A LABOUR of love for librarian Anita Burchell has secured the library at the Burgate School and Sixth Form Centre in Fordingbridge a top place in a national design competition.

In just four months Mrs Burchell has transformed the formerly dark and dull space into a tropical paradise complete with giant green plants and an aquarium.

And while there are still thousands of books and learning resources, the space, with its squashy sofas and funky bean bags, now offers students a relaxing and inspirational environment.

Mrs Burchell’s eye for style and the dedication of school staff has won the school library a place on the shortlist for this year’s School Library Association’s (SLA) Design Award.

Mrs Burchell said: “What inspired me mostly were tranquillity, nature and bringing the outdoors inside as we back onto the grass area. I wanted lots of plants and fish, to which the children show great respect.

“The library was always used, but nothing like it is now. The students love it and use it all the time and the staff use it for their community and interschool meetings.

“I am so proud of what we have achieved, as a team. Everyone involved put all their energy into transforming the library into what it is today. And the fact that it is one of the school’s most popular rooms is testament to their hard work.”

Psychology teacher Suzannah Dennis said: “The library is now an amazing resource. The room upstairs used to be a storage and reference area and now it is a wonderful, relaxing environment that is used all the time.

“I use upstairs to help students who are struggling in class from across all the age groups. It is quiet and spacious and works very well.”

The winner of the SLA Design Award competition is due to be announced in early September, with a prestigious award ceremony to take place in London during October.