Over the past few months, most students have been asking the question, “What’s new with the library?” The short answer: there is new furniture. There was much more of a process in this new design than picking out furniture, and it has greatly increased the number of students in the library, which is known to provide a space to gather resources for a big project, study for the next science test, or work on a collaborative paper for English. The old library didn’t quite meet these requirements, so students didn’t choose it as their primary spot for studying. I asked our librarian, Wendy Butler, about the choices made and the process of renovating the library so we could better understand why and how decisions were made.

What has been the greatest challenge with having this new furniture layout? 

There hasn’t been a single challenge. It’s been nothing shy of amazing. The very first morning with the new furniture, there were 25 middle schoolers in the collaborative zone working on an activity. I told the upper schoolers to head to the quiet zone. It was great because we had the higher couch in the quiet zone to block out noise from other zones, and they worked perfectly. The only frustration that I had was waiting to get the furniture since the delivery date kept getting delayed.

What is the best thing that the new layout has brought to the space? 

There has been a huge increase in the usage and number of students. People love the new library, and there are students in there from the first thing in the morning to the end of the day. There’s always a “mad dash” for the cubicles in the study zone. The official name for them is a “study carrel,” which I like more than a “cubicle.” I think of cubicles as something in a boring 9-to-5 office job.

What was the main reason for the design changes? 

I really didn’t want to kick people out of the library when a class needed it. The new layout allows for people to stay in and everyone to use it. I also wanted to keep the library open at all times. One main thing that was kept in mind when we were designing the library was letting the library be the library, which enhances every aspect of it. It was a place in the ways it is intended to be, and that can still be achieved. We wanted students to feel invited by a warm and cozy environment, and having the different zones allows us to get that. The specific areas make it feel like a separate space, so depending on where you are, it’s like being in a new library.

Was there any inspiration for the new design of the space? 

We really went after what students and teachers wanted. The majority of feedback was wanting to choose where to be, having little spaces to go and nooks and crannies to hang out in. I also wanted to be able to display more books, which I’ve been able to do. Many of the ideas from the community contributed to what it is now. We gathered all of the ideas and put them on sticky notes, then put those up on a board. We were able to see what was most wanted and were able to consolidate from there.

How long did the whole process take and what steps were included? 

I’ve wanted to change things with the library, and for three years, I’ve been working with Ingrid to change things around. We started redesigning last year in the winter. There was a committee with the head of school, the assistant head, the division directors, and learning specialists. There was a lot of looking at different designs. Mick Gee, the head of school, had done something similar at one of the past schools he was at, so he was in full support of it. If we didn’t have his amazing support, and the incredibly hard work that Jennifer Blake put into managing it, it wouldn’t have happened at all. So I’m very grateful for their willingness to work on the project.

One thing that you wish for most when students use the library now? 

I wish for students to be happy. That’s all that I want. I hope that they feel like it’s a good place for them to do what they want, hang out, meet with a friend, etc. Overall, providing students with a comfortable space. The high school previously lacked a focal point, and the new library introduced that. I’ve heard comments that what we’ve done here can be a model for other kinds of improvement of our spaces at the Lincoln campus.

Any regrets about the new design? Furniture not chosen? Placing? Etc.

I have no regrets at all. I’m 100%—if not beyond—pleased. It has truly exceeded expectations. The color, design, quality, orientation, everything is perfect. 

If you haven’t been able to spend time studying in the library since these changes were made, I highly recommend you do so. It’s a quiet place where you can really focus on the task that needs to be completed. If you need to record an audio clip, you can book a time in one of the two student conference rooms. If you want some quiet time to dial in those final pieces of your end-of-term paper, the cubicles in the quiet zone will be perfect for you. Do you need to study for the next unit test in history? The collaborative zone can provide a spot for you and your peers to get an amazing grade on it. Finally, if you get to school 15 minutes before classes start, you can relax and talk with your friends in the hangout zone. The new library brings aspects that every student will love, so what are you waiting for? Go check it out!

