The new ‘Langham Library’ is a place for reflection and personal development; a centre for research; a welcoming space for sharing ideas and a relaxing environment for the enjoyment of literature. It is a modern facility which maintains some tradition features, with fine cast iron pillars and oak beams sitting resplendent above bespoke fixtures and fittings and all kitted out with the latest audio-visual and IT equipment. The new library is flexible enough to accommodate class teaching, small group work and independent study.
Having been involved in the initial and latter stages of the transformation during the summer holiday, Learning Resource Centre Manager, Rose Rowe, was happy to discuss this exciting new High School development.
“It is all about the light. The new environment is so naturally airy, with the sky lights adding a flood of daylight, creating a much better working environment for the girls. The comfy seating peppered around the library allows girls to work or relax in small groups, both during lessons and during free time/breaks.
The purpose built classroom areas are fantastic, and encourage lessons to utilise the library’s resources. Teachers can show girls how to access the many resources available, especially now the books are easier to locate and attractively displayed in a more logical sequence.
EDGE activities such as ‘Illustration’ and ‘Cross Stitch’ are also utilising these pod areas, which is lovely to see on a Thursday afternoon.”
“The new open plan reception area and enquiry desk provides an ideal focal point to greet library users as they arrive. I can offer assistance to girls when they enter, and the team of pupil librarians are also easily visible and accessible.
New resources – books and DVDs have been a welcome addition, especially lots more fiction books which are extremely popular with our girls across the age range.
Air-conditioning now means a comfy working environment is maintained – which will be especially welcome during the summer months!”
“My favourite feature without a doubt is the ceiling! The original beam-work now on show is just outstanding and a real show piece of the interior. It is hard to believe they have been covered up for over 100 years and hold up (literally) so much of the school’s history.
The open plan nature allows a more relaxed, user-friendly experience, and the ability to partition off the small library for meetings and events is a real bonus.”
“Many teachers are already using the library with their classes and I am encouraging more to integrate using the teaching spaces into their lesson planning – using the area as an extension to their classroom.
I also plan to start a Film Club; showing films to complement the books which many of the girls enjoy reading.It is always interesting to see how a book is translated onto the big screen.
Competitions, book clubs and working with Mrs Oliver to further enhance our well-resourced ‘Careers’ section, are just a few more ideas I have.”
This exciting new centre of learning for the school community marks the first redevelopment by the school’s new Head Mrs Nina Gunson and celebrates the achievements of former Headmistress Mrs Pat Langham CBE.
Funded by both the Wakefield Grammar School Foundation and by generous gifts from Old Girls of the High School, the project has been a labour of love for Mrs Gunson, a former High School Girl, who was herself a pupil of Pat Langham.
Since its foundation in 1878, girls from Wakefield and the surrounding area have received the best possible education at Wakefield Girls’ High School. The space that is now the Langham Library was originally built in 1897 as a gymnasium and school hall. In 1917 the school was requisitioned for use as a War Hospital and the gymnasium became one of the wards. Over 340 operations took place in the school.
After the war the school built the larger “Jubilee Hall” and the space was used as a gym until 1959, when a purpose built sports hall was constructed. The space was then converted into a library in 1961.
The space remained virtually unchanged until this year when the 1960s alterations were stripped back to reveal the beautiful Victorian wood and iron construction of the original hall. This, combined with contemporary interior design, has created the perfect learning environment for the new library.