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Wednesday
May142008

Library design - traffic patterns

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In the St Peter High School Media Center the busy area near the circulation desk and entrance has high durability tile rather than carpet flooring.

The concept is simple - put the busiest places and noisiest activities closest to the entrance of the library. Put the study and classroom spaces away from the entrance. It makes little sense to walk completely through the media center to return a book or to get a magazine. Entrances to computer labs, reference materials, catalog stations, and casual reading spaces should be near the entrance. Check the location of your equipment storage areas - would you need to push that TV all through the story area to get it to the hallway?

Wednesday
May142008

Library design - visual control

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View from the St. Peter High School Library Media Center circulation desk. Every area of the room is easily seen.
 

Library media centers should not have areas that are difficult to supervise, even when there is only a single adult in the room. This means no hidden corners, no rooms without windows into them, no high bookcases behind which students can hide. (Note in picture above how book cases are perpendicular to the main area.)  And increasingly this means computer arrangements that make monitor screens easily visible.

Floor plans should be carefully studied to determine where kids might be - that YOU can't see.

(I am a big fan of breaking up spaces with walls that include interior windows - noise abatement but easily supervised.)

Any hidden space horror stories? 

Wednesday
May142008

Library design - community access

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Eagle Lake Elementary School, Eagle Lake, MN (Mankato School District) showing library entrance to the building.

Fewer than 25% of our community's households contain children who attend public school. Schools must market themselves as community assets, available for public use during the hours and days school is not in session.

Along with cafeterias, gymnasiums and auditoriums, school libraries are wonderful public spaces. Some of the techniques above (outside entrances, etc.) allow the library can used even when the rest of the school is closed.

Community groups ranging from adult education classes to clubs to Scouts to, well, to almost anything should think of the library as "their" space. In smaller communities, the computers in the school library may be the only access some adults have to the Internet and productivity software.

How do we make our libraries "community spaces?"