Researching Museum Railway Station

City Circle Loop
City Circle Loop signage, Museum Station, Sydney, NSW.

3 Museum Station

A Flickr slideshow about Museum Station, Sydney, is HERE. Stage 2 students are researching underground railway systems as part of their science and technology unit, Buildings and Bridges.

And on through the underground stations (and Circular Quay) of Sydney’s City Circle Loop:

City Circle hi def hi speed

Good news week?

A quick blog entry to share two new purchases:

This metal newspaper rack was picked up in a St Clair bargain ship for $19.99. At the moment, it’s holding some copies of last year’s Premier’s Reading Challenge honour roll inserts.

This “Imagine” sign was already painted white. Not a bad find at $9.99, also at St Clair.

We actually spent today – between teaching – attempting to consolidate two poster racks, jammed full of posters, into one. A job we never attended to, even when we had the racks in storage while the new BER library was being built. Lots of the posters are terribly dated, especially the ones from the late 60s. A few we are keeping for pure nostalgia value.

When the rectangular-frame rack is empty, I plan to turn it into a puppet theatre. The other rack, which has crossbars, should hold what’s left of the posters, but I still think it’s an efficient storage method. The posters have had call numbers for many years, but were never accessioned. We hope to add a brief record for each to OASIS. It’s been frustrating that no posters appear in a subject hearing search. We aren’t going to go too overboard, though, because once every classroom has an IWB, posters in classrooms may well become obsolete.

I shall keep you posted on some other, upcoming “good news”…

Many happy returns


Just when I thought I’d finished with the blue paint and textured gel medium, I spent the weekend preparing, painting and varnishing a set of small MDF letters (from Spotlight) to match the circulation desk revamped signage – and to dress up the new Returns box. Not that it needed a lot of dressing up:

Lion and Returns box
The full story of the library lion is HERE!

I’ve read a lot of controversial comments about these BER-standard Returns boxes. Lots of schools seem to be very concerned about student safety when the box is emptied. A platform inside lowers automatically under the mass of returned books, and the lid is quite heavy. However, I never had the thought that the box in our library would be used every lesson. I had planned that, when borrowing recommences in 2011, students would continue to return their books in a pile at the circulation desk each library session – and that the lockable box is simply there for one-off returns, when no one is available to return items immediately through OASIS Library. I think the box is rather cool! And now, even cooler!

As for the “Just Back In!” boxes, these are my yet-to-be-shelved books. The divided interior of each box provides compartments for sorting. “Just Back In!” came courtesy of one of the schools in Kevin Hennah’s presentation on shoestring library makeovers, and when I first used the signage in the old library, it provided an immediate release of pent-up guilt. Suddenly, books didn’t have to be shelved (too) immediately, because the borrowers often perceive them as “Hot” titles and highly worthy of borrowing before anyone can actually re-shelve them!

Just back in
“Just back in!”

STOP PRESS: The picture book, “A rat in a stripy sock” by Frances Watts & David Francis, is very popular at out school. When I bought the book, the shop gave me a free rat-in-a-stripy-sock toy, and our rat and his colourful balloons (painted styrofoam balls and Fimo clay “nozzles”) now hang from the rafters of our new school library:

Rat in a stripy sock

Time 4 Le@rning…

Time 4 Le@rning
And the ellipsis (…) is extremely important!

Last week, I finally had the time (ho ho ho) to put up the last major installation in our new BER school library: the “newsroom” clocks with various world time zones represented. This is, essentially, my original vision for the previous library’s back wall, but the beautiful, proposed, professional signage (with purple lettering on a large, clear perspex rectangle, to show the green-painted wall behind) was way out of my meagre, less-than-shoestring, budget at the time. In the old library, I ended up making do with a simple, laminated sign, designed rather crudely in Word, and enlarged on the photocopier on green A3 paper.

It was a recent, chance discovery of the chain store Typo (in Parramatta, but now also in Centrepoint in the CBD) that secured me the lettering I decided I wanted to do the job properly, and they were pre-painted, and on special! The new library even comes with a ledge – at the right height – for the letters to stand upon, secured lightly to the painted wall with Velcro dots. The ellipsis was an afterthought… While placing the letters last Monday, I had to move a few and the very last Velcro dot removed a tiny bit of paint off the wall, so… I raced back to Typo on Thursday night to get three matching full stops (at 95 cents each). Luckily for me, the first full stop sits over the offending paint glitch. As if it was always meant to be there… (Shhh! Don’t tell anyone I ruined the new wall!)

The black clock (easily recognisable as the local time) doesn’t show up as clearly on dark blue as it once did on pale green, so I superglued a thin, green satin ribbon around its edge, and that helps the rim show up.

What's the time in Penrith?
What’s the time in Penrith?

