Jay Litman of Fielding Nair International presented a conceptual design for the future Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) library at the school on Monday afternoon. Deemed the “next phase in transforming the school library into a dynamic, multipurpose, multidisciplinary learning space,” the proposed Global Learning Commons (GLC) will be a fully revamped space with concepts that will incorporate requests from library faculty, results from student and teacher surveys, and market-based research.
“We’re teaching in a way that’s in the 21st century, but not in a space that’s designed for the 21st century,” MVRHS librarian Kevin McGrath said of the current library.
He explained that previously, a library was used as a reference area and a place to store books and media. Now the space is used for upwards of 20 different teaching modalities, he said. For example, the library is used as an exhibition space for student projects; a space for public presentations, meetings, and other community connections, such as Adult and Community Education of Martha’s Vineyard (ACE MV). In effect, the library is a space for interdisciplinary work and collaboration, he explained.
That’s the thinking behind not just revamping the library, but creating a Global Learning Commons. The “global” aspect is about technology and online learning, the “learning” is about different usages and modalities for the space, and the “commons” refers to the collaborative aspect of the space as a place for the exchange of ideas among all generations and community members.
Fielding Nair International is a firm that has worked on schools across the nation and globe. Over a period of about two years, the firm came up with a design that will completely rework the library. The design features a “porch” area with seating, just before the entrance. Upon entering, students would find a coffee bar and café area where they can study in groups at small, round tables. Just beyond that is a service desk with a view of the whole library, which will include more group collaborative-study areas, private work spaces, and in the center, bookshelves with more seating. A “heritage center” runs along the back — a social space for students to work with Island historical resources. There are small group rooms in the back that students and teachers can reserve. Also on the first floor is a professional development area with an office space.
The design also includes a second-floor mezzanine with another study area, a presentation and lecture space, a recording and performance studio, and two smaller personal study spaces.
Outside, in a courtyard space currently unused, Mr. Litman showed a design with outdoor seating, a small fountain, and a small, roofed amphitheater.
“These are all things that were requested after lots of discussion,” Mr. Litman said. “We’re solving the problems of what you wanted at the school. This is where everyone in the school can congregate to do different things.”
In total, the project would cost $2.4 million, which includes the indoor and outdoor renovation and all the necessary furniture. The inside area total would be $1.9 million, and the outside would be $506,000. The timeline, Mr. Litman said, would be about 10 months for the whole project.
After the meeting, Mr. McGrath said he didn’t know when the project could start. The library is just one of a number of projects that the school is looking into, and could become part of a more complete project down the road. He said the challenge will be in figuring out how the Global Learning Commons fits into the larger picture, and acquiring the $2.4 million, likely through a public bond.