Friday, October 2, 2015

The "Big Kids" Library Has A Brand New Look!

The "Old Elementary Library," which
never officially got another name,
is now the Learning Specialists' space.
When I was a kid, I used to make scale drawings of my bedroom and all the furniture, then cut out and move the furniture pieces to see how things would fit before actually rearranging my room. And I never wanted to be anything like an architect or interior designer!

Last spring, we did something like that in planning a new library space, and back in June, we saw the end of the Paideia Junior High and High School Library as we've known it for the past 20 years.  Over the summer, this entire wing of the high school building was gutted, reconfigured, rearranged and revived, and I think it works really well.

My desk has never been so clean!
The planning process with architect Miriam Dolson began back during the winter.  She met several times with me, Brett Hardin and Laura Hardy to learn about what happens in the library, what's working & not working, how it's used by students and teachers, what could happen if the space were different.  She came up with some ideas, and we talked about them.  Most impressive was that Miriam came to school and just sat in the library for half a day. Observing the ebb and flow of students during study hall, class periods and breaks, she realized that some of her ideas just didn't work in this real-life situation.  In this renovation, Function was the driver of Form, and that's pretty darn cool.

These old collections of biographical
articles and primary document excerpts
are fine, but never used. They'd make a
great "book art" Christmas tree.
Since January I had been weeding the book collection, knowing that there would be much less shelf space in the new space.  Boxes and boxes of books were removed from the collection, many of them "perfectly good books," but not likely to be checked out again (or ever) by our student population - they went on to hopeful other lives with other readers.  Some of them were just embarrassing to find out we still had -- the ones on the "drug crisis" published in 1984, the one on the "new" ex-Soviet states published in 1990.  People -- no matter how good their physical condition, there are some books that just have to leave this world -- if the information contained is inaccurate or out-of-date, they've got no purpose for continuing to exist.  White paper recycling was invented for this purpose! 

In order to prepare for the demolition and construction, we closed the library for the last week of school, something we've never done before, which compacted summer checkouts to a 2-week period instead of three.  Then the last 4 days of school were frantic tidying, de-cluttering and boxing up of the circulation desk, my office, and the library workroom.  As anyone who's move house remembers, this is a fantastic time (even for genetically-programmed packrats) to get rid of lots and lots of random stuff.  The ancient vinyl record collection went to an IT guy from Emory who had just gotten a turntable and was really excited to introduce his kids to Western classical music in analog sound.  The Dictionary of Slang went to a skeptically thrilled Clark Cloyd for his classroom collection.  An old overhead projector went to the science department for robotics parts.  The World Book encyclopedia went to the elementary school. And so forth.

The office and circulation desk, all boxed up.
What was left went into boxes.

Getting ready for storage.
Goodbye to the old entry.
The zen of tidiness!

Never fear!  The school hired Professionals to box and move the books.  (Whew!!)

The movers came in the day after school finished to tag and box the books shelf by shelf, then take apart and move all the furniture and put every little thing into storage for the summer. Then the demolition began.

That little room in the back right is my new office!

All gone, even the carpet.  You can even see all the new electrical outlets along the east wall.

While the library was an empty shell inside, this was going on out in the world.  Yippee for summer reading!!

A junior high student engrossed in March: Book 2,
the graphic novel autobiography by John Lewis. Books 1 & 2
were the junior high's "all read" assignment for the summer.

I wasn't willing to put money on whether all the construction would be done by the start of school (oh, me of little faith!), but just in time for the faculty retreat & planning week, the carpet was in and the shelving was reassembled and placed according to the new plan.  And then ... I walked in and said "oh, no!"   And Miriam walked in 30 minutes later and said "oh, no."  You know how sometimes you move into a new place and realize that where you told the movers to put the sofa and the lamps and the TV cabinet just doesn't work in real life??   We fixed it, and said "yeah, ok."  And the books came in, and my boxes came in, and then the students came in!

The library is as packed as ever, before school, during break and at lunch.

The doors were removed from the old entryway, and a new wall and doors built.
Now the elevator and the classroom open into this vestibule, not the library.

Remember how the elementary library entrance was diagonal across the corner? 
The same trim was moved to the new door into the Library Meeting Room. 
The Paideia-in-Print and display shelves on the wall are where the office window used to be.
That's Morgan Potts, new Learning Specialist, in front of the door to their space.

The view from the Learning Specialists' door.

New (exceedingly sturdy) armchairs, and additional armless seats too!

The study carrels are now all lined up along the wall with the new outlets.

New library floor plan. Can you still remember how it used to be?

I'm still adjusting and tweaking details, things that nobody would think or notice until actually working in the space, but as I was quoted saying in a recent Forum article on the renovations: "I like them, I think it was well thought out, and I really appreciate being a part of the planning."  Nuff said.

So do like these folks say --  come on in, and Check It Out!!!