An underused High School Library gets a makeover

Monticello High School’s library was an underused, single purpose reference room. Inspired by the maker space movement, library media specialist Joan Ackroyd, got to work reimagining and reshaping the space.

With $250,000 in funding from the school board, the school’s library was redesigned and modernized, with new furniture and technology improvements into what is now called the Learning Commons. A soundproof digital recording studio, where students can work on original compositions and a glass room with videoconferencing equipment for Skype sessions were added. Also added, a Genius Bar, where students learn to troubleshoot and repair computers; two 3-D printers; and a hacker space, where students incorporate Minecraft and other programs into their projects.

Teachers were skeptical at first. “They initially thought we had lost control,” Ackroyd says. “It was rowdy.” However, Principal Jesse Turner fully supported the Commons and its nontraditional approach. “It’s not recess time for adolescents,” he says. “It’s all tied to instruction at some level. It’s tied to learning.”

The high school’s library isn’t underused now. Before the transformation, it had about 400 student visits and 529 classroom visits each year. Now, there are more than 71,000 independent visits, and annual classroom visits exceed 2,300.

Learn more about Ambemarle County Public Schools, Charlottesville, Virginia at their website at