Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2007

New library opens a new chapter at Potomac ES

Renovations breathe life into old space

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Brian Lewis⁄The Gazette
Mitch Schorr, media specialist, unpacks cartons of books as he restocks shelves at the newly renovated library at Potomac Elementary School. The renovation added tiered seating in a reading nook, a special feature requested by Principal Linda Goldberg.
Mitch Schorr looked around his domain, the newly renovated library at Potomac Elementary School, and smiled broadly while unpacking books to shelve Friday.

‘‘The only thing still original to this room is the metal support beam and the enclosed office. Everything else is new,” said Schorr, the school’s media specialist.

Not only new, but the realization of a vision that Schorr had for the space.

‘‘I always used to say, ‘wouldn’t it be great if we had lower shelving, better placement of the computers, a real circulation desk’...and now it’s here,” he said.

The renovation of the library is part of a general sprucing up of the school that took place this summer, said Principal Linda Goldberg.

Aside from the library makeover, the nearly $500,000 project included renovating bathrooms and making them handicapped-accessible, replacing carpeting with tile, and painting and adding white boards to classrooms.

‘‘It was all done to give us a little sparkle,” Goldberg said.

But students will really notice the difference in the newly refurbished—and quieter—library. Two new walls have closed off the formerly open space, limiting the noise that once flowed in from nearby classrooms.

Calm is exactly what Schorr hoped to achieve while working over the design this past year with the architect responsible for the school’s updating.

‘‘It could be chaotically loud in here. Now we can close the doors for lessons,” he said. ‘‘The whole idea was to make this a better space for teaching.”

Gone are the baby-blue walls, now painted a creamy color. Shorter wooden shelves have replaced the tall, industrial shelving that used to block views and discourage children from exploring books they could not reach.

‘‘The wooden shelving is child-friendly, and I tried to pick colors are psychologically inviting,” Schorr said.

Two new reading nooks with beanbag seating will encourage students to slow down and browse. One corner is devoted to a two-tiered, carpeted seating area that will allow optimal views during story-telling sessions.

The stadium-style seating topped Goldberg’s wish list for the space.

‘‘I just love that kind of arena for children. It gives them an ideal place to sit and listen, but also a place to perform,” she said.

The tiers are ideal for taking group photos, Schorr said.

The entire space is more versatile, he said, since the shelves are on wheels and can be moved around to make space for more seating.

The new chairs and tables are also smaller and more kid-friendly than the ones they replaced.

‘‘I really like these cantilevered seats. They look cool but they’re very difficult for a child to topple over if they lean back,” he said.

The new circulation desk—a feature the old library lacked—has display space and a book drop.

‘‘Before, this area used to look like you were waiting for an oil change,” he said. ‘‘I’m over the moon. For all practical purposes, we got a new house.”