This week our school began our first 1:1 iPad deployment to all juniors and seniors. (Teachers had received their iPads during the summer.)
It’s been so energizing to watch the transformation sweeping through the campus and watching changes that perhaps it was hard for us to really envision until we saw it happening.
Suddenly, we can be almost paperless, the internet is everywhere in the building, and students can have the tools they need for the jobs they are doing. They can work, explore, play, share, and study in a new way, as can the teachers.
It’s improved the workflow for everyone, since email is always accessible wherever we are(not to mention Facetime and other apps). It’s creating a much more paperless environment, even within days, as teachers post their handouts and students read them online instead of printing them out. It’s creating an organizational system for students as they keep their schedules on them and notes to themselves. It’s created endless ways for them to create and collaborate and share.
As a librarian, I’ve played fly on the wall, and watched like a sociologist how students are using them in an unstructured environment, and so far, have been really pleased with what I’ve seen. I’ve watched in two days the students put their iPads to a million different uses, from using Latin dictionaries, to studying their physics lab, to making a list of homework, to playing collaborative Scrabble, to photographing each other’s faces and using apps to play, to reading and highlighting a book, to playing games.
But also as a librarian, I’m really fascinated with how this might transform our library and what it looks like and is. This really challenges my notion of what library is–stares it smack in the face.
We’re planning to purchase Overdrive, which will give us a small ($2,000 worth) collection of e-books that students can check out with the iPad app. But what if I could provide most of the library that way?
We have lots of computers in our library, both in labs, and in the main library–what if the uses they were meant for before aren’t needed anymore? We designed our space to be future proofed and flexible 3 years ago, but did we not see far enough ahead? (I had asked for some walls to be sliding glass, but didn’t get as many of those as I had hoped–for that very reason–so we could open spaces up in the future if needed.)
We withdrew a huge section of literary criticism last week to make way for our iPad help desk in the library that will be staffed by students and because the information can be found in our databases. A teacher just brought back a mobile laptop lab which she’d had in her room because “she doesn’t need it anymore.”
But libraries, though we are about a place to locate stuff, are really about being the guides to the “stuff.” Being the “help desk” of sorts for questions, information seeking, serious research, project creation, and ideas. Being the reader’s advisory–there are many good websites for that, but I know they can’t size up the student like the one I saw yesterday and in one minute know that Red Pyramid is the right book, and then watch the student exclaim Rick Riordan is my favorite author.
What I know for sure is that my head is still spinning thinking about what will change, and how to grab this change by the horns and create what our evolving library will be in the future.
So as I create iPad app recommendations and form app sharing groups, and still check out physical books, and navigate the 200 students who use our library every day at lunch, and help students navigate the information they need for papers and projects, this is what I will be thinking about.
But…what a difference one day has made. And I know, as librarians, we all need to be thinking about this, because your library CAN change in just one day.