What is an iCentre?

Recent presentation on the iCentre concept:

Implementing an iCentre approach: Your destiny, by design from Lyn Hay 

Keynote presented at British Columbia Teacher Librarians’ Association Conference (BCTLA) 2015, Vancouver, Canada


The iCentre concept

It’s a concept I developed in 2009.

I have worked in teacher librarianship as a practitioner and academic since the mid-1980s. In the mid-1990s, I wrote about and presented on the idea of transforming the traditional school library into an information services unit with a chief information officer at the helm (Hay & Kallenberger 1996; Hay 2001, 2004).

While some schools embraced this approach in the past decade, it was the university sector who explored these new ways of providing integrated information-technology-learning spaces and services. This led to the design of ‘information commons’ or ‘knowledge commons’ (Lippincott 2006), and more recently in school settings, the ‘learning commons’ model based on the work of David Loertscher and colleagues (Loertscher, Koechlin, & Zwaan 2008).

In 2009, at the time when the future of school libraries was being hotly debated in Australia as a result of the Federal Government’s Australia’s Building the Education Revolution (BER) initiative providing 100s of schools throughout Australia to build a new school library, or refurbish an existing school library, I argued this was an opportunity for teacher librarians to rethink, rebuild and rebrand school libraries to support 21st century schooling.

My research on the impact of school libraries on student learning, TL-principal partnerships, technology integration, and school library futures informed my conceptualisation of an ‘iCentre’. In the chapter ‘Developing an information paradigm approach to build and support the home-school nexus’, I argued:

It is essential that library/ information and technology departments be ‘re-engineered to achieve a synergy and functionality that transcends the traditional paradigms of 20th century schools’ out of which will emerge ‘a new information-based, technology-enriched learning centre’ …  Schools need to develop an information infrastructure with an emphasis on ‘i’ (information) and ‘l’ (learning), not ‘IT’ infrastructure.

I really felt it was time that schools took a crack at trying to reconcile the information, technology and curriculum silos that were paralysing real educational reform in schools. Over the years I had spoken to so many principals who knew they needed their school to change but were often held to ransom by those managing the technical aspects of networking their school. In other words, student learning, pedagogy,  and technology and learning innovation were not driving the educational agenda in the school, the nuts ‘n bolts of networking computers determined what teachers and students could or could not ‘do’. It’s impossible to build a vision for innovation and experimentation using learning technologies with 24/7 access, wireless connectivity and mobile devices, when a collective vision does not exist within a school, no matter how ‘good’ your teachers are.

I see an iCentre approach as one solution to addressing this challenge, once and for all.

The above presentation takes participants through
the design and planning phases of building an
iCentre in schools, with particular emphasis on
the WHAT - outlines the range of programs and
services provided by an iCentre; and the WHY -
provides a rationale for establishing an iCentre.

The iCentre is a high-end multimedia production facility which acts as the information-technology-learning hub for a school. While it is the technology engine of a networked school connecting classrooms, specialist learning spaces, offices, corridors, homes and mobile devices to the wider networked world, it also provides the school community with a large, flexible learning space based on fluid design principles to support ‘collaboration, performance, creativity, interactivity and exploration, both online and offline’ (Schibsted 2005). One would expect the layout of an iCentre to look different on a daily basis depending on the range of individual, small group, class-based, or whole year- or discipline-based activities it accommodates at any given time, that is, the form it takes reflects the function.  (Hay 2010b)

It requires a convergence of facilities, technologies, people and resources, into one central facility within the school where information, technology, learning and teaching needs are supported by a team of qualified information and learning technology specialists and support staff. It is a centre that provides students, teachers, administration staff and parents with a one-stop shop for all resourcing, technology and learning needs on a daily basis.

The What, Who, Why and How of Building an iCentre: Part 2

The above presentation takes participants through
the design and planning phases of building an iCentre
in schools, with particular emphasis on the WHO -
presenting a range of configurations for an iCentre
team including staffing formulas and role statements;
and the HOW -  presenting a blueprint for developing
an iCentre with reference to some useful models for


Some of my writing about the iCentre concept includes:

Hay, L. (2015). The evolution of the iCentre model: Leading inquiry, digital citizenship, and innovation in schools. Teacher Librarian, 42(4), 15-19.


Hay, L. (2012). It’s time that 21st century iCentres grace our schools. Syba Signs Newsletter, Term 2. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/17qeB9q

Hay, L. (2012). Experience the ‘Shift’: Build an iCentre. A spotlight on what’s trending in Australia. Teacher Librarian, 39(5), 29-35. Digital edition available from http://www.teacherlibrarian.com/.

What the editors of TL journal had to say about my 2012 article:

“Lyn Hay describes a welcome trend in Australia toward the design and building of iCentres in schools. Similar in concept to the learning commons, the iCentre is a hub of teaching and learning where teacher librarians, administrators, classroom teachers, IT staff and others collaborate to create and a total learning environment for students. The growing acceptance of iCentres and their recognition by various  government and education authorities, is an exciting development. Hay provides information and guidance which should be useful to anyone adopting the learning commons approach.”

