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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

The library as changeable space

Have you ever stood at the circ desk and surveyed your library when it was orderly with everything put away? This so seldom happens for me and is usually on a Friday night. Perhaps many of you find that you have one of the largest, most comfortable rooms in the school. Gyms don’t invite people to relax and can be too big. Cafeterias often smell and their seating is terribly uncomfortable. Where else can people and events go? To the library of course.

Move the chairs. Measure the floor space. Estimate how many projects per shelving unit. There is just not enough space!

That’s how I found myself on a Thursday trying to frantically arrange the library to host 400 project boards for National History Day the next day. Ignore the trashed biography shelves behind me. When every class in school does Black History research, you try to maintain order! 

Remember this occurred during the basketball conference tournament we held and for which I stayed to work all 5 nights. I had to help set up the space in the library and relinquish control. The teachers and some students stayed to set up project boards.

Be sure to scroll all the way down to the bottom to see that immediately after school on Friday we took all these down, rearranged the library again in preparation for the next day’s reception with dignitaries and a 65-person band. The band director loved the sound so much he wanted to trade rooms. Not a chance, Kirk!


Enlist students to help setup projects. Use the floor space, walls, windowsills, everything.

Stack projects on chairs and below chairs.

Hide the computers. Use the floor space, table space, chairs.

Measure shelf top space and paperclip the edges together to create more space.

As far as your eye can see. Use the lights as reference to guess how many rows.

Projects everywhere.

We kept two terminals available if you could get to them.

Then off to survey their actual work. Did they cite their primary & secondary sources? Data Stem (our student intern) had taught the lesson. Did they show what they’d learned?

This project differentiated, also.

Oops! This project prompted reteaching on citations. Ms Chen is in corner banging her head on the wall. Lovely project. Great work for ELD student. ACK! Sources!! See I show my failures in this blog.

Great use of vivid colors. Now I need to reteach citing sources of images used, too.

This was creative use of a color scheme with the map as background. Lots of captions, too.
Aha! The teacher told me she’d been teaching media messages in history. This student paid attention and included many historical messages.

This was one of my favorites for design with the use of color & captions. The best aspect was the student personally chose this topic and related her reaction to facts learned. Research can be very personal.


  1. Deb Waugh says:

    That is a task, Diane. Reminds me of the point each year where we set up our art show in the library. Chaotic, but wonderful!

  2. The fun part is that we do this constantly. Depending upon curriculum and special events, we are always rearranging furniture to meet the needs. Friday we had a female African chief from Ghana come speak and squeezed in 150 students. We were still instructing and I was running back and forth between our new lab & library

  3. DeniseEhrig says:

    Diane, you have always been so genuine on so many different levels, this just goes to show everyone who does not know you like I do what an awesome person you really are and how you can give so freely of yourself for the love of the kids.