Now it's time to put it all together. Managing a library redesign is a dynamic and sometimes tricky process, but with proper preparation, you'll find yourself moving smoothly along the path to a refreshed library.
We're going to look at four areas of focus as you are managing the process: book storage, providing library services while under renovation, site visits, and celebration.
If you need to store your books elsewhere during the renovation work, you'll want to make a plan for processing these and your plan should definitely include weeding. Build weeding into the timeline so that you're not moving books around that no longer serve the needs of your community. You also want to plan for what can be inaccessible for a time and what needs to be continuously accessible. Where will your books be stored? Devise a labeling system that will help both while the books are stored and when it's time to unpack.
Think ahead as much as possible. This includes considering human power—can you get additional staff or volunteer assistance to help with the weeding, packing, and unpacking? What adjustments will you need to make to your regular workload to accommodate these extra tasks? Managing a renovation can become a full-time job in and of itself—so don't be afraid to search out help from the community wherever possible.
If the renovation process occurs while students are in session, you may need to create "decentralized" libraries in classrooms and other locations in the building so that library activities can still happen. Some books can be relocated to classrooms, and here, it helps to work with the teachers to develop targeted content-related materials so they have easier access to what they are likely to need.
And while this is going on, business as usual continues! How can you turn the lemons—of limited time, limited space, and constant problem-solving—into lemonade? Get creative with outreach activities. Use other space that might be available in and around the school building. There can be hidden opportunities to create even more instructional collaborations with teachers—it's hard to ignore the librarian when they're in the room!
Keep the attitudes of students and staff positive while all this change is happening. This time in the process can be a great reminder of the importance of relationships: more than any perfect physical space, students want to feel welcomed and supported. Use attention and intention to remind them that you are there for them even if it's not in the space they are used to.
For the big projects that are using a hired team—contractors, workers, and architects—collaborate with the administration to be involved in the meetings and site visits whenever possible. Ask questions and keep a problem-solving mindset at the ready. Continue to articulate the priorities of the redesign and needs of the community to stay aligned with the overall vision, even as changes may have to be taken into account.
And one day—maybe after weeks, months, or even years—that vision will be realized. Plan for a celebratory opening of your new library space when it's complete. Invite all members of the school library community and make it interactive. Get started using the space and celebrate all the hard work that went into designing and creating a space for student learning to flourish! And although it make take time for the community to reconnect to the new space, and get used to new traffic flows, signage, options, and protocols, have faith: these too will come.