When 3rd Place is Good. Empowering Students in the Library.


This photo, “First place, second place, third place” is copyright (c) 2009 Joe McCarthy/ gumption and made available under a Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 license.

One reason I love my high school ‘ library job is that I don’t have to tell people what to do all day. ‘ Sure, I’m always checking passes, giving instructions and directions, or pointing the way to obtain the desired outcome. ‘ But, when a teen walks through the doors of our school library the decision about what to do next is totally up to them. ‘ It is so unlike walking into a classroom where the next 90 minutes are highly structured and choices are circumscribed. ‘ The ability to provide an intellectually stimulating environment where teens get to make the choice of what to do next is empowering for our young people and deserves to be protected.

The high school library is one of the few places where students are given decision-making power. ‘ Sure, it is the decision-making power over their own actions, but, that is where empowerment starts. ‘ When they walk through that library door, decisions await. ‘ Where to sit, computer or table? ‘ Do they need to work, or socialize a bit? ‘ Should they listen to music while they work independently, or work with a group of classmates? Do they want to work with a group of our coders on the 3D printer or lounge in a comfy chair and read a magazine? ‘ Perhaps they stayed up late studying last night and just need to take a nap. The library is one of the few places on the high school campus where students can be self-directed. Continue reading