Looking Back @ My Physical Workspaces

Looking Back @ My Physical Workspaces - Effective library administration comes with having good organization and documentation skills, both actual and virtual. Those skills are invaluable at home, too! Read more about my physical workspaces, before and since retiring. #organization #schoollibrary #librarytasks #timemanagementI’m obsessive-compulsive about storage organization. On the surface, my School Library, my classroom, and my house may often look like a cyclone roared through leaving piles of devastation, but if you ask me for something stored on a shelf or in a cupboard, drawer, or closet, I can put my hands on it (or direct you to it) immediately.

When I was a stay-at-home mom, I helped many friends and neighbors organize kitchens, bathrooms, and closets. My 3 different high-school science classrooms were the picture of excellent organization, right down to the proper arrangement of chemicals (trust me, it’s NOT alphabetical!). The school library became a bigger challenge, but basically it’s just another “home” to arrange.

School Library Facility Organization

Every part of my middle school library is sorted, organized, and labeled so even a total stranger can locate anything according to my very detailed—and color-coded—organizational maps (including a map of lights on the 16-ft ceiling, to mark up for custodians to replace light bulbs). For example, here’s a map of my School Library Circulation Desk:

The circulation desk computer—with the library automation program—is used continuously throughout the day for circulation, i.e., checking books in and out, and I run various reports as needed—overdue notices, weeding, circulation statistics, etc. It also has an administrative program to control the 30 student library computers, which is very valuable for helping students with new technology applications and for quickly setting up the online testing we do in the library (and, of course, for catching off-task student behavior!) .

It’s inconvenient to use that computer for the many administrative tasks required of a School Librarian, and fortunately there’s a Librarian office behind the circulation desk with another computer workstation, which I use for library administrative work:

  • library scheduling
  • order books and media
  • manage the library budget
  • align/integrate other subject curricula and plan Library Lessons
  • browse online subscription databases for lessons, teacher needs, etc.
  • create media for lessons—videos, photos/images, interactive slides, online student work
  • create student bookmarks and other reading promotion materials
  • create signage for the library
  • update the library website
  • professional development.

The Librarian Office is a separate space where I can process email and make calls to vendors, parents, teachers, and other folks, or have a confidential talk with a student or teacher. When someone comes into the library, I can stop what I’m doing and leave the office, give my complete attention to the visitor’s needs (using the library circulation computer as needed), Map of Librarian's Officeand when I return to the office I can quickly pick up right where I left off and continue. Needless to say, the office space is also organized for convenience—and with its own colorful map.

Map of Back WorkroomAnother area I keep organized is the large back workroom. The back wall is lined with cupboards, with a sink near one end. I love having so much counter space, and so many storage areas for supplies and small items. Originally the back room was overpowered by 18 8’x3’x1.5′ metal shelves that housed back issues of print magazines and all manner of audio/video equipment, but as we’ve increased technology, I cleared away unneeded shelves: I no longer keep back issues of print magazines because they’re available through our online subscription services, and classroom technology is permanent within the classrooms. (Custodians and dept. heads were thrilled to have the shelving for their own workroom storage needs!)

Map of Fiction Subject Layout of LibraryAbout halfway through my years in my library, I spent the better part of a semester reorganizing the fiction book area by Subjects so students could find books they liked more quickly and easily. (You can read about that in an earlier post: Looking Back at Organizing Fiction by Subjects). I have a similar map for the Dewey area, which makes it real easy to keep track of my weeding and inventory.

Then I retired…

My philosophy for my physical space has always been “put it where you use it,” and I’ve been known to buy or build a wall of storage in order to save footsteps. My goal since retiring is to clean out everything I no longer use and recycle to those who can. Right now I’m in my small office, just off the entryway, and am surrounded by my books—no longer a couple thousand on bookshelves in this and 5 other rooms, I’m down to a few hundred in just this room with floor to ceiling shelves on 2 sides—and while they aren’t organized precisely by the Dewey Decimal System, they’re organized very carefully by topics. (My greatest frustration is not being able to organize my 600+ e-books on Amazon.com!)

cluttered computer desktop

Ugh! Never my desktop!

I want my virtual space just as organized as my physical one—I cringe when I see folks whose computer screens are cluttered with icons. (How can they possibly find anything?) After I retired I began to eliminate cloud memberships I’d no longer need and to consolidate the rest of my online presence into as few places as possible, especially those that also interface with my smartphone. I settled on Edublogs for blogging about librarian topics, but haven’t quite yet eliminated other possibilities for other purposes. I’m still looking for the ideal “store everything” app (lately I’m exploring Evernote and so far I like it!) as well as the best bookmarking app for websites (I’ve narrowed it down to 5) but it seems like just when I’ve made a decision, some new resource pops up to entice me!

What I most appreciate about being retired is having the time to read what other educators are doing in and out of the classroom and to offer insights from my own experiences. One online activity is my curation service, especially my Pin4Teachers work, which allows me to share my passion for organization and for education. My main endeavor is creating meaningful and worthwhile materials for No Sweat Library Lessons, my TeachersPayTeachers Store. Both of these online activities supplement my retirement income in a small way and allow me to contribute to educators worldwide.

line of books laying down - indicates end of blog article

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3 thoughts on “Looking Back @ My Physical Workspaces

  1. Hi Barbara

    I laughed when you said “it’s NOT just alphabetical” when talking about the proper storage of chemicals. I wondered who many who don’t have a science background realize this about storing chemicals? Whereas I automatically started reflecting on the correct ways chemicals must be stored and the legal requirements.

    I’ve activated the Lightbox for images plugin on your blog ( http://help.edublogs.org/lightbox-for-images/ ). Hope that was okay? With this plugin enabled it means a reader can click on the image and view the larger version as an overlay over the post. I did it to make it easier to view your Circulation Desk Map.

    I’m not sure if there is an ideal storage space? I’ve tried a wide range of social bookmarking options over the years.


    • Thanks for the comment, Sue–glad I could give you a chuckle. I’ve been slowly looking at the various plug-ins offered by EduBlogs but hadn’t gotten to Lightbox, so thanks for activating that for me! It’s so nice to have tech support that anticipates our needs!

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