What's new with the library?
Eli Borgenicht

Over the past few months, most students have been asking the question, “What’s new with the library?” The short answer: there is new furniture. There was much more of a process in this new design than picking out furniture, and it has greatly increased the number of students in the library, which is known to provide a space to gather resources for a big project, study for the next science test, or work on a collaborative paper for English. The old library didn’t quite meet these requirements, so students didn’t choose it as their primary spot for studying. I asked our librarian, Wendy Butler, about the choices made and the process of renovating the library so we could better understand why and how decisions were made.

What has been the greatest challenge with having this new furniture layout? 

There hasn’t been a single challenge. It’s been nothing shy of amazing. The very first morning with the new furniture, there were 25 middle schoolers in the collaborative zone working on an activity. I told the upper schoolers to head to the quiet zone. It was great because we had the higher couch in the quiet zone to block out noise from other zones, and they worked perfectly. The only frustration that I had was waiting to get the furniture since the delivery date kept getting delayed.

What is the best thing that the new layout has brought to the space? 

There has been a huge increase in the usage and number of students. People love the new library, and there are students in there from the first thing in the morning to the end of the day. There’s always a “mad dash” for the cubicles in the study zone. The official name for them is a “study carrel,” which I like more than a “cubicle.” I think of cubicles as something in a boring 9-to-5 office job.

What was the main reason for the design changes? 

I really didn’t want to kick people out of the library when a class needed it. The new layout allows for people to stay in and everyone to use it. I also wanted to keep the library open at all times. One main thing that was kept in mind when we were designing the library was letting the library be the library, which enhances every aspect of it. It was a place in the ways it is intended to be, and that can still be achieved. We wanted students to feel invited by a warm and cozy environment, and having the different zones allows us to get that. The specific areas make it feel like a separate space, so depending on where you are, it’s like being in a new library.

Was there any inspiration for the new design of the space? 

We really went after what students and teachers wanted. The majority of feedback was wanting to choose where to be, having little spaces to go and nooks and crannies to hang out in. I also wanted to be able to display more books, which I’ve been able to do. Many of the ideas from the community contributed to what it is now. We gathered all of the ideas and put them on sticky notes, then put those up on a board. We were able to see what was most wanted and were able to consolidate from there.

How long did the whole process take and what steps were included? 

I’ve wanted to change things with the library, and for three years, I’ve been working with Ingrid to change things around. We started redesigning last year in the winter. There was a committee with the head of school, the assistant head, the division directors, and learning specialists. There was a lot of looking at different designs. Mick Gee, the head of school, had done something similar at one of the past schools he was at, so he was in full support of it. If we didn’t have his amazing support, and the incredibly hard work that Jennifer Blake put into managing it, it wouldn’t have happened at all. So I’m very grateful for their willingness to work on the project.

One thing that you wish for most when students use the library now? 

I wish for students to be happy. That’s all that I want. I hope that they feel like it’s a good place for them to do what they want, hang out, meet with a friend, etc. Overall, providing students with a comfortable space. The high school previously lacked a focal point, and the new library introduced that. I’ve heard comments that what we’ve done here can be a model for other kinds of improvement of our spaces at the Lincoln campus.

Any regrets about the new design? Furniture not chosen? Placing? Etc.

I have no regrets at all. I’m 100%—if not beyond—pleased. It has truly exceeded expectations. The color, design, quality, orientation, everything is perfect. 

If you haven’t been able to spend time studying in the library since these changes were made, I highly recommend you do so. It’s a quiet place where you can really focus on the task that needs to be completed. If you need to record an audio clip, you can book a time in one of the two student conference rooms. If you want some quiet time to dial in those final pieces of your end-of-term paper, the cubicles in the quiet zone will be perfect for you. Do you need to study for the next unit test in history? The collaborative zone can provide a spot for you and your peers to get an amazing grade on it. Finally, if you get to school 15 minutes before classes start, you can relax and talk with your friends in the hangout zone. The new library brings aspects that every student will love, so what are you waiting for? Go check it out!

Read Recent School News Stories

What's new with the library?
Eli Borgenicht

Ever wondered about the process of redesigning a library? Find out how ours was redone here.