The learning goals you have for your library will dictate the kinds of activities that will take place there—and these, in turn, will influence the design of the space and the tools, resources, and other materials that will equip it. But here are five aspects to keep in mind as you rethink the design of your school library.
Creating a flexible space, with furniture and shelving that easily can be moved and rearranged into different configurations, expands the range of activities you can support in your library. It also prevents you from being locked into a limited number of uses for the space, should your needs continue to grow.
Make sure you include open spaces in your design, to allow for students and teachers to gather together for learning and collaboration. If the space is too cluttered, it will inhibit collaborative approaches to teaching and learning. Also, consider how you can improve sight lines and make the space seem more open and inviting, such as by using open shelving or glass walls.
Your library should be a place where students and teachers want to drop in, hang around, have conversations, and learn. Providing soft, comfortable seating options, using warm colors, and adding unique design touches will help ensure that students spend time in your library and explore the many resources you have to offer.
Make sure your library includes enough power outlets to support the ever-increasing assortment of electronic devices that students come to school with. Power outlets should be made liberally available throughout the space, and one way to do this is to use tables and soft seating options with embedded power supplies—so students can charge their devices as they research or learn.
Also, make sure your library offers secure wireless Internet access throughout the facility. Students and teachers should never struggle to get an Internet connection, or they won’t use your library for learning—so make sure you have enough Wi-Fi access points to accommodate their needs.
When redesigning your library, consider whether you would like to make the space open and accessible to the public, because this will affect the design of the space as well. For instance, if you want your school library to be used by students or members of the community after school hours, it should be located in a way that is easily accessible from outside, with plenty of parking if possible.
As the purpose and function of school libraries evolves, transforming the physical space to accommodate these changes becomes imperative. With some thoughtful planning and a touch of creativity, you can design vibrant, 21st-century library spaces that serve as a central hub for digital teaching, learning, and research in your school community.
For more advice about redesigning your library contact Arizona Furnishings today at 800.872.2287.
– Cindy Eggebrecht