iSchool students collaborate to develop state-of-the-art library at local school
iSchool students collaborate to develop state-of-the-art library at local schoolMarch 25, 2008Margaret Costello Spillettmcostell@syr.edu
Graduate students at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool) have teamed up with Manlius Pebble Hill School (MPH) to help develop plans for a dream library for the local pre-K-12 private school. The project came about last fall, when Meredith Professor Ruth V. Small, ’64, G’77, G’85, a trustee at MPH, learned of the school’s plans to create a new state-of-the-art library.
“I suggested we could provide this service to them,” says Small, director of the iSchool’s nationally ranked school media program and SU’s Center for Digital Literacy. “This kind of hands-on experience benefits our students and gives them an understanding of the wants and needs of a specific constituency.”
At the start of the Fall 2007 semester, Small enlisted the assistance of students in the school media program. Working in teams, students performed a thorough literature review, developed paper-based and online surveys, and conducted focus groups and interviews, collecting data from MPH students, parents, teachers, administrators and librarians. Their findings, which were compiled and submitted to MPH in December, revealed a desire for more space, more technology and more comfortable places to sit and read in the new facility.
Liza Morrison G’90, a librarian at MPH, was impressed with the ideas presented by iSchool students and grateful for their input on the new library, which will be built next year. “All of the information was very helpful, since we didn’t have the time or personnel to do much research,” she says. “The SU students took this assignment seriously and were extremely professional from beginning to end.”
The experience has been equally valuable for iSchool participants. Graduate student Leslie Cataldo Savage participated in a literature review to determine the characteristics of a state-of-the-art library. Her group also explored inclusive designs for individuals with disabilities and provided examples of existing libraries in the Northeast that illustrated the vision for MPH.
“I knew this would be a once in a lifetime experience, to be involved in the research portion of building a library from the ground up,” Savage says. “Although this project was a tremendous amount of work, it was a huge benefit for me. I hope to apply everything I learned when I’m working as a school librarian. I also think we helped create a library that will be special for MPH when it’s built, because it will be a mirror of what the community wants.”