Construction Craze: Library begins first renovation since 2001, implements three-year plan

Sally Cochran, Editor in Chief

Most recently, the library has had an art wall constructed hear the doors. It was put up the week of April 15.
“We have a bunch of new black metal frames,” school librarian Ken Stewart said. “They all match, all different sizes. [The art department] will be bringing work up to put up here. It could be a display area for a class, a particular theme or a student portfolio of one student’s work. There are a lot of different things it could be used for, but it’s just a nice display area that will just be for student work.”
This year was the first year of a three-year plan to renovate the library.
The plan for this year was to update the laptop cart on the right side.
“We used to have 14 desktops and 16 laptops in a cart,” Stewart said. “You were having to check laptops in and out, and laptops were not being plugged back in — all kinds of stuff. So, through building capital funds, [Principal Scott] Bacon let us purchase the connectable tables. So we can have all the laptops out at one time, plugged in, charged up, fully functional, ready to go. It addresses a need that with all the computer monitors facing the same direction, with everyone facing the same way, for hands on instruction, we were able to focus one type of instruction. It works really well.”
Because the upgrade on the right side went well, the plans for year two of the plan were moved up to after winter break.
“The tables that were purchased for [the left] side promote collaboration and teamwork,” he said. “The tables are in groups of four — two tables, four computers. Each set has a pop-up, so the power and hardwire network connection is on top of the desk. We put all the laptops on that side because if you’re sitting there and you’re working in a group of four, with the laptop up, you can see better directly right across to them. You can use it any way you want, but it really promotes teamwork.”
Stewart said students can also use the new tables in order to charge personal devices.
“Since they’re plugged in and charged all the time, if you’ve got an iPad or an iPhone or an iPod that you’re using and the battery’s starting to run low, all you have to do is unplug the laptop right there, right on top of the table, plug your unit in and let it charge while you’re working on stuff,” he said.
He said the renovations of both sides work together to help classes using the library.
“It’s a different type of instruction,” he said. “A teacher will come in, and, so far, we’ve had teachers book the right hand side for the initial lesson and research, and then, after that, book to the left hand side because their kids are in small groups. It’s easy the way the tables are spread out, so you can walk in and out of them for instruction. It really helps personalize the educational experience.”
Year three of the plan, building two tutoring rooms on the left side, has been postponed to 2016 due to pushes for security in the district.
“Security is a priority of the district now,” he said. “I can see where that took priority over two tutoring rooms. We’ll get it — it’s just going to be a couple years later.”
The last major renovation of the library took place in 2001.
“[The upgrade] gave us a big area to work with, and they actually allowed us to have direct access to the architects,” Stewart said. “So when we first started planning, we were able to tell them how we work with students in the building. They reflected on how our individual school worked with the outlay of the new library. It was just everything we wante.”
During the 2001 project, the library and books were moved into four classrooms and a semi-truck outside.
“We moved out in May, and we moved back in December,” he said. “They had us in four classrooms, and they cut holes in the walls and put in doors so we could walk in and out. We had to try to figure out what supplies we needed that six months and what units were being taught. We had to make sure those books were in the classrooms because you couldn’t really come in there, but we could cart books out to the classes. It was an interesting first semester.”
Stewart said before that renovation, the library was much smaller because the left side used to be the little theatre, which was replaced by the Black Box Theatre in the same year.
“It looked like somebody’s basement that you were building a project in — you kept building room after room after room,” he said. “You couldn’t use them. It was not functional — it was just a big mess. When you went in the front door, everybody was in a central area. Passes were scattered all through the place. We had very few computers then, too. They weren’t out that much yet. There was no flow to it; there was wasted space. The computers we had were hooked up by daisy chaining electrical cords that we would hide when the fire marshal came in. We had to make do with what we had.”