Thoughtful Renovations Enhance Library Experience

What is green and gold and perfect for reading, studying and relaxing? The new seating in the Annenberg Center for Learning and Research, of course!

The ample and inviting selection of chairs, benches and loveseats (many in Chapin colors) is just one part of an expansive refresh of the School’s beloved library, a project that has beautifully transformed the celebrated all-school resource into an even more efficient, warm and inclusive environment for all our students and the professional community.

“I love that the library is at the heart of the School,” remarked Liza Oldham, Director of the Annenberg Center and Upper School Librarian. She also noted that the 50,000-volume Annenberg Center is the only library among peer independent schools that serves K-12 students in a single space. Its light-filled, two-story design, connected by a carpeted center staircase (with elevator access), also distinguishes the impressive space, she added.

The stunning refurbishment, which was completed last summer with funds raised from the 2022 Senior Class Gift, focused primarily on two objectives:

  • Ensuring that the divisional areas on the fourth and fifth floors are more clearly and creatively designated for our Lower, Middle and Upper School students and teachers
  • Re-distributing space in the already generous overall footprint to better support students

Ms. Oldham pointed out that the Annenberg Center had not received a significant upgrade since 1998. Although the original plan “suited the needs of the time” (there was sufficient room for large desktop computers, for example), “things have changed in the last 24 years,” she said.

The modernized enhancements feature a 30-percent increase in seating capacity, making it possible to accommodate up to a quarter of the student body at any given time – whether they are conducting research, listening to a read-aloud during a class, meeting with a teacher, completing homework assignments or escaping into one of the fiction and non-fiction titles that line the sprawling dark-brown shelves.

Now students can choose from a wider variety of seating options. In the Upper School Library on the fourth floor, a curving, emerald-green banquette provides plenty of spots for solitary and group gatherings. There are also sturdy wooden chairs, soft fabric ones with metal legs and a sprinkling of comfortable armchairs that make reading or quiet conversation a pleasure.

The Lower School Library, behind Ms. Oldham’s office on the fourth floor, has been furnished with kid-sized square tables, molded plastic chairs in bright green and gold, searchable iPads installed on columns at just the right height for our youngest students, and an exciting graphic-novel nook.

On the fifth floor, the Middle School Library boasts cozy areas for Class 4-7 with a wealth of fun and functional armchairs and loveseats (fleece blankets available!); a room for fantasy books, which are especially popular with this age group; and a reimagined floorplan with shelving for boundless books and other materials as well as two staff desks.

The Annenberg Center team – Ms. Oldham; Middle School Librarian Natasha Goldberg; Lower School Librarian Christina Kover; Collections Librarian Lucy Davis; and Library Associate Casper Kelly – is delighted by their wonderfully enhanced library, which is even better equipped to continue its mission of “empowering the Chapin community to grow, learn and turn ideas into action.”

Each and every day, countless students and adults use the Annenberg Center for Learning and Research to fortify their curiosity, make lasting connections, read for school or pleasure, and relish peaceful moments in this inspiring space.

“I love coming in and seeing so many different people,” said one Upper School student. Another added, “The library is a really happy place to be. Spending time here is a nice way to brighten up the day.