Maries R-2 school librarians awarded donations from Friends of the Belle Library

BY Edward Gehlert, Staff Writer
Posted 8/27/21

BELLE — Friends of the Belle Library (FoBL) made a donation of $400.00 to Maries County R-2 in support of the district librarians efforts to increase services and material available to …

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Maries R-2 school librarians awarded donations from Friends of the Belle Library

Posted

BELLE — Friends of the Belle Library (FoBL) made a donation of $400.00 to Maries County R-2 in support of the district librarians efforts to increase services and material available to students.

During the organization’s July meeting, members voted on providing the donation after a member of the board reached out to the school district’s librarians and asked how FoBL could assist them in the upcoming school year.

The donated money will go towards the purchase of books in genres asked for by students in the district. Currently the most sought after materials are graphic novels and manga.

Maries R-2 has been one of the more fortunate districts in the state during the COVID-19 epidemic, as the school board has continually made funds available for it’s libraries.

“The district has been supportive of our libraries. Doctor Basham especially has been very supportive of the libraries and has been trying to get us everything she can. I belong to some librarian groups on Facebook where their districts haven’t given them much during COVID and they have had to raise all their funds through book fairs. We are very fortunate that the school gives us money each year to spend,” said high school librarian Kassi Maurer. “We try to embrace technology and everything is ever changing in the library world. New books and new technology costs money. We are always looking for ways to get more things.”

One option for teachers to explore is researching and applying for grants. Maurer said that she has applied for grants and last year worked with the schools technology director, Tony Benson, to get funds for hotspots through T-Mobile. With the grant award, Mauer and Bensen were able to get 150 hotspots that allowed students to get internet at home through the use of cell tower signals.

Outside the box thinking has also provided resourceful educators different approaches to fill various classroom needs that may fall short due to low funds. 

“This last year I haven’t done a whole lot with applying for grants, mainly due to COVID,” said middle school librarian Jenny Dillon. “But I have gotten a couple of grants from DonorsChoose.”

DonorsChoose is a website similar to Kickstarter and GoFundMe. The difference is that it is set up specifically as a nonprofit crowdfunding source to help fund teachers who need specific materials for education or classroom projects.

Librarians still rely on traditional fundraising to help offset costs and funding by the district. One such event is looked forward to by students at every grade level each year: The Scholastic Book Fair.

“Kids love the book fair. We have two a year at the middle school,” said Dillon. “We have some parents that just send a check in with their children as a donation. It surprises me, but I also have kids that will come in and just put their change in a little box I have there to donate it. Some parents buy books for the entire classroom.”

Local businesses have been a factor in the continued success of the school’s libraries. Belle’s Shelter Insurance agent Willadeen Vandegriff had a local grant available and asked Superintendent Doctor Lenice Basham how it could help the school. Doctor Basham suggested that some of the money could be used toward book giveaways. The resulting money from the company allowed the district to purchase additional books for the project with an end result of more than 4,000 new books being given to kids last summer.

The books were handed out in various locations by the librarians and other volunteers. This was done on their own time and was well received in the community.

“It was great seeing the kids again,” said Dillon. “Most of them we hadn’t seen since COVID forced the school to close.”

“We did it out of love for literacy and books,” said Maurer. “This is something we want to promote in our community.”

Libraries have changed over the years and are no longer just a place to check out books.

“Most of what you see when you walk in a library is books. It really is the learning center of the school so it’s not just about reading anymore; it’s about research and it’s about using technology. Libraries have expanded a lot more; it’s now a center of learning,” said Maurer.

Maurer and Dillon said that if parents or community members want to sponsor a child getting books at the book fair, they can send a check made out to Maries R-2 and in the note section write Book Fair. Parents and community members can also make direct donations to the school’s libraries by making a check out to Maries R-2 and in the note section indicate it is for the library.

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