Spaces for Young People 

by Debbie

I am currently teaching in a Catholic Primary school which was fortunate to secure funding for a new library with the government funding last year. The new library was completed for the beginning of the 2012 school year. The library space is an open, bright and very flexible learning area, which has given new life to the school. A library school officer, who has worked hard to make the library user friendly and inviting, manages the library 4 days a week. Senior students have been trained as library monitors to allow the students to have ownership of the space especially during break times.

The planning of the furniture was greatly researched and mobile shelving and desks were purchased to allow for flexibility of the space. Currently the area is set up with a junior fiction picture book area with bean bags, several comfy seats and plenty of floor space for children to sit down and enjoy their books. Novels are arranged in zig-zag tiered-shelving to promote interest with the older primary aged readers. Reference books are situated along the wall space near the desk areas for children to have easy access when researching information.

There is access to 4 desk top computers in the library, as well as a bank of 10 lap tops for research. There is a sound-proof green room with padded tiered seating which is often used for a quiet reading area during lunch breaks or by classes for group learning sessions as there is access to a data projector. A variety of games and resources are also available to be used during lunch breaks. Teacher reference books and resources are kept in a separate location in the staff room for easy access for teachers during lunch break times.

The colour scheme has been chosen with care to make the space bright, and aesthetically pleasing, with a range of different surfaces for different display options. Already a variety of displays have been set up and changed throughout the year to reflect learning in the school and to promote interest in different books and series. This is also reflected in the TV displays, featuring photos of the students at various events throughout the year. The children’s work has been displayed and managed by the students allowing them a sense of pride in their work and a connection to the library. The space is always well used and has become a central part of the school.


Spaces for Young People in Our School Library

by Julie

Although I am currently a stay at home Mum, I am very familiar with the library in the local Catholic Secondary school that I used to teach at. In fact, it is the library where I have conducted most of my practical experience for my Masters of Education (Teacher-Librarian) Degree.

The current library is a well-used space in the school. It has one work area within the non-fiction area, capable of accommodating a class. On the other side of a wall, is the fiction area which is bordered by carrels, has a limited number of tables and chairs, and a lounge chair. In the middle of the room are two four leveled shelves containing the fiction texts. Next to the fiction area there is a small alcove containing 5 computers with online access, and 4 computers dedicated to the library catalogue.

Outside of class time, the non-fiction area is mostly used for quiet work or study. It is the fiction area that has been setup for leisure. The lounge chair is position between the magazines and the fiction books, and is often occupied by students. At the chairs and tables you will find students playing board games and sharing interesting facts from magazines in the lunch hour. This is the noisy area of the library.

While the library is well-resourced, the space as a whole is not quite large enough for a school of this size, and is in need of aesthetic improvement. The walls are a dull grey and almost bare. There is very little evidence of literature promotion or any kind of promotion in fact. I’m really disappointed by the lack of student work on display. It is difficult to imagine that this is a space where teenagers would enjoy.

Perhaps one of the reasons that the library environment has not been enhanced, is due to the proposal of a new school library, to be built in the near future. The plans will see the library located in a more central position, and is expected to be a fully functioning, modern library – hopefully with young people in mind.