Millis Middle/High School
Patsy Divver, School Librarian
With a little creativity, wise spending, and organization, YOUR library can be brand NEW! The Millis Middle/High school library definitely needed a change. When I started here in 2002, I updated the books but they hadn't been updated since. The 8’ high shelves were out of place and we hadn't changed tables for about ten years. The 30 year old rug had seen better days and the library was just not as inviting as it had the potential to be. Other than a new cafe table, the space needed some work.
How to start: My first step was reaching out to people who knew what to do and how to do it: Christi Farrar, a consultant at Massachusetts Library System, came and helped with a number of recommendations. This is one of the many FREE services they offer! One of her suggestions was to check out the amazing presentation by Allison Connelly on the Stoneham School Library for the MSLA Northeast Area regional meeting. It was helpful for me to get outside professional advice. As many of you know, the role of “singleton” in the library also means your decisions are ‘fair game’ for opinion and criticism!
THAT meant...EVERYTHING out of the library! Books, shelves, desks, computers — they were ALL needed to
(Side-note: we used “More Than Words”, which is a “nonprofit social enterprise that empowers youth” and also accepts used books. Our school has used them over the past several years, and it’s worked fairly well. They do ‘ask’ for a donation towards gas money and the profits go to help the youth. I just ran into issues about pick-up and am still seeking “the best” outlet for books.)
We added a ‘cozy’ table/lamp for the area which had housed an oversized, bulky conference table. This is the section where we hope to get flex-seating tables, if the grant goes through. Our biographies, on the back shelves, were relocated when the collection shrunk by 50%. (The fifth grade does the Wax Museum at the elementary school now.)
Some ongoing issues are budget-based: the choice of adding new materials, books, ebooks and other digital resources. Programming and curriculum changes are the main focus of how our collection expands. As we are a combined middle and high school, some of our activities are determined by the use of the library for study halls, virtual classes, and fixed middle school classes. The issue of ‘food or no food’ is still a hot topic, especially with the cafe tables. The relaxed atmosphere and the addition of the chess/checkers table tends to make for a more loosely disciplined library.. Fortunately, the library seating now includes tables outside the library doors and in the hallway. This allows students to eat and drink but again but it’s not a silent space at all.
Some points to consider when approaching a remodeling project are: start with simple, easy plans. Weeding is always a good beginning step, since we all need to do this and it’s often ‘put aside’ until another, better time. Asking for donations of usable chairs, tables, seating, or lighting can be a good change without large monetary expenditures. Checking with teachers and students on their ideas for library needs will give support to your requests to your administrators. Also, when something does look great - a bulletin board, a program in progress, anything acquired from a grant - shout about it! Put it on social media, webpages, email lists... show how the library is “lookin’ good!!!” With some creativity and legwork, your library can begin its transformation.