Claiming new space in the school media center

When I first walked into the C. C. Griffin Media Center, I was absolutely floored by the amount of space it had. It was big. It was light. It was beautiful. Space is a tricky thing, however! A lot of space doesn’t automatically equal good flow and work space.

As I watched students and classes move around and work in the media center, I started thinking of a plan – not a radical plan, but a plan that would allow for better flow in the areas used most often and for classes to not feel cramped in certain sections.

This is the view from the front. While you can’t see much, you can get the feel for the place as well as its size.

The library was divided into three sections by double-sided, chest-high bookcases on wheels. One fourth of the library was fiction, one fourth of the library was nonfiction and one half of the library was reference. Each section had about eight tables with chairs. The fiction section had the most books and reference definitely had the least, so there was a bit of an uneven feel to it’s distribution. It  was very symmetric, though, which made the math teacher in me very happy.

Reference section with tables

Original floor plan

As classes came in to check out fiction, I found, even with one class, there were just too many students, tables and chairs in that section. If two (or even occasionally) three classes came in, looking for a book could become pretty chaotic remarkably fast. Reference seating was only used for overflow when fiction was full, and the nonfiction seating was hardly ever used.

Another concern over space was that the center reference section was used for assemblies and meetings. The heaviest furniture was in this section, and it was being moved several times a month. Most of it could not easily be moved by a single person. And the biggest problem, from my point of view as media coordinator, was that books in the center could not be accessed by students after set up.  Chairs usually went from bookcases to bookcase. Even when space was intentionally left for browsing, chairs always seemed to find their way to the far reaches of the area.

So, my goals were to

  1. spread out the fiction so there was better student flow.

  2. move the tables in such a way that they were either not always being moved or were easier to move.

  3. make sure that most (if not all) the books were accessible even when meetings were set up.

Modified floor plan

Fiction  now starts in the front left corner and works around the outside wall. We had room at the end of fiction to move special collections like graphic novels and audiobooks. This provided tons of area for students to maneuver around the fiction section. Reference and nonfiction fit on the short bookcases without being too tight.

The larger, heavier tables were moved toward the back where they would rarely have to be moved. While we still have brick columns to work around (not shown in floorplan), having the smaller tables in the middle make setting up for a meeting almost a snap!

View of open area

Nonfiction

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