PE In November 2009 the project to add a Sixth form to Comberton Village College was well underway. Our newly appointed College Librarian then became involved after being asked a small question ‘‘where would you like the computer network points in the new library” and that is where the Great New Library Design Adventure began………
PE The Librarian, new in post, consulted several library specialist furniture companies, requested quotes and attended a library design course run by Tower Hamlets SLS. A key part of the process was visiting other libraries with a working party of pupils, and discussing advantages and disadvantages with their librarians. The CILIP and SLA guidelines were consulted and the Designing Libraries website provided further guidance and ideas. Identified stakeholders were: secondary school pupils, sixth formers, teachers, pupils from out of catchment who might be reliant on the library while waiting for transport and SEN pupils. The budget for the project was £50,000. There was an active and on-going consultation with pupils and staff in the form of library liaisons. We are constantly receiving positive feedback from staff, parents, visitors and our Governing body.
PE The Library links the new sixth form to the main school. This is reflected in the design and division of space. Following several visits with a working party of then year 11 pupils to other schools Jane met with three library design companies. A lot of cutting and sticking followed as we took elements from their basic designs and put them together with meet our objectives and appointed FG Libraries as our chosen supplier with the RFID system supplied by D Tech. The spacious library has large windows, which overlook the open spaces at the front of the school. It has been decorated with bright colours and has interesting furniture which is comfortable and practical. The Library desk faces the door to the secondary school, so pupils can be welcomed. It is signposted from the pupil entrance so we are easy to find. The area feels open so it is not intimidating to the more reluctant pupils. The space means that there is plenty of room to display books, giving the non-fiction collection a new lease of life, as interesting books can be placed front facing, and books on topics being researched can be made into a display.
PE This was the end result – although the furniture has moved around a little to meet changing needs – Flexibility was always high on our list.
LL When we come into the library we are welcomed by a friendly face at the counter which is also close to the printer in case we need any help printing off our work. The sight lines are effective with the majority of the library visible from the library desk. The library is open from 8.00 until 5.00. and is always staffed in case we any help. This means we can use it before school, break-time, lunchtime and after school as long as we are reading or working quietly. We also come to the library as a class group for reading sessions during our English lessons and with our other subject teachers if we need to research using books and on-line resources.
LL When we joined Comberton in year 7 the school library was very different, it was mostly dark wood and had been built when the school opened in 1960. The new library is a much brighter well-laid out space. It is a friendly, calm place to work and we have everything available to help us with our homework and lessons. It is so colourful in the new library with green chairs and walls with modern signage which was design by our Head of Art based on the theme used throughout the new building.
LL Dividing the space into a research area and a reading area helps keep the computers for those who need them, with an additional 20 netbooks for individual pupils or to be booked out by classes we are well catered for. The computers are for homework and school work or we can use them to check our school email account plus we can use them after school for online revision sites like BBC Bitesize. The printer can be used by all staff and pupils to print and photocopy. The computers in the library are a thin client system which means users have more space as there are no bulky computer towers, and all computers can be easily updated with new software and programmes. The whole library has wireless network coverage allowing pupils to use their own laptops.
LL The space is large and flexible - the tables can be folded away and the bookcase moved for events like an author visits. There are different areas to suit different needs - the class tables, soft seating, individual seating and small group tables as well as the research area of computers and non-fiction. It is accessible and served by a lift, and the space is wheelchair friendly.
LL The school aimed to create a space that could be used equally by all departments, the separate fiction and non-fiction spaces mean two classes can use the space at the same time, with additional space for TAs and small groups. Reluctant readers enjoy coming in and exploring during in their break or lunchtime or in literacy support lessons. Behaviour is excellent and we are respectful of the space and others working as we know we are sharing it. It’s good to be able to see the sixth formers hard at work they are a great example.
LL The space is also used for governors' and department meetings as well as Parents' Evenings as it helps to raise the profile and encourages people to look at our resources and what we do. Each area has a raised podium and chair for the teacher to use with power sockets for them to charge their laptops.
LL This is the centre section where the reading tables usually stand to accommodate the regular library lessons. This picture shows tables folded and cleared plus the paperback spinners wheeled away ready for action
LL We often have visiting authors, guest speakers and other school events like the MFL spelling Bee in the library. This was American author Tom Angleberger talking about his book – The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda. He ended up with demonstrating a lifesize paper Yoda!
LL The end result A walking, talking Yoda!
LL The floor space easily accommodates a school half year. This was 150 pupils joining in with the action! Having such a versatile space means it’s a great venue for all kinds of visitors.
LL There is now plenty of room to display books. Before they were crammed into small bookcases – not very interesting! Non-fiction lending has increased significantly as a result.
LL There is a selection of soft seats to sit on – different shapes and sizes but all in our spotty green fabric to match our green chairs
LL The Spotty chairs are always full –on a busy lunchtime there may be 150 pupils – some end up sitting on the floor using the back of the sofa as a backrest!
LL It’s easy to get lost in your book on a comfy chair
LL We have a self- checkout unit which students and staff use with their school cashless catering card - it’s great when there’s a queue at the counter! As library leaders one of our lunch-time or break- time jobs is to help the new year 7’s learn how to use it (and show the staff too!)
LL The paperback spinners are great and popular. The books look more inviting and there is often a crowd around them choosing their reading book.
LL This is our display wall with some famous visitors
LL To raise money for Children In Need we sold spots to cover the outlines of Pudsey and Blush
6th former The section at the front of the library is the 6th form area and is only available to 6th Form students. There is a separate entrance for the us which next to our Independent Study area where we can take books and netbooks if we need to work in groups and discuss our work. The lower school students are able to see us studying and our good work ethic in action- we try to set a great example. The 6th form area contains our own fiction, non-fiction, magazines and University prospectuses etc.
Sara We hope you now have an idea of what our library looks like and how successfully it works for us as students at Comberton Village College. Thank you.
SLA Library Design Awards 2013 - Comberton Village College, Cambridge