During the rebuilding of our BER, I happened upon some very cool, extra clocks in the shape of Superman‘s insignia and a Doctor Who Dalek, and accumulated those, too, to join the “Time 4 Le@rning” clocks. While in Typo, I also found a very nice, cubic, digital clock for my office (scroll down to final photo); as close to a “Star Trek” stardate clock as I can get at the moment. The “Superman” clock is numberless and the Dalek clock is deliberately “one handed” – and they can be challenging to interpret, but bound to be discussion starters, like so much else in this new library. Almost every artifact has an anecdote and the stimulating environment is getting conversations between students really buzzing.

The day I was putting everything up, I realised that six clocks in a row defeats the pun in the signage, so I found new locations for my new, novelty clocks, leaving the “newsroom” part of the library with a more serious tone.

What's the time on Krypton?
What’s the time on Krypton?

Frames & clocks

What's the time on Gallifrey?
What’s the time on Gallifrey?

The clock with the mouse represents “Hickory Dickory Dock”, of course, and dates back to when the newsroom clocks in the old library began to run down on their first batteries. It took me a while to work out that “Auckland” didn’t need constant repairing and resetting, just a new battery. This old clock, from the original library office, had never kept good time, so now it sits permanently at one o’clock, complete with mouse:

What's the time in Nursery Rhyme Land?
What’s the time in Nursery Rhyme Land?

Digital clock
My office clock from Typo. (With Nicholas Ickle’s elephant!)

Check it out – again!

Check it out - again
“Check it out”! (But no books till next year.)

I’m still pottering around the new BER library, adding bits ‘n’ pieces as I go. Last weekend was spent sanding, painting, varnishing, and on Monday afternoon, gluing. The above MDF wooden lettering (from Spotlight) was salvaged from my original renovation makeover, as made to my old library, but I’d glued the lettering to the old circulation desk *to stay* – and they were a devil to scrape off. The edges were quite uneven and damaged. So I added a coating of Galeria Acrylic Medium, with a medium grain gel added, and it gave a wonderfully textured finish and hid the blemishes. I then painted them blue, over the original burgundy (below), and then varnished.

"Check it out!" - Shoestring makeover
The original “Check it out” signage!

I was never happy with the original placement of the “C” letters (above). The guideline of rulers I’d taped to the desk prevented the bottom of each “C” from sinking slightly below the line. My revamped blue lettering has worked out perfectly.

The Governor

Governor Macquarie's chair
Mister Macquarie’s Chair. 😉

This evening I braved the rain to attend a teachers’ preview of Sydney’s Governor Lachlan Macquarie celebrations. Although I couldn’t get into the CBD early enough to see whatever is on display at the Hyde Park Barracks Museum, I did get to the quick tour of NSW Parliament House (many thanks Graham Spindler!) and the formal stuff at the State Library. A NSW DET representative demonstrated the Centre for Learning Innovation’s “Macquarie 2010Notebook 10 materials for use with IWBs.

The displays look to be very stimulating and I liked how the State Library’s physical exhibit, “The Governor: Lachlan Macquarie 1810 to 1821″, is labelled with separate, colour-coded display cards for adults and school children. Well worth a visit, as are their online archives!

I had to smile on the way out: here’s the new motto of the State Library:

Check it out at State Library of NSW

Looks familiar?

"Check it out!" - Shoestring makeover

Has someone been drawing inspiration from my shoestring makeover project?

Time 4 a bargain!

With the concrete slab of the new school library less than a day old, I happened to be at Westfield Parramatta last Sunday, and noticed that a little store called Typo was having a huge sale on 20cm tall, painted, wooden letters for creating wonderful library signage! Seven letters or numerals, either in black or white, for only $20. The regular price per item is usually $4.95 – and to think of all those plain MDF letters I sanded, painted, lacquered and glued/nailed/Velcroed at the end of 2008…

Typo in Westfield Parramatta
You can see the wooden letters on the shelving along the far wall.

As I stood there, stunned by the potential savings, I couldn’t think of what I needed for my future library signage needs. I already have a concept for outside signage. I was also rather taken by the “@“, “#“, “$” and full stops available in the range but, apart from something like “INFO@YOUR LIBRARY“, I really was at a loss as to how to proceed. I wandered away in deep thought, worried I’d let a big opportunity pass me by and the stock would be exhausted when I got back a week later. During the looooong week, I did realise that I’d had to settle for a temporary (laminated) version of the following signage idea, my concept of which was positioned beside the four world clocks:

Time 4 learning & Core values - Shoestring makeover

I hurried back today, arriving at Typo at 10.25am, only to find they were closed. Oh no! Surely they wouldn’t be closed all day? With only seconds to spare before I was due to meet a friend at the cinemas, I was able to collect the black lettering I needed at 11.00am, and I even found a way to utilise an “@”! (Note that, unless they have more lettering out in a back storeroom, I did end up getting the last two examples of “E” and “N“.)

