or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

All The Library Is A Stage (well, at least the YA desk)

   August 15th, 2012 Brian Herzog

YA desk on a stageThis is one of those things I think people joke about, but it turns out, we actually did it in my library.

My library's floor plan has the Reference Desk at one end of a room, the YA desk and collection at the other, and the non-fiction collection and public computers in between. One problem we've found with this arrangement is that Reference Desk staff, and patrons, could never see when someone was sitting at the YA desk. And conversely, the YA librarian could never see what was going on at the Reference Desk.

For years we said, "we need is to build a stage to raise up the YA desk." Although it does seem like a good and simple solution, I never thought it would actually happen. But I guess we'd talked about it enough, because when we did have some extra money in the budget for such a project, we went and built a stage.

Hopefully the photos show it well. It raises the desk up just enough to make it, and the YA librarian, visible from the rest of the room, and also lets her see if we need help at Reference.

YA stage from the side

But the great thing about the stage is that it's multi-purpose. It isn't attached to the floor, and was designed to be modular and movable. So, if we have a speaker or performer and we expect a big crowd (which we do a few times a year), we can push the YA desk out of the way and move the front half of the stage to wherever the program will be. It's light enough to be easily carried, narrow enough to fit in the elevator, and if we need a bigger stage, we can always move both sections. Neat.

YA stage from behind, looking towards the reference desk

The whole thing cost about $1500, which I thought was a good price. We also had some carpet left over from some other project, so it matches the library interior perfectly.

It has only been in for a couple weeks, so time will tell if a stage like this really was the solution we were hoping for. I think it will be, but if not, at least we tried, learned something, and we'll try something else.

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