Theses Doctoral

The School Library as an Other Space: A Case Study into Literacy and Identity

Rumberger, Alyson T.

This study builds on research conducted in classrooms by proposing that literacy happens in a range of school spaces that educational research has traditionally left unattended, such as lunchrooms, hallways, and libraries. Libraries are one space, of many, in schools where literacy “happens,” despite the paucity of information about this complex space. This study explored the library as situated within a disagreement about how libraries should be utilized—either as democratic sites that provide access to a range of texts, or as sites of direct instruction in standards-aligned informational literacy.
Informed by a spatial framework, this study investigated one school library to trace which literacy practices circulated in the space through observations, spatial maps, semi-structured interviews, and artifact analysis. Findings included the library functioning as a liminal space, where competing ideas about literacy circulated. Focal students demonstrated dominant notions of what “counted” as literacy, in that they engaged in discourses that were privileged within established conceptions of schooling. However, there were also pockets of playfulness, where the space began to “crack” and gave way to a construction that was fluid, interrupting expected literacy practices.
In a context where classrooms continue to become constrained, alongside reduced funding for library programs, the diversity of literacy experiences that students can encounter decreases. Discovering what is possible in one space can offer fruitful discussion around the potential of school libraries, and other spaces for literacy, to strengthen literacy experiences in schools for our students who are most implicated by narrow definitions of literacy.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Ghiso, Maria Paula
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 10, 2018