13 April 2023
photo collage

During the pandemic, my workspace in a public high school transformed from a traditional book-centric library to an innovative makerspace community called The Hub. Removing our freestanding bookshelves made all the difference in lightening up this student space.                                                                                                                   

I alternately enjoyed and disliked the process since we went from downsizing our book collection by three-quarters (tough) to painting hexagons around the doors (easy). Fine-tuning the new furniture placement engaged staff, and we found solace in donating our books to SCARCE, an organization that sends them onward to hospitals, prisons, and other organizations. We recycled the books they couldn’t use through A-1 Recycling. Staff also had the opportunity to look through the books for those they could use in their classrooms.

Our staff created a defined Yoga Corner in the back corner, an interactive Brain Break section in the middle of the room, and a nature station area by the front windows in the process. Problems did occur as we morphed from a study space to a creative, hang-out commons, but Hubrarian Tom New figured out how to solve those problems with the addition of Quiet Study lunches. The changeover of monthly Brain Breaks (our take-with crafts) allowed our students to find the innovator within them.

During the current school year, we added more planting projects to coincide with an Environmental Science class, featuring a Gardyn Hydroponics unit in the Nature Station. Two large televisions run scenic views from Youtube TV while the smaller ones run study room reservations from the Hub’s Google calendar as well as school events, trivia, jokes, and news via Dakboard.

Colorful seating brings many students to the Hub, where we see more than 600 students each day, a figure triple the number from 2019. Three staff members and multiple student Hubmakers keep the space running smoothly. Hubmakers train on the different maker electronics: CameoPro sticker maker, Prusa i3 and Research 3-D Printers, HP DesignJet T230 Poster Printer, and a silk screen machine.

Taking a STEAM approach in the Hub, library staff work hard to highlight student projects by running an occasional Brain Break contest, featuring young artists by offering a limited press of their sticker artwork and keeping guitars and ukuleles on hand for check out. Classroom teachers book a time to interact with the variety of Hub offerings including our updated Hub classroom and Story Lab/Podcast room. In partnership with North’s Environmental Club led by Christine Applehans and Megan Stenberg, the Hub hosts a variety of projects in the nature station like last year’s Plant a Salad or Flower Garden. Pre-pandemic, the library hosted a Plant Your Pizza program. This spring, students will be able to Plant a Smoothie by growing sprouts and learning how to make blended-but-healthy beverages.

The process of upgrading from a Library Resource Center (LRC) to a CRC (creative resource community) may have been a lot of work, yet the impact on student usage--now half the student population--and the spotlight on all the different academic departments (PE/Yoga, Science/Nature station, Fine Arts/Brain Breaks and Guitars . . .) makes the adventure well worth it.

Today's guest blog post is from TLC Nielsen, retiring GNHS Library Media Assistant