Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Welcome to my new library!

As you may have read in a previous post, I made the move to my new school district and new library this summer to be closer to my home and on the same school calendar as my children. I arrived at the media center to discover a different room than what I'd seen on my interview tour. The murals had been painted over as part of a school-wide painting project and the library was even larger than I had remembered. This slideshow gives you an idea of what I saw on my interview tour:

Before Photos

My first plan of action in this new space was to do a little rearranging (a lot actually) in an effort to make the space feel more like me and what I envision for the library media program - heading toward a learning commons environment and adding a makerspace. The rearranging consisted of moving sections of books and a few shelves to open up the space. Granted, it was already a large space, but certain areas felt cut-off and I like (and need) clear sight lines to all areas. 

Once that task was completed, the dilemma I still faced were the freshly painted off-white walls that were over 8 feet tall - that's not an exaggeration! It was quite overwhelming and I debated about what to do for a few weeks. I wanted it to be colorful and purposeful; I am not a fan of just hanging random things as a way to to fill up the blank space. Another big factor is that whatever I made needed to be inexpensive. Moving the books showed me the true state of the collection and in addition to updating the collection, some organization was needed. Organizational items usually cost a lot of money, especially if they're going to survive the many children that come through the library on a daily basis.

Since I'd rearranged the sections, I chose to first focus was on creating section signs.  Two options I seriously considered were:
  • Using a piece of drywall cut into 4 pieces (each piece being 24" x 48" - the guy at Home Depot did this for me), painted with a wooden letter for each section (N for nonfiction, E for everybody, etc...)  and the word spelled out on the bottom. I'd then lean the signs against the wall on top of the shelves. It was based on this picture I found on Pinterest: 

  • Using chalkboard contact paper to cut shapes and use chalk to create signs. I was inspired by all the creative signs you see on Pinterest. It was extremely difficult to find chalkboard contact paper at the beginning of the school year and I ended up buying some chalkboard rolls for party decorations (not sticky so that was another issue) at Target. I practiced on a piece of black bulletin board paper before messing up the expensive chalkboard paper and quickly found out that I have absolutely no talent whatsoever in writing neatly with chalk. 
And that's it. After three weeks of debating, I had nothing. I did like the drywall sign idea, but it just seemed too small for the large wall space and I kept debating about colors.  And then it hit me - teachers use bulletin board paper die cuts all the time. Why didn't I do that? I discovered we had 8" die cut letters in the teacher workroom and the plan was set! I decided to color code the sections - red for nonfiction, blue for fiction, yellow for biography and green for everybody.  I used a pizza pan to outline the shape for the back circle - in black since all the new trim in the school was painted in black. I then used a serving tray as the pattern for color circle and placed a black die cut letter on each colored circle. This photo of my fiction section shows the letter signs and just how big I made them:

As you may be able to see in the photo above (near the bottom right), I also ordered shelf divider boxes from Library Skills (color coordinated of course!) for each section. I then created an "Everybody Nonfiction" section for the little guys (K and 1st grade) by pulling lower level nonfiction books from the main shelves to create a section just for them at the end of the everybody shelves. I included baskets with labels for popular items like space, dogs, ocean animals and the like.  I added green bins to the regular everybody picture book shelves to hold the Rookie Readers and other small, learn to read series that tend to get lost on the shelves.


For the fiction section, I created bins with popular series and made labels. For the well-loved Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, I made a separate bin for each book in the series and numbered them to help us, the students and our volunteers remember if the green one is number 3 or where it is in the series. By the way, the green one is actually number 3. :)

I've cleaned up the nonfiction section a bit from the quick summer move, adding labels to help students find things. I'll post photos and more details soon. In the meantime, here's a short slideshow showing a quick overview of the "after" library photos.

After photos

Wishing you health and happiness,

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