I have just read an interesting blog post by Laura Fleming which argues that if the library isn’t being used, just changing the space won’t make a difference. She says you should bring about a revolution in the culture of the library before trying to renovate. Laura is very emphatic on the importance of student input when considering changing space organisation, furnishings, technology and of course choosing resources. It is refreshing to see something which does not rely upon spending $$$ on the latest new furniture in the hopes that the ‘shiny’ will be attractive enough to bring in more users.
- repurpose your existing fittings, furnishings and equipment
- get student input
- let students choose books
- meet student needs
Things which might be a hard sell in my school? Food in the library, or games in the senior library. I believe that the school executive would like to improve the academic tone of the senior school, including in the library (statements at the start of the year about the library as a quiet study space), so I might not get a lot of support for radically changing that.
Spatial difficulties: we have an echo-y glass box for our SS library, which makes things like private study spaces difficult. What I would love to do is have diner-style bench + table seating along at least part of one wall which would give students places to work together but keep the noise of conversations down to a manageable level. Some more variety in the rest of the seating would also be welcome. An idea I heard from another TL recently is to apply an adhesive whiteboard surface to the top of existing tables – quick and relatively cheap way to provide write-on tables. (quick look puts a piece large enough to cover a 4-person table at about $90; new whiteboard desks start at $250+)
Food for thought…