An Elementary Library Redesign with Very Little Money, Part 2

Workday at the Cheap and Cheerful Library


After our planning sessions with principals, librarians, Superintendent Pam Moran, and consultant Ira Socol from Michigan State, my principal and I chose 4 changes that volunteers could help with:

  1. painting trees on 3 short walls, leading the eye through the glass door to the playground
  2. rebuilding 3 shelving units to add window seats
  3. covering dull maroon chairs with bright fabric
  4. low bench seats under the trees

Painting crew.

We found key volunteers who could manage groups. A first grade teacher offered to head the chair crew in the art room. Two parents with carpentry skills agreed to bring supplies and tools for the window seat crew. Our art teacher sketched and taped outlines of trees.

Then we contacted UVA’s Madison House volunteer center and the high school’s Key Club. We asked parents for help via email blast, our Connect Ed phone calls, notices in backpacks, information on the website and even a wiki with embedded video explanations of work involved, and Google form surveys under each work crew to collect names of interested helpers. And yes, some parents never heard about it.

There is no perfect day for anything in the school year calendar! We chose Saturday, April 16th, the end of the last full week after Spring Break. BookFair was set up in the library the night before, but we closed and covered it. My principal showed up early, having bought fabric and paint the day before and we were ready to go.

Carpentry crew making window seats from shelves.

Everything went beautifully. The largest group was the Chair crew. They worked efficiently, taking chairs apart, ironing and cutting, stapling and reassembling. The carpentry crew consisted of 5 dads and a high school student who loved the chance to do the math for them. They took apart solid wood shelving and reused the shelf tops for window seats. The art teacher’s group was the last to finish. Volunteers of all ages painted brown trees on the pale blue background, with a 7th grader doing the precise edges.

One group decided to wait until after Book Fair to start their project. The furniture maker dad said the low bench seats should be light, portable and easy to detach from the tree wall. Then he pointed to the stripped wall in my office, visible through the internal window, and offered to put furring strips on the concrete blocks and attach a wall of wood, to paint, hang, and mount changing displays easily. I can’t wait for my Tableau Wall and my first display is going to be a giant bug, inspired by Cool Stuff from Bottle Caps.

As soon as  Book Fair is packed and gone, we’ll be able to see the changes. Part 3 will show the after pictures.

Maroon chairs were recovered in 6 different colors!


About mtechman

K-5 School Librarian in Charlottesville, VA. Former Children's Librarian in public library. I read, write, and share info about learning, books and technology. I teach at Broadus Wood Elementary School in lovely Earlysville, VA.

Posted on May 5, 2011, in Ideas and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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