Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Library Makeovers on a Budget

Before makeover
After the book shift and new theme
One of the services that my office provides is reorganization of the library facility. Janet, Elaine and I go to a school library, and compare the needs of the school with the layout of the furniture, books and other resources in the library. With changing technology and growing schools (many of our elementary schools have gone K-8), how we used to use a space often differs from the best way to use it now.

So we weed the collection, often moving books to better accommodate assignments from teachers. For example, at Fulton, the older students were looking for fiction books and nonfiction books in the same space. By moving the nonfiction and fiction to the outside walls, students spread out more when looking for books to check out. Sometimes, we move computer stations to an area closer to the circulation desk. We have, on occasion, moved free standing bookshelves away from the front door to open up the entrance space. This often creates an area suitable for multiple purposes or a Storytime.

Now that many of our libraries are utilitzing i21 technology, we want to create a space for teaching an entire class. In those spaces, we try to keep a Storytime area, but corral the tables together so that we can also seat an entire class for instruction. Sometimes the screen needs to be moved so that it is in the center of the instructional area.

Fiction area in transition

We recently finished a complete reorganization of a library that has become K-8. We wanted to create an area for younger students, but also set apart an area for the middle schoolers- the Double Digits. So, we moved the fiction and reference books to the instructional end of the library. We added a paperback book rack to shelve the edgy fiction. A space was created to make a cozy reading area.

To tie in both areas, we used a theme- rainforest. Using the resources at the TMC (Noah, especially), we added leaves, vines and creatures that students will research when they study the rainforest habitat. Old posters were taken down. A few “explorer” type props were added. We suggested adding camping chairs for the Double Digit special reading area. A mosquito netting canopy would set that off nicely.
Instructional area with student work
The next step is buy in from the school. We made a list of props that can be collected and added to the displays. The school will post these ideas. Students and parents will bring these into “their” library. Everyone will have an opportunity to have a part and continue to make the library more inviting and usable.

Students will also have an opportunity to fill out paper leaves and add to the vines. Whenever they read a book they especially liked, they can fill out a leaf with the title and author. The library staff will add it to the walls. Thus, another chance for ownership. Teachers and students who have ownership in a library are your biggest advocates. They take care of the space and care about what happens in it. Remember to call it “our library,” as well. No one cares about “your” library.

A final piece is that the library staff is the gathering volunteers- from parents to students to work in the library. The library staff has created an application form for students to fill out. A letter is going home to parents about helping on campus. The library is one of the places they can help. By creating a usable, inviting place that provides opportunities for ownership, students increase their chances to learn in a library that belongs to them. We, on the other hand, benefit from having help and having nurtured our best cheerleaders.

For more ideas about library themes, see my wikispace, Libraries Matter.

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