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

I’m a dedicated Library Director at The Webb School of Bell Buckle, leveraging my background in higher education libraries to guide students through the crucial transition from school to college and beyond.

I am honored to have served as the AASL Chair for the Independent School Section in 2023 and am excited to begin my upcoming role as Director-At-Large for the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) later this year, following my previous experience as a Member Guide in the AASL Emerging Leaders program. These appointments reflect my commitment to advancing library education and professional development on a national scale.

With experience in state-level leadership through the Tennessee Association of School Librarians (TASL), including serving as TASL President in 2012, I bring a wealth of knowledge to my role. My educational background includes certifications as a Library Information Specialist for PreK-12th grade, a Bachelor of Science in Communications (Advertising & Public Relations), a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies (Education & Information Systems), and a Master’s in Library and Information Science.

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