About Hillwood High School’s Library Renovation

In the spring of 2011, following a presentation about Limitless Libraries a member of the Nashville Public Library Foundation decided to provide a generous donation to renovate two school libraries. He specified Hillwood High School because he considered it to be his neighborhood school as he was growing up. Thus the journey began.

On July 28, 2011, representatives from the Nashville Public Library, Metro Nashville Public Schools and the Mayor’s office held a meeting. During that meeting the new library began to take shape.  Tricia Bengle, Library Administrator, Nashville Public Library, described the donor’s desire to create a model for all high school libraries in the district. She said that he wanted the library to be a place the student’s wouldn’t want to leave, located at the center of the school. In response to discussion that there would be a need for additional physical space, Hillwood’s principal, Dr. Steve Chauncy, offered to relocate the classroom behind the library and include it in the new design.

During the kickoff meeting, the attendees agreed that representatives from the Nashville Public Library would join Dr. Chauncy to inform members of the community August 4 during Freshman Orientation and September 8 during Open House. The announcement at those events generated a great deal of excitement and many were surprised to learn that the scheduled opening date was fall 2012. Things began to move quickly.

To find out what the community members wanted, a survey was designed by the Hillwood student leadership class and given to parents, students and teachers. Meanwhile, the faculty leadership team did additional research into what other successful libraries were doing.  A library renovation team was created with representatives from the Nashville Public Library, Nashville Government and Metro Nashville Public Schools. Meetings began in September. Bids were submitted, an architecture firm was chosen, and things moved from ideas into action.

During the early meetings there was a great deal of discussion about the survey and other research that had been done. The architects from Hastings Architecture would lay out a copy of the floor plan, put tracing paper on top of it, arm themselves with black and red markers and draw in everything that the team members suggested. Over time, this is what emerged:

The proposed design was finalized just in time to present it to future students and parents at Hillwood’s Academy Showcase, February 23, 2012. The new library is designed to adjust and flow for optimal learning according to the needs of each class, each student. 

It will combine traditional reference and research resources with electronic sources and the latest technology. There are quiet study areas, a large meeting room with state-of-the-art equipment, three production rooms with large screens and current production software, and an Internet lounge with high-top and booth-seating for students to gather in a relaxed atmosphere free of shushing. And, of course there will be books interestingly displayed throughout the library.

The new library is designed to encourage students to integrate what they have learned in the classroom to create, design and deliver current information mirroring the same analytical process their teachers use to design lessons. The goal will no longer be finding the right answer. It will, instead, be presenting relevant information in a way that reflects a deeper understanding gained through the exchange of ideas, collaboration, and utilization of multiple technologies.

By the end of April, plans had been approved, budgets had been finalized and permits had been acquired.  Renovation will be complete the first day of school, August 1, 2012.

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