A Lower School Library: Renovated!

A photo essay.

First Day at my new job August 2017 – lots of potential!

Immobile furniture, no soft seating, awkward browsing, but lots and lots of great light, a solid collection, and it’s an octagon!

At the start of my job as Lower School Librarian and Information Specialist in August of 2017, I was in meetings about a possible renovation. I reached out to everyone I knew who had completed a reno recently, researched furnishings and finishes, and, later, took detailed notes at AISL ATLANTA. Visiting Atlanta area independent school libraries made a lasting impact. In the mean time, I encouraged my space to sing as best I could.

Year after year went by. No renovation. Meeting after meeting. Promises not kept. Then COVID.

And then, the renovation magically made it to the top of the CFO’s to do list!

In the Fall of 2020, there was a glimmer of hope. I started updating all of my planning documents. The fun part happened in Spring 2021. We met with architects, and held listening sessions. I shared a slideshow and a document of the vision with stakeholders:

Come May 2021, the packing began. I was on my own – thanks to mentors from my past roles, I had a system: box books spine up and in shelf order. Label each box exhaustively with contents and number order.
This is what I returned to in August 2021: boxes in scary heaps, but the carpet was down and the walls were painted! Supply chain issues plagued our furniture…
waiting and waiting and waiting…then the day came!

The first two months of school I held “library classes” in the library. I gave public library website browsing lessons to older grades, borrowed books from the public library, and taught my digital citizenship lesson earlier in the year than usual – figured might as well get the nuts and bolts of non-library space instruction completed before furniture arrived!

Two months into the school year, after multiple false starts, we got the call! Would we accept delivery of we-don’t-know-what-will-arrive…? Of course I said SEND IT!

I was able to get help from our maintenance crew to open boxes, and take and break down empty boxes. Over 200 boxes of PK-5 library books were unpacked over 2 days.

The space is reflective of my library program: warm, welcoming, open, vibrant, inviting, curious and exciting!

Circ desk area
The Last Box. #moodattheend

All in all, this project was 5 years in the making. Folders and folders of quotes, scribbles, ideas, furniture books and linear feet measurements! 3 months for wall removals, painting and carpet. 1 full day of assembly from the furniture company. 3 days to unpack and put everything away. And all the months of the school year ahead to share and celebrate!

All that is left is some soft seating still “stuck somewhere in the COVID supply chain disruption” and art for the walls.

There were many silver linings to the delay – I learned more about my students, my school, my space. I developed tastes and interests in ways to reflect the library program with the space and furnishings.

And grand opening week has been magical! Here is an album from one class visit!

Renovation was an exhilarating experience. Reach out with questions!

4 thoughts on “A Lower School Library: Renovated!

  1. Congratulations! I love the photo essay and appreciate hearing about the process. The space (and the circulation desk) looks so inviting!

  2. I love that you did this as a photo essay and included some of your thoughts on the process and the documentation you created. Enjoy your well-deserved new space!

  3. Congratulations, Christina! Thank you for sharing your story with us – I really appreciate all of the detailed insight and photos. I love hearing about how you advocated so assertively for a space that supports your program and services, a beautiful and functional space that your students deserve. I was also impressed by how you pushed through supply chain issues and delays. It must be wonderful being in your new space.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.