This is a blog post I should have written in late March, but it somehow fell through the blogospheric cracks as I got caught up in spring conference presentations, working with students in the library, finishing my Media 21 Capstone proposal, planning activities for National Poetry Month, and tackling other assorted projects.

Since last fall, I had been thinking about rearranging my collection.  After living in this space for three years, I had gained a better sense of traffic patterns and usage trends in the library.   I started to wonder if moving fiction to the other side of the library where I was housing reference books would be a better use of space since students enjoyed sitting at tables during morning, lunch, and afternoon hours.

After seeing a window of opportunity to make the move during the week of graduation testing, I Tweeted my plans for feedback.  Fellow librarians and Twitter friends Elisabeth Abarbanel ,  Laura Pearle, Amanda Clay Powers, and Elease Franchini quickly provided some thoughtful questions to ponder before committing to the move.  Both asked me had I considered intershelving nonfiction and reference rather than continuing to keep them separate.  Through Twitter and Facebook, they patiently answered my questions about the pros and cons of intershelving the two, and after some productive conversations, I decided to go for it!  Thanks to these friends pushing my thinking, I realized that I could provide easier access to the materials and in the process, eliminate the need for the current fiction shelving that I had, thus opening up additional space for lounge seating and tables.  Without these friends, I might not have envisioned such wonderful possibilities.  I feel sure there were a few other Twitter friends who also provided helpful feedback, and I apologize that I can now not remember the additional voices that were so gracious and informative!

The first step was to get the books moved in a timely manner as I only had about five school days to get everything moved.  Fiction was very easy to move, but it was somewhat time-consuming to move and intershelve the reference books with nonfiction because so much shifting of books was involved.  However, it was worth every drop of sweat and backache!  Now the books are all in Dewey order, and the students no longer have to look in two sections for those materials.  In addition, the move of fiction to the old reference area allowed me to be creative with the shelving and display the books more creatively in stacks and with the covers up.  Students immediately praised the new fiction shelving, commenting how much easier it was to see what we really had!  I saw an increase in the circulation of fiction books, especially those that were on special display.  It is really too soon to say just yet if the intershelving of nonfiction and reference will have a positive impact other than the fact we now have a wonderful open area for additional lounge seating and study areas, but the students have not seemed to have problems finding the materials the last six weeks.

After getting approval from my principal to repurpose the 5 shelves in the building (they ranged 16 to 27 feet in length), I sought teachers who might need the shelves for extra storage.  I was happily able to find teachers who needed the shelving to organize and properly store materials for their programs; thanks to the help of head custodian David Loggins and his amazing crew, the shelves were moved out during our Spring Break (no small feat, let me tell you!) and get them to the classrooms.

The whole project has been a win-win for everyone involved!  The positive feedback from students about the new fiction area as well as positive comments about the library feeling more open without rows of imposing shelves taking up so much floor space have affirmed my decisions!  I am working on donations and some possible grants for additional furniture, so stay tuned for updates on that front.

What I really appreciate about this whole experience is the honest feedback, support, and encouragement I received from my peers in my personal learning network!  I would like to thank everyone who sent words of good cheer during the move via Facebook or Twitter!  A special thanks to Laura, Elisabeth, Amanda, and Elease for helping me to think outside the box and make choices that ultimately have been best for my students.

You can see larger before and after photos in this Flickr photoset!