School Library Management
Having been involved in designing and moving into a new library there a several things that I would do differently if another renovating experience came my way.
Library Design: Few architects are experienced in library design.
Assurances of past experience and impressive credentials do not guarantee they understand how your school library operates.
Ensure that the contractors understand the requirements and needs of the specific clientele for this unique space.
Schedule time for discussions and, ideally, make sure they spend time in your current library to identify traffic flow, usage patterns and staff work requirements.
Skylight: Natural light over the circulation desk may appear, at first, to be an environmentally sound option.
The value of providing a natural light source needs to be weighed up against the effects of direct sunlight on the workstation.
Reflecting light from the computer screen can cause eyestrain and make it difficult to read the screen.
Bright light also adversely affects the efficiency of barcode scanners.
In summer, heat generated through a skylight can make workstation areas uncomfortable to work at.
Over time, skylights become dirty and regular cleaning can be challenging because of difficult access.
Floor Space: In the event of a new building, consider both current and future needs when planning the different spaces within the school library.
Consider office and storage space and, if necessary, sacrifice floor space in the general library to ensure that functionality is paramount.
Crowded office spaces and storage areas for equipment, resources and work needs, such as audiovisual capture, can hamper access and detract from efficient practices.
It is important to provide for evolving needs and advances in technology.
Work space: Ensure that the floor layout of offices provides the maximum of work areas for library staff.
Consider cupboards, or similar, rather than open shelves to keep work areas tidy and reduce clutter.
Include workbenches of different heights and widths to suit different tasks.
Some tasks are best done standing up and require higher benches than those that are completed sitting down.
Include adequate power outlets and computer ports to meet future needs.
Keep in mind that staff will change and different work preferences need to be planned in the design.
Colour scheme: A neutral, complimentary colour scheme will stay fresh; whereas, following fashion colour trends will quickly date a refurbished school library.
Neutral colours enhance displays, providing a backdrop that allows displayed material to stand out and catch the eye.
Consistent shelving colour throughout the library makes the repositioning of shelves easier if changes are needed at a later date.
Covering the ends of shelving bays helps create a tidy, neat appearance as well as providing display areas to identify collections.
Consider other ways to identify different sections of the school library.
For example, the use of different colours for book ends and easels for each collection provides visual clues to clientele.
Find out the total budget allocation for the refurbishment and secure sufficient funds to adequately furnish the library after building or alteration costs are expended.
A new environment loses its impact if old or damaged shelving is reused.
Budget for bay ends to cover unsightly shelf ends.
Consider a new and novel addition to the library to celebrate its development, such as a reading corner with comfortable chairs.
It takes time for clientele to become familiar with their new library environment, to find favourite or high demand resources and to familiarise themselves with the overall layout and use the library effectively.
Budget for the preparation or purchase of signs and shelf labels that complement the colour scheme of the library.
Make sure that signs and labels are in place before opening the library for use.