Monday, December 20, 2010

A Christmas Tree Made of Books

Yet another way to put discarded books to good use.
For a recent holiday party, the folks at Juniper Books used 800 green books to make an 8-foot Christmas tree. They lit the tree from the inside, so it was glowing nicely through the spaces in the books.
In most schools fire regulations prohibit live trees. Isn't this a great alternative? I'm sure your students would love to help.
It's too late for this holiday season, but start planning for next year.
Happy Holidays!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Toro Lounge Chair

I very much like this lounge chair from Blu Dot. It would be great in a high school library. It's offered in natural leather with white-stained, solid beech frame or black-tanned leather with black-stained, solid beech frame. It's currently on sale for $799, marked down from $999. As good lounge chairs go, this is a reaonable price.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Just for Fun

This is pretty much off the topic, but it's too interesting to ignore. I've often read stories about libraries looking at bookstores and cafes for ideas. But here is something else--a small Espresso CafĂ© located on Madison Avenue, in New York City, that  took ideas from a library! I'll definitely be checking this out the next time I'm in New York City. Looks like a great place for coffee-loving bibliophiles. I'm rather sorry it isn't actually in a library somewhere. Oh well, there's a library nearby.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Five Finger Reading Advice Sign

I'm always on the lookout for interest-
ing, creative library signage, and here's one I especially like in the library at the Papanui Primary School in Christchurch, New Zealand. And what a great looking reading area!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Eames® Elephant Stool

In 1945 Charles and Ray Eames designed a toy elephant made of plywood. It never made it into mass production, but it is now available in a plastic version.

This stool could be a great addition to an elementary school library, as a stool or as a decorative item (with your Jean De Brunhoff Babar books?).

Dimensions: 30" trunk to tail, 14" wide and 16 5/16"tall

Price: $290

Available in five colors from Modernseed.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Design Matters!

Does school design affect students? An overwhelming number of teachers in the UK say yes.

A survey conducted by the British Council for School Environments and the Teacher Support Network found that 95.8% of UK teachers agreed that the school environment had an influence on pupil behavior, students’ well being, and academic achievement.

For a long while now I’ve been convinced that a well-designed, attractive and inviting (in the eyes of children and teens) school library will have a positive effect on usage and student behavior. And I’m also convinced that surveys and research such as this one, with a focus on overall school design, apply to school library design as well.

Here is a link where you can download summaries of five additional studies that support the idea that the design of our learning environments affects the quality of education.

Design does matter. And keep in mind that good design rarely costs more than poor design.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Lounge Seating: Pluto Bench

I believe it is important to provide a number of seating options in the library. And since a library probably has more chairs than any item other than books, it is important to choose wisely, as the chairs will make a strong statement and influence one's overall impression of the library interior.
The Pluto bench was introduced by Leland International at the 2010 NeoCon World's Trade Fair in Chicago. These benches can be arranged in a scattered composition to provide personal space, or grouped together to encourage interaction. Constructed using 100 percent post-industrial MDF board (medium-density fibreboard), which is wrapped in CFC (chlorofluorocarbon)-free foam and fitted with a 40 percent recycled steel plinth, Pluto can be upholstered in almost any stretch fabric or leather. An additional layer of interest can be achieved by applying contrasting upholstery to the circular seat pad.
Having a few of these benches in the library I'm certain would appeal to teens. And since students like to sit on the floor, benches, stools and ottomans can double as a work/laptop surface.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Is There a Skylight in Your Future?

Many architects are fond of skylights. Admittedly, skylights can effectively bring more natural light into the library. However, some cautionary advice I got a while back at a Public Library Association conference on the good and evil in library architecture was: skylights cause impossible glare, but they make up for it by leaking.

I just came across a manufacture that has created a guaranteed “No-Leak” skylight that takes the fear out of installing skylights. These skylights also provide better energy efficiency, light transmittance and solar heat gain. The manufacture is Velux USA.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Let It Go!

As a follow up to my previous blog about weeding, I highly recommend the very humorous blog Awful Library Books. Weeding is a time-consuming, tedious, and at times painful process, at least for those of us who find throwing books away sacrilegious. So a bit of humor is an effective antidote.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What To Do with All Those Discarded Books

If a new or renovated school library is in your future, it is time to weed. And weed some more. Keep in mind that moving books is expensive. And storing books is even more expensive. A quick rule of thumb is that 1 square foot is needed for every ten books you will have in your library. Since construction costs are well over $150 per square foot... You do the math. This is why it's so important to have a "lean and mean" print collection. I'm not yet at the point of advocating for all digital libraries, but it is important to determine which format is best for the information you need to make available.
So what do you do with all those discarded books. A week ago I saw a very creative solution from the architecture library of the Delft University of Technology: a remarkable reference desk made out of books.

It's Not Impossible!

After twenty-five plus years of designing more than eighty school library facilities and after authoring two books on the subject (together with my colleague Dr. Carolyn Markuson), I have at long last decided to blog on the topic. My hope is that othersschool librarians, architects, and school administratorswill benefit from my experience, expertise, and research.
Why the crazy title? In the early 1980s I was the Director of Libraries at the Frankfurt International School in Oberursel, Germany. The school library was a small space that had once been the school cafeteria (sauerkraut, anyone?), and was now the place at the school to find Shakespeare and other literary treasures. It was an old-fashioned and badly furnished library, so part of my job involved planning a renovation. A few years later the school had grown significantly, and a new school addition was planned. Part of this addition included two new libraries: an elementary library and a middle/high school library. I spent many hours planning these facilities, a task for which I had virtually no training. But I was up to the challenge, and in the end, I found it exciting and rewarding. And so, I began helping other schools plan and design school library facilities. There was no turning back.
In the course of my work I do a lot of research, and I discover information that I am eager to share with others. I hope blogging will enable me to effectively disseminate what I discover on my journey.
And remember: when you have a chance to design a library, it's your time to dream.

From Alice in Wonderland
Alice: One can't believe impossible things.
White Queen: I daresay you haven't had much practice. When I was your age I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

What seems impossible may well be possible.