Freeport High School Library Celebrates READesign
After years of hoping to makeover our high school library, it finally became a realization, as we celebrated its Grand Opening on Oct.24. What finally led to this? We won the Capital One Heart of America Foundation, READesign Library Makeover Grant. Thanks to our economics teacher, Eileen Shultis who applied for this grant, we were selected as a finalist and received a site visit. During the visit we were interviewed and later that day we were told we had won! This spurred our school district to provide additional funds, that ultimately contributed to bringing our library into the 21st century. The renovation provided our library with a much needed new floor, paint, and furniture. We received new books, including print books on careers and financial literacy, as well as Follett ebooks to supplement our curriculum. New technology included: 30 HP All in One desktop computers, a Bretford Teaming Table for collaboration, 2 Sharp Aquos Interactive Boards, 4 iPads for our reference bar and a College and Career Access Room.
For years I had been collecting pictures for my vision of a new library, after years of little progress I had pretty much given up; I never thought we would ever get the chance to have our library remodeled. Still, I kept going and continued researching. I had created a library design Pinterest page, a Google docs page with ideas and photos, layouts from our student drafting classes. It was obvious when the Heart of America and Capital One team came to evaluate our school, that I had a vision and plans for the future of our library. Jessa Thomas, from Capital One Bank even commented at our Grand Opening, that she still remembered how I came to the meeting with a bundle of plans.
I think having a vision of what a modern library could be and how it would impact our students helped. So like the Field of Dreams movie quote, “If you build it, he will come”, perhaps if you build it in your mind and on paper, they will come, or at least you will have a better chance of advocating and convincing others that it is worth investing in your library.
If you are lucky enough to win this grant, Heart of America, is a wonderful organization to work with. Their staff was extremely professional and organized. The project manager, Katryna Carter, and I were in constant communication, via email and weekly conference calls, to keep the project moving. About 30 Capital One volunteers assembled furniture, shelved, books, and decorated along with some of our high school students. They say it takes a village, it took a team consisting of Capital One, Heart of America, and Freeport Public Schools to help make this a success.
Be sure to check out the Heart of America Facebook page to see all the libraries they have helped across the nation. At a time when so many libraries have faced cuts and neglect, it is truly a joy to see all the school libraries that been transformed. Let us hope that more organizations and school districts will realize the importance of school libraries that are fully funded and staffed, and the impact they have shown over and over again to have on student achievement.
Here are some pictures of our new library, as well as before pictures: