Demco designed and furnished the new library at Claremont High School when it moved from a small space to a much larger area. The school is an expanding and oversubscribed multi specialist college currently with over 1,500 students but this figure is expected to rise during 2010. The library upgrade was full supported by senior school management, staff and pupils who made the decision that if they were going to have a new library they wanted the very best they could afford and the best for their students.
Nicki Boughey, Deputy Head Teacher said: “We are an oversubscribed school and at the moment have 1,500 students but expect that to rise to over 1,600 in 2010. Our existing library just wasn’t big enough and we wanted to give our students the best. In addition our sixth form in particular needed some quality space to work and study. In addition as part of our progress to deliver the IB (International Baccalaureate) in 2010 we had to look at our facilities and that included our library. As a school we felt that our students deserve the very best and we are delighted with our new library”. School Librarian Heather Powell adds: “Our decision was that, if we were going to do it then we were going to do it properly and Demco with their experience in designing school libraries could give us that. We wanted to see a fully fledged Learning Resource centre where books and IT would be integrated. What we did NOT want was a computer room with books on the side.”
The school library ‘project team’ did their research and visited three other libraries including Bentley Wood School (a Demco project), the eminent Harrow School and a community college. It was the visit to Bentley Wood School, that prompted the team to ask Demco to work on the project with them. Demco’s products and services are specifically developed, designed and tested for use in schools and public libraries, Richard Mitchell, Special Projects Advisor explains why this is so important: “The school library is a very important part of the learning environment and the design, layout and selection of products has to support pupil personal and learning development as well as the needs of teachers and librarians.
Designing a school library is a complex process with lots of factors to take into account – you can honestly see and feel the difference between a library that has been designed by experts in the education field and one that hasn’t. A badly designed library with poor quality furnishings is neither sustainable nor usable and only ends up with everyone feeling disappointed”. For Claremont High School Demco proposed Blend shelving with end panel display units to promote key stock, pebble stools, desking, tables, seating, sawtooth IT benching and a spacious counter for the librarians to use. The combination of quality furnishings and careful design means that pupils can now enjoy: on and off line working; individual and group study; quiet, relaxing, lounge-style areas; private space to stay ‘in the zone’ and leaves room for librarians to develop the service. Finally, areas were defined by the aubergine, purple and lilac colour scheme to create a stress free sanctuary for students to work, study and chill. The budget for the project was generous, but not taken for granted, and the school was keen to blend some of their existing shelving into the new scheme. Demco’s design cleverly takes advantage of the older, lower height shelving so that it nests comfortably and seamlessly between the newer bays. Librarian Heather Powell continues: “Now that we have the new library we want to develop different elements within the MLE programme and will be looking at Reading Clubs, longer opening hours and other things that the pupils want. At the moment we are just enjoying our new library although spare time has not been an option - we have been so busy we have had to take on an additional member of staff. The bell goes and nobody moves – they love it!”. It seems that pupils at Claremont High finally did get the library they deserved.