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Space themed primary school library

Case Study: Waterside Primary School

It might be a small space but to our pupils, this is now the most exciting part of the school
Waterside Primary School, Stoke on Trent

When Joanne Knowles, Head teacher at Waterside Primary searched on Google for new library shelving, she wanted to find library furniture that would turn her ideas for a ‘reading world’ into reality.

“I was very excited when I came across the BookSpace website” says Mrs Knowles, “I could see what they had done for other schools and it looked really unusual. The themed-libraries were definitely something we were drawn to, however we knew we only had a small space and weren’t sure if what we liked could be achieved in such a small space. When BookSpace came to visit our school they had a real passion for what we could achieve and had lots of ideas which we hadn’t even considered. What they have created in a small space is brilliant. Our children love it. Our governors love it. And the teachers love it. I just know it’s going to get our children passionate about reading.”

Waterside Primary is a multi-cultural school located in the heart of the Potteries in Staffordshire. The school currently has just over 300 pupils attending from nursery through to year 6. Over the past 12 months one of the schools’ priorities has been to focus on reading. Two senior members of staff have taken on the role of ’Reading Champions’ and have been driving forward ideas to get pupils reading more and to enjoy reading. An initiative called ‘Rainbow Readers’ which encourages children to read more at home has been really successful and they were keen to reinforce this reading culture with new library furniture in the school.

Cluttered school classroom


New school library installation


“Although each classroom had a reading corner for fiction and non-fiction stock we only had a very small library located in a corner of the KS2 corridor” says Claire Steel, Assistant Head Teacher and KS2 Reading Champion “Our KS1 pupils had to walk upstairs to visit the library and there wasn’t enough space to display books for all ages. Storytime sessions were a particular struggle! We decided if we were serious about our commitment to reading then we needed to create a new library for our younger pupils and revamp the existing one”.

An underused space on the lower corridor was identified as the possible location for the new KS1 library. It contained shelving, cupboards and a sink and was used for storing art materials but in reality it was more often used for one-to-one reading sessions. “It wasn’t the most inspiring place for children to read” says Zoe Donnellan, Assistant Head Teacher and KS1 Reading Champion. “It felt transitory and like reading didn’t matter somehow”. We wanted to change that and show the children that reading is exciting however we weren’t sure it would be big enough to create a proper library. When Jane came to visit from BookSpace, she put our minds at rest and assured us that even though the space was small they could still create a reading space that would look good.”

BookSpace met with the school for an initial consultation meeting. These meetings are a really important way of ascertaining how a library will be used, who will be using the space and what types of books they will be accessing. Having a deeper understanding of the way a school works means we can create a library that really works for each and every school.

Rocket shaped book display in primary school library

At the consultation meeting at Waterside Primary, it became apparent that the new KS1 space would be used for guided reading and for children to access books independently. The school uses the Flipped Teaching method and encourages pupils to access the library to research the topic they are studying to supplement what is being taught in the classroom so the space needed to display books in an accessible way. The school planned to purchase new stock for the libraries with a big emphasis on non-fiction to support this method of learning.

“We really liked the themed libraries that BookSpace offered” says Zoe. “We were really keen to look at an underwater theme for the new KS1 library but even though BookSpace could offer us an underwater theme, it was the space theme that really attracted us. We also wanted to look at a jungle theme for the existing KS2 library.”

The design team at BookSpace created a number of different options for each space. The jungle theme comprised a Hideyhole with a vine leaf design, giraffe-shaped end panels at the end of the row of shelving, a leaf canopy, elephant-shaped seats for the children and an elephant-shaped bookcase for staff reads. The result is an exciting space that invites children in to explore and read.

The new KS1 library is a world away from the original space. The cupboards and sink have been removed and in their place are cosy Storage Seats, a Rocket Pod, Display Frames, Space-themed wall stickers and hanging inflatable planets.

“It’s one thing to have a vision and a dream. It’s another to have it turned into reality. You’ve turned what was a small under-used space at the end of the corridor into the most exciting part of the school for our children” says Mrs Knowles. “BookSpace could see the possibilities for the space. We knew what we would like but BookSpace managed to turn our ideas into reality. Thank you!”

Space and Jungle themed primary school library

Revamped KS2 space