International Association
of School Librarianship


Razzle Dazzle: Library Spaces

Light Up Your Library!

Introducing light will make the library's physical space light and airy.

Submitted by Barbara Combes

These ideas have been collated from a workshop session held at the 2010 SLAQ/IASL Conference held in Brisbane, 2010. The ideas are not exhaustive. Many thanks to the delegates who participated and are responsible for some great ideas.


  • Creating a light, airy, working and recreational space is more inviting than somewhere that is dark and dingy.
  • Make sure you position computer screens so they do not refract light, as this leads to glareundefinedmaking the screens even harder to read.

Ways to maximize light in the library:

  • Light paintwork
  • Half shelving
  • Mirrors
  • Light, patterned carpet (up walls as well)

Creating light

  • Stick to one color theme – "KISS" – as in, "keep it simple, stupid" or "keep it simple, straightforward": not too many bits, dark colors, or patterns.
  • Remove curtains and shelving from the windows, use blinds instead. You can use privacy blinds for the workroom where you can see the students but they can’t see you.
  • Introduce skylights
  • Light colored furniture, light colored walls.  Try new paint (more expensive) that will repel graffiti and is easier to clean. Don’t be afraid to use bright colors – it can be repainted!
  • Remove fly screens.
  • Keep windows clean.
  • Make sure all the lights are environmentally friendly, white lights and they are all working – these need checking at least once a year as the long lasting environmentally friendly lights fade with prolonged use.
  • De-clutter!
  • Light colored pin-up boards, light colored carpet halfway up the walls/columns/front of the loans desk – instant display space.
  • Use light/bright colored frames for work being displayed – create cardex sets – says “quality” about the work being displayed.
  • Remove painted windows. Replace small old fashioned windows with larger picture windows.
  • Don’t block your light sources with shelves or displays.
  • Half shelving gives an illusion of space, especially if you have low ceilings. Students can use the tops as reading spaces or you can use them as display spaces.

Have too much light?

  • Create stained glass/mural window effects with colored cellophane paper – student artwork?
  • Snow flakes, bubbles, or sea scapes also work; items reduce glare but still let in light and can be changed each term.
  • Use some of the window space as a display board, crepe paper backing for color and then work on cardex paper/card stock or construction paper.
  • Anti-glare covering on the windows to reduce light.
  • Cling film on windows – for painted murals (make sure you have paper on the floor when taking down!)



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