This past week we have been very fortunate to have two fantastic library experts, Doug Johnson and Ann Krembs, here at ISB to help guide us through our Main Library Review. While they were here specifically to share recommendations for our upcoming renovation of our Main Library (for middle and high school students), they also generously stopped down in the ES Learning Hub to give us some advice on how to improve our space.

It’s amazing what a fresh pair of eyes can see.

Within moments, Doug and Ann, had several easy, but very effective, suggestions for us. Interestingly, one of those suggestions was exactly what Silvia said about our Tech Zone when she was here in Bangkok a few weeks ago, but it didn’t really hit me until this week:

You have to give them something different. The Learning Hub (library) has to offer a physical environment that is different than other spaces teachers and students regularly use.

This hit me like a bolt of lightening. Of course! Why would they use our space, when they can continue to use their own, more private space, that has been customized to their specific classroom needs? Especially considering how well-resourced we are as a school, with laptop carts for every 2 classrooms and extensive classroom libraries.

In our efforts to make a 21st century learning environment, we had mistakenly recreated a standard, formal classroom space at the very front of the Learning Hub, assuming that teachers would want to use it as an expanded classroom:

Project Zone

Of course, that space was also back-to-back with our “computer lab” space, making it very difficult to have classes in both spaces at the same time.

Now, with the advice of Doug and Ann, we’ve redesigned the space to make it more of a “movie theater” look for story time, as well as open up the shelving to spread the tables throughout the library to allow more privacy in seating:

Story Zone

From the Back

We’re hoping we’ve captured the “something different” idea with this arrangement. Who has a movie theater in their classroom with comfy chairs and surround sound speakers?

And just for fun we added some chess boards:


And rearranged our fiction reading nook:

Reading Nook

Our next step is to tackle the “computer lab” area (called the Tech Zone) and transform it into a multimedia editing suite, with a green-screen and podcasting stations:

Technology Zone

What are you doing to offer something different in your learning space? What other changes would you recommend we make in this space?

22 thoughts on “Something Different

  1. What an awesome looking library! How exciting and inviting! We are a year or so away from our own new, 21st Century Media Center. I am sharing this post with my Director of Technology and soon-to-be new librarian. Thanks for taking the time to post this blog!

  2. That looks fantastic Kim! I love how open it is yet at the same time looks cozy and inviting. You’ve some great ideas.

    I like the idea of large curtains attached to tracks in the ceilings to be able to drag out and section off areas to create different ‘on the spot’ environments. Would something like that be useful for your theatre area to help make it darker and cozier when watching a film?

    It looks great! Will have to drop you a line next time I’m in Bangkok for a school visit!

  3. Kim,
    Your Learning Hub looks amazing – and with our school about to undergo massive renovations I’m going to share this post with the staff. What would I do different? Is there space for the students to display/share examples of their learning in this common area?

    Thanks for sharing

  4. Hi Kim,
    check out our ‘library’ via . It is an incredible place and so much learning emanates from an centers on it for us. The kind of space you are describing in many ways that has been ‘going’ for about 4-5 years for us. The wiki will give you a good idea of the programs that Peggy and her team run for us. Cheers, Greg.

  5. Who wouldn’t want to visit this space!? This is wonderful. Spreading out the tables makes so much sense. I was thinking the same thing the other day but not sure how to make it work. These visuals are so helpful in thinking about space. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Within two separate visits I was amazed at the difference in activity just by the changes in zoning that had been created. During the first visit, most students were utilizing the right hand side of the library. Upon my second visit after you’d changed the areas around, I noticed a much more even distribution of use. It worked! It looks great. You two have much to be proud of with that space and more importantly what you are doing inside that space.

    It’s definitely a dreamy library!


  7. A wonderful library and learning hub. Discrete learning spaces are essential in libraries. Would love to see colourful visual posters either hanging or around walls, shelving and the general library environment. Like any classroom, it is important to immerse our students in language and visual literacy, and also to promote literature, books, reading, information literacy, etc in the library. Doesn’t need to overwhelm to take away clean lines of your library, but is still important, I feel.

  8. @Melissa,

    Thank you! I hope the post is helpful in your planning!


    Thanks! I love the idea of curtains on tracks! I’d also love to have some moveable soundproof plexi-glass curved walls to create “on the spot” podcasting or video editing stations that are still visible. Please, feel free to stop by anytime! Let me know when you’re coming and I’ll plan a tour :)


    Sure! Please feel free!


    Thanks for the feedback about displaying student learning. This is something we know we need and are trying to work on (slowly, but surely).


    Thanks for the resource!


    So glad it was helpful for you! I can’t believe what a difference it made just to move around those tables.


    Thank you so much for the inspiration! We need you back here on a regular basis! It is so amazing what a quick visit will spark!


    Thank you! We’re pretty lucky.


    Yes, I totally agree about colorful visuals. It’s definitely something we’re working on.

  9. I spent a year teaching English in Taiwan. I realized I wanted to work overseas again, but as a school media specialist. The state of libraries in Taiwan made me think my dream job probably wouldn’t materialize any time soon however, after seeing what you’re able to do in Thailand, I see it may be time to begin looking!

  10. @Edi,

    Keep in mind, this is an international school (not a local Thai school). Most international schools are very well resourced, similar to private schools in the US. You might have heard of Taipei American School in Taiwan, which is very similar to ISB.


    The furniture is purchased by a supplier in Germany. They make all of our school furniture. I’m not sure which company it is though… I can say that it’s very similar to the furniture we had when I worked in Germany, so it’s probably relatively standard/easy to find.

  11. WOW! I’d love to teach in that space.

    It looks like the tables and chairs are on wheels. That makes flexible spaces easy. What if you figured out a way to put wheels on the rest of the furniture? Then your whole area could be flexible and each teacher coming in could take 5 minutes to set up “their” area.

    My other idea, when you replace the lab computers, purchase a couple higher end desktops for video/audio editing and creation. Then purchased laptops to make the flexible arrangement even more flexible.

    Well done!

  12. It seems many schools forget that students today don’t learn in the same way they did. Old fashioned libraries, while great for the previous generation, just don’t do it for kids today. The media center setup you have here is amazing, and goes to show that educators need to reshape their thinking in order to accomodate technology in today’s classrooms.

  13. @Ben K,

    I guess you can’t tell from the picture, but everything is on wheels in here! All the shelves, all the furniture – everything. So we do have a lot of movement and flexibility. It’s almost a multi-purpose space because once you remove everything on wheels, all you have left is the columns and the walls.

    I also didn’t mention this in the post, but we have a floating cart of laptops for the Hub already. What I’d like to do is get rid of the desktops that are on the round tables in the Tech Zone and leave the ones that are along the wall shelf for video editing. Those desktops are already set up as multimedia stations, which will really help.

    Thanks for sharing those ideas!


    Agreed! One thing we need to do more of, is getting student feedback on the space. We do this very informally, but it might be worthwhile doing something a little more formal so that both teachers and parents are aware of what works and what doesn’t for our students.

  14. What an awesome media space! I teach at the high school level and our kids are excited to sit on the bean bags in our media center… I can’t imagine how floored they would be to visit a media space such as this. Classroom atmosphere plays a large role in meaningful learning and with a space like this, kids would flourish and be more apt to participate and use the resources more often. Thanks for sharing your pictures and thoughts! Kudos!

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