Ali Murphy, PSA Vice Chair, The Queen’s School, Richmond-upon-Thames, explains why they chose BookSpace to supply their new school library.
We’ve organized wine tasting, quiz and comedy nights, class cake sales and the annual Summer and Christmas Fairs, when even the most reticent parents don’t escape stuffing pint pots or dressing up as elves.
By Christmas 2010 the PSA found itself in the fortunate position of having built up enough money to fund a really substantial project. The school had a number of projects they needed funds for, including overhauling the kitchen and the ITC, but the proposal that really caught the imagination of the parents was upgrading the library.
The existing library was built along one side of a busy thoroughfare linking the infant and junior school. Space was severely limited and although it contained a good selection of books and was well used, its potential was restricted by the fact that it was effectively a glorified corridor. However, that autumn a glass walkway had been built alongside the library, allowing the library to extend over the previous corridor as a self contained and above all, peaceful room. The staff were really excited by the potential of this new space and how it could be turned into a really appealing, child friendly environment, that would create a stimulating world of books at the centre of the school. Of course, parents supported the school’s vision as we knew every child would benefit.
We needed to source colorful, sturdy shelving, tables and chairs designed specifically for children, some new books and professional design advice. The PSA received quotes from various different library suppliers but BookSpace, the company who were awarded the contract, ‘had the edge’. Their products looked fantastic but they also gave us the flexibility we were looking for. We were working with an unusual room layout with the old windows running all the way down one side, so we needed something which could accommodate this and still create an eye-catching space.
We were also keen to create a corner within the library which we wanted to call ‘Katie’s Corner’. Some of the funds for the new library had been raised in honour of a parent at the school, the writer Katie Mortimer, known professionally as Katie Pearson, who sadly died from cancer in December 2010. We wanted to create a special area in memory of her.
The BookSpace team made the whole process seem really easy. They advised us on our book capacity, provided 5 different layout options until we were happy with the design and fitted the whole thing in less than a day. Katie’s Corner has been incorporated into an enclosed, quiet area for younger children with a little archway leading into it. It has a special reading chair where children can read to each other or be read to by a 'special' reader that could be a teacher, visitor, parent or simply an older pupil at the school.
If any other school is looking for a new reading space I would say have a look at BookSpace. They are a young creative company and offer something a little bit different. We’ve been really pleased with the quality of the shelving and the seating looks ‘fabulously funky’, as one parent commented but it’s also practical and wipes-clean.
The library is now a much-loved focal point of the school, which children from reception upwards are encouraged to visit freely before and after school and during breaks. Ultimately the new library is helping them to learn to love books and reading, and we all know what a difference that can make. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, the most important single indicator of a child's future success at school is whether they read for pleasure.