FHS library set for major renovation

High school is a time for change – and change is the perfect word to describe this year at Fairmont High School. But one of the biggest changes is just getting under way. On Oct. 15, the library and FIC will close to undergo major renovation.

“We want to create a welcoming community where students want to be,” said Debbie LeValley, director of Technology for the district and the point person on the project. She said the library hasn’t been updated since it was built, and it still has all of the original furniture.

The library will even be getting a more contemporary name. Library Media Specialist Jillian Kelsey, who joined the Fairmont staff this year, said the library will be called the Library Media Center, but the FIC will still be called the FIC.  The new center will include:

~ a total of 44 new computers;

~ three new computer stations with six laptops at each;

~ areas in the front and back of the center with enough new tables and chairs to accommodate entire classes;

~ two small group areas where students can meet for team projects. These areas will have one desktop computer in each room but laptops may be brought in if needed.

~ two stations with four computers at each so even smaller groups of students can meet;

~ blue and gray paint;

~ new shelving, with taller shelves against the wall in order to make the Library Media Center look larger;

~ new carpet;

~ new lighting; and

~ a new checkout counter.

More inviting, more comfort, better resources

LeValley said the Library Media Center also will include a new classroom that features a mobile lab with computers. In addition, large windows will be installed in the wall that separates the current FIC and library, also adding a more open feel.

“We’re going to add comfortable furniture in the front part of the library where everyone can read and relax,” LeValley said.

In addition, a 50-inch flat panel TV will be installed on the wall near the checkout counter. “It will probably be the librarian’s call for what’s displayed on it,” said LeValley. “I’d probably run CNN.”

In addition to being more inviting and modern, the library will have more resources, both online and in books. One area will feature specific books for those in the IB and AP programs.

Jan. 18, 2010, is the target date to open the Library Media Center and the FIC. LeValley said the cost for the entire project should come in under $400,000. The school is getting a donation from an outside source to help with the cost, but LeValley said the name of the donor can’t be released yet because all of the paperwork hasn’t been signed. The design work for the project was done by Ruetschle Architects.

“We’re looking forward to a brand new Media Center, hopefully state of the art,” said Fairmont Technology Coordinator Kim Broomhall.

Planning for renovation took 2 years

But before the architects could get started, they needed to know what Fairmont wanted. A committee of teachers, technology coordinators, principals, community members, Board of Education members, and a professor of library science from Wright State University met once a month to discuss ideas and decide which ones should be used.

Broomhall and then-Librarian Linda Harrison started the committee two years ago to decide how the library could be improved, and it escalated into the imminent renovation.

The committee surveyed students and teachers to find out what they mainly wanted for the new library. Students said they wanted up-to-date computers, comfortable seating, staff to assist, and group work stations. The teachers also wanted up-to-date computers, plus collections to support curriculum, technical expertise, and software on computers.

“We looked at furniture, equipment, and inventory,” said Broomhall. “We looked at other schools to see if we were compatible.”

Fairmont Principal Dan Von Handorf agreed that the school had some catching up to do. “I’d say it’s a pretty major change,” he said. “It’s going to have more technology, it will look different, and be more student user friendly.”

There was even talk about the new library getting a Starbucks, but the money just wasn’t there. “We’re all going to have to get our coffee elsewhere, and not the library,” said Von Handorf.