A library with no books normally would be considered vacant, but for Elizabeth Public School District this is the way of the future. At the John E. Dwyer High School students can expect to walk into a new Multi-Media center in the Spring of 2012 void of the traditional aisles of dusty texts. Instead, they will find comfortable couches, study carrels, and technology covering every inch of the space. The faculty at Dwyer is taking the leap into the 21st century and moving all of the books out of the library. The faculty is already using iPads to track attendance and grades and soon the students will be able to check out a laptop or iPad instead of the old textbooks that used to line the shelves. The cost savings in using technology over updating the texts is what has lead to this great push. 'Embrace technology' is the new anthem at Dwyer - a high school dedicated to teaching students with technology about technology.
USA Architects has been hired to transform the current space from the currently dated 1970s chic and into the “Library of the Future”. Through collaboration with the faculty and staff of Elizabeth Public Schools, the new interactive media center has emerged. An important element of our collaborative effort involved the input from the very students who would be utilizing the new center. The design team felt that the students’ approval was just as important as that of the faculty and staff, so we invited the "Students of the Month" to see what their new media center would look like and offer feedback; to our surprise their reaction was mixed. The younger students were excited to see the upgrade and wanted to know all about the new technology that would be introduced into the space. On the other hand, the seniors were more interested in keeping some books in the space. The notion of sitting down with a good book and flipping through the pages still appeals to some, while others are just as happy sliding their finger over the glass screen of an iPad.
As the use of technology in the classroom becomes ever more prevalent, the “textbook” begins to look like a thing of the past. Even as the faculty makes plans for the remaining books, there is no doubt that the transition to an all-technology school jettisons this district deep into the 21st Century.