Bec in the library

"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." — Jorge Luis Borges

Just keep the furniture STILL! November 10, 2015

Filed under: Teaching — becinthelibrary @ 9:12 pm

Nope, not a chance!

I’m in a perpetual state of motion and subscribe to the notion that a change is as good as a holiday. This is especially important when it comes to learning spaces and adapting to issues as they arise.

My principal is pulling his hair out at me rearranging the library every couple of months as it limits his options for parent meetings but I weather the storm of his frustration as I see the benefits from each change.

My latest furniture rearrangement has seen less lesson disruption, better traffic flow, more clearly defined work areas and seating areas much more conducive to relaxation and collaboration for STUDENTS – you know, the people the library is primarily designed to serve.

The library started as a large open space with about 12 round tables with 30 chairs, a few plants, 8 huge soft (yet way too big and oddly shaped) sofas and 12 fairly tall, narrow shelves stacked with random, uncatalogued, unsorted books.

Slowly over the course of the last few months, the library has morphed into a real learning commons where all the school community can live the dream – connect, communicate, collaborate and create.

Now, credit where credit is due. I have absolutely no creative vision. Seriously, none. Whilst I am definitely a visual learner, I can’t envision physical spaces to save my life. So I do as all good librarians do – I call in the experts!

First, I used my Junior Librarian ASA students’ vision board that was created before I was hired. I added a few ideas of my own and came up with ES Library Iteration 1. My Amazing Spaces Creator (ASC, aka my mother – passionate early childhood educator and creator of magnificent things from junk and thin air) was called in on a weekend to help me make it happen.

A couple of months later when that design wasn’t suiting the students’ needs, changes were made once again by myself and ASC. All was good for a few months until I couldn’t handle the younger students moving through my lessons on the way to and from the bathroom/cafeteria/specialist lessons for one more minute. Hence change #2.

All went well for another month or so until I was sitting at my desk looking over the library space and I had that familiar skin crawling feeling that signalled an immediate need for change. (Is it just me that experiences this?!)

This major change took almost 4 hours of moving furniture around on a Saturday afternoon with the help of ASC but I am sooooooo happy with it now. Everyone has to walk far more circuitously around the library to get where they want to go but there is no longer any running through lessons (or running at all really!) and kids get to work and read much more easily.

The library is still very much a work in progress as over half the books remain uncatalogued (I rely on parent helpers as I don’t read or write Chinese) and I’ll always find reasons to want new things or old things in a different configuration. But for now, I’m loving it!

Here are some images of my library as it has evolved.

I’ll add images as I remember to take them!

First thing I did was order age appropriate furniture. It took a few months to get approval but the results were instantaneous! Forward facing books for the win!

(March 2015) First thing I did was order age appropriate furniture. It took a few months to get approval but the results were instantaneous! Forward facing books for the win!

This is probably library arrangement #3. Moving towards more clearly defined work areas and breaking up 'running' spaces.

(April/May 2015) This is probably library arrangement #3. Moving towards more clearly defined work areas and breaking up ‘running’ spaces.

This behemoth of a circulation desk is certainly not my ideal piece of furniture (it is actually a food service bench) but I didn't have a say in the matter. It is made of marble atop chipboard so is both heavy and fragile. It was a massive ordeal to move it. (And I moved it yet again a few months later, he he.)

(April/May 2015) This behemoth of a circulation desk is certainly not my ideal piece of furniture (it is actually a food service bench) but I didn’t have a say in the matter. It is made of marble atop chipboard so is both heavy and fragile. It was a massive ordeal to move it. (And I moved it yet again a few months later, he he.)

OK, so totally not a furniture photo but showing how you display kids' work when you don't have any display boards ANYWHERE in the library.

(October 2015) OK, so totally not a furniture photo but showing how you display kids’ work when you don’t have any display boards ANYWHERE in the library.

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