Structure = Function, Function = Structure

Wow, I loved this past week’s readings on space in the library.  I particularly was so excited to read about transforming school libraries into a learning commons. A bustling hub of exploration (Um, yes please). That piece in particular spoke to me on many levels. It nicely packaged how I’ve been envisioning our role and the role of the space. Not only that, but I’ve found myself more often wanting to refer to myself as a teacher-librarian more than anything else. The possibilities that arise from a learning commons seem endless. For starters, we’re creating a golden nugget inside of a school, that is based on students. It allows for students to see collaboration among adults, but also collaboration among themselves and with adults. Most of all, I think it opens a door to building a stronger school community.

What stuck out most for me during all of our readings was this idea that we have in biology about anatomy and physiology, Structure = function, and function = structure. The way something is structured will determine how it is used (or not used) and vice versa. Which makes sense why we should so heavily consider how we design our spaces. And while we are designing those spaces, we need to think about what are our goals for the space, a great reflective exercise we should continually be engaging in.

I had a favorite quote this week from School Library Journal’s article, Divine Design in how the library should be treated more like a kitchen:

“When people want to study or create something or chat, they head for the kitchen. People use the kitchen table to spread out their work, to be close to others, to watch TV, or to see what their siblings are doing. In the kitchen, you can drink a beverage without fear of spilling it on a thousand-dollar chair. The same applies to a school library. It’s a working environment; it should have a lot of “appliances” and space to do research, make stuff, and consume a “big information meal.” Now, that’s not to say your library can’t be one of the most attractive spaces in the school. I’ve been in a lot of wonderful “kitchens” that are both hard-working and beautiful.”

I know for me, I spend 98% of my time in the kitchen, and if you catch me at a party, I’m most likely in the kitchen. At a family get together, the kitchen. It’s a comfortable space, it’s homey, it’s “hard-working and beautiful”.

I only hope that when I’m in employed, though I might not get the chance to design my very own library, but that I’ll be able to make changes to help my space feel homey, safe, hard-working, and beautiful for my students, my co-workers, and myself that is buzzing with exploration.

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2 thoughts on “Structure = Function, Function = Structure

  1. The way something is structured will determine how it is used (or not used) and vice versa. Which makes sense why we should so heavily consider how we design our spaces. And while we are designing those spaces, we need to think about what are our goals for the space, a great reflective exercise we should continually be engaging in.

    To a lesser extent, I think this is something that can be done even if you don’t get to thoroughly redesign your library, too! For instance, if your library is dark and cramped-seeming because there are too many shelves and those shelves block the light from the only available windows, simply moving things around and decreasing the amount of furniture could help change the ‘image’ of the library to some extent. The ideal would obviously be getting to design your library, but I feel as though there are a lot of options between “completely designing a new library from scratch” and “not thinking at all about what the library appearance means to the use of your space.”

  2. nicolesa602 says:

    “I know for me, I spend 98% of my time in the kitchen, and if you catch me at a party, I’m most likely in the kitchen. At a family get together, the kitchen. It’s a comfortable space, it’s homey, it’s “hard-working and beautiful”…I’ll be able to make changes to help my space feel homey, safe, hard-working, and beautiful for my students, my co-workers, and myself”

    I love this. Sometimes the shiny new library spaces can be so cold and impractical. I want a comfy armchair I can read in and enough outlets for the laptops in the room. Making the space comfortable and workable can go a long way to getting people in it, and make the work they do there better and more enjoyable.

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