Last year when four Locust Fork High School seniors/ambassadors were given the challenge of finding a way to make an impact with the curriculum at their school, they began looking for a room within the school to study.
When the students were encouraged to meet with media specialist Grindl Weldon about possibly using an area within the school’s library, they confided they did not want the area to be in the library. Weldon said, “It hurt my feelings, but it was a wake-up call.”
Weldon knew she would have to do some forward thinking and transition an area of the library to meet the cultural change of students. They wanted a relaxed atmosphere to study, hang out, or do schoolwork.
With the support of an enthusiastic principal and the seniors, Weldon stepped out of her comfort zone and trusted the student leaders. They needed to raise money for new furniture in the library.
The group chose to open a coffee shop before school two mornings per week. The ambassadors manned it and raised $3,000. A sectional couch and four armchairs purchased from the profits created the relaxing atmosphere students wanted.
Locust Fork United Methodist Church also had a desire to adopt an area of the school and was guided to the library as well. Weldon helped them embrace the changes and they are upgrading the library window area with new framing and new blinds. They are also building a coffee cart to help the coffee shop be more efficient.
In efforts to “build it so they will come,” Weldon has continued with the forward thinking to be a resource for students. She, with the help of other media specialists, weeded through the collection of library books this summer to promote a theme of “less is more.” She understands that students have a limited time, and they simply do not like to pore over shelves of book spines.
Weldon now has books on the shelves with their cover facing out to give a more inviting feel. She has noticed that the books on open display are usually the books students check out.
In addition, Weldon has begun labeling the books with stickers indicating a book’s genre. Stickers such as adventure or fantasy are prominently displayed making it much easier for students to identify a type of book they are looking for.
The library also has a small collection of books for parents. Weldon said so many parents have questions and she hopes this section of books can help guide them as they parent students.
The students are beginning to embrace the more relaxed area as “their space.” Weldon said, “I love the energy and enthusiasm the students bring. I wanted to create a space where they want to be.”
Senior Abigail Love, who has contributed more than 100 volunteer hours over the past two summers, has helped Weldon “genrefy” the fiction section. She said, “I love the changes. They make the library feel comfortable, a place where anyone can go. I put in the work because I love the library and I want to have other people enjoy it as much as I have. I think that kids see all the new additions and how much time and effort has been put in and can appreciate things much more.”
Senior Cassidy Riddle has also enjoyed the changes to the library. She said, “When I first got to high school, the library was filled with dusty books and uncomfortable chairs. Now we have a huge selection of books. We can even check out Nooks so that we can check out an entire series. The library is now a place where we can hang out to study or read.”
Despite budget constraints, scheduling, physical space, and other assigned duties, Weldon said the school media specialists are amazing. She noted there are great changes in libraries throughout the county.