A number of small, easy changes helped us transform a looming barricade into a central hub. School maintenance staff removed swinging doors on opposite ends of the desk allowing people to easily walk into the half-circle the desk creates. We purchased Rust-Oleum chalkboard paint from a hardware store and painted the exterior of the desk and allow students to draw and doodle on it, along with posting important library information. A shorter part of the desk was painted in Rust-Oleum dry erase paint to encourage students to write questions, leave notes and make their thinking visible. We purchased several simple black bar stools from IKEA and placed them around the exterior of the desk to indicate we welcomed students to pull up a chair and chat with library staff.
On top of the desk, you’ll find old card catalog drawers repurposed as planters for cacti, books on display, flyers, bookmarks and bibliographies for the taking, an iPad online catalog station, important things like Kleenex and Clorox wipes (this is a school, after all!) and a variety of board games and card games for students to grab and use in the library.
Behind the desk is a built-in shelving unit divided into three columns. We removed the shelves to create a flat surface and painted two of the columns with chalkboard paint, and use one for drawing, and the other to post our weekly trivia question. On the center column we mounted a custom created and sized poster of Albert Einstein with the quote “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries of eternity.”
All of these do-it-yourself changes have been a tangible representation of a greater philosophical shift of our school library--one where we welcome curiosity, conversations, collaboration and comfort.