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Our new school library is nearly finished.

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It has been a mammoth project.

We started with bare walls, an uninspiring carpet and a huge number of boxes of books, all of which needed turning into an inspirational space for children’s reading.

We have been very lucky to have been able to recycle our existing shelving, and be gifted the rest of the shelving we need.

We have arranged and rearranged all our books.  We have culled all of our out of date and falling to bits books.  We have rationalised our non-fiction and reference sections, which were extremely out of date.  We have been making lists of books we want, for teachers and pupils alike.

We have been able to find the funds to buy some new books, and are waiting for new book orders to arrive with some excitement.  It is thrilling to have new books. It is even more exciting to have room to shelve them properly.

We have focussed most of our spending on fiction rather than non-fiction. Non-fiction tends to become redundant more quickly. The books are often more expensive than fiction books, and many non-fiction offerings are now made irrelevant by the fact that most children will use the internet in preference to reference style books. We have identified areas in the non-fiction library where children do consistently borrow books, dinosaur books, natural history books etc are still popular, and this is where we will focus the non-fiction budget.

As we are a Roman Catholic school we have also invested in some child friendly books about religion.

We now have the luxury of being able to keep our reading scheme books in one area of the school, and our free reader books in the new library along with our non fiction books.

Now that we have dealt with the pragmatic issue of where to put the books, we can start on the most exciting aspect of our library renovation – the decor.

We are talking to local art colleges to see if we can involve their students in our project. We want to make our library a real community space.

We have been putting some more ideas on our library Pinterest board to give whoever takes the project on some inspiration and an idea of what we would like to achieve.

When you are decorating a school space you have certain considerations you need to take into account.

Whatever you are doing needs to be robust. Children can be very punishing when it comes to decor.

You need to create something that you can live with for a long period of time. Funds may not allow you to redecorate on a regular basis. Something which seems bang up to date and current now, may seem very tired and irrelevant in five years time. Try to choose something that will stand the test of time.

You will probably be constrained by cost.  Where can you make savings without compromising on creativity or quality?

We have decided to focus on three main areas for decoration:

We have a large, blank wall space in the library due to the vast height of the room we have been given.  We intend to put a mural here.

The library is very easy to overlook from the outside. We would like some kind of mural/sculpture outside the library to show where the library is, and make going to the library feel really exciting.

Because the ceiling is so high we are also looking at some kind of sculpture/mobile to hang from the ceiling.  This doesn’t have to be so robust, as the children won’t be able to reach it.

We have some ideas already:

Our mural must be classic. No Wimpy Kid, graffitti art or fashion statement.  We are looking at things like the work of Jan Pienkowski for example:

83e9582d5c3f9184121ab2d5ec0c6f83or Maurice Sendak:

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The sculpture/mobile must be quite large. It needs to make a statement. The children need to be amazed by what is possible:

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What we need is something magical which creates a unique space which is a pleasure to be in, both for children and adults, and which will go on being a pleasure to visit no matter how many times you go there.

I will keep you posted as to progress…

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