On Monday I started my project in the library of P.S. 15. Let me start off by saying- P.S. 15 has a beautiful library. It’s large, there’s a big colorful carpet for the students to sit on, and, most importantly, there are books everywhere. Unfortunately, the school has not had a full time librarian for about three years now, so when I say there are books everywhere, I mean they are everywhere. Piled on top of shelves, stuffed into tight spaces…the check-in receptacle is literally overflowing with books. So in some ways, these mountains of books entrusted to my care are the fulfillment of my childhood dream. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a nightmare that night about drowning in a pile of picture books.
Basically, my responsibility with this library project is to get the library organized enough that the students can easily locate the books they need and are able to check them out in an efficient way. Also, there are a lot of books that are ready to be put on the shelves, but aren’t entered into the catalog yet. This seems like it should be simple enough, until you actually go to re-shelve the books. You will then quickly learn that the last three years has wreaked havoc on this library’s organizational system. Imagine hundreds of kids enthusiastically pulling out books and then haphazardly putting them back into place, with no one running behind them to fix the misplacement. For instance, as I was alphabetizing a portion of picture books on Monday, a little girl was reading a picture book with one of her teachers (there are always kids in there reading something). When she finished, she walked right up and stuck the book on the shelf next to the “A’s” that I had just finished. I pulled it right back out to find a book written by Patricia Polacco.
One of the most interesting things about the way P.S. 15’s library is set up is that not only is it organized to help students easily find books, but also to help them know how to use a library in the future. There are arrows pointing perusers in the correct alphabetical direction, plus all the non-fiction books use the Dewey Decimal System. This might seem like a trivial skill, but I’ve wasted countless amounts of time wandering aimlessly around my college library looking for books- and I know the Dewey Decimal System. So it’s really important that we help get this library back into it’s original order, not only for what the library can physically give the students, but also what it can teach them on its own.
Maybe it’s the book lover in me coming out in full swing, but I am really excited about the remainder of my project. Hopefully the library will soon be organized and clutter free and then we’ll be able to put up pictures of the kids at P.S. 15 with their exciting new books. Until then, you can find me at P.S. 15, piled under my mountain of books. -Julia Cunningham, Spring 2013 Intern