To theme or not to theme

To theme or not to theme

How exciting. A new library or the chance to revamp your existing library. But it can be a daunting task too. Where exactly do you start. You have a feeling you’ll know it’s right for you when you see it but there’s so many things to consider and so many choices to make including whether to theme or not to theme!

Firstly, if you choose BookSpace to design and install your new library you don’t need to worry about anything. We have years of experience creating bespoke libraries for primary schools and have seen most things, so whatever your space is like we’ll be able to confidently create a reading space you’ll be proud of. We work with you throughout the process, listening to what you want, what you like and what you don’t like. At your consultation meeting, we’ll spend time with you talking about what your ideas are and how you plan to use the library. Once you’ve received our initial designs we will work with you to finalise them and make sure you’re completely happy. And even on installation day, our experienced fitters will take the time to consult with you and ensure you are happy with the progress.

So, should you have a themed library nor not? At BookSpace we offer 3 themed library packages as standard but if you have an idea for a theme we can work with you to create a bespoke theme for your school. We offer a Woodland theme, a Jungle theme and a Space theme. At Teagues Bridge School in Staffordshire, Head Teacher Mrs Abdulla was keen to create ‘a sense of awe and wonder’ with their new library. “We were all very drawn to the woodland theme” says Mrs Abdulla. “The children in particular loved it and for us it was important that the pupils had a say”. A themed library can certainly add the ‘wow factor’ to a space. It creates a space that children want to visit, for the sheer novelty value if nothing else and hopefully it sends a clear message that the library is a fun place to be.

A themed library can certainly create a ‘wow’ factor but each of our themes offer more than that. Each theme has been designed to add to the learning experience and offer additional writing and reading opportunities. The Woodland theme for example includes a Storytelling Table which features a forest design. It’s a perfect starting point for oral storytelling or creative writing. Looking at the table, children will be taken on an exciting narrative journey – through trees, across rivers, on a boat – encountering animals, poisonous mushrooms and a mysterious tepee in the heart of the forest.

However, a themed library is not for everyone. Some schools prefer to look at a more classic range of shelving and perhaps feel a theme would constrain or reduce the possibilities for the space. If you’re thinking that themed libraries only work in larger spaces, think again. Waterside Primary School in Stoke-on-Trent had two spaces which they have transformed into KS1 and KS2 reading areas. For both spaces they chose to have a themed library; a Space theme for KS1 and a Jungle theme for KS2. The Key Stage 1 area was a very small space – a recess in the lower corridor which housed a sink and a few cupboards. Head Teacher, Joanne Knowles says “what was a small, under-used space at the end of the corridor is now the most exciting part of the school for our children”. As well as space-themed furniture and seating the library includes replica planets hanging from the ceiling, which gives children a fun way to experience the wonders of the Solar System.

Norwood Primary School is an urban school, in the middle of Eastleigh in Hampshire and though there is a playground, there is no green space at the school. A big part of the brief for the new library was to bring an element of green inside the school. We used the Woodland Theme to design the space, incorporating tree-shaped PC desking and little toadstool seats as well as wall stickers in the form of trees, leaves and birds. Children can write on the leaves and wipe off again and they can be stuck on the wall and removed time and again. It’s a great way of engaging reluctant writers.

Creating a themed library taps into children’s imaginations. We adapt our range of furniture to include themed hidey-holes and secret reading spaces, end panels that tie in with the theme and desks shaped or designed in the style of the theme. We add in soft seating which is themed and use wall stickers to extend the theme beyond the furniture. These small details mean that the library comes alive. It is no longer a library but a place of dreams and adventure. It will lay down memories for pupils of their first school library that will stay with them into adulthood.