North Hills expands library into high-tech learning hub
December 18, 2015 12:00 AM
A 12th grad English class works in the new library at North Hills High School.
Jeff Taylor goes through the Audio & Video Engineering areain the new library at North Hills High School. Jeff designed the new library.
Students have class in the “Distance Learning Lab,” outfitted with Polycom technology for videoconferencing and virtual field trips. In the background is an image of a fireplace with burning logs.
By Sandy Trozzo
In one room, a class works on computers with a video of a roaring fire projected on the wall. In another, two students take photos against a “green screen.” Elsewhere, students lounge on a couch to read.
The library at North Hills High School was transformed over the past two years into a high-tech learning hub at a cost of $1.35 million.
Gone are the floor-to-ceiling, dark wood bookcases. Books now are in shorter bookcases in the middle of the room, which gives the library a more open feeling, said Jeff Taylor, assistant superintendent for curriculum, assessment and special programs.
A distance learning lab has two projectors and a Polycom unit, which will allow students to hold video conferences and “online field trips.” For example, students could be listening to a museum curator talking about works of art while simultaneously viewing those artworks on another screen. The paint on one wall allows students to write on it with dry-erase markers.
There are two classroom areas in the main library room where librarians “can teach about research. They can teach about finding good sources,” Mr. Taylor said.
Four identical “team rooms” allow teachers to break classes into teams, and for those groups to work independently and privately. The teams can connect with each other through Apple TV. Each room has one wall painted green to serve as a “mini-green screen” for video projects.
“The fiction area is really awesome,” Mr. Taylor said, with a couch under a large window.
There is a mini TV studio, soundproof room and an engineering room with audio and video.
“A lot of our students going on to the music path in college will come in here to make their demo CDs to send to colleges,” he said.
The middle school library was also redesigned, although not to the extent of the high school’s facility.
Meghan Clark, school librarian, said the library is structurally the same, but includes lighter colors on the bookcases and more computers.
“I think it is an amazing opportunity for our students. They have a bright, clean, new space,” she said.
A magazine display area covers one wall with clear plastic boxes showcasing the covers of available magazines. “We’ve circulated more magazines in the last few weeks than we did in the last few years,” Ms. Clark said.
Apple TV and iPads are also available in the middle school library. The other day, a small group of students who were learning about British Gen. Edward Braddock in social studies tuned into a live presentation from a professor who had written a book on the 18th century general, she said.
“The student reaction has been positive,” she said.
Each homeroom will use the library as its homeroom period once each nine weeks, and many students and teachers have said they wished they could have the library for homeroom every week, she added.
The library renovation was part of an overhaul of the middle school, which had an overall cost of $6.9 million.
Mr. Taylor planned the redesign of both libraries after “doing a lot of research on best practices for 21st century libraries,” reading construction books on libraries and visiting schools that had done similar projects, such as the Elizabeth-Forward School District and Carnegie Mellon University.
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