NORMAL — The burial of the elementary school “library pits” has given rise to modern interactive technology.

“Filling in our pit allowed us to do a couple of things,” said Prairieland Elementary Principal Carmen Bergmann. “We were able to move our shelves down so that we have more room for our lab of computers at the opposite end of the IMC.  Where the pit was, we have a second SmartBoard which can be used for interactive instruction with a whole class or a small group even when the SmartBoard by the lab is being used for instruction.”

When grade schools were built in the late 1990s, plans included recessed areas in the library where children could sit on steps to read. The pits were about 2 feet deep, 10 feet wide and 15 feet long.

And with their demise, so has the name: library has become the “center for media instruction or IMC.”

“This is amazing. It looks like they’ve never been there,” said Sandy Wilson, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for McLean County Unit 5 schools. “The loss of the pits is part of the evolution of how children learn today.”

Originally, students were exposed to literature in the school library and their teachers would read to them.

Now, children read in classrooms outfitted with cozy nooks, in-class libraries, and their own selection of books.

At Grove Elementary, Principal Tina Fogal said the loss of the pit also meant a change in how the day is structured.

“We’re using part of the library time to expose students to technology instruction,” Fogal said.

“It’s a nice blend of the way kids learn now,” Wilson said.

The work was done by library staff. Materials were moved so construction crews could fill the pits with concrete and cover them with carpet. Director of Operations Joe Adelman said high school and college students helped moved the books and furniture back into place.

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