Wednesday, April 16, 2008

when students take over a library; or, national library week at gleeson library

this week is national library week and to celebrate my digital literacy students and i took over a significant chunk of gleeson library.

we began the project three weeks ago when i asked the students two questions: what do you love about the library? and what do you wish the library had? the next week we met in class to discuss our ideas, dreams, and designs and to let our individual intelligence and imagination weave collectively. last week, USF librarian vicki rosen joined us in class and we talked about which dreams and designs could and would become real.

last night we assembled in gleeson library to build our project. we began with this space:

earlier in the week, amber asked us to email her the titles of five or so of our favorite books and a sentence or two about why we dig them. and poof! we had a student-generated book exhibit. amber and steve arranged them on a shelf, posted our brief annotations, and added a sign-up sheet for library goers to add their own favorites.

meanwhile, steve and blake designed two treasure hunts with clues hidden in books distributed across the library. inspired, perhaps, by bryan alexander's ideas about alternative reality games, or ARGs, or influenced by the librarian in black's ideas about library treasure hunts, steve and blake's treasure hunts encourage students to explore and discover the library and its nearly infinite resources and materials. plus, the two lucky people who follow the clues to the treasure hunt's finish will find some pretty cool gift certificates.

all of us were eager to create a comfortable space to read in the library so we hauled in comfy chairs and set up two small tables to generate a living room-like vibe. influenced by kelly quinn's ideas about flip books, blake took photos of gleeson library, designed original jacket covers, bound the photos and covers into flip books, and set them out on our coffee table. totally cool.

we wanted to learn what other students thought about the library so lulu spent a day interviewing USF students asking them what they loved about the library and what they wished the library had. then, lulu and lis spent a day taking photographs, beautiful photographs, of the library - of the building, of students reading, of students at computers, of students collaborating with one another - and designed a five minute audio slideshow. every librarian should watch and listen to what lulu and lis made. once we figure out how to lock down a laptop, we will incorporate it into our project.

ever since kelly quinn's guest lecture, many of the students, include kelly, lis, and sara got fiercely interested in creating inspired public spaces. between the three students, there was talk of a canopy made of book covers, a tent covered with books, and many other wonderful ideas. sara surprised us all by bringing in a fort! sara and lis assembled the fort and covered it in colorful book jackets and a reading fort was built.

and yet, structural engineers we are not. during the night, tragedy struck and the fort fell!

so this morning, undeterred and armed with tape, sara and i rebuilt the fort and all is well in gleeson library.

happy national library week!


Debbie said...

It makes me happy to see students engaging with the library. Thank you so much for beautifying the library's space. When I came in this morning the fort was apparently in mid-slide, book covers cascading gracefully to the floor. I thought the deconstructed look was intentional, and I liked it. But it's much better now.

If you put the slide show online please come over to Gleeson Gleanings and post a link.

kq said...

davies forum: i have carried you with me in the weeks since we met. i am just delighted to see this posting. i only wished that i lived closer to crawl in the fort to read and hang out and kick it.

i confessed how i overuse and abuse the word awesome. was it sara? who asked: what do they say in ohio? i was stumped. so i returned to the heartland and began quizzing my students here.

here's what they would exclaim if they logged onto this blog:


tits and because it is so grand: tits n ass
rid i cu lous
fuckin' ______________
that's nice
shut up
and shut the front door

i am so impressed with your work. this is really exciting.

thanks for buoying my spirit and making my day with these pixels. i suspect that you are bringing joy and wonder to others in gleeson.

with best wishes...-kq

Sarah Houghton-Jan said...

This is fabulous!!! I particularly like the reading fort (I could see that going over really well in a teen area) and also the library flip book (relatively easy to do, and something for people to page through as they sit in your comfy chairs looking out the windows). Congratulations on engaging with the library and making a piece of it into something welcoming and interactive. We could all take a page from your book (no pun intended).

Anonymous said...

Shades of reading under a covered card table in first grade! -Marian

sarah said...

how terrif (that's for you, kq) to witness what happens when you take a gaggle of ideas from class speakers, a bundle of creativity from students, a ton of inspiration from one of my favorite places--the library--and put it all in motion during national library week!

keep on keepin' on...

Sara said...

@kq - "tits 'n' ass"? Seriously? As in, "It's so tits 'n' ass that I got an A on my paper"? Ok, that student would probably be getting a C, but I digress...

Thanks to everybody for the great compliments on the project. The Davies Forum crew had tons of fun putting it together.