I think it was knowing that I still had a small amount of burgundy paint left that led to this series of brainstorms…
The now-huge, clutter-free area behind the circulation desk (above) has been extremely liberating – and, secretly, we all knew there was simply way too much furniture in this library. I’ve never seen so many storage cupboards, most of them filled with stationery, display materials, boardgames (both complete and half empty), stacks of old encyclopedia volumes (for activities on alphabetical order) and so on. With a captains & prefects investiture due in the library a few days ago, I reluctantly wheeled a very heavy cupboard back from the area where morning tea was to be served, up to behind the circulation desk – and immediately realised that I knew how to make it look like it was supposed to be there!
You know all those really expensive picture books, and the pop-up books, and “The Jolly Postman”, with its easy-to-lose tiny letters and postcards, those new, edgy, shortlisted and/or award-winning books, such as Armin Greder’s “The island” and the dark-yet-essential themes of “Dust”, and all those controversial novels (the ones that come with warnings about only using with older students in sensitive, supportive ways, or with the assistance of the local indigenous representatives) that go totally ignored if kept spine-out on a crowded shelf in Teacher Reference, and either ruined or complained about if they are in the main collection or regular Reference! So onto this new benchtop surface, I added… single, front-out book stands and filled them like this:
With only hours to go before the parents, citizens, captains and prefects arrived for their morning tea in the library – in what would be, for many, the first glimpse of all my changes – I painted the wall segment behind those books with the very last of the burgundy paint. A spectacular effect, I think – a real stand-out, even from the far end of the library, and well worth some comparison photos:
Very satisfying. And the books in the display have caught the attention of every person to approach Circulation in these last days of the school year.
By the way, I’m just loving the phrase, “Just back in”! The new signage, created in Word and laminated over bright yellow paper, denotes the box of yet-to-be-shelved books. The divided interior of each box has always provided compartments for pre-sorting. The idea of “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! Thanks for lifting a load, Kevin, with just three little words, so much better than the dire “Returns”. Or “To be shelved”.