Extreme Library Makeover

What's this all About?

An extreme makeover in the library? That's right, we are in the never-ending process of transforming the look and feel of the library! Our goal is to draw more students to the library so that they learn how libraries can be a life long resource. For many students this will be a major change in what they have grown to know. We want current & future students to walk in and become mesmerized with awesome displays of creativity. We want students to be so impressed that they tell their family & friends! 


Our goal of our book display is to catch the immediate attention of anyone that walks in the library. By displaying books out in the open, we are setting the tone that the library is a valuable resource for information.


Our video booth is used for various classroom projects as well as for graduation interviews. It includes a green screen, HD camera with a wireless mic, and also a few different cloth backdrops.


The Library Cafe was the most requested item from students when we first began planning the Extreme Library Makeover and has become the heart of the library. Throughout the years, the cafe has changed dramatically. It began as a simple table and grew into the elaborate Tiki hut, 3 fridge / freezers, and 3 storage cabinets.  Every couple of weeks, Mr. McQueen goes to Sam's Club and loads his truck with different supplies for the cafe. With the dhelp of Mrs. H, students unload and put things away. Many students wished the cafe was open throughout the whole day, but they still appreciate being able to come in during break for a quick snack or drink. All proceeds earned from the cafe are all re-invested back into supplies and materials and things for the library.


Out of all the projects we have done in the library, the Rube Goldberg Machine has been the biggest!  Over 50 different students worked on this project, compiling over 500 hours of work. The goal of any Rube Goldberg Machine is  to perform a simple task in a way that is very complex. Since our machine is so complex, it often does not work to completion (typical of any complex machine). Ultimately, it turns on a set of black lights that are hanging above the library entrance. Students are constantly trying to simplify and improve the integrity of the machine.


On March 2 each year we celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday by cooking up green eggs and ham and giving it away for free. This is a fun event that acknowledges the millions of kids that were inspired to read with Dr. Seuss’s books.The green eggs may look nasty, but boy are they yummy!


About once per month we surprise students and staff with PANCAKE DAY!! The first thing in the morning we get a small team of student volunteers to set up everything, mix the batter, fire up 6 electric skillets, and start cooking. We usually attract about 500 students into the library and hand out over 1,200 pancakes  – all within two hours.


Hundreds of students have donated their time and efforts to create a wide variety of artwork throughout the library. Due to limited space, creations are eventually replaced with new ones.


Rock the mic was a program that occurred each month during the first few years of the Extreme Library Makeover. The goal of this program was to bring the entire school together to the library. Each session of Rock the Mic included a mixture of music and poetry performances from 15 and 20 students and teachers. We often had over 250-300 people inside the library. It was packed and a lot of fun. We retired Roc the Mic after 2 years and transitioned into Free Library Pancakes.


Mr. McQueen finagled a great deal on huge mirrors at a garage sale. With the help of a couple dozen students, the mirrors were broken apart, and glued onto the wall with Liquid Nails. The area in between the mirrors was filled in with dry wall plaster and then sanded and smoothed. Abstract objects appear throughout the mosaic.


The Extremely Library Makeover is very visible - you can see amazing / creative things everywhere. The biggest and most important impact that is not as noticeable is the impact that the library has on student learning. Because our library is so inviting, welcoming and fun, students (and staff) are learning in ways that they don't even realize.


It may not sound like a big deal, but students love and appreciate coming to the library for some free water. On a typical day, our library will go through 2 or 3, 5-gallon water jugs. 


The library has 4 microwaves for students to heat up food they buy at the cafe or they bring from home. We initially set up more microwaves than our electricity could handle. After flipping too many circuit breakers and getting in trouble from the fire department, we were forced to install more outlets.


From the beginning stages of the Extreme Libary Makeover, one of the most common requests from our student population was to have comfortable seating - especially couches and luv sacs. One of the first purchases made from the cafe profits was to buy 4 “Luv Sacs” and 2 couches.


Another common request from our students and staff was to upgrade computers throughout the library. Not only did we get new computers but we also got nice flat screen monitors to go with. Before the makeover began we only have 12 computers in the library, now we have 22.


The overall goal of doing an Extreme Library Makeover was to create an inviting atmosphere so that students wanted to come into the library.  Over the years. thousands, of students, parents, teachers and members of the public have complimented our library. The most common compliment is how warm and inviting the atmosphere.


