Teacher-librarians Betsy Muir and Tracy Finkensiep are excited to have books back on shelves in the Carihi library and they hope students are, too. Photo by Braden Majic/Carihi Mirror

Carihi moves from ‘Library’ to ‘Learning Commons’ model

‘It’s not just kids checking out books or in here doing work. It has become a hub of activity.’

Braden Majic

Carihi Mirror

The Carihi Library Learning Commons continues to evolve into a comfortable and dynamic space with the addition of modern furniture and new shelves.

And teacher-librarian Betsy Muir says the changes are certainly welcome.

“Having the comfortable furniture, the lounge chairs, the whiteboard tables on wheels, it seems to be in constant use,” Muir says. “From what I observe, the students appreciate having comfy chairs to curl up in whether they are reading a book, using their laptop or just talking to a friend.”

This new furniture transforms the space from what had only tall shelves and long gray tables, to a more moveable, inviting multi-use centre of the school.

The new furniture has been slowly appearing over the past year, but most recently, the arrival of new shelves has almost completed the new design of the space and allowed boxed up books to be shelved.

Tracy Finkensiep, the other teacher-librarian on staff, watches students interact and use the space daily in many different ways and says the changes she’s seen have been more than simply physical.

“I think it’s become more adaptive to a learning commons,” Finkensiep says. “It’s not just kids checking out books or in here doing work. Kids come in here to do their things…. It has become a hub of activity.”

Going back over a year, all of the non-fiction books on the shelves had to be packed away into boxes to begin the transformation of the Library Learning Commons.

By removing these shelves, it opened up the space by the windows where much of the new chairs and tables are currently placed.

“I think the natural light is very healthy,” Muir says, adding the area is now “a calmer workplace.”

And a calmer workplace is really what the learning commons is all about. It truly is more than just a library. Or at least that’s the hope.

Grade 11 student Darren Stoesz is a frequent visitor into the Library, and even did a project in his drafting class on the design of the space.

“I didn’t like [the old layout] as much because we weren’t utilizing the window space,” Stoesz says. “It has more of an open feeling now.”

Like many, he uses the library as a study space daily.

The new, shorter shelves are currently arranged on the opposite side of where they were previously, still providing ample room for movement and space for the books themselves.

They will soon have decorative metal panelling added to the sides and wooden slabs on top.

“Having all our resources in boxes for the last year and a half has been a bit of a challenge,” Finkensiep says. “It was challenging more than difficult.”

All of the boxes were labelled by call numbers with the dewey decimal system, which allowed both teacher-librarians to allow students to search for their book in an unconventional library search, and while that certainly wasn’t ideal, the students took it all in stride.

“The kids were amazingly adaptive to this, they just said ‘okay’ and went looking for their book,” Finkensiep says.

As all the books are now out and in the open, the teacher-librarians can now get back to sorting through and organizing their stock of books.

“We can more carefully curate and edit what we have,” Finkensiep says. “We are going to weed it out some more.”

In some cases, there are some old non-fiction books that have had new editions published, where their information is no longer current or in the fiction section, there are some where records show that they have not been checked out in years.

“We are always buying new books based on recommendations by staff or students or other librarians,” Finkensiep says.

There are still more ideas floating around and there are possibly a few more shifts and additions to be done in the space, so Carihi students should expect the changes to continue – hopefully all for the better.

The plan is to keep books out of boxes, have the doors always open, and maintain an excellent learning, comforting, and positive atmosphere in Carihi Learning Commons for all students and staff.

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