It has been a while since I last shared anything on my website. I’ve had, what I think, is a petty good reason. This term has been entirely focused on moving into our brand new secondary school library space. I am currently the Head of Library Services at St Paul’s School and we have two school libraries on the campus. A junior school library and a secondary school library space. Last year, in the term 3 holiday break, my AmazingLibraryTech and I moved the secondary school library into a temporary location in the staff lounge area (usually used for meetings and special events). It meant boxing up all of our belongings, having our collection and shelving packed up and stored offsite, and keeping just a tiny live collection with us.

Moving into our brand new space was scheduled to occur in mid January. Unfortunately, that got delayed to February. And then delayed again to late Feb. Then early March. Now, here we are at the end of March and we are finally (almost completely) moved into our brand new school library space. I say “our” and “we” because I could not have done this without my amazing school library team and all the awesome people we get to work with.

Even working together, it has been an absolutely massive term. From changing plans and then changing them again (and again) ((and again)), to actually moving all our books and items into the space, it has been exhilarating and exhausting. Quantum Library Supplies helped us pack up and stored our collection and shelves back in 2022, and have now installed our old compactus and shelving in our new storage areas and brought back our collections from offsite storage. The team at Quantum were incredible – so flexible with our many changes of move-in date, and they worked so hard to get all our books reinstalled so quickly. They did a fantastic job and we could not have done it without them.

It’s hard to believe we are actually in the new space – and what a beautiful space it is.  We had just under two weeks to move in. Quantum were onsite for the best part of the first week and I and my team had lots of fun (and some hair pulling moments) trying to make the collections fit where we had planned them. Seeing the space in real life doesn’t always match up to the plans.

At the end of those two weeks, we hosted 200 staff members for a big reveal of the space. The following Monday we toured all 1400 students through the building in class groups and welcomed a large group of parents, past students, and guests. This continued into Tuesday and throughout the week, as lots of people wanted to check out the new space. The building will open for regular hours and business in Term 2, so for now the library team are dividing our time between our ever-increasingly emptier temporary space to allow students access to an area for break times and study lessons, and continuing to set up in our new space. The move in took a little longer than planned, as the removalists, who were meant to help with furniture, boxes and our other belongings decided the job was too hard, so that left us using trolleys to move the items ourselves.

About the building

Our new secondary library space is situated in our new Innovation Precinct. This consists of a new building and a renovated building (our old library space), with adjoining outdoor areas. The Innovation Precinct is the result of five years of planning and the whole thing is designed to reflect the school’s pedagogy, Realms of Thinking. This is my third year at the school, so I joined mid way through the planning stage. Actually, the plans were complete when I joined the school.

The building, design, interior, exterior, furniture, shelving, colours and layout were designed by Towill Designs. There were a few things I had a say over or were my idea, like the expanding the reading area upstairs and the cozy arched shelving in the downstairs entrance way. I’ve also been responsible for designing which collections go where, working with my AmazingLibraryTech to plan, imagine, change and design this for best student access. A lot of this had to fit around the shelves that were supplied for us. Fiction was initially going downstairs, but I just could not make the collections fit and the low shelving was going to be a nightmare for reshelving, so I moved fiction upstairs, leaving downstairs perfect for big, beautiful genrefied non fiction collections, along with graphic novels and manga. This has created a really cool area and the collections fit the vibe of the space.

I fit as much shelving into our storage areas as possible, which was lucky, because it turns out we have lots of stuff, not to mention textbooks! Super grateful to the architects for supplying us with three storage areas, as we need it all. We’ve had lots of fun fitting all our many items into these areas and turning different spaces into workable areas for all the prep and work that happens behind the scenes in a school library.

As well as housing the secondary library, the new building houses a food tech kitchen, a hospitality kitchen, theatre that seats 250 people, senior study area, entrance gallery with floor and wall projectors, professional learning area and staff area for our Centre of Realms of Thinking staff, digital technologies classrooms, robotics lab, and Possibility Hubs. The Possibility Hub spaces are like a really cool makerspace, but aligned to support creative thinking and our Realms of Thinking pedagogy. I’ve put my hand up to lead the building, and I’ve organised a booking system for the space. I basically told my principal, ‘the whole building makes a really cool library, thank you. I’ll take over from here,’ and he agreed! I am so grateful to him for his support and the freedom he allows me to do this. It’s a wonderful space to be working in. Even though the move process has been drawn out (it feels like we’ve been moving boxes and things around for months because we have!!) I know I am incredibly lucky to have such a beautiful space to work in and such supportive leadership who have placed the library so centrally in the space and allowed me, a librarian, to guide the use of such an innovative space. It’s also highlighted just how amazing my school library team are and how wonderful and supportive all the people I work with are. I have lots of plans for the space and I can’t wait to share them with you.