Our teachers love to bring students in the library for a variety of reasons – to work on projects, use the computers, read, or study. The library is truly the hub of our school for both students as well as staff.


One year we undertook an earth day project where we took discarded computer parts and turned them into artwork.  The artwork in displayed cases in the hallway outside the library.


Throughout the library walls you'll see dozens of life size student photos. Students love to see themselves and their friends on the walls. It's also great for visitors to get a taste of the wide variety of students that come to our library. 


This was the first major project that we undertook in the library. With a team of about 10 students, we completely rearranged the entire library - more than 10,000 books!  This was done to make it easier to know the different sections of the library and, more importantly, to open up the center portion of the library. It involved taking apart book cases and setting up new shelves and display cases.  This was a very physical project.


At each staff meeting, Mr. McQueen and Mr. Harris take turns providing technological tips to our teachers. Then, throughout the entire year, staff members receive both individual and small group training. The library strives to play a leadership role in 21st Century Learning.


Every few months the library receives donations of baby items from various individuals and organizations. Student assistants organize the donations in a special section so that any student with is welcome to come up and take these items for free.  Items include: baby board books, baby clothes, and baby toys. It's the library's way of showing that we care and respect young people for making the decision to fight through the difficulty of having a baby.


The library plays a significant role in helping teachers stay current with their professional development. The teacher's corner showcases research-based professional materials to help our teachers in a variety of educational needs. Mr. McQueen shares these resources during staff meetings, online, and in emails. Teachers appreciate the professional support that the library provides.


This cool looking dragon was initially created by one student and then reproduced by two others. This dragon now hangs above the circulation desk.


The library has a small section of audio books that are available for student and staff checkout.  Most of these audio books include the printed version as well. Although the selection is limited to fiction, there is a handful of recent titles for people that enjoy listening to audio books.


With the help of Photoshop and some good natured students, we created a super-size mural that stretches 5 feet x 18 feet across the library wall. 


One of Mr. McQueen’s biggest rules in the library is contrary to a stereotypical old fashioned library - NO SHUSHING! The goal of this big sign is to remind students and adults that our library is not meant to be a silent area. We encourage students to talk out loud and listen to music, as long as it is not causing a problem for people around them. People love the conversational piece that the big sign provides.


Another request that student had was to be able to eat and drink in the library.  Allowing food and drinks in a library is almost unheard of in fear that carpets or computers will be ruined. After 5 years of enabling this privilege. There haven’t been any permanent stains to the carpets or any damaged computers at all.


Students love and hate the creepy dude. Quite often, if you are not used to him, he will frightened you and catch you off-guard when you walk through the library - which is often followed up by a smile and a laugh. One of the nicest things about the creepy dude is that his tray is refilled daily with free candy.


Part of the proceeds from the library cafe went to buying 3 big screen TVs for the library.  These TVs display various library announcements, new or popular books, and photos of students interacting in the library.  The TV served as an eye-catching display and adds a touch of 21st century atmosphere.


Connected to the 46" TV is a great sound system. This sound system is played during student breaks or when a special video is shown.


Throughout our entire school, the majority of students enjoy reading magazines. Over the course of 2 years, the library carefully interviewed dozens and dozens of students about their preferences for magazines. At the conclusion of our research, we narrowed down the list to a core of about 30 different magazines.  Each year we also add some variety by ordering different ones, here and there. 


In the table area of the library we installed a Smartboard and surround sound system. These tools are used frequently and adds a nice touch of 21st century technology.


Completing scrabble ceiling project involved a lot of students over a short period of time.  After a few hours of planning, a group of about 20 students completed the entire project within a few days.

Custodial Support

It takes a great deal of patience and understanding to handle all the crazy operations that occur on a day to day basis in the library. Our building engineer helps us stay in compliance with inspections from the fire department and the entire custodial team help clean up the daily mess from such an active library. Without their support, the Extreme Library Makeover would be almost impossible.


Throughout the course of the last few years, there have been a ton of other ideas that have surfaced.  Most of these crazy ideas were set aside or dismissed, but a few of them were attempted. Notice the bright yellow wall (which did not go over to well).  Another project involved using dry erase paint to create a living wall so that students could write comments and add artwork. We discovered that the dry erase paint did not erase very easily.

A few students suggested we get a library pet. What could be more fun than a tarantula? Hairy eats about 1 cricket per day and loves to freak out people by climbing the walls of his cage.