By: Erin Bassano, journalism student
The Bethel High School Library Media Center is receiving a lot of upgrades this year, beginning with its name. The newly titled “Library Learning Commons” will become the central hub of all collaborative and capstone work this year, with specific focus on creating a meeting space that will have a free-flowing atmosphere in order to promote learning outside the classroom.
One of the recent changes in the LLC’s space is a new Tech Lab that has taken the place of the old Mac Lab. Directly attached to the LLC, Room 316 has become a conference room equipped with a 50” HDTV with Apple TV and a laptop that is available for projecting projects and presentations. This room will be accessible to all staff and students, and can be signed out for use by teachers during and after the school day.
Students will also be able to hook up their Chromebooks (via the “Cast” feature on the Macbook Pro provided) to the TV and work on shared presentations.
It costs a great deal of money to complete any type of renovations, but luckily, Ms. Wismar, our Library Media Specialist, decided to get crafty.
“Most of the tech lab was repurposed. The conference table was the old computer cubbies table and I had the custodial staff take off the separate cubby spaces. The HDTV was a donation from a board member,” Ms. Wismar explained.
The Tech Lab will also be outfitted with charging stations and extra computers around the room’s perimeter for partner or independent work.
The main focus for the renovation is to bring students and teachers alike into a professional, real-world setting. It is important to the LLC staff that students are comfortable with face-to-face presentations, as it is such an important skill to have. With this change, Ms. Wismar and Mrs. Decarlo, the library’s paraeducator, are also hoping to see a further change in culture that will help break the stereotype that libraries are only for quiet, independent work and checking out books. Instead, Library Learning Commons are for collaboration, innovation and learning from your peers.
The new Tech Lab is not the only new change in the LLC. The old back PC lab will also be repurposed and redesigned. It will hopefully be renovated by next school year to be utilized as a sort of cafe space for students to sit and do their work in private. However, this will cost more than anticipated so Ms. Wismar is applying for a grant from the Bethel Education Foundation (BEF). If the grant is not awarded, however, there’s a plan for that as well.
“You have to be resourceful, you have to change things with what you have available,” Ms. Wismar stated.
Ms. Wismar hopes teachers will use the LLC organically when they feel a change in scenery would be healthy for the class, which may even help students academically. In discussion is the idea to place a tech team in the room so they can use it as their meeting or “hang out room,” a kind of team for future or inspiring Apple “geniuses.”
Senior Daisy Gesualdi, who is painting the mural outside the LLC says she is “Really excited that they’re jazzing up the place. It was very brown before but now it’s got more, like, life to it. So I’m really happy that I can help with the painting.”
In fact, many of the students are loving the LLC’s new look. Students are seen in the LLC more often utilizing the new spaces available for them. Students can be found at the new high top tables, or comfortably sitting on the new couches.
Even small touches, like the pops of the aqua color on the decorations or book carts, have transformed the LLC into a very inviting place. The Writing Center table got a makeover, and there is even a “Chromebook Help Desk” now set up, where students can have their technology questions answered.
All of these changes are due to the dedicated LLC staff and their mission to create a different kind of space that breaks away from traditional learning and breathes life into the old to produce new and exciting additions.
“Libraries used to be known as quiet study and more for the individualized student, but as we moved into the 21st century we find that collaborative work is the more important focus because it is what prepares you for the real world,” says Wismar.
Stop by and check out the LLC, it may just become your new favorite study spot.