I thought today I would let you know a bit of background to the library I work in. Our school has just over 800 pupils with a catchment area covering some of the most deprived boroughs in the country. At the moment the school is in Special Measures with OFSTED and will soon be changing to an academy. The school shares a building with a separate, Special Educational Needs, school. They have their own classrooms in a ‘wing’ of the school and their own books in the library. Their pupils do come in, but not very often.
The physical layout of the library poses certain challenges: Architecturally it is lovely with two storey floor to ceiling windows, arcing round on one side. It’s fairly large, at a rough estimate 20 metres by 10. The school building is only five years old so our furnishings are still quite new and fresh and it is an inviting space; however, those lovely windows prevent us from having many bookshelves!
Our fiction is arranged by Accelerated Reader level going from our simplest books up to the most difficult. Theoretically each shelf should be arranged alphabetically within that sub-level, but our pupils are not the best at putting books back where they should go. The non-fiction is arranged on two long sets of bookshelves, creating an aisle. Our fiction stock has been greatly increased with the introduction of Accelerated Reader but the non-fiction still leaves a lot to be desired.
Along one wall we have benches with 12 laptops, unfortunately these are now showing their age! There has been talk of investing in tablet computers or e-readers but, as always in schools, there is the question of whose budget they will come out of.
The biggest problem facing the library is a legacy of the last head-teacher. Previously, both schools shared a common reception area but, to his wisdom, the old head decided he wanted a reception of our own and had one built – on the end of the library. This now means that all visitors to the school have to come through the library, any parents who choose to come into reception and air their grievances can be heard by our classes. We now have a fob access into the library because pupils were running through and out of school. Now that they can no longer do this, they come and shout, kick and hammer on the door instead. Then there are the students and visitors who legitimately need to enter but can’t, so I am constantly up and down to answer it.
Overall I would say that our library is a positive place to be but has major design issues. If only we had a magic wand!