Library (i)

Library (i)

Following the retirement in September of our longstanding, loyal and passionate Librarian, Mrs Simmonds, we will be looking for someone to help design and run our library aligned with our cultural intent.


An evocative word. Repositories of human learning since the dark ages, these bastions of culture have a rich history; they are evocative, provocative spaces.

The burning of the library at the end of Umberto Eco’s “The Name of the Rose” still appals our imaginations. The frailty of human knowledge and learning in the middle ages was shocking; a lost library was an apocalyptic event for civilisation.

Evernote Camera Roll 20140512 180913

Our emotional response to libraries remains today. Quiet and earnest, they are still sacred spaces. Perhaps we feel a little more secure about the retention of human learning? The scarcity of written expression has been replaced by a digital superfluity. However, modern Apocalyptics would describe the cloud as unstable and cyber-attack as a civilisation threatening event.

So physical libraries are still vital expressions of what it means to be human. Suddenly the responsibility of getting our plan right intensifies and we must have courageous intent.

Our library users must help design and shape the space they need. We must be bold enough to put something in place that may look very different, whilst accepting that we may be asked to provide features that are very familiar.

We need a community led set of decisions and in this first post about our library, I will pose a series of stimulating questions rather than telling you what I think. I genuinely believe that your ideas will inform the plan.

In the WIKI world, what should the balance be between books and online interfaces? As ever, what will the books we still stock (only spoiler – there WILL still be books), say about our culture and what we value? How will they prepare us for our place in the world?

Libraries presented an unexpected theme during my International Study Tour in the autumn term.

At Melbourne International School the library space was traditionally organised with the exception of a piano – ready to be played. This struck me as a potentially disruptive influence; the suggestion being that anyone could come along and disturb the atmosphere at any moment.

UH PianoA library with a piano at its heart. What do you think? Should the library provide a multi-sensory experience?

At Wesley College, a fee paying school in Melbourne, a full strategic approach to what a modern library should be had been undertaken:

WC library

It’s a little hard to pick out the text from the picture but the premise of share, play, muse and learn was clearly well considered. The interplay between virtual and physical spaces may also provide a stimulus for your ideas?

There will be an opportunity soon for anyone to take an A3 plan of the library and to submit their thoughts and designs.

Some further questions to provoke creative debate:

What should the new space be called?

How do we move from an information economy to a knowledge economy? Or is this a leading question?!

How do we provide a space that both supports digital learning and provides respite from it?

Finally, if you have recently re-designed your library, I’d love to hear from you and see any pictures and thoughts you’d be able to share.

Future posts:

Library (ii) – The Reading Culture at DHSB

Library (iii) – Designs and suggestions from modern libraries

4 thoughts on “Library (i)

  1. Amanda Moore

    I think it would be great to see the library split into different areas,a specific quiet area/sound proof room enabling students to work/study in silence,an open plan area for working/lessons etc and a separate lounge area with comfy sofas or trendy furniture incorporating a coffee counter (similar to Costa within Waterstones)
    The separate eating areas within school have proved popular with students so maybe an area to relax and read may prove popular for some ?

    1. Pamela Mintoft

      I like the split areas idea Amanda, and I am glad to hear there will still be books in the library! For our A level the students need to do some serious academic – university level coursework and whilst they can find sources online they also need to access more secondary work.

    2. Adam

      Amanda’s idea of splitting the Library is one that I think would definitely work. Sometimes the best way to maximise the use of the a ‘Space’ is to make it more than one ‘Space’!

  2. Great ideas – it is a very open space at the moment, which can lead to “interferences”. I’ll give you a plan to draw up your ideas – thanks!

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