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NYC School Librarian Guidebook: Renovation

A blueprint to the policies, standards, and procedures that enable library personnel to develop, organize, and manage exemplary school library programs.

Sample Questions to Ask When Building or Remodeling a Middle School Library

  • Should we replace the flooring with carpet or vinyl?
  • How many doors does the library need?
  • How do we make the library feel inviting?
  • Do we need a quiet study area?
  • What type of shelving should we use for the graphic novel collection?
  • Should library signage also be in braille?
  • Does the library need its own storage area?
  • Do we need round or square or oblong tables or some of each? Where should these be placed? How many do we need?
  • Can we put in a fireplace?
  • Where do we put the popular novels?
  • How big should the student and faculty production lab be, and where do we want it, in conjunction with the main library?
  • Will we allow video gaming in the library? If so, should we designate specific computers for research and others for gaming purposes?
  • Can we tint the outside window glass, so that there is less glare in the library?
  • How many full classes can this library accommodate?
  • How much and what type of space do we need for small group work?

- Rebecca P. Butler, School Libraries 3.0: Principles and Practices for the Digital Age

Resolution A Funding

Resolution A (Reso A) projects are school-specific capital improvement or enhancement projects that are funded by individual grants from the Borough Presidents or members of the New York City Council. These projects are very important to the school community because they help the Department of Education to enhance school facilities. Once a Borough President or City Council Member decides to designate a grant, the School Construction Authority (SCA) is responsible for scoping out the project and overseeing the design and construction. 

Resoution-A monies are awarded through Borough Presidents offices or NYC Council Members. You will need to submit a list of each specific request for the library upgrade, along with the approximate cost for these upgrades.

Resolution A ("Reso A") Capital Funds Fiscal Year 2015 brochure

Facilities Team Contact List

Office of Space Planning

Library Design Phases

In order for a renovation to be successful it is imperative that the librarian and a representative from the Office of Library Services attend all meetings or is informed of progress at each phase of development.  It is much easier to get the design elements correct at the beginning than to try to make corrections after construction has begun. These consultations are free of charge. Each phase of the project will require authorization from SCA's Office of Capital Planning before proceeding.

Scope Phase - The initial "kick-off" meeting with architects, building staff, School Construction Authority (SCA) personnel, Department of School Facilities (DSF) personnel, borough space planners and other interested parties provides an overview of the process and discusses the project components. The designer's project related findings and recommendations are documented and a summary report issued.

Design Phase - Designers prepare construction drawings and specifications for Bid and Award. Mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineers or other design professionals are brought into the discussion. This is when revisions are made. Careful scrutiny of all elements is crucial. You will be advised if any items in the original Scope of Work need revision or are disallowed. 

Bid/Award Phase - Contractors bid on the project and a decision is made regarding the contract award.

Construction Phase - Once this phase begins the approved construction drawings and technical specifications may not be altered. Necessary permits are obtained before construction can begin.

Before and After Photos of IS 278 in Brooklyn

Before and After Photos of Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn

Reso A Tips

While Reso A applications become available in January, it's a good idea to start contacting your representatives early in the school year. Reso A funding is made by folks who serve our communities as elected officials.  It's useful to take time to research the potential grantor's background. 

  1. In October make an appointment with your principal to go visit the official you will be approaching for the grant. An in-person meeting will give the potential grantor a chance to ask you questions and talk about his or her vision.  This will go a long way in distinguishing your application from a pile. 
  2. Be sure to follow up with a thank you note after the meeting.
  3. Invite the official to your school to see what you have in mind. A breakfast meeting in the library works well. Have charming, articulate students present their vision for how an improved library would create a place for learning and positive social interaction.
  4. You may also call to inquire as to who is the official’s education liaison. You may have better luck contacting that person who could get you an audience with the official.
  5. If your grant application is rejected, follow up as soon as you receive the rejection and ask if you can resubmit.  Also ask if there are areas that could be modified to improve the likelihood of you getting the grant.
  6. You can e-mail your questions to ResoA@schools.nyc.gov.
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