and the recipient of the 2022 Judi Paradis Action Grant
When I returned to school last fall, it was following a year of my being fully remote teaching. The shelves needed weeding and the collection needed books and everything needed a ‘restart’. So after starting the catch-up of following lost books, reviewing new titles and planning for improving the circulation, the gap was graphics. Students love them, manga was a major focus, and our collection required a real re-do: where does one begin?
First problem— space. Our sad biography section was dull, boring and not well-used. Solution: move, weed, and redefine the space. We transformed it into the graphic novel section to bring fresh perspective to the area. Housing the most desirable parts of the collection in a new spot brings in renewed interest. However, funds were limited, budgets frozen barely two months after the start of this project, so a DIY approach was mandatory.
This brings us to the second problem— money. Grants, pleads, donations…that’s how this metamorphosis began. My first small grant was from the local teachers’ association, which allowed for ‘decorations,’ but not books. We secured the grant and the changes began— decorative changes— shifting shelves, adding posters and stickers, creating signage and programming for fun: a special space to draw-your-own anime.
This year-long project might have been a stretch to do do during my last year of working, but it was so worth it. You don’t stop when you decide to retire, you can always reinvent yourself and your space. For me, it helps in remembering why I started, all those years ago. As school library teachers, we are providing the best for our patrons and passing on the best school library we can for the next colleague. That’s what we do as school library teachers.