on rethinking library spaces and falling in love …

This is a cross-post of one that I wrote for the Association of Independent School Libraries Community Blog.

I love libraries. Even before I became a librarian, I loved libraries.

I think that it is probably a pretty good bet that, as librarians, most of you who are reading this post probably love libraries.  So … Why is that?

I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about exactly that.  What made us fall in love?

I grew up in a not-poor-but-nothing-leftover-at-the-end-of-the-month-either family in Honolulu.  Back in the day before the forces of globalization brought about the phenomenon of buying clothes at Costco without trying them on, all of the people in town who could afford to, shopped at a local department store called Liberty House.  I don’t think my mom got to shop at Liberty House often, but I remember my mom having a treasured Liberty House shopping bag that she kept folded in the trunk of our Dodge Dart.  Every week, we would go to the library and I got to fill the white shopping bag with the pink and gold LH lettering with books from MY library and somewhere along the line, I fell in love with the library.

But why? Why does one fall in love?

I loved the smell (Which, I learned in library school, was probably caused by mold spores and horrendously bad for us and for the collection). I loved the cool mountain breeze that blew through the louvered windows (Yes, it was open-air in tropical Honolulu … Great for growing mold spores!). I loved the gold painted security bars at the front door. I loved the sound the book drop made when you returned books. I loved the four-year old me-sized tables with the colorful plastic disk seats, and I loved the four-year old me-sized pencils that I got to use to write my name on the book cards in the pockets in the backs of the books I borrowed. I loved it all.

I loved how it looked.

I loved how it smelled.

I loved how it felt.

And I loved who I got to be when I was in the library …

Now that I am a librarian, I’m not quite sure if the kids that I serve love my library. We get a lot of traffic, but I’m not sure if they love the library or if they just love our wifi. Hmmm …

So here is my horrendously, deeply buried lede …

One of our two major classroom buildings will be undergoing a complete renovation over the course of the next school year.  By necessity our four-year old library will be reconfigured to house our entire collection, students studying and working during free periods, our library classes, AND six temporary classroom spaces.  It’s not a perfect situation by any stretch of the imagination, yet, it IS a truly wonderful gift to have the opportunity to rethink our existing library space and figure out how we want to reinvent it.  In time, our classroom building will be renovated and the classes will move out.  What should our space look like, then?  What should it feel like? What should it sound like? As I see it, the possibilities are boundless.

So … If this were your space, what would you do? How do we help our kids fall in love with their library? And their libraries to be?

After attending an incredible presentation by Honolulu teacher, Amy Burvall, on vlogging (video blogging) at the Schools of the Future Conference 2013  in Honolulu, I decided to take a shot.  It’s far from perfect. It’s a librarian with shaky hands running around for 5 minutes with an iPad, but it’s fun.  Hope you like it, but most of all, I hope to HEAR from you! Please click on the links in the video and share your ideas!




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