Hay, L. (2010a). Chapter 9: Developing an information paradigm approach to build and support the home-school nexus. In M. Lee & G. Finger (Eds.), Developing a networked school community: A guide to realising the vision (pp. 143-158). Camberwell, Vic.: ACER Press.

Hay, L. (2010b). Shift happens. It’s time to rethink, rebuild and rebrand. Access, 24(4), 5-10.

Lee, M. & Hay, L. (2011). Teacher librarians and the networked school community: The opportunities. Connections, 77, 1-4.

Hay, L. (2010). Chapter 9: Developing an information paradigm approach to build and support the home-school nexus. In M. Lee & G. Finger (Eds.), Developing a networked school community: A guide to realising the vision (pp. 143-158). Camberwell, Vic.: ACER Press.


Recommended reading:

Hay, L. (2014). Implementing an iCentre approach: Your destiny, by design. ‘Taking Charge of Your Destiny’, New Jersey Association of School Librarians (NJASL) Annual Conference, Long Branch, New Jersey, USA, 26-27 October.

Hay, L. (2014). Implementing an iCentre approach: Converging information, technology and curriculum leadership in schools. International Association of School Librarianship (IASL) 43rd Annual Conference, Moscow, Russia, 25-30 August.

Hay, L. (2014). Centres as digital leadership and learning hubs in schools. Skolbibliotekarielyftet Conference, Nässjö, Sweden, 13-14 March.

Hay, L. (2014). Anatomy of an iCentre: In theory & practice. [Keynote address]. International Schools Librarian’s Knowledge Sharing Workshop, Jerudong International School, Brunei Darussalam, 21-22 February.

Twomey, M. (2013). iCentres: Partnerships not buildings. ASLA XXIII Biennial Conference. The Curriculum Experience: Connect, Integrate, Lead, 28 September-1 October, Hobart, Tasmania. Retrieved http://www.slideshare.net/ASLAonline/icentres-partnerships-not-buildings

Silvennoinen, A. (2013). St IvTàry’s Waverley iCentre. Access, 27(3), p 16-19.

Lee, M. (2013). Digital normalisation, school evolution and BYOT: Positioning the school library. Access, 27(4), pp.4-7. Retrieved http://www.asla.org.au/publications/access/access-commentaries/digital-normalisation.aspx

Oldham, Lisa. (2012). Kete Mātauranga: The journey from school library to iCentre. Computers in New Zealand schools, 24(3).

Pleasance, M. (2012). Sacred Heart iCentre: Educating girls to make a difference. ICTEV2012 Conference. Retrieved http://www.slideshare.net/markpleasance/icentre-ictev2012

Lee, M. & Kocovska, L. (2011). Leading a state primary school: Broulee Public School. The Australian Educational Leader, 33(4), pp. 38-41. Retrieved http://malleehome.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/4-2011-Feature-4-LeeKocovska.pdf

Lee, M. (2011). The networked school community and Broulee Public School. Scan, 30(3), 24-31.

Whisken, A. (2011). A journey to iCentre thinking. Synergy, 9(2), 1-10.

Hough, M. (2011). Libraries as iCentres: Helping schools face the future. School Library Monthly, XXVII(7), 8-11. Retrieved http://www.coetail.com/jpahls/files/2013/02/I-Centre3.pdf

Other sources cited in this article

Hay, L. (2004). ‘Information issues and digital learning: Rewriting the rules of engagement?’ In Reality bytes: Information literacy for independent learning, La Marca, S. and Manning, M. (eds). Carlton: School Library Association of Victoria, pp. 49-66.

Hay, L. (2001). Information leadership: Managing the ICT integration equation. Computers in New Zealand Schools, 11(3), 5-12.

Hay, L. & Kallenberger, N. (1996). The future role of the school information services unit in the teaching/learning process. Paper presented at ITEC Electronic Networking and Australasia’s Schools Conference, Sydney, 12-13 April.

Lippincott, J.K. (2006) Chapter 7: Linking the information commons to learning, in D.G. Oblinger (ed.), Learning Spaces, Boulder, CO: Educause. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/PUB7102g.pdf

Loertscher, D. V., Koechlin, C., & Zwaan, S. (2008). The new learning commons where learners win: Reinventing school libraries and computer labs. Salt Lake City, UT: Hi Willow.

Updated by Lyn Hay, 29 November 2015

5 responses to “What is an iCentre?

  1. Dame MO Brennan

    This is fascinating. We created an i centre after tolerating an unused or rarely used old style library full of books that no one read.
    We now have magnificent i centre which is in regular use from 8am to 4pm and is a very flexible area using new technology including i pads and kindles.
    You would be very welcome to come and have a look. Images are on our web site. http://Www.barrbeacon.sch.uk

    Best wishes


    Dame Mo Brennan
    Barr Beacon School

  2. Many thanks for your feedback, Mo. Your new iCentre facility looks fabulous as featured in the first 30 seconds of your 2011 promotional video http://www.barrbeacon.walsall.sch.uk/?p=2173 and photos at http://www.barrbeacon.walsall.sch.uk/?p=2143 and http://www.barrbeacon.walsall.sch.uk/?p=2042. I will follow up your invite to visit via email. Thanks for sharing this transformational experience at your school with readers of this blog. Kind regards, Lyn

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