“ I found BookSpace on Google and was really impressed with the way they presented the plans and visuals and particularly liked the use of colour in their plans ”
The school’s ethos is ‘Learning for Life’ and staff are constantly looking for new ways to ensure pupils are given the opportunity to explore, discover and learn.
The school has developed a solid reading culture amongst pupils and even hosts its own Children’s Literature Festival each year, yet despite this, Matthew Edwards, Head of English was aware the school library was not being used in the most effective way. Whilst the timetable allowed for pupils to visit the library, the space wasn’t very inviting and was more often used as a common room than a library. Old metal shelving ran around the perimeter of the room and was often too high for all but the older children to reach. The library was sited next to the ICT suite and in early 2014, plans were drawn up to knock down the internal wall separating the two. The resulting larger space would be light, bright and very much bigger and the plan was to integrate IT within the library space by providing access to a bank of iPads and Chrome Books. Matthew was keen for the new library to be a bigger part of the school and become integral to the way pupils learnt at Eagle House. “We appointed Jacqui as our librarian and together we had a vision for the library. We wanted to find a company who really understood that vision and could bring it to life” says Matthew. “I found BookSpace on Google and was really impressed with the way they presented the plans and visuals and particularly liked the use of colour in their plans”.
A number of companies were invited to submit plans for the new library. As well as creating separate areas for fiction and non-fiction, the brief included creating a study area, space for class & group work and plenty of soft seating to create a relaxed environment to encourage independent reading. The space also needed to appeal to the older pupils.
“ The installation team were excellent and they’ve done a great job cutting the bookcases to fit around the skirting – it’s a really professional finish. BookSpace even offered me advice and sent me some paint samples for the walls which meant the whole look came together ”
After visiting Eagle House to talk to Matthew about their ideas and requirements and to measure the space, BookSpace presented the school with 3 plans to choose from. Each plan offered a slightly different approach to the layout but in all cases included a showcase area at the front of the library providing a taster of what the library had to offer, separate shelving for fiction and non-fiction, Feature Units such as the Reading Hideaway and the Book Tree and importantly a zone dedicated to older pupils.
“I was very impressed with the plans we received from BookSpace” says Matthew. “It was clear they had really taken on board what we were trying to achieve, particularly the need to create an area which would appeal to older children with soft but functional sofas and a Smart Screen to create a relaxed appealing environment. Inevitably there were changes to the original plans but the design team at BookSpace made it very easy and again understood why we wanted to make the changes so the process was very smooth. We’ve even managed to fit the space out in our school colours. ”
The new space was installed over the Summer holidays. “The installation team were excellent” says Matthew “and they’ve done a great job cutting the bookcases to fit around the skirting – it’s a really professional finish. BookSpace even offered me advice and sent me some paint samples for the walls which meant the whole look came together”.
The new library was opened officially by author Tim Bowler who spoke of the library being a “dream factory and a place of adventure”. “Everyone - governors, teachers, pupils and parents have been blown away by the new space” says Matthew. “For teachers, it offers up an amazing new resource for us to dip into and for pupils it’s a bright, modern space which really appeals. New glass doors provide a wide and welcoming entrance to the space and the books look fantastic on the new shelving. We’re fortunate to be able to bring in new stock on a regular basis but even the old books look really good on the shelving. It helps to have face-out shelving which presents the books in a better way but also because the shelves aren’t too high the children can reach any book they choose. The lower shelving also helps to create a lighter and less intimidating space than we had previously.”
The new library is already being well used. Pupils are using the space in their free time, enjoying books, magazines and newspapers as well as access to iPads and Chrome Books. Soft sofas and the fabulous Reading Hideaway are encouraging children to linger and curl up with a book and the older pupils in particular have claimed it as a place to chill out and catch up on some reading. “Pupils are definitely using the space more independently now and we have lots of plans to encourage more of that, with author visits and plans to launch a book group” Matthew says. “A weekly visit to the library is still very much part of the timetable but we’ve noticed a real shift in pupils’ attitude. I’d say most pupils now see this as the highlight of their week.
Jacqui is on hand to answer questions and help guide children to select books they might enjoy and the book issue figures speak for themselves. We have gone from under 20% of pupils taking a book out to nearly 58%, the majority of which are boys, which is fantastic. We’re all really excited about the new library and have lots of ideas for how we can use it. It really is beyond our expectations and has achieved more than we set out to. It couldn’t be better!”