I have not been "promoting" my blog at all, but a colleague of mine just happened to notice the new web address attached to my social media accounts and took a peek. She is the first person to actually tell me that she found it! Well what a delight to learn that she loves it! She was complementary of the color scheme, remarking that it reminded her of her "beloved Fiestaware" dishes!!! If you don't know the dishes, here you go...
In the course of talking about the blog, she also gave me a fantastic suggestion that prompted this post. She mentioned the Pharrell Williams' song "Happy," which I love...and most kids do too! Here is the video if you've been under a rock and have not heard it...
Then, she went one step further and told me about the Pharrell Williams' Happy BOOK!!! You read that right, the book! I did not know the book existed.
How delightful this book is! And won't the kids be happy when I tell them that they are now the first students in The Happy Library at our wonderful school?! I just wish I could find someone to make me the neon "happy" sign that is on the cover to use in our library, now wouldn't that be fabulous?!
So, thank you to the one and only, very fabulous librarian and story-teller extraordinaire, Miss Melissa Cairns of Fairyland Elementary School!
Thanks to her gift of encouragement, one of my very first lessons of the school year will be about The Happy Library and we may even have a little dance party too. I think the kids will LOVE that.
As a young girl, I vividly remember laying on the floor of our home and coloring poster-sized characters for my mom's bulletin boards. She would find a character she wished to use, place the image on an opaque projector, trace it out onto poster board, and then would allow me to bring the character to life with markers and crayons! My "go-to" method of artistry involved coloring the character with crayons, but then outlining sections with the coordinating marker. What fun that was! I loved helping her bring her bulletin boards to life. I guess you may have guessed, I'm the daughter of a now-retired elementary school teacher.
Fast forward several decades and here I am, embarking on my journey in an elementary school as the librarian. I'm excited about so many aspects of this new adventure, but as I'm closing the door on one job and trying to unwind with some summer fun, I keep finding myself on PInterest. Oh, I know that you teachers and librarians out there know what I'm up to....
I cannot stop thinking about the decorating of the space! I keep imagining vivid colors, flexible seating areas, cute centers, and fuzzy rugs. A lot of time, money, and effort can go in to making an inviting learning space. So, after much browsing and doodling and pondering......and being realistic about what I already own.....I have decided on a color scheme that I think will be perfect for The Happy Library! And I had to look no further than the color scheme I used here on the blog...
This fabric swatch was something I pinned on Pinterest a long time ago because I just loved the vivid color and the happy floral pattern. It prompted me to search for more color inspiration...
These little sunburst poms popped up in my Pinterest feed and I just knew I had to use yellow! They scream "happy" right?! The library has no windows, but just a set of doors that let in a little natural light. Adding yellow into the color scheme will make the dark carpet, dark book cases (the ones with the oddly colored laminate) and the dark-stained library furniture and circulation desk seem less heavy, I think. So, I found a few more inspirational photos that had the yellow....
The dino prints are available here on Etsy. I won't order these, but the color combo is exactly what I'm looking to re-create. I always love ideas from Schoolgirl Style and her lanterns have become a staple in my classrooms, libraries, and offices in the past. Her latest collection called "Pina Colada Pineapple" has a lot of the colors I'm looking to use! Although I won't be adding in all the pink, I do think I may order some of the borders, lanterns, and pennants printed with the yellow, teal, orange, and green.
The fabric swatches on the top right photo can be found through Better Homes and Gardens and the flame-stitch-patterned fabric swatch below it is available through Fabric.com and is a solarium fabric. I don't think I'm ordering any of the fabrics, but these are just inspiration for planning out what colors to use on furniture, displays, bulletin boards, and accessories within the library spaces.
And remember the strange color of the bookcase laminate? I shared this photo in the last post, but I've zoomed in a bit so that you can see what I'm talking about. It appears that it might have been a more vivid blue at some point in time (or possibly green?) but it is now a strange color that I can't even name....well, enter the teal color. I'm thinking that using the teal will actually make these bookcases look teal, even if they are not. Hoping I'm right on this...
So, if my color palette had to be summed up, it is the one pictured above. This swatch was found on Pinterest and links to Erin Williamson Design. I think she must have pinned it to Flickr or some other site like that. I couldn't find the original source, but I'll give her credit since she added it to Pinterest.
The colors are a lively apple green (center), a slightly darker version of the green, my favorite teal, orange (with more of a coral undertone than red), and a happy yellow. This color combo really makes my heart sing! I will certainly post photos as I begin to put items together and of course will post the decorating process once I'm actually in the library. And you can always follow my inspiration board on Pinterest.
Last week, I was able to spend some time with the retiring media specialist at my new school. One of the things she shared with me were the "before" photos she took when she came to the library a decade earlier. The transformation was unbelievable! In her time there, she has completely cleaned the books of layers upon layers of old stickers and barcode labels. She has rearranged the shelving to make the space more open and inviting. She even had the high school construction class build a completely custom circulation desk with the most awesome drawers ever (deep and wide, if you know what I'm sayin')!!!
