Article written by Rosie Clarke, Editor, and published in School News, Issue 12, 2019.
The school’s head of library and information services, Rosie Stevenson told us:
“In 2018, we began working on plans to refurbish the Wenona Library space to create a flexible welcoming environment that reflected current practice and met the educational needs of our school community. We did a great deal of research; visiting a variety of libraries (Double Bay, Rockdale, UNSW), education (Trinity Grammar Sydney, Roseville College, St Leonards TAFE) and corporate spaces (MLC building) to develop a strong idea of what Wenona wanted and needed, and to gain insight into the design process.
“All of the ideas we gathered were put together on our ‘inspiration’ board and once we knew what we wanted, we reached out to the wider library community and asked for recommendations for excellent library furniture suppliers. Resource Furniture were excellent, walking us through the process from space design to installation all from a distance. The design team were able to work with our vision and
building confines, and provide practical and realistic shelving and seating solutions to create a flexible learning environment
“Our flexible lowline shelving provides not only agility, but line of sight across the space, making the most of our balcony vista. The accessibility and ease of locality of resources has improved with the shelving enabling us create distinct areas.
“Staff and student feedback has been very positive and the vibe in the library is one of collaboration and excitement around learning and being together in the space. Silent study rooms and reading nooks with soft seating for those who require quiet spaces for individual work or reading have also been catered for. Readership in our library has always been of a high standard however the new shelving has provided a platform to showcase our collection which has inadvertently had a positive result on borrowing and readership.”
Innovative spaces tempt people to explore and discover new wonders.
A magnificent library should offer a flexible design, use natural light effectively and have an appropriate distribution of space for a variety of users and activities. It should be accessible and designed according to a well-researched library strategy but most of all it should be visually striking, fun, imaginative and comfortably furnished for study.
That enviable wow factor can be achieved even with a moderate refurbishment.
Specialised designers can take schools through what might otherwise be a complex, demanding task. Gathering ideas from other gorgeous spaces can sow seeds of inspiration and become a catalyst for creating an innovative library design that will suit your school’s present and future needs.
Resource Furniture’s creative manager, Michael Merlino, suggested that schools carefully consider their options. Choose furniture that is multifunctional and is easily reconfigured. It provides greater flexibility for both the students and teachers to organise the space that best suits their needs.
There should also be a range of furniture items such as bench height desks where students can choose to stand or sit on stools, standard height desks and soft seating. If students are given the freedom to choose, they are comfortable, happy and more engaged.
Much like the loose furniture, the library shelving must also be multifunctional and easy to reconfigure. Depending on stock levels at any given time, staff should be able to transform shelves easily from flat shelves for either spine or face out to display shelves. This ensures shelving bays look their best all of the time and has proven to increase loan rates. The better the bay is presented the more inclined you are to interact and browse through books.