If your library still houses desk top computers, give them up. This is one of the easiest ways to free up space in your library. Desktop computers are static. The space they occupy can only be used for one purpose and they take up too much valuable room. If you can, replace them with Chrome Books or tablets. This merely requires a charging cart. We replaced our 25 desktops with 55 Chrome Books. This more than doubled the number of computers and used about an eighth of the space, though it’s a good idea to keep one or two desktops as a catalog station.
When I first got the library position, we had nine encyclopedia sets. I kept two of the more current ones, but they function more as conversation pieces now. I also kept a set of foreign language dictionaries. Digital reference resources such as databases are more current, more cost effective, and allow for simultaneous users. Our Chrome Books did not only free up space used by the desktops, they allowed us to purge most of our reference books freeing up the space used by those stacks.
The picture on the left shows the area once used for our reference section (notice the World Book atop the only remaining shelf). Removing most of the reference shelves gave us room for a maker space with storage cabinet.
The last step is to remove furniture with limited functions. We gave away the tables once used for the desktop computers and removed or relocated the shelves used for the reference section. This created a comfortable, uncluttered and flexible floor space. Book trucks make excellent day storage for the Chrome Books. They allow us to easily wheel the carts to any location in or out of the library. Using book trucks also keeps kids out of the charging cart preventing wires from being yanked or tangled. The stacks that once housed the reference selection were donated to a classroom. This gave us space to incorporate lounge seating, activity tables, and even café-style seating. The new furniture can be easily moved or shifted to recreate the space.
With all the talk these days about creating maker spaces, you need to start with the space. These space changes were relatively inexpensive, but will cost some money especially if you don’t already have the portable digital devices. Once you make a few simple changes, there is a good chance people will notice and that should help with support. If you do some research, you can find furniture companies that don’t charge shipping costs. We found a company that sells office furniture for reception areas and conference rooms and found this furniture perfect for school libraries. It was cheaper than going through a specialty library supplier, but best of all, they don’t charge shipping fees. This has saved us hundreds of dollars over the years. We also petition parent groups for funds and found them to be very helpful and supportive. So if you are thinking about changing things up, try a few simple alterations that are relatively easy and inexpensive.