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Guest post by Joanna McNally

This e-mail below came from my friend Joanna unsolicited. Her ideas of how to make a library welcoming and the rewards that come to both students and the media program for doing so are something from which we all can learn.

Consider that the things we are learning from libraries and their response to ubiquitous, digital informations sources can be used by classrooms as well since student have an increasing number of options to sitting in a F2F classroom.

Posted with permission...

Hi Doug,

I just came across a repost on your blog about coffee/cafe in the school library. Since this is my 1st year at Orange HS, I have not yet implemented anything. But, when I was at Charles F. Brush HS, I started a "cyber cafe" and it was a big hit. The cyber cafe came as part of a grant to renovate the library (new book shelving, magazine shelving, circulation area, reading areas, computers with tables, chairs, etc.). It was a lot of work but I had an assistant and administration that were on board to give it a try. We had students help run the cafe in the morning and after school. I found a company that provided us with a free machine that would create single cups of hot chocolate, coffee, cafe mocha, french vanilla, hot water (for tea drinkers), and decaf - we just had to pay for the supplies. We also sold snacks like granola bars, honeybuns, oatmeal cookies, rice krispy treats, etc. It was a profitable fundraiser for the library and in the time frame that I worked at Brush (3 years), the library became the heart of the school. Students and teachers wanted to go to the library - not just for the cafe. I ordered print magazines that students and staff wanted to read/check out and we moved the fiction books near the comfy reading areas. Circulation increased. I also started a book club - on average I had about 15-30 kids showing up at each meeting. I also had a Student Library Advisory Club that helped provide input into the entire transformation and afterwards. We garnered a lot of local press (I and the school library were constantly in the paper for about 2 years) and the whole experience, although a lot of work, was well worth it. A little spill here or there, some crumbs on the floor - in the big picture I'd rather have students/teachers wanting to come to the library and using its resources than having signs up policing against it.

In my new position, I followed a person that was not well liked by both students and teachers. She was a no food/drink librarian. Yesterday was my last day before going on maternity leave and the staff surprised me with a huge cake. The students and teachers were tickled to be able to celebrate with me and eat cake in the library. There weren't any messes to clean up and I can't tell you how many students were elated. I kept hearing over and over, this would never have been allowed before. So many kids wanted to be a part of the celebration (not just for the cake) and the good will that it created is amazing. Students at the school I now work at love coming to the library!

I think some school librarians forget that the students in our libraries today become future adults and voters - and they'll either support libraries in their future or they won't. If they've had favorable experiences with their school libraries - they just might end up being huge advocates for us in the future. That isn't a 21st century standard but I think it's pretty important in the grand scheme of things.

I have a couple of pictures I'm attaching - enjoy!


Joanna McNally
Library Media Specialist
Orange High School
Pepper Pike, OH 44124

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Reader Comments (3)

I am glad to hear that Joanna is making a difference in so many young people's lives. In high school the library was a place I dreaded being, but as I grew older I found the joy and the upside of everything they have to offer. I am glad someone is trying to instill this in kids before they completely lose interest. Thanks for sharing this with us.

October 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGalvin Humphries

Hi Galvin,

Had more kids had positive experiences with libraries, I don't think we'd be in the professional pickle we are now!


October 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

Thanks for sharing this. I'm currently enrolled in a graduate program for Library Media, so this is some great "food" for thought. I think that having the library play a more central, socialized role is a great thing. In doing something like this, it takes away the stigma of the boring old library, and makes it a place students want to visit. I can see however how some would be reluctant to change, but when you can see the positive changes, it helps. I think another idea, to help take the load off the librarian would be to have students get involve in the design and the plan.

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCelena M

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