As a child, my dad and I visited our public library every Saturday morning during weekend errands. One of my favorite things to do on those mornings was to sit at the picture book tables and look at all the books displayed there, the books that Mrs. Neth, the children’s librarian, had picked out just for me. (At least that’s what I thought!) This helped me feel like I belonged in the library and the library community. Now, it’s my mission every day to help our students feel as though their experiences in the library were created just for them, and to show them that they are an important part of the community.
‘A true community space’
Colorado Academy libraries serve as a true community space on campus—a place where every student from every grade is welcomed and embraced. Our libraries are places that meet a variety of needs and serve many purposes: they are places of wonder, escape, and shelter, as well as adventure, joy, and discovery.
Books help readers not only discover themselves, but simultaneously expose them to other people, other ways of thinking, living, and existing on this earth and beyond. From their very first day in the library, students are encouraged to read what they want to read. If a student is struggling to find an independent reading book, they know that we will help. If a student is passionate about a certain genre, author, or subject, students know that we will help them find just the right titles. Ray Bradbury said, “I discovered me in the library. I went to find me in the library.” At CA, we know that libraries inspire discovery in many different forms.
‘The library is absolutely essential’
As an academic institution, Colorado Academy pushes every member of the community to continually ask questions, seek information, and follow wherever it may take them. Our libraries encourage the experience of author Zadie Smith: “The Library was the place I went to find out what there was to know. It was absolutely essential.”
Starting in Lower School and continuing through Middle and Upper Schools, we librarians collaborate with the classroom teachers to give instruction to students on performing honest, objective, and comprehensive research, using both digital and print resources. In Lower School, we create the foundations of source citation and evaluation in developmentally appropriate lessons. As students head into Middle School and Upper School, we continue to build their understanding and experience of source citation as their research becomes more sophisticated. We scaffold research skills through the grades and between divisions so that students will be confident and independent information users.
‘We discover together’
Library learning happens in other ways too, often in community with others. Visiting authors and illustrators share their books, art, and experiences in assemblies. The libraries host Book Clubs, Math Club, Mock Trial, quiet reading times, advisory meetings, and are spaces for cross-grade and cross-divisional events.
We learn from curriculum and we learn from one another. We discover together. The libraries on CA’s campus are places to go that meet a variety of needs. They’re a place of (sometimes) quiet, companionship, learning, adventure, and fun! We aim for every community member to feel as though they belong–the same way that I felt every Saturday morning when I would see Mrs. Neth at the library.
We believe that our libraries are vital to learning and are spaces where we can bring the CA community together by responding to what students, faculty, and parents need—from quiet to chaos. Author Sidney Sheldon said it best: “Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life. Libraries change lives for the better.”