A new library is now open for business.
It took much time, cooperation and creativity, but a group of industrious students has managed to start a lending library.Eight students from Spring Lake Park District 16’s Lighthouse Program for insatiable learners have started the Lighthouse Leo Club Library.
The program, a school within a school housed in the SLP High School complex, now has 400 books for curious learners to check out thanks to these young Leo leaders. It contains books of many genres – fiction, non-fiction, science, biography and much more.
When the Lighthouse staff approached Pete Yelle, community education coordinator and Leo Club adviser, asking if the Leo club would be interested in teaming with them on volunteer service projects, Yelle jumped at the chance.
“The kids have really taken this on as their own project, sorting books, making sure they’re age appropriate, making signs and shelves,” Yelle said. “Obviously, it’s about literacy. We want to encourage reading.”
They built their own
Although students in the program can check out books at the high school once a week, often times, it was inconvenient. And some of the material was not age appropriate, the students said.
So the Lighthouse Leos, mostly students ages six to 14, decided to build their own library.
Half-Price Books donated many of the books to the project.
The students started collecting the books Feb. 14. There was much to be done. Sorting books into categories, assembling and restoring a wooden bookshelf donated by the high school. Shelving the books. And the process of checking books out was up for discussion. Brainstorming ideas was key.
As a solution the young librarians came up with a signup sheet asking borrowers to state their name, date the book was checked out and book genre.
By asking for genre type, the students figured the books would be easier to restack into the shelves. If a borrower checks out a book for more than two weeks, he or she is notified by e-mail with a reminder to return the book so others may enjoy it. The students check the signout sheet daily to ensure books are not overdue.
Morgan Woodford, 8, likes to keep things tidy.
“I really like to see it completely organized and clean,” she said about the new library she helped found.
Lauren Chan, 10, agreed with Morgan.
For her, the best part of the project was seeing a box of books become a library complete with a cabinet and doors. “The transformation was really nice to see,” she said.
When the girls ran out of cabinet space, they brainstormed again and came up with the idea of using cardboard boxes for shelf space.
Having the time to meet was a bit of a challenge for Halle Arnold, 11, who needed to leave school before some of the meetings because of her bus schedule (the meetings were held at the end of the day). Still, she learned much from the project.
“Mostly that you can never give up on your friends,” she said. It was her friends who kept her up to speed on the progress of the group while she was gone, Halle said.
It took trust
Another challenge for the students was balancing the project with the demands of their school work.
They thought perhaps they could whip the project together in no time. They soon learned the task of starting and maintaining a library was more demanding.
The students estimate the project took 32 one-hour meetings to get the library up and running.
“It takes a lot of cooperation and trust to pull it off,” said Morgan’s sister Lauren Woodford, 10.
The books are available for checkout to all 104 students in the Lighthouse Program.
The time and energy spent creating the library was worth it, though.
“I learned it takes a lot of work to do something really big,” said Genevieve Heywood, 9. “I thought it was really fun to do.”
The Leo Lighthouse Program was started last spring. The group, which meets once weekly and focuses on service projects, has a dozen members.
Among their service activities are volunteering at Feed My Starving Children in Coon Rapids and holding a food drive. Donations went to Southern Anoka County Assistance Food Shelf.
The Spring Lake Park Lions Club and Spring Lake Park District 16 Community Education are sponsors of the Lighthouse Leo Club.
Elyse Kaner is at [email protected]