A little dated. Somewhat cramped. Dark at times.
Those were some of the most apt and oft-mentioned terms to describe Riverside’s library area prior to a tip-to-toe renovation that began in the fall of 2017, transforming the space into a user and learning-friendly setting for Riverside’s students, faculty and staff.
Appreciating that the space needed a refreshed look, Riverside’s Parents Association, with a major assist on the logistical side from the school’s staff, began raising funds last fall at the school’s Harvest Moon Festival auction with an eye toward a complete overhaul of the aging campus library. All told, Riverside supporters combined to give more than $17,000.
“We knew that the library looked old, but the support was fantastic. Everyone was really supportive” of the school’s mission to revamp the library, remembers Parents Association co-president Kim Alley-Trownsell, who was at the forefront of leading the effort on the parents’ side.
The library’s makeover began last autumn before reopening for full use in January 2018, complete with a welcoming, multi-use aura conducive to learning and meeting. Suddenly airy, the area features a new paint color over repaired plaster walls. The space also became adaptable with the addition of wheel-bearing bookshelves that can be easily transported within the library or to another part of the school—without the assistance of a Russian weightlifter.
Display areas allow for books to be grouped appropriately by age and subject. Chairs comfortable for children and adults can be easily stacked, and the additional room created by appealing new desks are also a part of the changes. Windows that had once seen their better days were replaced, along with their treatments and blinds. There is even storage room for iPads and lightweight computers where students can work on presentations and project their work onto a portable screen. User-friendly flat-screen monitors allow any number of visitors to check out books.
From the outset, the goal was to make the room more flexible. Mission accomplished. The library is now more multi-use than ever and can accommodate classes, lessons, meetings and any number of gatherings in a classy, comfortable spot that can meet nearly any type of need.
One of the more popular areas are the well-padded window benches, which also feature storage space at the bottom below the cushiony area.
“Not long after we opened, I remember three little boys who came in, checked out books and curled up on the window seats,” remembers Chris Bachmann, Riverside’s librarian and music teacher.
Bachmann had input into the design. As a whole, the revamped look that continues to amaze those who remember the previous parcel, wouldn’t have been possible without kind-hearted individuals. The Telfian family, owners of Creative Contracting Inc., generously gave of their time, labor and materials to repaint the room. Designer Beverly Monstinger perfectly laid out the furniture and other areas of the room with an emphasis on décor, aesthetics and look. Additionally, Riverside relied on the expertise of Delta Graphics Inc., which specializes in providing appropriate furniture and items to create a lively library space.
Even with the wall-to-wall alterations, the library retained some of its tradition, including a fireplace that creates a quaint feel. A beautiful portrait of the late Ruth Harris, who was the academic coordinator at Riverside School for 13 years and served as the school’s academic consultant, as well as one of its best advocates, adorns the room.
All told, the library went from an area that individuals used on an as-necessary basis to one that nearly everyone at Riverside seeks out as a place for studying, reading, meeting and some quiet solace. The refurbishment was an all-around, team effort and the results especially benefits Riverside students in their learning, which was the central focus in driving the changes.
“I can’t tell you how pleased our students are—even after a month of being open,” Bachmann says. “It’s fun to walk in here. The transformation is really nice.”