In Our Words

Library Evolution: Creativity and Community
Library Evolution: Creativity and Community

by Viki Radford, Elementary Literacy and Research Center

You might have noticed a space that connects the Elementary and Middle/High School Libraries. A space that is filled with students at lunchtimes and at recess. Perhaps they're playing chess, or junk modeling, or creating erasure poetry. Maybe they are experimenting with coding using programmable robots such as Codeapillars or Spheros. You might wonder what is going on, and what robotics, collage and noise all have to do with our library. You might wonder how technology and design can come together, and what any of this has to do with reading. Welcome to the Creativity Commons!

Our library vision is to create a space that encompasses reading, research, and community. The Creativity Commons reinforces this: it's an evolving space that is both student-driven and student-accessible. If you ask students what they love about our library, you'll find that they love the different opportunities and spaces it encompasses: "I think it's good because you can use lots of materials, and also everybody is quiet so you can focus," Mona in ES explains.

The Creativity Commons provides a home for both independent exploration, and for community projects such as creating decorations for the annual YIS Food Fair. The space is also available to support class learning, and for amazing after school activities including Lego Club, robotics, and the green screen magic that is Dragon Media!

It is a space to enhance and inspire learning, but most importantly, it's a mindset rather than a physical environment. A mindset that recognizes that everyone is a maker. You don't have to be a master coder or a professional crafter to create and to explore. There are as many kinds of research as there are students, and while some research involves reading, other kinds involve robotics, or Lego, or using glue guns to create 3D models. Research means systematic investigation; and whether you are investigating through words or through what you make with your hands, there is room for it all here.

Creative construction takes place throughout the library - not just in the Creativity Commons; for after all, what are books except creative constructions of words? In our library, whatever our age and literacy levels, we use reading and research to build on our understandings - understandings we share with our communities for the betterment of all!

If you'd like to know more about our Creativity Commons, or have ideas about its use, please contact Katy Vance, Matt Broughton, or Viki Radford. You can also follow us on Instagram and Twitter to see our reading, research, and community in action!