Library Zones

Spaces, Zones, and Students

Our school is experiencing incredible growth in the wake of the pandemic. We are happy to welcome our new students! However, we need a plan to adjust for the additional student traffic. So the search begins for all the information we can find on creating zones in the school library. We need to manage the space, learning activities, programming, and last but not least, not to be a Grinch, but the noise, oh the noise.

We can make “zones,” but does it help?

Inspiration from other Libraries

Many have read the KQ post “6 Active Learning Spaces Your Library Should Have” by Diana Rendina. This post is a great place to start when trying to manage the school library space. Some great places to find inspiration are college and public library plans. A favorite resource for spatial plans is one from Denmark Model Programme for Public Libraries. Some of the zones this agency has recommended include:

  • The learning space
  • The inspiration space
  • The meeting space
  • The performative space
A specific public library that has well-defined zones is the Robert J. Kleberg Public Library. Although many colleges and universities take advantage of zones, they often have a more extensive staff and multi-story buildings.
Here are some examples:

Other Industries

And just because I like to think outside the box, I wonder, are there other businesses that need similar areas? For example, banks, co-working, medical waiting rooms, and other companies have created specific spaces for managing the flow of activities and noise. An article in Managed Healthcare Executive predicts, “In the future, the waiting room could be divided into small, pod-like rooms.” A 2014 article about office design in the Harvard Business Review states that “The Best Collaborative Spaces Also Support Solitude.”

Every School Library Is Different

One might think that school libraries are all the same and there must be a standard solution. But every school community is different. Collection size varies, technology can be very different, and of course, each school has a unique student body. So, although there is no one-size-fits-all solution, the hope is that some of these ideas are helpful if you are in a similar growth phase.

Here is an after-hours video of our library. Would you mind sending us suggestions about space and people management?

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.

Categories: Blog Topics, Makerspaces/Learning Commons, Technology

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