Distinct Library Sections for multi-level schools

Are You a Librarian in a K-8, 6-12, or a K-12 school?

School libraries all over the US are part of multi-level schools. In fact, according to 2017-18 NCES data, there are more than15,000 combined schools. For example, in Tennessee, the Department of Education lists more than 250 schools that are K-8, 6-12, and even some K-12 schools. Many of these combined schools have a single library.

Our school serves grades 6-12. When I came to the library in 2007, all fiction was shelved together. We have students from the ages of 10 to 20. You can imagine a novel appropriate for a 19-year-old is certainly not something you would recommend for a 10-year-old. A collection development post from 2019 highlights tools for age-appropriate selection. With new laws in Tennessee and other States regarding age-appropriate books, some planning for different library sections may be necessary.

Project and Property Management

To make our school’s two distinct collections or “libraries” a reality, we need to shift, move, and organize about 10,000 of our 20,000 books. As you can imagine, a project of this size is daunting. As any librarian in this situation, I first make a to-do list. First, we weed. No one wants to move a book more than once, and we do not want to waste time moving and shifting discards. Determining what to withdraw from the collection is always a challenge. For more advice about what to weed, check out the posts Weeding Without Controversy, Part 1 and 2.

Secondly, we plan what goes where. This plan applies to the physical layout of the space and what books belong in each collection. Making these decisions is almost as challenging as deciding the genre of some books. Finally, something we do not want to overlook is creating an age-appropriate look and feel for each space. Planning for the environment will be essential if we want students to utilize their distinct areas. Elementary, Middle, and High School libraries have different furniture, technology, and materials. We found an excellent tool for the library layout is the Virtual Room Designer from The Library Store.  Below are plans we developed using the TLS tool.


Author: Hannah Byrd Little

Hello, I am the Library Director at The Webb School of Bell Buckle. I use my past experience in college and university libraries to help my current students in school libraries transition into college, career, and life. I am currently the lead Senior Class Adviser for the Capstone Project. I also served at the state level with the Tennessee Association of School Librarians executive board from 2009-2013 and was the TASL president in 2012. I am certified as a Library Information Specialist for PreK-12th grade, have a BS in Communications with a concentration in Advertising and Public Relations, a BS in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Education and Information Systems and a Masters in Library and Information Science.

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