“We have to shift with the time”: Our Changing Library

It’s Monday morning. Students are spread out at the tables to socialize or do last minute homework. There are students using the study rooms to create podcasts. Many people are on their phones. There is even a class taking advantage of the reference room, making movies. What you don’t see, however, is people checking out books.

The library is no longer a space where people go just to study or collect a book. It has become the place to hang out, create, and explore. Librarians recognize that as technology is becoming more advanced there are many opportunities to better the library space.

One of U-32’s librarians, Jill Abair, has many ideas to help reshape the library.

“Technology is making our role even more necessary,” Jill said, “because of the change not only in the equitable access to the ability to create things but also because the internet is so vast.”

Jill pulled out a map of the library and pointed out all of the technological advances that have already been made, from the podcast rooms to the spaces available for creating movies with green screens.

“And if you look here,” Jill said, pointing at the map where all of the books are. “This is about ¾ of our space that is wasted.” She explained that the space where all of the books are is space that could be used for other activities for learning.

In Jill’s vision for the library, there would be more community members in the space, teaching students about all kinds of subjects. She has ideas about getting a 3D printer or even a sewing machine to support students’ abilities to learn all kinds of interesting stuff that they otherwise aren’t learning in a classroom.

“Librarians are like the keeper of books,” said Owen Myka-Smith, a Junior at U-32. But even without books, he said, “people could still be immersed in the same stories.”

The librarian at the East Calais Elementary School, Stacey Rupp, said that her supervisor once referred to the library as “the living room of the school.”

Stacey explained that libraries are the center of education, it’s the place where people go for information when they are lacking the knowledge that they need for just about anything.

“This library, the way that it looks, is not going to exist in 50 years,” Stacey said. “It will look very different but that is the job of a library. That’s the job of the information and media is that we are the access point, so we have to shift with the time.”

We can’t know for sure what the future holds for libraries, but it’s undeniable that there are changes being made.

“I have to think about what’s my purpose?” said Stacey. “Is my purpose that I want to teach kids the technology skills or is my purpose that I want kids to access writing?”