The Important Role of LRCs in Education

22-06-2015

In recent years, with the rise of technology, we’ve seen the demise of the traditional school and college library.  But lately, educational institutions have embraced the digital revolution and we’re now seeing an increase in learning resource centres (LRCs).

In this post you’ll learn what a LRC is and the important role they play in schools. With the traditional school library unrecognisable compared to 20 years ago, it’s important to understand the changing landscape of these new learning environments and how they affect students’ learning.

What is a Learning Resource Centre?

Simply put, a learning resource centre is a type of library found in an educational institution where learners can use both traditional and modern means to access information, relax and learn.

LRCs contain a mixture of print materials such as books, magazines and journals, but they also include electronic resources such as e-books, electronic databases and other web resources accessed via a computer, or tablet.

This definition is very different to the school libraries of the past, and therefore the redesign and modernisation of traditional learning spaces is key to your students’ development.

Check out our latest infographic which shows the rise in popularity of learning resource centres and the key role they play in schools.

Pinnacle Furniture installation in Marlborough College

What role do LRCs play?

Over the last 20 years the internet and technology has changed learning – especially in schools.  Students’ questions can be quickly and easily answered by the internet, and smart boards are helping teachers in the classroom and adding variety to their lessons.

And now 81% of 13-18 year-olds have a smart phone, and 34% of these also own a tablet (YouGov, 2014). So with all this information at our finger tips, and the increasing use of technology in learning, you may think that traditional libraries don’t play an important role in a student’s education anymore.

However, just because the majority of people have access to mobiles, tablets and computers, why should the minority miss out? Free access to learning materials has always been at the heart of why libraries have existed, and it’s important to keep that alive.

beaconsfield-5844 - Librarian's counter and flexible tilt-top tables

Libraries allowed people to access books they may have not been able to afford, and this is the same today but with technology and the internet.  13% of households in the UK, and 3% of households with children don’t have internet access, so having internet and computer access at LRCs and libraries gives students from all backgrounds an equal opportunity to learn.

Many students do not have access to expensive technology, and this can have a direct effect on their development.  But with the modernisation of libraries, that now include freely accessible computers and tablets, every student has access.

Impact of LRCs on Learning

The positive impact learning resource centres have on the development of students is undeniable.  The location, the design and the furniture that is included in these learning environments are key to helping students along their learning pathway.

LRCs are important as they offer students the chance to utilise traditional and modern resources in an environment that enhances learning.  The group areas in a LRC allow students to develop their interpersonal and social skills, and the quiet areas allow them to study individually.

It’s very important that schools are being built around learning resource centres, and they should be the central hub of the school where learning takes place.  The variety of learning spaces in a LRC help to expand a student’s communication and collaboration skills, develop their creative side and help their literacy skills flourish.

carshalton_9860 Easy seating in a library with coloured shelving

Gone are the days of the librarian telling students to be quiet.  Now, students and teachers are encouraged to move around library furniture, and make the space their own.  Therefore the design and layouts of these learning spaces should be planned and thought out thoroughly to cater for a flexible and inspiring learning environment.

Impact of LRCs on Social Development

Learning resource centres play a much more important role than just research and learning.  France’s public libraries have seen a new lease of life by becoming a hub for social activity; including freely accessible computers and a mix of different types of seating.  And this change in dynamics seen in public libraries has been reflected in school, college and university learning spaces.

The social aspect of learning is key for students’ development, and this is something that impacts on the design of LRCs.  It’s important to have spaces for students to read for pleasure, discuss topics and work on projects together.

Government Investment

As we can see, the way education is delivered has changed vastly over the last decade, and the needs of the students have changed as well.  And with many libraries not keeping up with the advances in technology, the Government took action to help modernise college learning spaces.

In 2012, a total of £400 million was set aside to upgrade learning environments at colleges across the country, with £110m coming from the Government’s own Skills Funding Agency.  This heavy investment in modernising learning environments reflects a move away from libraries as we know them and a move towards spaces that combine technology and traditional resources.

“These projects will transform the learning environment for students across the country, providing them with state-of-the-art facilities and modern resources that will help them fulfil their potential.”– Vince Cable –Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (2010-2015)

Conclusion

School libraries have always played an important role in a student’s development, and this will never change.  LRCs should continue to support schoolchildren by offering them access to new technology and expensive learning resources that they may not have access to at home.

The digital revolution has changed the way students learn and acquire information, and school libraries have had to react to this.  We’ve seen how the Learning Resource Centre has emerged as a space where both traditional and modern ways of learning have combined.  And the result is an environment where students can go to socialise, relax and learn.

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