Book Store or Story Share?

Yes – I was in a school with which I have a close relationship recently, and the Head Teacher was showing me some of the changes to the overall school layout and environment that had happened over the summer.

The secondary and primary libraries had been consolodated into a single room, and although the Head was determined that the school should keep a library, he was concerned that the room wasn’t being used (we visited 4 times during the morning and didn’t see another soul in there), and that the place of computers in (validly) preparing children and young people for a skilled life in the real world is taking over from the importance and pleasure of books.

Of course, this is not a quandry unique to schools – the e-book versus the sensual pleasure of bound, word-printed, paper debate has been going on for a while now, and the harm done by the closure of public libraries is a decades old dispute. However, there is something really visceral for those of us old enough to remember schooling when books were all, and an overhead projector was as the devils work, in thinking that the school library may become a thing of the past.

So I started thinking about how the library might be re-framed / re-branded / re-thought about / re-launched and become a desirable place to be – an attractive prospect – and re-gain it’s rightful respect as a treasure trove equal to, but different from, the world of information available to us via screens.

In terms of reference, then yes, aside from information that is best viewed in a massive format ( eg large detailed maps ) perhaps the interweb will be the dominant sourcing tool, but stories, particularly picture books, are different.

Is there something about bringing the experience of reading, telling and sharing stories – those that exist on the page already, those that young people create themselves, and those that we all build on every day of our lives – to the forefront of the library experience, over and above it being a storeroom for books?

The school and changing cultures are working together on this experiment, to see if we can bring this room back to the heart of the school, as a place where children of all ages; teaching staff; parents and outside professionals can share the joy of experiencing a story unfold together.

……and indeed it did!  Read more in our Case Study here.

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