Her photos prompted me to ask if I could take some photos of my own. My excuse really was that I needed to contemplate my theme and decor for the next school year. I was pondering bulletin board designs and stuff like that. Then, upon reflection, I realized that these photos would be a milestone marker for me in the years to come. I needed to broaden my lens and focus on getting some pictures of the entire space, not just the things I wanted to change. I needed to capture the "essence" of the inviting space she had created for the students.
So, I'm sharing them with you here, but mostly these are for me. I want to archive these for future reference. And if we can all get inspired and challenged to create more welcoming library spaces in the process, all the better. If you don't want to read all of the commentary about the spaces, just stop reading now. But if you want explanations and such, keep reading after browsing through the pictures.
Basically you can see that the library has a gray-blue carpet and the very old bookshelves are actually metal (tan) with laminate sides and tops (a strange bluish-green color that I think was once dark blue and has faded with age). The library itself is in fairly good shape, but the storage areas and offices need a lot of help.
My notes about these spaces are:
1. The large storage closet is jammed full of seasonal decorations and old book fair decor. I think most of that needs to go. Anything that remains could be better organized on the metal shelving in clear bins with nice labels. This room has a hallway door entrance (not pictured) and I think I might use it to bargain for something else I'll mention in another note.
2. The media specialist chose a "theme" every year and her current theme is "Wild about Reading" so that is why you see lots of animals and jungle decorations. I think I will dispense with the theme idea for the decorating. I'd like to create a cohesive look (think Schoolgirl Style - if you don't know who that is, you need to get to know her ASAP). I'm still working on a color scheme, but if you look at my blog colors, you'll get a pretty good idea of where I'm headed with that. I certainly plan to get rid of every single plastic plant, i.e. dust catcher.
3. The media specialist is currently using a two-room area (has a folding wall-yikes) as her office. She was "kicked out" of the REAL media office (which is in the CENTER of the library) a few years ago to make room for a speech teacher. Crazy, right?! So, if you want to see the REAL media office, it is the room that has a woman sitting at a desk just behind the computers in the "computer area" photo. I am coveting that office! It has a window that overlooks the main area of the library and that window is covered in BLACK PAPER! GASP! When I mentioned "trading spaces" earlier, this is what I was referring to. I'm approaching the principal about trading the huge storage room that has a door directly to the hallway for the much smaller but perfectly placed REAL media office. Then, that would free the two-room area currently used as offices (and directly behind the circulation desk) as a maker space or some other type of area for students!
4. The workroom is really a "Parent-Teacher Resource Room" that is funded by Title I. There are games, videos, copier, computer, printer, and lots of counter space and storage. What seems so crazy to me is that the cabinets are basically empty and there are shelves and tables full of stuff! I plan to really dig-in to some organization and make this frequently used area more welcoming. There is also a BATHROOM in here!!! Yep....I'm really excited about that. Mrs. Pilgrim tells me it gets used by many teachers when they are in here laminating and copying materials, so I really want to "girl it up" a bit. I mean, I won't know what to do with myself working with so many women! There are only 2 or 3 males in the entire building. That is a big change from middle-high school world. I plan to take full advantage.
5. There is one area that I didn't get a photograph of....forgot to do it. It is called "The Eagle's Nest" and is the door that has the eagle above it at the very back of the library. That room was originally designed for storytime! It has a carpeted STAGE in it!!!! But, someone thought it would work better as a junk room, so it is covered in old computer hardware and old guided reading materials. It really needs a good cleaning. It is currently used as an "office" by the technology support person, but I think I might can do a little convincing about the clearing. Hopefully by building good relationships, I can reclaim some of these lost areas that were originally intended for our students. That is the hope anyway.
When I applied for my new elementary media position, I had no idea what type of portfolio or materials the interview panel might want to see from me! I had applied, been called, and was interviewing in a matter of about three days, so there wasn't much time to create materials that would relate to elementary school....remember, my entire career has been at the middle-high level. What to do? Well, show off what I've done.
The only way I could think to do that in a matter of a few hours was to create a quick video that could serve as my digital portfolio. I scoured my files and located pictures from my years as a high school librarian. I made my video "more elementary" by adding light, bubbly music and a cute template. But my biggest obstacle was what to call it!
Eventually, I settled on a name that I felt summed up what type of space I wanted to create. I had envisioned a lively library, full of color and vibrant with activity. Thus, The Happy Library was born.
After 7 years as a high school media specialist, I elected to take a position as an instructional technology specialist in a middle school. I had trained teachers and students on the use of technology when I was the librarian, after all. I thought it was my dream job. No more managing budgets, no more organizing spaces....no more checking in and out books, no more having to design engaging programs to promote reading....you get the picture. I guess I thought it would somehow be easier. I also saw media jobs being cut and thought this might be my "saving grace" at some point.
That is a dangerous way to think. I packed up and moved on in the middle of the summer and began the toughest year of my entire professional career. In some ways, being the instructional technology specialist was easier. I did have more flexibility. I did have time to train teachers. But unfortunately, I learned very quickly that my role was much more administrative than I realized. I realized that although I could do the work well, I had no passion for it. Long story short...I missed the library.
So, I am going to return to my work as a library media specialist. And it is going to be one very BIG adventure. I am not returning to middle-high, but instead and am taking the plunge into elementary school! I'm super excited, but also a little nervous. But I know it will be awesome.
Who to follow: