A library upgrade caters to students’ contemporary taste.

In our third case study on library refurbs, School News explores Cornerstone College, Mt Barker Adelaide. 


Teacher librarian Mariusz Sterna arranges the books at Cornerstone College (Mount Barker, South Australia) like a retailer displays shop products.

He uses the latest modern shelving designed specifically to showcase book covers so students can easily find their favourite titles.

“As soon as you walk into the library you are greeted with a wall of colour and beautiful books,” says Mariusz.

“The books are a lot more visible and because of that the borrowing rates are going up.”

Fry Library and School Supplies took a major part in the refurbishment of the Cornerstone College library which had not been significantly spruced up for more than 10 years.

The business specialises in an array of contemporary shelving including browser bins, in which books can be displayed face out, book spinners, mobile library furniture and curved shelving.

Mariusz says Cornerstone’s old library was neither hideous nor beautiful. It just wasn’t contemporary enough for the tastes of current cohort of students.

“Students these days are used to beautiful things,” says Mariusz.

“When you look at an iPhone it’s a thing of beauty. Students want to be surrounded by beautiful things because that’s what they are used to and they’ve come to expect this now.”

The new library with its light walls, bright colours, cosy nooks, comfortable beanbags and armchairs, and orange, purple and lime carpet tiles is more to their liking.

The library’s old, dark and immovable shelving which had been too tall and darkened the space have been replaced with brighter sweeping curved shelving on wheels and upright spinner shelves which students rotate and physically interact with to browse books.

“We change the books constantly, for example when Stephen Hawking passed away we brought out books that were relevant,” he says.

“We constantly change display books for many relevant occasions including Mothers Day or Anzac Day.”

Mariusz says the old furniture was “mismatched and out of style” but the vibrant new armchairs encourage students to settle in as do cosy nooks built into the walls.

The library now has a glass-walled room for studying where “carrels” – single desks with dividers designed for quiet and uninterrupted studying – have made a comeback and are well used by senior students.

Mariusz, who is completing a doctoral study on school libraries, says research indicates senior students prefer to be separated from the younger grades as the two groups have different needs and library-based expectations, has also been facilitated at Cornerstone with separate spaces.

He says the adage “If you build it they will come” was proving true with the new library.

“We have already noticed significantly greater patronage of the space and a lot more book borrowing because it’s a lot more comfortable and modern looking,” says Mariusz.

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