Library Makeover Preview

Image from a local elementary school classroom that helped inspire me.

Image from a local elementary school classroom that helped inspire me.

I just found out a few weeks ago that my school is receiving a Lowes Toolbox for Education grant of $5,000 to transform our library!  I applied for this grant back in February, with the goal of transforming the instruction/tables side of our library into a dynamic, collaborative, Learning Commons-style space capabale of quickly and easily transforming to meet various student, teacher, parent and community needs throughout the day.  You can see what this area looks like currently in a recent post I wrote about rearranging your learning space.  We’ll be getting rid of our heavy wooden tables and chairs and replacing them with flexible, mobile furniture a la Hillbrook iLab.

Ever since FETC I’ve been working closely with School Specialty and Bretford to come up with a plan to transform how students use the library.  I was very inspired by the Hillbrook iLab study and I knew that I wanted to create something similar at our school.  I poured through online studies, visited a local elementary school with classrooms outfitted by Bretford, and finally came up with a plan.  I wasn’t sure what we would be able to afford at first, but eventually it worked out.

So here’s what we’re getting:

Flip and Nest Collaborative Tables

Flip and Nest Collaborative Tables

Six Explore Flip and Nest Collaborative tables.

These can easily be set and reset by one person.  There will be no more lugging around of heavy wooden tables, only to have their legs broken when someone drags them instead of lifting them.  These tables can easily be moved around to support any configuration.  We can transform the library from class project space to PTSA meeting in a matter of minutes now.  Plus, these can nest out of the way when we need more room, making it easier to host events like class plays, movie parties and bookfairs.

Large quarter round tables

Large quarter round tables

Four Explore Quarter Round Activity tables with whiteboard tops!

All of these tables will be outfitted with whiteboard tops that will allow students to brainstorm and jot down ideas.  I’m so excited for the potential these tables will have in collaborative groupwork.  (Image taken from this video)

Chairs and Painting supplies

We’ll also be getting forty Classroom Select stacking chairs that will be easy to move and stack when not in use.  And we’re getting paint and supplies to host a library painting party this summer with parents and students.  Hello colorful walls!

I’m so excited about the transformation the library will be experiencing this summer!  This grant is going to dramatically change how students use and view the library.  I’ll keep you updated as we progress – it’s going to be awesome!

Diana Rendina, MLIS, is the media specialist at Tampa Preparatory School, an independent 6-12 in Tampa, FL. Previously, she was the media specialist at Stewart Middle Magnet School for seven years, where she founded their library makerspace. She is the creator of the blog She was a monthly contributor to AASL Knowledge Quest from 2015-2018. Diana is the winner of the 2016 ISTE Outstanding Young Educator Award, the 2015 ISTE Librarians Network Secondary Award, the 2015 AASL Frances Henne Award & the 2015 SLJ Build Something Bold Award. She is an international speaker on the Maker Movement and has presented at conferences including AASL, FETC & ISTE. Diana co-authored Challenge-Based Learning in the School Library Makerspace with Colleen and Aaron Graves and is also the author Reimagining Library Spaces: Transform Your Space on Any Budget.


  1. […] has been warmly received by students, teachers and parents.  Rearranging our space next year (thanks to our grant!) will make it possible for even more tinkering to happen.  Some of my goals for next year include: […]

  2. […] library.  Quite a few I’ve already implemented, or am in the process of implementing with our Learning Commons grant.  Here’s some of the major lessons and concepts I learned from Make […]

  3. […] repainted the library over the summer as part of our Lowes Toolbox for Education Grant.  The beautiful blues and greens really brighten up the library, and it creates an atmosphere that […]

  4. […] mean wildly stretching your project idea, but it means rethinking how you present it.  Last year, I knew that we needed to get more flexible, collaborative furniture for our library.  Lowes […]

  5. […] first blogged about receiving our Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Grant back in May.  At the beginning of this year, we got our new tables and chairs in, and they’ve really […]

  6. […] Library Makeover Preview (Lowes Toolbox Grant) […]

  7. […] we received a $5,000 grant from Lowe’s Toolbox for Education last year, it included money to get paint and painting […]

  8. […] from our school community.  We got new STEM books, won a littleBits pro library and received a grant for new furniture.  We had nine DonorsChoose projects funding over $5,000 worth of supplies.  We built an Epic LEGO […]

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