A school library should be an exciting and welcoming place where children can go to use the resources for curriculum supported work and research, but also a place where they can simply go to enjoy a story or gain an interest in books and reading.
In an ideal world, every school would have a library which is a designated space, centrally located and accessible to all. However, depending on space and budgets this is not always possible. Whatever space, shape or size of school library you have, here are some ideas to help make the most of it.
The school library is for everyone
If possible, the school library should be in a central location within the school and easy to access for all the school community. The school library is for everyone to use and all classes and groups should have access to it during the school day. Even if the library does not have its own room, it should be a dedicated space and not used for other purposes. You can use partition screens to separate an area for library use. Our Little Rainbows Junior Partitions are ideal for this purpose as they are a maximum of 1200mm high so will give a level of privacy but still allow an overview of the area.
It’s not a classroom
Children should be able to identify that the school library is not the same as a classroom so it needs to have a different look and feel from other parts of the school. It needs to be a bright, stimulating environment to encourage creativity. You want to excite children about books, reading and learning. But you need to have a balance and have quiet and informal reading spaces where children can feel relaxed to enjoy reading for pleasure.
But it is a workspace
If there is room have some tables and chairs in the library which can be used as a workspace or for group work. Try to have different furniture than that used in classrooms to differentiate the area. Also, consider the age ranges of people using the library when choosing tables and chairs. At ELF we offer a wide variety of classroom tables and chairs which also work as library furniture. Our Height Adjustable Flower Table is a practical option as the height can be easily changed depending on the age of children using the library. It’s a fun design, available in 13 colours and can comfortably sit six children.
Shelve it of store it
There are a wide variety of shelving and children’s book storage options for school libraries, depending on space and budget. Take some time to look at the space you have and plan what will fit and what will work best for your school. We offer a variety of school library shelving units which are high quality and designed specifically for use in schools. Maximise the space by using corner or end shelf units to add more storage space without taking up too much extra space.
To encourage children to look at the books, have some displayed forward facing so children can see the whole book, not just the spine. Kinderboxes are great ways to display and store picture books. These low-level, book storage units are perfect for school libraries. At ELF we offer a wide range of kinderboxes in a range of colours, sizes and designs.
Another great way to store books without taking up too much floor space is a book spinner. The Bubblegum Storage Tower is ideal for school libraries or reading areas. Available in 4 bright colours, it is the perfect height for young children to access.
There is nothing quite like curling up with a good book! Although a school library has a learning function it also needs to be a place where children can relax and enjoy a story. With this in mind, have some soft seating in your library. A couple of bean bags and floor cushions would be ideal. Our Slab Bean Bag is a versatile floor cushion and can be used in a variety of ways, and at only £51 it is a cost-effective seating option for a school library.
Displays in a school library are informative but also add to the interest factor of the area. A display area can either be on the walls or using a freestanding school display board. Our unframed noticeboards are ideal for a display area as they can be butted up to each other to create a large display wall.
You can use this area to display information about certain books, authors, themes or link to particular curriculum topics. You can often get posters and display materials from publishers and suppliers promoting books and authors. You can also use this area to display children’s work around a particular theme or to encourage reading. Other ideas for displays are around particular celebrations or special days, such as World Book Day.
Keep it clean
If the library is untidy or dirty then no one will want to use it or spend time there. If possible have a dedicated member of staff to oversee the library. You can also ‘employ’ older children in the school to be library monitors. They can be responsible for looking after the library and keeping it tidy, perhaps on a rota basis. They can also keep an eye on the condition of the books and make sure any damaged books are repaired. This also gives the children a sense responsibility by having an important role in the school.