By ALEX MALM The day before The Office of Library and Information Services American Rescue Plan Act grant applications were due Park View Middle School Librarian Stephanie Mills decided to submit an application despite not thinking the application would
The day before The Office of Library and Information Services American Rescue Plan Act grant applications were due Park View Middle School Librarian Stephanie Mills decided to submit an application despite not thinking the application would meet the criteria that the Committee was looking for.
She was glad she did when the school was awarded $7,500 to purchase new traditional books and audio books and to replace those lost during the pandemic.
Mills explained that the school library usually doesn't get that level of grant funds for materials and wanted to take advantage of it by getting input from the students about what they want to see in the library.
Students were asked to fill out a Google Form which asked them questions like what kind of genres they want to see, and if there were any specific books or series they would like the library to purchase. In total 206 students filled out the form and some also told her in person.
"I was really overwhelmed with the response," Mills said.
From there she worked on purchasing as many of those books and audio books as possible. In some cases she was able to determine that the library already had some books in their collection that was requested and she was able to tell those students that.
"It was a nice way for me to have more of a connection with students," she said.
Mills said that the biggest genre of books that students requested were graphic novels, which she said might be what previous generations call comic books, even though graphic novels are “far from it.”
“There are many amazing historical graphic novels that take complex topics like Japanese Internment camps or the Holocaust as well as biographies of famous historical figures and they pair the informational text with beautiful illustrations,” Mill said in an email. “I also had many requests for mysteries and realistic fiction.”
Mills explained that one of the most important things a librarian can do is to make sure there is something for everyone to read no matter someone's reading level or what genres they enjoy most.
"The name of the game for me is just to be able to make the collection as inclusive as possible. Books are mirrors and kids want to see themselves reflected in the books," Mills said.
So far Mills has purchased about half the books and audio books that they are planning on purchasing. Some of the books that were requested aren't going to be released until after the New Year so she will be holding off on buying the second half of the material until then. In total Mills is planning to purchase around 400-450 materials.
"I'm probably doubling what I would've gotten otherwise," she said.
This year Mills said that they have more students reading and listening to audio books which she calls "reading with my ears," than ever and she couldn't be more pleased with it.
She said that since the first day of school Park View has circulated over 9,200 books between hard copies, audiobooks and e-books. She said during COVID the numbers for the full year were about 7,500 for the whole year and for the 2019-2020 school year about 12,000 items were circulated through the Library for the full year.
“To be at 9,200 the first week of December let's me know we are on target to blow that previous number out of the water and that kids are excited to have choice and voice in what they read. At Park View, we are creating reading habits that will, hopefully, continue into student's adulthood,” Mill said.
She attributed a lot of increased reading to the fact that the public library reduced services last year and students relied on the school library. Also, for part of the year when students were in remote learning they didn't have access to the library in person at all and were eager to be able to access books in person on a regular basis again.
"It's incredible how much they are reading," Mills said.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here