Flexible and dynamic. Such are today’s students’ information needs. And, by design, the description also applies to Harker’s new upper school library. The building’s first visitors, who toured the just-finished, 3,803-square-foot facility Aug. 20, awarded the learning space rave reviews.
“I love it!” said exuberant senior Christina Li, an avid library user. Her sentiments were echoed by dozens of parents, students and teachers as they perused the library’s sunlit main reading room, stacks, soft seating areas and classroom. Some teens were drawn to the low chairs and ottomans near the magazines and newspapers. Others made a beeline to high speed browsing computers mounted at standing height at the end of each range of books. More tested the sound-dampening effects of the library’s classroom walls by opening and closing the door. Still others tried the tablet chairs that combine cushioned comfort with a purposeful laptop surface.
Allika Walvekar, grade 12, envied underclassmen. “I wish I had this for all four years instead of one. It’s beautiful!” Happily weary from a full day of orientation activities, Vikrum Sundar, grade 9, who toured the library with his parents Jagane and Shankari Sundar, confirmed he’d be making regular use of the space.
The facility’s flexibility is no accident, according to Sue Smith, library director. “The library department was invited to participate in the design from the very beginning,” said Smith. “The result is a space tailored to the needs of learners in a dynamic information world.”
Features such as a classroom equipped with eBeam technology, expanded study tables with lighting and outlets and enhanced wireless connectivity empower the teaching and learning of information literacy. Information Literacy, the ability to seek, evaluate and use information effectively, was introduced to teachers as a curricular enhancement six years ago by former library director Enid Davis. Since then, Info Lit, as it’s often called, has become a mainstay of teaching across disciplines at the upper school.
The location of the new library – central to student traffic on the upper school campus – serves as a metaphor for students’ need for the robust virtual space the library program already provides: an online catalog, over 80 subscription databases, 30,000 searchable books and a myriad of additional tools, all available to the Harker community 24/7 through the library portal.
“The new library enhances our educational program of 21st century learning beautifully,” said Smith. “The enthusiasm of our first visitors confirms that the space is a welcome addition to our community.”