At the end of my first year at Stewart Middle Magnet School, I ended up with a great opportunity. We replaced an aging air conditioning system over the summer, meaning that ALL the furniture had to be moved into the gym. Luckily, the books could stay on the shelves with plastic covering them. The library at that time was extremely cluttered – I had already been doing an extensive weeding of the collection. But there was lots of unnecessary furniture, and old art projects on display gathering dust, and weird, out-of-date posters. These things “disappeared” over that summer of air conditioning work.
Why You Should Weed More than Just Books
In the Making Your Library Epic eCourse I’ve led with AASL, we talk a lot about how less is more. How we can create more space in our library by getting rid of un-needed shelving, tables, and other furniture. How the space can feel cleaner and fresher by changing up the decor. But sometimes, making these changes in the middle of the school year can feel a bit shocking to our teachers and students. Especially if the things we’re changing have sentimental value. But if we work to clear things out at the end of the year, it isn’t as disruptive. Our students and teachers come back in the fall wondering why the library suddenly feels more open and welcoming. They don’t miss the things that were cluttering up the space.
How to Decide What to Weed
As you’re reflecting and getting ready to wrap things up at the end of the year, look around your library for objects that you need to weed. Here’s some things to help you:
- Get someone with fresh eyes to visit your space – Ask someone who isn’t associated with your school. Ask them what stands out to them as feeling out of place or awkward.
- Be an anthropologist – Observe how your students use the space. Do they bump into tables? Are there certain objects they move frequently? Are there displays or artwork that are just “there” to them?
- Ask your students – What objects do they feel are unnecessary? What do they feel creates barriers in the library?
Take these observations and look at what you could potentially remove over the summer. Be considerate of objects that have a certain history or sentimental value – you might need to have a discussion with stakeholders about these items before weeding.
Objects to consider
- Floor shelving units
- Wall shelving
- Un-needed tables and chairs
- Damaged or broken furniture
- Alarm systems
- Anything that prevents your space from being ADA compliant
- Projects on display made by students who are no longer at your school
- Things where you’re not sure why they’re even there
(If you want to learn more strategies for transforming your library space, be sure to order my book, Reimagining Library Spaces. It comes out in October 2017)
Author: Diana Rendina
Diana Rendina, MLIS, is the media specialist at Tampa Preparatory, an independent 6-12 school. She was previously the media specialist at Stewart Middle Magnet School for seven years, where she founded their library makerspace. She is the creator of the blog RenovatedLearning.com & is also a monthly contributor to AASL Knowledge Quest. Diana is the winner of the 2016 ISTE Outstanding Young Educator Award, the 2015 ISTE Librarians Network Award, the 2015 AASL Frances Henne Award & the 2015 SLJ Build Something Bold Award. She is an international speaker on the Maker Movement and learning space design and has presented at conferences including AASL, FETC & ISTE. Diana co-authored Challenge-Based Learning in the School Library Makerspace and is the author of Reimagining Library Spaces: Transform Your Space on Any Budget.