Traditional library space reconfigured for new high-tech learning

Nov 8, 2016

As more and more schools hook up to high-tech, digital learning, school libraries are dramatically changing. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley visited Canisius High School in Buffalo to check out the newly renovated library.   

The high school library is located in a large room with high ceilings. It once served as a ballroom when it was a former mansion.  It is a true blend of modern technology, furniture and textures with traditional architecture.

“I was actually on the committee that worked together to bring the money in to redo the library,” explained senior student Andrew Beecher.

Canisius senior Andrew Beecher said this new space preserves the integrity of the traditional design. It still features grand chandeliers and archways, but now provides students with new high-tech study space.

“Keeping the integrity of the space and still modernizing it, because we have all this beautiful artwork and chandeliers, and it’s just a beautiful, historical space but we were able to incorporate comfortable seating and new computers and big screens—so I think it works well together,” Beecher told WBFO.

Senior student Bernard Dent added his take on the newly completed space. “Well I think that it’s important to kind of try to keep the library with the times,” he said.

Senior Bernard Dent said the new space allows students to study and hook up their iPads for learning.

“All my textbooks are on my iPad so I didn’t really frequent the library before because I didn’t need books. If anything, it was just a place that I would be standing around waiting for my mom to come pick me up from school,” Dent added.

“You can go to it for whatever and even if you have a question on something, the librarian, or even other teachers that are roaming around – you’re able to just go to and ask,” student Randolph Chi told WBFO.

Randolph Chi is a junior. He said the library offers students a chance to get their school work done and then hang out for conversations. The new space allows students to work as a team on studies or there are private study rooms if they want a quieter section.

“You always say that you want to come into the library to get your work done –and then things like hanging out, like the furniture and everything, you just want to hang out sometimes so there’s just so much you can do,” Chi added.

WBFO also spoke with Eric Amodeo, director of educational technology at Canisius about the space’s transition into a high-tech learning lab and how the transition has been received.

“So far, to date I would say that it’s paying off. It’s getting a lot more use that it ever has so it’s been pretty positive, said Amodeo.

There space features an Apple TV, computers and charging stations, all set up to enhance the learning experience. Amodeo tells us the college preparatory school now offers students a college-like library that is cutting edge.

“We tried to make it more of a college feel – a comfortable space for boys to come in and do quiet study or work collaboratively or work on the computers so that there’s something that fits everybody in the space. One of the things that we did last year when we were preparing to do the space was to look at what colleges offer and what their spaces look like so that our boys were comfortable here before they ever get into that situation and have the same kind of space available to them,” Amodeo mentioned.

Now there a very few books inside, but students tell us even though they can read e-books on-line, they still enjoy picking up a classic, whether it is required reading or their personal choice.

Chi told WBFO about his favorite. “One book that I consider a classic but I love it is The Great Gatsby. We are required as a junior to read it – but I’ve read it maybe three or four times,” he said.

“One of the classics I was surprised to really enjoy was Shakespeare’s Macbeth two years ago and that was, we read it hard copy,” said Beecher. He noted that the students do one Shakespeare play a year at the school.

“My favorite classical book that we have read here has to be Catcher in the Rye. I love that book. I had never heard of it last year before I had to read that book for English and I absolutely loved it,” Dent added.

Web extra:

Canisius High School students show off the newly renovated, high-tech, library space. One area they like to use is a large conference table. They said they hold diverse conversations on politics and the Presidential Election at the spot.