Recently, myself and the other library staff at my school are struggling with space allocation. We have space – through weeding, we are even creating space. So, no, having space is not the issue. The upstairs level of our library contains fiction, reference, big tables, some comfy chairs, and is designated for quiet (emphasis on *quiet*) collaboration. The lower level contains non-fiction, DVDs, big tables, more comfy seating, several study carrels, some study rooms, the classroom, and is designated for silent (the old-fashioned kind) study.
Our problem is the use of our library space.
We are slowly building a makerspace, but the only area that “flows” is an alcove on our lower (SILENT) level. Right now, participation is low and noise has not been an issue. As we add more exciting and collaborative materials and programs, how do we reconcile the opposing uses of the space? Myself and my co-workers have spun our wheels on this dilemma for months. We alternate between moving the makerspace upstairs (not as conducive to the layout), to purchasing a free standing partition that will dull the noise and limit its reach into the silent space.
For a public librarian working with teens, space issues might amount to “there isn’t a teen space”, or “we share the space with the children’s section”, or “we share the space with the adult section”. Many of us were not involved in the design and layout of our library facilities and could easily supply a laundry list of space changes we would make. Instead, we work within the space and budget that is available. For broader ideas, I often turn to formal sources like YALSA’s Teen Space Guidelines, as well as informal sources like Pinterest searches and boards. Any library staff working with teens knows that “makerspace” is really just an umbrella term for the programming goals and ideas we have implemented years. The great thing about this comprehensive term is the standardization of language, which of course leads to easier searching and more programming and space resources (such as YALSA’s Making in the Library Toolkit).
What are the teen space challenges you face in your library? What are some creative solutions you can share with others? Please comment below!
For more information on the future of library spaces, please check out the Shift for Libraries and Teen Services section of the Futures report.