Hartland South Elementary, WI
Before the Renovation
Hartland South Elementary’s library wasn’t a place that students naturally gravitated to — it tended to feel cramped, cold and unwelcoming. It was difficult for the staff to use the space for more than one purpose, as the tables were very heavy and they had to call in the custodian every time they wanted to reconfigure the space.
In a move toward updating their services, the school implemented a STEM lab next to their library, but they were still determining the best use of the space when they consulted Demco interior services experts. Take a look at the library and STEM lab before their renovation in the photos below.
Goals for the New Library and STEM Lab
Principal Dave Risch and his staff had some important goals for their library and STEM lab, based on their school’s learning objectives. “A third- through fifth-grade school should be very literacy focused; we should get kids super excited about reading. Having resources and spaces that encourage that are critical. Having an attractive space is also essential. The bottom line is that we needed to reinvent the spaces to meet our learner’s needs and reflect our communities,” said Risch.
Risch and his staff wanted the library and the adjacent STEM lab to be flexible, inviting and engaging. “Our intention was to have a library where students would be able to find books easily, be engaged in reading consistently and have access to places that are collaborative,” said Risch.
After the redesign, the library now has a collection of soft and hard surfaces, including fun soft seating that draws students in, such as colorful booths where they can sit and collaborate; benches in interesting shapes that invite students in and versatile lounge seating. A coordinating carpet brings warmth and color harmony to the space.
In the STEM lab, the new furnishings can be moved and reconfigured easily, including ultra-flexible Kite tables. This allows staff and students to use the space for large groups or reconfigure the tables into smaller work areas. Staff can even clear the room when needed without any help from the custodial team, as the tables fold and nest. The lab now features workstations that utilize Kite tables with white-board surfaces as well as a mobile glass markerboard for coding, demonstration and collaboration.
The staff also wanted to create a collaborative space where students could share their work and teachers could lead mini lessons. They accomplished this through the addition of the Community Connect Curved Lounge Seating and media activity table paired with Totem Pods for extra seating that can be easily moved around, all strategically situated around a multi-media display board. The Connect Curved Seating doubles as a workspace on the reverse side of the booth when teamed up with adjustable-height Smith System chairs that add a pop of orange color.
All of these changes began as simply a list of needs. “Demco took our ideas and laid out all the options,” said Risch. “They used elements of design to complement our needs — colors were important as well as textures and durability. The team was very responsive to our ideas and changes. The 3-D PDFs and presentations were great for discussions with the district office and the school board, and I also appreciated their time on site — it’s wonderful to walk and talk.”
Effects on Students and Staff
According to Risch, students are loving the new library and STEM lab. “Sometimes we think having rigor means we don’t have fun. That’s totally not the case. We have state-of-the-art spaces, high engagement and FUN. Every elementary school should want students begging to come to the library,” said Risch.
Hartland’s new library and STEM lab are now the center of the library. The glass walls on several sides allow both students and parents to see into the spaces, and parents volunteer regularly. According to Risch, “The library & STEM lab are now the busiest spaces in our school — mission accomplished.”