Time 4 learning

That made thirteen pieces, with one more to go to make the $40. I chose a spare “@” in white – I’ll come up with a way to use it eventually:

1 x @

The original “Time 4 Learning” concept, as it appeared in the blog last year, is discussed in detail HERE!

My advice: Hurry to Typo!

Signing off… the external shoestring makeover?

Library sign - horizontal
And so, with a Kevin Rudd BER new school library to be built on the site of my school’s existing, antiquated, portable library, further plans for renovating the current building went on permanent hiatus. I am very glad I only lightly nailed my internal signage to the walls, rather than gluing them, because almost everything I created in the last twelve months will be able to find a home in the new building. At the time of the announcement, I had already had a visit from Phyl Williamson, of Syba Signs, to give me quotations on perspex outdoor signage, an internal sign, a selection of poster hangers and mobiles, and vinyl lettering for the windows, etc. These ideas (and funding) have now had to await the new building, of course.

I’ve been asked to do a presentation on my shoestring makeovers for an upcoming ASLA professional development day, at my school (Saturday 31st October) and, during the last school holidays, I suddenly found myself really regretting not being able to finish off my plan to get a large outdoor sign made. Something that identifies the building as a “Library”!

My temporary external sign has turned out to be so successful, I wanted to share it.

Kevin Hennah‘s course on library renovations reminded us about how commercial stores have huge signs featuring their identity, and yet so many public buildings – and especially libraries – seem to keep their identity a secret to passersby. The day I started snapping photographs of the library, pre-renovation (this time last year), the very first shot was of our extremely dull, uninformative, external library wall – yes, that all-important wall, seen by every visitor through our main gate. The wall that gives people their first impression of our school:

“No smoking, no smoking”, it says!

Original external wall

How would anyone even realise this was the school library?

So, after several fruitless, forlorn visits to both Bunnings’ Hardware, and Spotlight, I went off to a local computerised signage supplier for a quote on a speedy-but-weatherproof sign that might impress people coming to my seminar session. The results were a little disappointing: only slightly less than a perspex sign and – no matter what – I’d be spending between $206 and $250 and still only ending up with one external sign.

I did take one source of inspiration from my Bunnings trip: they had some long, pre-primed, stretched canvases for artists @ $35.00. Maybe I could pull off a miracle with a similar stretched canvas, if I could locate one the right size at a local bargain store? Bingo! “Cheaper Than Chips” at Penrith only had one, but it was a 31 x 102 cm “Paintwell” brand stretched canvas @ $15.95, plus $2.00 for a tube of “Ultra Blue” acrylic paint.

Last night, I enlarged some lettering (upper and lower case, for legibility) from Word on the photocopier, transferred the design to the canvas, taped up the straight lines with packaging tape, and started painting – and suddenly there was a completed sign.

This morning, my clerical assistant helped me cover the canvas with book-covering polythene, which we affixed with a staple gun. I went outside and peeled off the better-quality version of our two “No Smoking” signs, and transferred it to the other end of the wall with fresh double-sided tape. I then used more of the tape to attach my $18 masterpiece to the wall! I’ve been admiring it every chance I could get today. Please allow me to share:

New outdoor signage

The complete wall, with the “No Smoking” sign at the other end:

Signage plus "No smoking"

Outside sign in place

Time 4 New Zealand to lead the way again

Clocks x 4

Lots of New Zealand jokes these last few weeks. Not terribly politically correct.

While the four new “newsroom” clocks on the library’s freshly painted wall have been paying off as teaching tools in numerous lessons – the students are getting quite a buzz from discussing the four time zones represented, even just in passing – our “Auckland” clock has been falling behind, needing to be reset at least once each morning. Jiggling the battery was losing effect. The battery was checked: yes, fully charged. Still no improvement. Very annoying. Eventually, Auckland time kept stopping whenever its sweep hand reached the 6.

I had been celebrating the fact that I had bought the clocks for such a great price, but they had also also the last stock in the shop. Taking one clock back for a refund was not going to keep my “newsroom” functioning at peak capacity.

Eventually, I brought out the trusty star screwdriver from the staffroom toolbox. The moment the screws were loosened, the clock started ticking again. Somehow the sweep hand had begun to come into regular contact with the glass front. I removed the back of the clock, bent the end of the sweep hand just a tad… and now New Zealand is keeping perfect time again!

Where would teacher-librarians be without a screwdriver?

Phyl Williamson from Syba Signs is coming by on Wednesday morning to give me some quotes on library signage. I’m hoping for a “Time 4 Learning” sign under the clocks, four sets of vinyl lettering for some windows, some poster hangers, and a big external sign so that people won’t have to guess which building is the school library. My fingers are crossed.