How to Dream Big with a Library Space Analysis

How to Dream Big with a Library Space Analysis:  Sometimes it can be hard to step back and take a look at the big picture.  By creating a library space analysis, you can start dreaming big about the potential your space has.  Plus, you'll create some great visuals that you can share with your admin.

How to Dream Big With a Library Space Analysis

It may seem like an odd time to be reimagining your library space.  You might currently have limited access or might not be allowed on campus.  If you are having in-person learning, your library might not look like it normally does.  To help manage social distancing, I’ve heard about school libraries becoming classroom spaces, faculty lounges, etc.  And many in-person schools are limiting movement around school to help manage social distancing, so your students might not be visiting your library right now.

With all that in mind, now can still be a fantastic time to imagine what your library’s future will look like.  We know that this pandemic will eventually end, and at some point our libraries will go back to being libraries.  So now, while there’s space to dream (and time to begin advocating for funds), it’s a great time to imagine changes you could make to your library space.  Enter: The Library Space Analysis.  It can be a fairly simple process that allows you to dream big.  It also creates some fantastic visuals that you can share with your administration to help them picture your vision for your library space.  Here’s how to do it:

(P.S. While my focus is on libraries and my examples are library spaces, these ideas could absolutely be applied to classrooms and other learning spaces.)


Take pictures of the different areas of your library

If you are able to physically access your library space, go in and take pictures.  Try to capture all the different areas of your space.  The teaching/large group zone, computer lab, fiction shelves, non-fiction shelves, makerspace, etc.  It might be helpful to frame your thinking with the six active learning spaces.  Try to capture the images with a wide angle – you want to see all the different elements (and possibilities) that make up this space.

If you can’t physically access your space, look for images like these in your photo archive.  (Tip: It’s good to be constantly documenting your space, both the good and the bad.  Visuals are a powerful way of communicating, and as your space changes it will give you before and after images).  If you don’t have those, you could sketch out an area roughly, but I think this exercise works best with photos, as we often picture a space differently in our heads.

Upload them into a slide deck

Take your images and put one image on each slide of a deck.  I chose to use Google Slides, but Keynote, PowerPoint or other tools can work as well.  Make the image large, but leave a little space in the margins for taking notes and adding other images and annotations.

Dream about the possibilities

Now comes the fun part.  Start dreaming of what this space could be.  Add captions, arrows.  Add pictures of furniture or ideas specific to that area.  Your notes could be changes you can make now – “weed this to create a display space”, “have this old atlas stand removed”.  Or they could be big dreams – “replace old library tables with flip and nest whiteboard tables”, “Remove five computers and add a robotics table to the computer lab”.  Try to be specific when possible – actionable ideas are easier to accomplish than something more general.  But if you’re not sure about specifics yet, general ideas can help you to get started.

Library Space Analysis Examples

Here’s some examples of my library space analysis.  Of course, some of these ideas will happen, while some will get scrapped.  Some I can easily accomplish in the upcoming school year while others will have to wait.  But the main thing is that I am dreaming and brainstorming and creating visuals that I can share with others.  

Fiction section
Dreaming about the potential in the fiction section – some aspects are doable immediately (weeding) while others require time and planning (new furniture)

As you can see in the fiction section above, I have some ideas that I can implement quickly (weeding to create more book displays, rearranging bookshelves).  Other ideas, like new furniture, will take time and funding.  If you find yourself with more ideas than you can fit on one slide, feel free to create a second slide with the same image and keep dreaming!

Computer Area
If you don’t know exactly what you want to do, writing general ideas to start is fine.

Sometimes you might not know exactly what you want to do with a space yet – that’s okay.  Add general ideas (i.e. activate wall).  Add brainstorming (Pop of color?  Whiteboards?).  The point of an analysis is to start dreaming.  You don’t have to know EXACTLY what you want the space to be yet.

Office area

Again, the point of this exercise is to start dreaming and to create powerful visuals about the potential of your space.  Some ideas may be easy to do right now.  Others may take years.  Others may get scrapped.  But change will never happen if you don’t start dreaming.

More resources for dreaming big about your space:

Reimagining Library Spaces

Want to learn more about how I transformed my library space, read about other schools’ transformations and get practical tips for changing up your own space? 

Check out my book: Reimagining Library Spaces: Transform Your Space on Any Budget

In this practical guide, I go into detail about planning a library space transformation, from brainstorming to ideation to surveying your students.  I include tips for dreaming big as well as simple, budget-friendly changes you can implement right away.  Each chapter includes action steps and connections to the ISTE standards.