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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

The Perfect School Library

Welcome to the first posting of this new blog for SLJ. I appreciate the simplicity of Jorge Luis Borges’ quote "I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library." In my exploration of paradise I was intrigued by the possibilities and diversities.

Paradise is an ideal and a place. Usually the word conveys a sense of bliss, happiness, contentment. Does this mean it is a quiet, boring, cheerful place? Not to me. I see the ultimate school library as diverse, active, exciting, inspiring, moving, buzzing, and interactive. My vision shows students, teachers, and parents working in small groups, in pairs, in classes, and alone. I see quiet zones of contemplation and noisy areas where ideas are argued. The word boring would never be applied to my school library paradise because the patrons are in charge of their learning and are challenged by the library staff to achieve more. Here are two letters students gave me this week after a lesson on letter-writing in their classroom. They are definitely going into my scrapbook.

Dear Mrs. Chen,

I want to thank you for making the library safe. I like going to the library. You are very nice. I like many of the books you got for us. I like how you never yell at people.



Dear Mrs. Chen,

I wanted to say I am very happy that you help me every time I go in the library. I like to read. Are you going to a different school next year? Next year I am going to Head Magnet. I will miss you! You are the best librarian. Is there a day I can help you?



Note that their vision of paradise includes safety and friendly people. As M handed me her letter she asked me if I would put in a transfer to her new school. S is a very shy young man who prefers to eavesdrop when I do reader’s guidance and doesn’t ask many direct questions. Are we meeting their unique needs? Do they find what they need in the library? Will they grow up to be citizens that support libraries of all types? Their interactions and communications give me practical ideals to work towards.

If paradise was a school library, what would it look like to you? This is where the reader and blog participant comes in. Yes, I’m talking to you. What do you imagine and how can you practically attain this dream? Visions guide us and give us goals. I am a practical elementary school librarian who wants you to note the steps needed to move towards these goals. I want to know how YOU are doing this. Please take the time to comment to this blog and share your vision. This is not my blog, this is our blog. Together let’s make this practically paradise.