“It’s jolly!”

Well, less than 24 hours of posting the “Before” and “After” shots of Day #1 and #2 of my shoestring renovations to the school library, and I’ve received many emails, and yesterday’s blog entry has had over ten responses already! Very exciting!

Today, more of the rest of the students caught their first glimpse of my changes. The most bizarre comment was a Stage 2 male student who pronounced the library to be “jolly” – and that’s before he noticed that I’d put up the huge second hand Christmas tree, and dragged out the ol’ trusty prop snowman. Actually, in the corner of the pictures from yesterday, you can see the huge, clumsy, white cardboard box of the tree, that I’ve spent almost twelve months trying to hide somewhere. (I must admit, I found the boxed tree abandoned on the footpath across the road when a neighbour’s tenants moved out, but I regret lumbering myself with such a white elephant that is impossible to store at school for 45 or so weeks of every year.)

Library at Christmas

Most adults who’ve wandered in to the new-look library assume I’ve bought new furniture. So far, I haven’t spent anything, or brought in anything for the revamp from outside the library.

I wanted to add that, last night, while uploading the first batch of photographs, I realised that in our haste we’d overlooked ergonomic issues. Two chairs at the bank of computers were wedged in front of wide table legs, at least four computers had no room to move a mouse, and there was a wasted side to the grey table that just begged to be used.

This morning, after asking our general assistant to wheel away the five unwanted 70s-era student desks, I realised how to add some much-needed keyboard space to the grey table. I used the handle to raise the ergonomic table a few centimetres, pushed the best quality double desk underneath, almost completely, and then lowered the grey table again. Perfect. Turning two monitors by 90 degrees, I created two new spaces (including one permanent mouse area for my fellow left handers). As you can see:
Ergonomic reno
Above: Making a table a little more ergonomic. And comfortable.

Of course, brand new computer furniture would be preferred, but I can’t see that being an option any time soon.

As I emailed to Kevin Hennah today, I’m hoping to do a whole series of “Before” and “After” pics as I complete the reno! And wait till you see what the outside of the library building looks like. It’s really quite hideous, now that I’ve seen it through the viewfinder: a rusting tin box with two little signs near the front gate that say “No smoking” – and that’s it. Oh, and a teacher-painted mural along the front, from 1998. Something to mull over, yes?

Shoestrings vs pursestrings

At this time of year, most school library budgets have reached rock bottom. But let’s see how much renovating I can do before I submit a proposal for actual funds to keep transforming the library environment.

Last week, on the Monday, I spent a few minutes racing around the library with a digital camera. Although I’d previously been quite happy with our very colourful, but often unruly, library environment, aiming a camera at it, inside and out, really showed up the library’s numerous inadequacies, many of which could no doubt be rectified quite quickly. My “Spidey senses” sharpened due to a recent professional development day focusing on improving design and functionality in the library, I was eager to get started.

Using the principles of Kevin Hennah‘s “Transforming Your Library on a Shoestring Budget” presentation of two weeks ago, my clerical assistant, Louise, and I spent part of last Tuesday removing every random piece of dusty, homemade, laminated and unlaminated signage, plus many deteriorating old commercial examples, from the walls and windows.

One day, one of us will have to take to all the stale tape and Blu-Tack marks that remain. Hopefully. But it’s already a huge improvement!

Total cost of that renovation: Nil.
Before: The circulation desk – and a mess of exposed paper and wires.

circulation reno
After: The new “old” circulation desk – a work in progress.

Today (oops, yesterday already!), my clerical assistant was back and, together with a parent helper, we pulled out an existing, old, wood-veneered, circulation desk – from its previous position along a partition wall (with its ugly open shelves on public display, badly overloaded with paper and junk – stuff which no library patron ever needs to see). We turned the unit around 180 degrees, to show its plain, clean front, and hid the computer’s hard drive unit under the counter top.

Behind desk - old
Before: The old grey circulation desk – a mess.

Behind desk
After: The new “old” circulation desk – a work in progress.

We then dragged the adjustable, grey, 80s, ergonomic table, which has supported the library’s main OASIS computer for many years, to the other end of our small bank of networked computers. We used that to replace five small, wobbly student desks (of the 70s) that had been added, over recent years, a few at a time, as the library acquired extra network computers from around the school – usually cast-offs after a computer roll-out. At the same time, we removed one non-functional computer from the network.
Before: The bank of computers – note gaping crevice between carrels.

computers reno
After: The relocated ergonomic grey desk, formerly our circulation desk.

Not long after, my next class – of Stage 3 students – came into the library. “Wow!” they exclaimed, admiring our hasty transformation, “More computers!”


Well, what do you know? Reducing the spaces between the desks, removing one faulty computer, and switching to one big table instead of five littler ones, made it look like we had more computers, not less! Unfortunately, I only just realised that none of my “Before” photos properly showcase the five old school desks which held up four of our network computers and a printer. You can see one in the foreground of the “Before” shot.

By the way, I’ve since tweaked the new ergonomics somewhat:
Ergonomic reno
Above: Making a table a little more ergonomic. And comfortable.

Total cost of this renovation: Nil.

Please stay tuned! There’s so much more work to be done. You know, this would make a great TV show. We could call it… “Renovation Rescue”. (Nah, I think that’s been taken.)

And thank you again Kevin!