Designing for technology can be one of the most intimidating aspects of library facility design because of the speed at which technology changes. Although schools can't afford to constantly be on the cutting edge, you can create a successful technology space by designing it for people and the way they like to integrate their technology devices into learning.
Get at these insights by asking four key questions around the topics of collaboration, the IT department, access, and the tech industry.
First, ask how can you support collaboration with technology tools? When designing for how students learn, one shift we need to make is from isolated spaces to collaborative ones. It is no longer useful to have computers set up as single workstations. Instead, consider flexible arrangements, like tables where students can sit together and collaborate on their devices. If you place a large monitor on each table, then students can more easily see what's being worked on--and teachers and librarians can too. Or maybe your students would rather work at low café tables with a large monitor mounted on the nearby wall.
Again, there isn't one best-fit design for all school libraries. The key is investigating what your community needs and, wherever possible, enabling the space to be adaptable for future technology innovations that become standard use for your students. This may include having a "studio" area where students can record without being heard by others and without interruption. Or it may include having a green screen that can easily be dropped down in the large group area for impromptu video recordings.
In addition to its use in independent and small group work, technology also plays a role in large group events, whether it's visits by guest speakers, panel presentations, or skype sessions with students half a world away. Consider how you will handle acoustics and visuals. Can you install an internal sound system with a microphone? What technology will you use to project images in a place so everyone in a group can see them?
The second question to ask is what does your IT department think? It is crucial to have input from the IT department in any planning you do around technology spaces. Your goals are the same: effectively integrate technology into the school. Find out what they see as barriers in your current setup and what their pie-in-the-sky dreams are. Use their expertise and insight to help guide realistic options for your library.
Third, ask what technology your students have access to. Is your school 1-to-1? Or do students need access to desktops or loaner laptops? Where will your locked storage options be? And a correlated and absolutely essential question: how will you integrate enough outlets to power the technology being used?
Finally, contemplate, what can tech stores teach you. Stores like Apple or Best Buy can offer inspiration. Would a digital bar work in your library? A place where students can ask questions of staff, or--even better--other students to help them understand how best to use their technology. Having a space that tech-savvy students, volunteers, and/or staff can call their "own" and that is a predictable place for others to find them goes a long way in keeping everyone's tech in working order. Also, observe how stores remove the clutter of cords and plan for ways to tuck them away or cover them in your space.
By assessing your tech needs and resources with these four questions, you can be ready to create an adaptable, dynamic space for students to learn.