I’ve been meaning to write this for the longest time – after the library renovation / redesign what is working and what isn’t. For the history have a look under make-over or library design posts and categories.
I was prompted to write this really due to three main questions that have been floating around the Facebook librarian groups that I’m a member of. The questions of storage, seating and signage.
There was a question this morning about an administrator who expected the new school library to have no storage except a desk with two drawers …
Now I’ve never seen this in a library, BUT when I went for a tour of the Lego regional hub in Singapore where each employee is give a 30cm2 cubby for all personal things and for the rest
of the time they just hot-desk it. Any desk left unoccupied for more than 30 minutes gets its stuff removed! It did look very sleek, but sounded like something that would be pretty hard to adapt to.
I did try in our library to have the ability to hide the things that don’t need to be seen, while ensure that my staff and I still had a workable situation given the fact that a lot of what happens in libraries is about processing and storage!
First off the circulation desk. This is one of the prime examples of something that looks good but isn’t very functional. It’s a case where design won over best practice according to the literature and best instinct according to what was logical. But it looks nice. Says everyone who sees it.
It’s circular. It looks nice. But one of the first things they warn you against in library design 101 as it’s not very practical. And on the right side, instead of having the circle go to the wall I insisted out of health and safety concerns (we’re a primary library) that we could “get out” to attend to the “floor” very quickly. So it had to be open on both sides. So that means we lost about 50cm on the side. Which meant that the 3 chairs are pretty squishy next to each other. Which is good and bad – good because it means that it’s not really comfortable so you’re kind of forced to be up and moving and on the floor and doing people/book type things. Not so good because when 3 of you need to be there for a big class or year end check ins, there just is not enough space.
And the drawers. They don’t all open at once, so it’s a case of “you first, no you first” – luckily my ladies have a sense of humour and get on with each other.
We have some good processing space at the back, with a sliding surface that pops out to create extra space when you need it. That’s handy.
I had all those boxes of literature circle multiple copy books in my room and I didn’t want them in a space that students and teachers didn’t consider to be public. But we didn’t want boxes and boxes cluttering the space. some of the nicer spaces I saw had used sliding doors with writable surfaces in their classes or libraries, so we used that idea. The top and right photos is the storage with and without doors. What you can’t see in the photo is that the projector screen comes down in front of the cupboards during presentations and the doors can be shifted to the sides for writing on while projecting. The bottom photo the sliding cabinets where all the PM readers are kept in a side class.
Good and bad of this – I love the fact that it looks so neat. But the doors have a habit of “jumping” their tracks and since the writeable surface is glass I’m nervous of kids opening it without an adult around. Also the glass surface can only be written on in black or dark blue – other colours don’t show up.
Way back in the day all I wanted was better seating where the chairs legs didn’t stick out with everyone tripping over them all the time (top left photo). Then I got a complete renovation and someone (not me) left the seating out of the budget. Then I got the budget and my seating! Yay!
I must admit I really love my Furnware chairs and tables. My students love them too and my teachers are just a little big jealous of them – but they’re still sweet enough to leave me nice notes
on the writeable surface! The chairs are quite heavy, but stackable and the “rocky” children love the fact that they can wiggle without falling over backward.
The beanbags are a mixed bag. Another no-no if you ask librarians, but on the balance I’d say I’m glad we have them. We have 12, and so far only one has had an issue with a zip, and that’s been repairable. My students were warned that if they “died” an unnatural death due to abuse they wouldn’t be replaced and they’ve been fairly good about policing each other about the usage. They’re super light and moveable, and it’s lovely to see how the students create their own spaces either sociable or isolated by the positioning of themselves relative to the bag and other bags and people.
We have 2 of the green armchairs, which are good for adult sized people and a couch in the classroom. Since it’s a primary school though – they also spend a lot of time sprawled out on the floor or on the mats. (Don’t you love the sense of humour – some of my kids left Bear reading a book after recess one day).
There is of course a lot of dragging bag back into place after recess ready for class, and I really need some kind of solution for my side classroom as it’s not ideal, but I need time to think about it and live in it more first.
We went with Merchandising Libraries for our signage and on a whole I’m quite pleased with how it turned out. We used their shelf-talkers, fiction section dividers and junior section dividers. We used plain black with white to go with our corporate look and feel. for the “inbetween” bits I use old VCR holders and print out the signage black background, white lettering. Cheap and good looking.
I had to order in a hurry to have it ready, and order everything at once and I only had the catalog rather than physical objects to go by. This is what it looks like:
If I had to do it over, I’d stay with the Junior section dividers and the alphabet for my fiction sections but another solution for the picture books and junior section as the A-Z tends to stick out too much for little people with a poor sense of proprioception. I also regret the fact that I don’t really have a good place to signal dewey. I’m still thinking about hanging something from the ceiling, but I hated that when I first arrived, so I’m going to have to think some more.
Part of signage is display space, and I’m really happy with that. The thin slats at the door and space above allow really flexible displays of books and student work. And I love my pillar disguising round display space. Yes the variable signage above the slats could be better than just print outs on paper – ideas?
Next project – well, my children’s orthodontist had THIS in his surgery – talking to our open-minds coordinator about doing something similar when our G2’s have their plants unit …