here are a few resources to get you started: Creating Effective Environments for Collaborative Learning (RLPS Architects) 7 Things You Should Know About Collaborative Learning Spaces (Educause) Spotlight on Collaborative Learning Spaces (School Planning & Management) Key Features of Collaborative Library Spaces (Demco Interiors) Making Spaces Committed to Learning, Creation and Collaboration (Carnegie Mellon University) Does your library support collaborative learning? How? Tweet us at #ProQuest.  Subscribe via email to Share This and never miss a post.