Reviving a School Library
March 15, 2013
The school library at Lavalette Elementary has had its share of ups and downs. There’s never been a librarian on staff, and for a while the facility was shuttered altogether. A little over two years ago, a volunteer stepped up to put the library back together, but first it had to be moved out of a closet! The library eventually graduated to a space about half the size of a classroom, but its future grew cloudy once more when the initial volunteer moved on. Luckily, Nancy Webb was waiting in the wings. This mother of two wasn’t about to let the school library close again in this small West Virginia town.
As a helper, Webb had spent many hours learning the responsibilities of a librarian and how to catalog books on the lone computer available for library use. Ready and willing to put in full days uncompensated, Webb was eager to greet the 2012-13 school year. Remarkably, her enthusiasm never wavered when yet another obstacle arose: The library’s computer crashed just days before the start of classes.
“The first three or four weeks of school were a little bit interesting,” she says now, with a laugh. “Because every student at Lavalette—from kindergarten on up to 5th grade—all 290 of them come to the library.” Whereas others might have thrown in the towel or at least waited for the county computer technician to fix the problem, Webb stuck it out. She maintained a handwritten catalog, assigning book titles and numbers to every child, thereby ensuring there was no hiccup in the library’s recently revived service.
Webb thoroughly believes in the power of reading and does everything she can to promote it. It thrills her to help children find just the right book. “I like seeing the kids happy. We have children without books at home who absolutely love getting one at the library,” she says. Naturally part of her vision includes expanding the library’s collection. Toward that end, she just finished running the school’s annual book fair. Some of its proceeds will go toward new library book purchases and the rest is earmarked for classroom supplies.
Actually, Webb knows a thing or two about classroom supplies, as well. Like where to get the best deals. During the summer months and into fall, she and several other PTO parents scour store sales for discounted notebooks, pencils, and the like. They stock up and donate supplies to classrooms, helping teachers make sure all students have everything they need.
Webb’s volunteer resume appears endless. In addition to logging hours at the local food pantry, she somehow manages to find time to volunteer in her son’s 1st grade class. It’s not unusual to find her manning the phones or running copies in the school office, either. She foresees a PTO board position in her future, but for now she stays busy putting in two full-time days and three half-days running the library.
Through her very actions, Webb gives new meaning to the sentiment “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” The county computer technician finally did arrive to bring the library back online, but it was Webb’s can-do spirit that saved the day in the interim. No doubt Lavalette Elementary stands to benefit even further from her level of commitment in the years that lie ahead.
Writer: June Allan Corrigan
Photo credit: Annalisha Johnson