Friday, March 4, 2011

Library Ala Carte

by Lois Jamieson

Every time I arrive at StarShine I know my day will be anything except dull and boring.  I never know what I might encounter when I walk into the school carrying my large black book bag over my shoulder.  But, I never imagined that the library would become a moveable feast! 

Six years ago when I first volunteered to be librarian, I found waiting for me a perfect small school library.  I soon set about rearranging, categorizing, organizing and welcoming the students. I decided, the heck with the Dewey Decimal System, I’ll set this library up just like a popular bookstore.  Much to my amazement the very next year some of the public libraries, in the Phoenix area, did exactly the same thing.  Never having been a librarian before, I decided I would make it up as I went along.  And the library worked!

The  next school year the enrollment ballooned and that’s a Hallelujah thing.  But with space limitations, little by little my library became smaller and smaller.  Finally, I walked in one day to find it had disappeared!  Oh, the donated books were still there sitting on the higher up shelves that I couldn’t reach. Backpacks, notebooks and computers took up residence on the lower shelves.  The elephant, dinosaur and other stuffed animals I had provided for the kindergarten and first graders were perched ten feet high. They sat on top of stacked books looking woefully down at me.  The sixth and seventh graders had taken possession of the library!

A week or so later, through a conversation I had with my niece, an art teacher in Mesa, the disappearing library problem was temporarily solved.  We were joking about me being a librarian without a library. I mentioned that a grocery cart would really come in handy.  “I’ll get you one, Aunt Lois!” she said. 

Cousin Lynn and Jan
About three weeks later Lynn called to tell me my cart was ready to be delivered.  What a delightful grocery cart it was…painted orange in the school color and decorated with bangles, beads and sparkles.  A sign on the front read, “Lois’ Library Ala Carte.”   I now had a library.  Instead of the students coming to the library, I took the library to them.  The only drawback came when the children read the sign on the cart and started calling me “Lois.”  But being a generational thing I soon referred them back to “Mrs. Jamieson.”

The next school year I was excited when Jan told me she had found a room for my library.  I was back in business with a real library.  Well, sort of a real library.  The problem was while it had lots of counter space; the counters were covered with old computers.  And it didn’t have any book shelves. Luckily, a friend at St. Barnabas Church donated several book shelves and the faulty back door was repaired, after I opened it and it fell off. 

Lois and students

This past year the library came full circle. The sixth and seventh graders traded places with the library. As I write this post, I have a volunteer library assistant and the little library is no longer ala carte. The little library is a permanent fixture where the kids visit and enjoy reading books - and isn’t that really what it’s all about?

Go Dog Go is one of Lois' favorites and the first book she read to students.

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