While Peck students turn the pages on their required summer reading, back on The Peck School campus, the beloved Higgins Library is turning a page of its own. In keeping with The Peck School’s commitment to honoring “timeless traditions” while fostering “timely transformation,” the library will undergo some impressive alterations over the coming weeks.
“Flexible spaces are a big priority in Peck’s new master plan—spaces that can be used for a variety of teaching and learning purposes,” said Head of School Andy Delinsky. “We are excited about the versatility we will be adding to the Higgins Library without fundamentally altering the beautiful space or taking any books out of circulation.”
When the Higgins Library debuted nearly twelve years ago, the sunny, inviting space immediately became a natural hub for individual exploration, investigation, and research. But libraries throughout academia have been evolving from quiet places to active spaces. As the years have progressed and the demands of project-based learning and collaboration have increased, the Higgins Library has become a hub of activity—a critical location at the crossroads of grade-level and multi-disciplinary exploration.
In this digital age, despite the proliferation of screens and keyboards, physical books continue to be a vital presence at Peck. Especially in a K-8 environment, they are immersive, immediate, and irreplaceable. The library will continue to support the traditional role of books in our curriculum, and the work taking place over the summer will augment that tradition by creating additional areas for creative interaction and small group learning.
Peck’s librarian Mary Kate MacVicar was closely involved in this evolution of the Higgins space. “I am very excited about the changes coming to the library. The newly re-imagined space will take the library from a traditional library design to a learning commons model. This means a place where students explore information in all formats, collaborate together to learn, and have the tools and space to create new content,” she explains. Working closely with the architects and designers, the committee responsible for the renovation (including Mary Kate, the administrative team, and additional teachers) selected furniture and envisioned small physical changes that would help facilitate student learning, and reflect modern methods of teaching.
There will be an additional small group meeting room, which will also include new items for media creation (i.e. green screen and filming equipment) for collaboration and content creation. A Harkness room will be sectioned off for class use to facilitate The Harkness Method, which fosters learning through discussion and discovery and the development of a student's individual voice and academic confidence.
New furniture is being added that can be reconfigured into a variety of arrangements for students to work together or to separate for quiet study and reading. Adding doors to the story room will now allow that room to be used for additional presentation and performance space. A new centrally located circulation desk will allow students to work closely with the librarian to find the information they need. The committee also chose some bright new color choices to reflect the vibrant nature of the school.
“I think teachers will flock to the enhanced Higgins Library for classes because it can be used for so many different reasons,” Delinsky said. “There are both big and small teaching areas, where students can spread out, or be grouped together for sessions. It will be a great space and a perfect blend for quiet individual study and reflection, as well as group activity and collaboration.”