If you count the library as a classroom, I’ve got the biggest, best, and best-resourced classroom in the school! Currently, the bane of my existence is helping my budding readers learn how to use the library well. We talk all the time about ‘coding’ the library, that is, to understand how the codes on the spines of the books are like little maps to tell us where to go. This has been and will be my ongoing project as the librarian, and I love how systems of organization is transdisciplinary in the sense that the way we structure and organize is a transferable skill to other areas of our life. Plus, I’m a neat freak and can have it no other way. 😉
As the lone librarian, I am learning about our library systems myself. It’s day-to-day, on-the-job training at every turn, and although it’s exhausting, it’s exhilarating too. I am passionate about teaching our learners to understand the library in the way I do, and so this week’s challenge appealed to me.
But flipping the library? That’s tough. And I mean that because my students aren’t really required to have library skills, and they certainly aren’t assessed on them. On top of that, our library time is limited to 45 minutes each week, and that has to include browsing and checkout, plus a beloved 10 minutes to read a chapter from whichever chapter book we’re currently in.
There are ideas out there, though, and although they don’t follow the traditional ‘flipped’ model, they do really scream to how libraries today can be flipped to make them more aaccessible to learners. Scroll right to minute 00:50 of the following video; de-dewefying the fiction is where I’ll likely start, as I love this idea.
Also, how great is this video?
Again, it’s not the traditional sense of ‘flipping,’ but it does lend itself to a more depthful understanding of the library for some, presented in simpler terms for others, and re-watchable for all. What a valuable, student-created, and simple way to share how our library works.
Now, how exactly does one ‘gamefy’ a library?
Although I’m going to have to do a lot more research on programs like SCVNGR, LibraryGame, and LemonTree, I do get the sense that they require purchasing (money we don’t have at the moment) and advanced system overhaul (which I don’t have authority to do). And to be honest, this is a different kind of gamification than I had expected. These programs tote more of an incentive program (imagine FourSquare in a library setting), are slightly invasive (i.e. tracking your patron history and knowing you in a ‘cookies‘ sort of way), and appear to be really tailored towards higher education and academic libraries. More of what I had in mind would be LIbrary Quest, which is tailored to younger learners, is uniquely adapted to your own library system, but which still comes with a high cost.
There are other ideas here though. Notice the Bitstrips in this Gamifying the Library article; our library learners could TOTALLY make these. In college, I might have rolled my eyes, but I think our kids would go gaga over it. Creating these as part of understanding the library would be an awesome activity for our older children. They’re so into comics and graphic novels right now anyway – this could be a great, easy bridge to begin, and includes an understanding of how the library works, as well as a production process, and technology integration.
Or what about the Level Up Book Club site, which tasks teachers with interesting gaming challenges, and provides rewards for the best entry. Not only will I use this website personally, I like the premise. I personally like to be rewarded for what I do, and for students who thrive from recognition, a simple set of tasks in the library could combine authentic learning and problem solving and hand out incentives along the way.
Of course, I’m going to tinker with AR and QR, creating and using both.
The Prezi below shares a handful of relevant and age-appropriate ideas for gaming a library, and although the online sources might not lend themselves directly to how you want library learners to understand their own library, there are some general ideas/games here which are really superb.
So, there’s an awful lot to do, and still, I have a lot to learn. Matthew Winner, co-founder of the Level Up Book Club notes:
“Read the literature first. You do not already know ‘how to do’ gamification. It’s not easy. It’s not just playing games. It’s not simply handing out badges or putting points on a leaderboard. It’s a thoughtful and time extensive application that pays off big when done right.”
So, now from you – any librarians out there, or teachers who have seen amazing libraries, and have other examples of how this has worked at your school? I’m quite keen to be in touch if so!
* Biggest, most-resourced classroom in the school, photo courtesy of Wendy Foreman
* Non-fiction and flipped library videos shared respectfully using a Standard YouTube License
* Bitstrip sample shared respectfully from the Infoliterati blog
* Prezi created by Sandra Bebbington and shared freely on Prezi.com