I am delighted to be in Cairns at a full day workshop organised by the Catholic Education office for the schools in this area. “Contemporary School Library Design” – the whole day is designed to help schools look at their school libraries and to build or renovate school libraries that meet the needs of 21st century learners.
The first session of the day to set the scene was provided by Kevin Hennah. Kevin is a wonderful inspiration to many in Australia, using design and marketing ideas to repackage school libraries. Many of our teacher librarians are familiar with his work, and have already made transformations to their libraries – with either a lot of money or on a shoe-string budget.
80% of your loans are generated by 20% of your collection. Yes!! Kevin urges us to weed, weed, weed. Don’t pride yourself on the size of your collection – pride yourself on the quality and presention of your collection. No question, part of Kevin’s focus is to remind us of the hugely relevant focus of reading and literacy that our school libraries MUST retain in the age of digital learning.
The trick of great ‘merchandising’ is to cater for kids needs. First impressions count! Remember your visit to Boarders? The presentation of so many ‘front facing’ books is essential, as our kids are so image conscious. We must market ourselves. We must entice. So grab the flavour of this conversation and make your transformations. Kevin always talks about “prime real estate” – don’t put a big table in that space, with a tablecloth and some books. Think Borders and think clever.
School libraries have way too much signage. Return shute? make a list of all the things that frustrate you! Make sure you have lots of front facing books – and put them on the ends of your aisles.
Kevin loves the creative use of slat wall. But remember, to be careful what acrylics you buy and where you place these display units. Image Plastics are developing excellent perspex holders.
What we are aiming for – walking into a school library and thinking “wow”!! First impressions are so important! Retail book stores provide a powerful marketing ideas – take the ‘good stuff’ from retail, and package it into 21st century pedagogy. Use the base line of clean design, and a colour palette that allows you to change in the future.
Remember, don’t display your magazines by displaying them in alphabetical order!
My view for the future? I believe we have to renovate to innovate – to make books and digital engagement our prime focus, to sell our passion for learning by ‘marketing’ to each new audience! Clean, creative, gorgeous!
Kevin’s message is to take the flavour of possibilities – and translate them into your own setting. Make an impression – don’t be generic. Think outside the circle of traditional libraries. Be bold – and don’t let your teachers hold you back. Yes, it’s about change, and pedagogical innovation. Love life, love your library, love change!!