Voice and Choice to Apathy

Everytime I attend a conference or training I get fired up to try new things. After attending the Library Academy at TCEA I was determined to start the journey to transforming our traditional library to a Learning Commons. Since we are shifting to a Project Based Learning curriculum, I had already started thinking about what changes would best facilitate learning in the library.

Since it isn't just my library, I decided to survey the students in the library to get some feedback. I replaced the usual library sign in with a QR code to a Google form asking four questions. I was stunned at the results.

Many students refused to do it with several leaving the library rather than completing the form. One even left me some colorful parting words on his way out. Since our school issues students iPads, the problem was not lack of access to technology. By the end of the day there were 58 responses which was small based on a normal day of library traffic.

Here are the results:

Question 1 asked what grade the student is in. This was split across the three grade levels that attend the school with seniors making the largest group.

Question 2 asked how often the student visited the library. More than 40% responded that they come to the library at least once a day with two thirds visiting at least weekly.

Question 3 asked about what they did in the library. Reading and homework were the most answered with hanging out and "chilling" coming up close behind. When watching students in the library, I would have flipped these answers as it appears more hanging out happens than reading and homework.

Question 4 asked about what could be added to the library to make it better. About half of the responders answered nothing or claimed they were happy with the library as it is.

So much for voice and choice! Here I was asking students what they want to see and they answered with apathy.

My vision for the library is a dynamic learning commons with multifunctional spaces. I would like to see a MakerSpace or TinkerTown. Students actively engaged in learning and exploring and creating. Right now I see more sleeping and chilling and goofing off.

But then I realized, maybe they are apathetic because they don't know what the options are. I have spent years reading and studying on improving the library. They only know what a library should be based on their personal experiences. Maybe my first step should be exposure to what a library can be to let them dream of what ours could become.


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