Middle Grade Monday – Making your library work for you
Over the past six months or so, I have touched every piece of furniture, electronic or computer device, and every book in my school library media center (except the smart board, which I have to wait on for a trained professional.) Some might ask why, and my muscles would certainly chime in on that question. To be honest, it was because the library, the arrangement of the furniture, the amount of equipment, and the location of the books, simply wasn’t working for us. Neither the students nor I were getting what we needed out of it. And I was pretty sure I knew what I wanted – an organic space that encourages exploration and small group work, a place where the students can take ownership of their surroundings, a place where they feel comfortable, not a place where they feel monitored. I had no idea what to do.
Fortunately, I work for a large enough school district that we have people on staff who can help. Not only did they come out and talk to me for several hours, then come back and help me make a floor design (in which we got rid of about a third of the furniture and most of the equipment) and a collection map, they figured out a way to get several display pieces and some wheeled table legs to replace two on each of 9 tables, so it’s easier to reconfigure the furniture on the fly. Here, let me show you what it used to look like. This is the former view from my office door:
The entryway to the library is on the right, and I believe at this point we had already removed the security gates. Completely useless since I lost my assistant position and the students began checking out their own books. Also, not very friendly when we did use it – it rang a siren like when you set off the alarm at a department store. The mini lab of computers you see straight ahead are completely gone, as are most of those tables (they’ve been repurposed in other parts of the building.) And on the right is the circulation desk. Also completely useless since we lost our media assistant position. And a barrier to access and service.
Here are some panoramic views of the former arrangement from the center of the room (about where you see the blue column in the photo above.) The first is an image from the office door on the right to the far side of the room:
This one is the other half of the room:
And now it looks like this:
We’ve gone from a standard two classroom and 1 mini lab setup with a traditional circulation desk to one large group space with multiple small group spaces coming off from it in a spiral shape. I’m afraid the pictures don’t do it justice. I’m so excited for the students to come in and use it!
Have you ever undertaken a similar project? What ideas/questions do you have?
Filed under: Middle Grade Monday
About Robin Willis
After working in middle school libraries for over 20 years, Robin Willis now works in a public library system in Maryland.
SLJ Blog Network