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.
Who to follow: