Building a library: baby steps

The process of opening a new school library has led me to a very valuable conclusion: building a library has no end. Not if it's a dynamic, growing place that inspires inquiry and discovery.

Sure, there have been linear steps. Shelving, books, organization, labeling. While all of that is very detailed and intensive, once it's done- it's simply a room of books. What makes it come to life? The users.

Which made me wonder: how do I create a space that users want to be in? Create relationships.

Before the library ever opened for circulation~ I went to classrooms.My first intro to many of the students was through a shared read- aloud. I took with me The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore  by William Joyce. Of course, I took my iPad with me~ hooked up through the Reflector App, and directed the kids to watch the monitor while I read to them. They were transported into  the book in a way that can't be explained. It's something you must experience on your own.  This read-aloud became the springboard for my library intro, and the importance of never forgetting to grab a picture book. They never get old. And, we're never too old for them.

Another classroom visit yielded the #makerkitchen experience. #makerkitchen was tied to our schoolwide #DotDay2016 celebration. We had read The Dot by Peter Reynolds as a school, and were giving kids the opportunity to create and express themselves. In another room- I was the guest for spotlight reading. I witnessed the power of a book bringing a community together.

When work was being done in the library to install shelving~ I went to rooms. The notion of the Librarian only being in the library was dashed. Leading kids through questioning and investigation lessons using helped me get to know what the second graders at  our school wanted to know~ helping me to craft experiences that will meet their needs.

And so the building of the library continues. Almost all of the furniture is here now. Almost all of the signs are hung. The processes and procedures are in place. All of these baby steps have brought me to where I am now. Now, the real work begins: creating an environment where all who enter feel welcomed, valued, safe, and are encouraged to try new things.


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