Inspire: Learners reimagining the future of their school library

Our Public Programs Curator, Jacina Leong, discusses the recently launched Off The Shelf program, and how The Cube and Brisbane City Council Library Services are partnering to empower Watson Road State School students to be future thinkers and agents of change through hands-on engagement.

Building on the partnership between QUT The Cube and Brisbane City Council Library Services (BCCLS), The Cube’s public program team will be working with a group of Grades 5 – 6 students from Watson Road State School over a period of 6 workshops.

The workshops will take place within the school’s library, providing a platform for the students to engage with ideas around the changing role of libraries as social and educational hubs. Students will engage with these ideas through hands-on activities that use STEAM and design thinking, and littleBits as prototyping tools. The first of these activities kicked off on May 8, co-facilitated by The Cube, BCCLS librarians and Natalie Wright, manager of the Asia Pacific Design Library.

Natalie got the students straight into rapid brainstorming exercises, positioning the students as designers with an urgent challenge. Many wild discussions later, they then heard from one of the attending librarians who spoke about the library of today as a reflection of changing behaviors in how people collect information. Students asked some difficult, thoughtful questions in return, and shared some of their experiences of local libraries.

Some common themes emerged from the next challenge, which asked students to identify five things they liked and five things they wanted to improve about their library: preference for a space more connected to the outdoors, for a space that provided a platform for broader learning experiences (cooking, making, dancing, gaming), for a library that included more technology but still housed lots of books!

After this, Natalie got students to position themselves in the shoes of other users of the library. Assuming the personas of teacher librarians, principals, and students in lower primary school, the students responded to the following questions: in 2050, what types of technologies will you use to gather information? What types of activities will you do within the library? How will your library feel? The aim of this exercise was to prompt empathy and an understanding within the students about how other people relate to their environments. Students will be interviewing different users of the space as an in-class activity this week, to gain a deeper, more truthful understanding.

Before exploring littleBits, their last exercise was to come up with wild and practical ideas for improving the school library of 2050. Students needed little prompting to come up with extraordinary possibilities from wearable books to floating spaces. Throughout the next five workshops, students will start to refine and develop prototypes for their ideas, before presenting their design solutions to their teachers, parents and peers

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