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How One Mom Rejuvenated the School Library

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By GreatSchools Staff

Getting Other Parents Involved:

Pam began recruiting parents through the PTO newsletter and at PTO meetings. Pam formed a library committee and began organizing her volunteers by asking what they were comfortable doing. There were also sign-up sheets at the fall teacher night. Although not too many parents were interested in the summer rehab project, once fall came, the volunteer ranks grew. Parents helped enter the book records into the CASPR system and one parent re-covered and mended almost half of the books in the library. Parents who wanted to help but didn't have a lot of time popped in to help kids in the library and shelve books.

Working With the School:

When the library project started, East Gloucester had a new principal, who, due to the budget cuts, was also the district information technology director. That proved to be a blessing in disguise because he was able to help with the new library technology and help the parents find the right people to call when they needed more tech help. Pam reported that the principal was thrilled with what the parents accomplished and was very supportive along the way. The teachers were also genuinely happy about the new user-friendly library.

Major Challenges:

One challenge was training parents to do the technical part of the new bar-code library system. Pam said they held several training sessions and that ultimately people who were both interested and competent ended up doing that work. Pam said the next challenge going forward is to train the teachers to use the system so their students can check out books when the volunteers aren't present.

Another challenge was the small number of maintenance workers in the district. They were very busy with other projects so the parents had to do some construction on the library shelves themselves. Pam said, "We brought our own saws and wood - it was a big challenge. It was something we thought we'd get help with, but we did it ourselves.

How the School Has Benefited:

Pam said when the students saw the library in the fall, "It was amazing! They couldn't believe they were in the same place. It was bright, clean and not dusty. There was a couch and a chair. If I could have taken a picture of the kids when they saw it! Now the kids like to be there."

The library is now open every day for students to browse, and all day Wednesday and Friday to check out books. Each class has a time to come check out books and students can come at other times, too. Teachers are helping their classes use the library a lot more for research as well.

Tips for Other Parents:

Pam encourages other parents to not be afraid to take something on, even if they don't have unlimited time and energy to volunteer. "Even small things can make a difference... Say 'Here's what I can do, what kind of support is there for this?'" She notes that a lot of people think they can't make a change, but many things can be done in small amounts of time and with a limited budget.