The Allen High School library will be undergoing several renovations near the beginning of spring break. The renovations represent phase three of a four-phase renovation plan for the high school.
“The big focus for us in these renovations is to create the most flexible learning environment possible,” principal Jason Johnston said. “We’ll have to relocate some folks, but I’m excited about what we’re going to be doing.”
The renovations include adding another floor to the library, with the addition of a staircase in the center of the library that will reach a new quiet area as well as the testing center.
“When you want a quiet place, when you need to get ready for that exam and need quiet, you can go upstairs,” librarian Jana Dorough said. “When you’re studying with your group, with your friends, you’re downstairs.”
Also included in the project is the addition of several study rooms that can be used by small groups of students. The rooms will be located where the Cyber Cave computer labs currently are.
“We’re going to have what we’re calling ‘huddle rooms.’ They’re places where, if you want to do collaborative learning, you and a group of kids could reserve the huddle space and go in there,” Dorough said. “Hopefully we’ll have a flat screen on the wall, to where whatever you’re doing you could throw it up there and see it and use it, such as when you’re creating your PowerPoint or creating your Google Slides.”
The remodeled library will also include a makerspace open to the students, including tools like a 3D printer and sewing machines.
“Makerspace is kind of a new concept that’s sweeping schools,” Dorough said. “It’s kind of like a mini STEAM center here in our library, where we’re going to have different things you can come in and use to make and create.”
With the modern classroom continuing to make a greater use of technology, the library will also be adapting to meet technological needs.
“We’re actually going to have a computer lab that can be accessed by classrooms from outside of the library. We’ll also create a little bit of an inset by the library that’ll be a bring-your-own-device area where you can plug into a juice bar [to charge your device], whether it’s an iPhone or your computer,” Johnston said. “You’ll really see an increase in mobile devices, of laptops and Chromebooks and that kind of stuff, to where you can use your trust card to check those things out and then sit anywhere in those two floors of the library and use your technology.”
Johnston says he feels that the renovations reflect a school-wide initiative of enabling students to customize their own learning experience.
“With everything that we’re trying to do, whether it’s with the privilege periods, with arena scheduling, with the library redesigns, even the building of the freshman center and the STEAM center, is to create this personalized learning platform to where it can really be about each individual student and what their needs are,” Johnston said. “For that to happen, you have to have extreme flexibility in your facilities, in your learning environment, and in the materials that you use. So we’re trying to create these environments that allow students to get what they need for their learning.”
The expanded flexibility of the library would help facilitate group projects and allow for increased discussion among peers in the library, according to senior Augustine Nguyen.
“I like that idea because you can go wherever you want, to where you’re comfortable,” Nguyen said. “For me, I would have a place where I could converse with my friends loudly or just some place to be by myself in a quiet area.”
While the library is closed from the beginning of spring break until the end of the school year, a satellite library will be set up in the art gallery on the second floor outside of the PAC.
“We’re going to take our best books [and] best collections, and we’ll still have book orders coming in,” Dorough said. “Just remember that if you can’t get to the library to get a book, we always have online resources. Overdrive [the school ebook library] is a great way to get a library book to read. If you don’t see what you want there, email me. I can look into purchasing it.”
The renovations also include new bathrooms near the cafeteria. The construction is expected to be completed before the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.
“The goal of [beginning construction] early is to get [the library] back a few days before the first day of school,” Johnston said. “We’re hoping by the end of July we can get back in the building and that’ll give us a few weeks to set up.”