Planning New Furniture for the Library

A blurry photo of some of the stuff I was looking at. The small dark gray square will be future student chairs. The small rectangles are the future table top colors (we’ll match that green and paint some areas) and the big swatches are for the soft chairs and ottomans.

New schools in my district are getting some pretty cool furniture.  The rest of us are “invited” to purchase these new toys on our own however our funding allows.  Despite being a cheapskate most of the time (mostly because I like to spend whatever money I raise on more books for the collection) I decided to meet with the woman at the head office in charge of this transition.

She came to my media center last week and we spent an hour talking colors and fabrics and tables and chairs and on and on. Before we got too far into it she asked, “Now what might your budget be for this?”  I told her to pretend we had just won the lottery and base my plan on unlimited funds.  I figured I might as well design an interesting media center and not worry about the money now.  I can spread it out into a three to five year plan or something.

So we did.  We cut the library up into imaginary zones and made a plan for each one.  A colorful and durable and inviting and expensive plan.  But when I looked at it later and thought about what order to do these things in, I realized that even just some of this will make big changes I can work with to our advantage as I work on funding for the rest of it.

So for example, right now I have eight rectangular tables in front of the projector screen area.  You can see the fake wood look of them in the background of the photo in this post.  They’re fine but boring and I’m forever having to move them out of the way for events.  Just by replacing those with new colorful tables WITH WHEELS I’ll be saving myself a ton of bother and I’ll be adding color and interest to the library.  Some of the tables are rectangular in a wavy sort of way and some are kind of wavy half circles.  They can easily be moved around and interlocked, making seperate collaborative areas or one big conference table for meetings or whatever we want.

Then I can move the older wood grained tables over to the laptop area.  We recently had all of our big honking student desktops replaced with small netbook sized laptops.  The computer tables now in use are unnecessarily big.  By getting rid of those and replacing them with the older wood grained looking tables I’ll be saving space and also making that area more collaborative.  Later on in another purchasing phase I can replace all the wood grain tables too.

I’ve also got an in with a Kindergarten teacher’s painter husband who has offered to donate his time to this project. I’m going to get him to paint some parts of the library to match some of the colors in the new furniture.  Unlike apparently every other elementary school librarian in the world, I’m not actually a big mural fan.  I just want to add some color to the library to break up the beige monotony we currently have.  I prefer posters about reading that can be moved, changed, and updated at will for most of the wall space.

I’ve already got the PTA and principal on board to fund the phase I table purchase.  In upcoming years I’ll work on the soft furniture, more tables, and changing out all of the boring school plastic chairs with newer, more modern plastic chairs.  (It’s more exciting than that sounds.)

The best part of this is getting to decide everything (with help of course).  I’m getting to update and refresh the library but it forces you to really think about how the space is being used and how it can be used in the future and ways I can make it an accessible and inviting place for students, teachers, parents and other staff members.