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  • Writer's pictureDr. Kristen Mattson

Library Makeover: What We Gained by Letting Go

This year I was blessed with a job in a high school library media center. The school is celebrating its 40th birthday, and many of the materials in the library are quite dated. My staff and I, with the ongoing help of parent and student volunteers, weeded 6,440 books from our collection this year.  During the process, many teachers and students asked what I planned to do with all of the extra space we now had in the library.

 It turns out, what we made room for was so much better than what we gave away.

We made room for…

Student voiceBefore any renovation work began in the library, it was important to hear what students wanted from the space. Our team conducted a school wide survey to gather input. A library student advisory board was formed to give continued input and support during the transformation. Two students in particular led the charge, taking on the library makeover as a year long assignment for their architecture and design course. They met with staff, students and administrators to gather input. They took detailed measurements of the library to create blueprints and renderings of what it looked like in its current state and what it could become.

We made room for…

Collaboration: It takes a team to make progress. This project was no exception. It turns out, if you share your vision with others and model the hard work it takes to make that vision a reality, people will gladly roll up their sleeves and help you. It has been a truly humbling and amazing experience to see everyone from students, parents, staff and administrators buying in, digging in, and getting the job done.


Department chair and head of maintenance work together to disassemble shelving.


Department chair, technology specialist, and LMC assistant work together to decide upon the perfect place to move the circulation desk.

We made room for…

Tinkering and problem solving: By getting rid of the old, we were able to make space for the new. Thanks to several grants, our team was able to purchase materials that would encourage innovation, problem solving, strategy, and teamwork.


Boys coding Sphero Sparks to “dance” to music in the dark.


A group of students race the clock to build a remote and car out of Little Bits.

We made room for…

Creation: Through the purchase of fancy materials like a 3D printer, to simpler items like crochet needles with yarn, one of our goals was to foster an environment of creativity. The library itself would serve as an invitation (coupled with time, space, and materials) to learn a new skill or share talents with others.

We made room for…

Friendships to bloom: There are so many distractions fighting for our kids’ attention today. Our goal was to build a place where students could come together, enjoy one another’s company, and grow as a community of friends and learners. I came across a quote recently that best described the work we are trying to do…


….and I have to say, I think we are well on our way!

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