Linworth Libraries Unlimited

High Impact School Library Spaces

Envisioning New School Library Concepts

by Margaret L. Sullivan


This book provides a key weapon in the fight for the survival of school libraries, explaining how the future depends on designing and implementing multimodal learning spaces.

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Cover image for High Impact School Library Spaces

December 2014

Libraries Unlimited

Pages 125
Volumes 1
Size 8 1/2x11
Topics Management and Administration/Buildings and Facilities
  Management and Administration/General

To keep school libraries relevant, their physical spaces need to be reinvented to mirror 21st-century learning models. This book will enable everyone from school librarians and principals to district-level administrators, architects, and interior planners of school library spaces to reconceptualize school libraries.

School libraries provide invaluable benefits and services, but many of today's school administrators, parents, and students no longer see their value. Now most students have their own computing devices and the use of eBooks is on the rise; students can gather information anywhere, at any time. This book offers bold new ways to think about library spaces and suggests how libraries can provide the spaces needed to encourage students to explore learning. It also presents librarians with dynamic ideas and plans that can be used as a springboard for planning with school administrators, architects, and builders.

The book identifies opportunities for creating spaces that support instructional models such as guided inquiry, examines technology skills needed after graduation, shows digital media hubs complementing maker spaces, and discusses how incorporating social media spaces into library design can encourage learning. The author guides librarians through the process of documenting the district learning goals in order to translate those specific goals into library space plans for an architect or interior designer. Readers will discover templates for flexible, up-to-date library designs that serve to not only improve students' learning and critical thinking skills but also to emphasize the modern school librarian's role in boosting academic achievement.


  • Describes space concepts to support personalized learning and guided inquiry
  • Addresses the key subject of how to best adapt the library for technology, virtual learners, and patrons seeking to use smart devices
  • Spotlights the new concepts and learning applications that are necessary to make school libraries more effective, especially at the middle and high school levels
  • Examines how to merchandise a new library brand and promote revised roles for school librarians to reverse the trend of marginalization of school libraries
Author Info

Margaret L. Sullivan is an independent consultant and principal at Library Resource Group, LLC. Her published works include AASL's Library Spaces for 21st Century Learners: A Planning Guide for Creating New School Library Concepts along with articles on space planning in School Library Journal, Knowledge Quest, Teacher Librarian, and American School & University. For 28 years, Sullivan was an executive at the former Highsmith Inc., a leading supplier to schools and libraries, ending her career there as director of merchandising and marketing. She holds a master's degree in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Table of Contents


  • Foreword by Susan D. Ballard Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Developing a "Durable Mutation" Chapter 2: Adaptability and Technology Chapter 3: A Hub for New Pedagogy Chapter 4: Multi-Modal Design Elements Chapter 5: Have Smartphone, Will Travel, Mobile Learner Chapter 6: Spaces We Remember Impact Learning Chapter 7: A High Impact School Library Cannot Be Shy
  • Bibliography Index

    Look Inside

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