Tuesday, March 16, 2010

2000: A World of Books!

How many books does it take to make a library?

That was the big question back in 1994, when The Willows was faced with the challenge of assembling a school library – from scratch.

“Our first library consisted entirely of donated books,” remembers librarian Cathy Leverkus. “We started with 2,400 volumes—and most of them were fantasy! This was just prior to when the Harry Potter books were first being published and the fantasy genre was coming into its own. As a result, the collection was a little lopsided at first, but over time we were able to even things out.”

Building and stewarding The Willows’ library became Cathy’s challenge. She witnessed the collection grow dramatically over the years - literally tenfold - to the current count of 24,663 volumes. Today, the Willows library is so much more than printed books; the library now includes audio, video, and online resources.

 Coordinating with Curriculum
One of Cathy’s challenges over the years has been seeking out resources that dovetail with the thematic units in each grade. From picture books about insects for first graders to Civil War primary resources for eighth graders, Cathy strives to select items that will be both relevant and accessible for every age group. “It has been a true collaboration with the faculty,” notes Cathy. “I rely on them for information about what they need and what works best with the students.”

Have books, will travel!
While many librarians might be jealous of Cathy’s role in building The Willows’ library, most certainly would not envy the accompanying growing pains: Cathy has moved the entire library five times over the past 15 years. The library started in the current DK classroom, then moved to various rooms in Willows I and even to a trailer on the yard!

“To be honest, I don’t even remember all the places the library has been,” laughs Cathy. “I don’t think I would have survived the moves without the help of the parent volunteers, who packed and unpacked box after box.”

The library has remained in its current locale in Willows III since the building opened in the fall of 2000. After ten years, Cathy is still appreciative of all the space has to offer.

“I love the fact that the library is large enough for the kids to come in, and lounge and be comfortable reading,” Cathy says. “We can fit an entire class of Lower School students on the floor for a read aloud, but it still feels like a cozy, intimate space.”

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