The Proposed Redesign of WCSD Libraries and Media Centers Will Promote Collaborative Learning and Digital Literacy
Taking a step into the Webster Schroeder High School library is a bit like taking a step back in time. The space is original to 1960s design with large, heavy tables and fixed bookshelves. Libraries of the past served as the gateway to information and librarians were very much the gatekeepers of that information. Today, this paradigm is shifting, and we must ask ourselves, is our current learning environment reflective of the way today’s students learn?
As part of our capital improvement proposal, redesigning WCSD’s seven elementary media centers and libraries as well as the media center at Willink Middle School and Webster Schroeder High School is a key initiative.
“This won’t be the library that I grew up with,” notes Superintendent Carmen Gumina. “We’re going to be walking into small learning spaces and collaborative work areas that are not only fun for the kids, but that also emphasize 21st century learning skills.”
Research has shown that if there is rigidity to the space—from the furnishings, to the book stacks, to the technology—there is rigidity to the thinking. Designing a future-ready library media center would feature mobile shelves and flexible seating for students to easily work together and a high-tech, two-way communicative environment where students become more empowered, energized, and engaged about their own learning.
Jennifer Strege, library media specialist at Webster Schroeder High School, feels that investing in collaborative technology for our libraries and media centers will give students the tools and skill sets they’ll need to navigate a digital world.
“We talk about this generation of kids being digital natives,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean they have the information they need to be critical consumers of all of that information. We are currently a 1:1 district where students have their own Chromebooks, but we don’t want students to isolate themselves with their technology. It’s important that we have collaborative working spaces to share and problem solve with one another.”
In her 18 years at the district, Mrs. Strege has seen her role shift from the “knowledge gatekeeper” to a “knowledge filter,” helping students recognize which sources of information are valid and credible, when certain information can be used, and how to responsibly cite what they are using.
“We have to teach our kids how to use technology responsibly and be digitally literate,” she notes. “As creators of information, they also need to know how to protect themselves and their own original work.”
Mrs. Strege believes that innovation cannot flourish in our society if students are only learning about the way things have always been done. The redesign plan includes spaces where students can experiment with hands-on technology and art mediums spurring creativity and collaboration.
“We can’t anticipate the world that the youngest members of our school community will have to navigate or what opportunities will be available to them,” said Mrs. Strege. “But what we can do is make sure that we have future-ready libraries, K-12, where we are teaching them the skills that are necessary to navigate that digital world.”
The estimated $69.5 million project will need to be approved by voters. It would be bonded over a 15-year timeframe with 70-75 percent of the cost delivered through state aid. The impact on the average homeowner ($191,700 in Webster) is expected to be $25 per year over the 15 years of the bond.
The enhancements highlighted above represent a portion of what will be included in this capital improvement project so please explore the resources on this page for more information on any of the proposed initiatives.