I am a big proponent of change in the library -- I think it's important to rearrange, freshen things up with paint, move shelves and books, add new programs and ideas, all with the best interests of your library community at heart, of course. I personally need this kind of change in order to keep my practice fresh and focused, especially as I've just wrapped up my 13th year in the same school. This past year, one change I made was moving the location of my desk. And it made all the difference.
For years (12, in fact), I had a desk in our library office and work space at the circulation desk counter. I rarely sat in my office, preferring to be out among my students. But I also felt a bit barricaded in by the reference desk (especially my particular space at the desk which was a bit off to the side). Corey can attest to the number of times I've mentioned wanting to move my space out on to the floor of the library over the past several years-- into the heart of the action. So, with her gentle nudging, I finally moved my home base out into middle of the library at the beginning of the year. Nothing about my job says I need to be tied to the circ desk (with a laptop and a scanner, I can check out books from anywhere in the library). So, I went for it.
The perfect desk
I already had a fantastic desk, donated by my husband's company when they moved to a different location. However, it was hidden in my office, rarely used except to house stacks of books and papers. It's the ideal standing height for me and, while I do have a stool, I am generally on my feet most of the day. I pulled the desk out of my office and on to the library floor -- and, in the words of Marie Kondo, it immediately "sparked joy."
Could you move out from behind the circulation desk without the perfect piece of furniture? Of course! A rolling cart, an extra table, a spare student desk -- these are all options that you could make work.
A literal change in view
Moving my desk changed my view of our space. And while I am not tied to my desk at all -- our library is largely focused on instruction and we teach all day, every day, what I look at when I am at my desk is different. I now can see students and teachers as they walk into the library and greet them. I can chat with my co-librarian face-to-face as well (we're actually more "loud talking" distance away, but we run that kind of library so it's okay). I can see our chalkboard covered circ desk which is often filled with things our students and staff feel grateful for or fun little sayings. I can see students working on the computers or browsing our graphic novels section. And, I can easily shift, sitting at a nearby table to have a completely different view. It's amazing how this simple move has given me a whole different perspective on our physical library space and has already helped me to figure out what changes we need to make for next year (better access to school supplies for students and a more open games/puzzle shelf for starters).
Can you change your view without rearranging your whole library? Absolutely. Commit to sitting at a library table for a week just to see your library differently.
A more accessible me
I think perhaps the best change has been my own accessibility to our students. My new desk location makes it easy to invite a student to browse the library catalog with me as we search for the perfect read or try to identify that "awesome book, about a girl, with a green cover..." Or to support a student with a tech issue. Students seem to feel more comfortable coming up to chat, giving me recommendations, telling me about their day, or asking for help. I also have a "guest" stool right next to my desk which I think it has made me more accessible to teachers for collaboration opportunities.
What can you do to increase your accessibility? Perhaps it's as easy as popping your laptop down on the top of a shelf in a popular browsing section.
How do you change your library perspective? I'd love to hear from you!
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