October 10, 2013
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Unless you’re new to Albemarle, or just unobservant, you’ve probably noticed the changes in the library. From new furniture to a whole new room known as the Writing Center, the amount of money spent on this project was a whopping $75,000.
The “modern” changes are part of a county-wide program called “Design 2015” in which they are preparing the schools to be up-to-date with new learning spaces by 2015, so the younger generations will be prepared for the world outside of high school.
While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it also isn’t very good. $75,000 is a lot of money to spend in just one area, $60,000 being spent on renovations for the Writing Center and the other $15,000 on furniture for the library and Writing Center, according to Rosalyn Schmitt who managed the project for Albemarle County Public Schools.
Prior to it becoming the Writing Center the room was used for storage, so it’s understandable that a reasonable amount of money had to be spent on fixing it up. A lot of the money had to go into fixing things that you aren’t able to see, such as structural issues, but $60,000 seems a bit excessive.
An additional $15,000 were spent on furniture for the library and the Writing Center which seems a little extreme in comparison to the amount of furniture and quality of the furniture added to the library.
The Writing Center got Fatboy brand bean bags that cost nearly $200 each, according to the Fatboy website. However, several of the “new” items in the library were repurposed from other schools, such as the circulation desk which came from Sutherland Middle School.
Having newer, more updated learning spaces isn’t bad, but the money could have been spent better and more conservatively.
The library wasn’t bad in the first place, but now it just feels empty and lacking in seating space for the students who need to get work done in there.
The Writing Center really is a great idea, but how are $200 bean bags helping? Or $250 per 50 square feet whiteboard paint on the walls?
Along with the other changes to the library, all of the desktop computers disappeared because they were no longer supported by ACPS computing, according to librarian Ray Chrobak.
Now, if a student wants to check out a book they either have to search the library for it themselves or go through the trouble of checking out a laptop, starting it up and logging in, finding the library’s page and searching through the catalog which takes about double the time it would just to use the catalog computer.
The catalog computers weren’t even slow, and were a great resource for the space. It seems like a waste of money to get rid of the desktops since new laptops will need to be purchased quite soon, after all the use they’re getting.
For $10,000, the county could have bought 20 new desktop computers, and still probably had enough left over to purchase a few new pieces of furniture for both spaces.
Desktop computers would have been the better choice for the library and Writing Center.
Surely Design 2015 will turn out to be successful for the younger generations, but what is doing for this generation? Not a lot, since most of the changes are still to come.
Next time, learning space designers, you should get the input of those who are actually going to be using the spaces. Or just don’t spend so much money on updating two areas when the whole school could use an update. Or even consider focusing all the attention and money on one area to make it completely up-to-date with the best technology and furniture.