Susan Norwood guest blogs today (and I am almost too embarrassed to post this):
For those of you who read Practically Paradise, or who know Diane, you will like this blog. You may know Diane, but have you every visited her library? This is what it’s like.
The first thing you would notice is the large number of students. The library is only empty on the days that Diane is away. On those days her assistant tapes a sign to the door that says “The Library is Closed.” The kids don’t want to go anyway, when Diane isn’t there. Sometimes the assistant will allow 4 or so students, but they need to make it quick.
When Diane is in, the library is a buzzing beehive of activity. There are usually at least 3 classes present. Along with these 90 or so kids, there are many strays. A library with 100 or more students is a busy place. There are kids on the computers, kids in the comfy chairs by the magazines (the “no more than one to a chair” rule is frequently broken), kids playing games at tables, and kids helping Diane. At the checkout desk, you may find 3-4 kids running checkout, another few scanning books, and a few looking to see what new books are in that haven’t been processed yet. Oh, there are also kids by the ARC shelf to see what needs reviewing. It isn’t especially quiet, but there are kids at the tables reading anyway.
It’s hard to describe Diane, herself, in the midst of the activity. Have you ever seen those remora fish that move around with sucker fish attached to them, or mammals that have birds sitting on their backs in a kind of symbiotic relationship? Well, that’s what Diane is like. There are always several kids who move around with her. She is a kid magnet, big-time. I know my description is not pretty, but it is accurate.
Did you notice that I said there were “strays” in the library? That’s right; it is the favorite destination of kids who want to skip a class. Kids have been known to hide out in the library with a fake pass from me. “Ms. Norwood sent me up here to write a book review,” they say—even the kids I don’t have. Seriously, there are students who ask to go to the library every period, every day.
The interesting thing about some of the “strays,” is that they don’t necessarily read a lot of books. They go up to “help” Diane. They alphabetize and shelve books, unpack boxes, rearrange the furniture, etc. Diane and I agree that they do a fair amount of reading in the process. They look at the covers and read the books’ blurbs. Sometimes they go on to read the entire book. Setting up for the Book Fair is a much-loved experience. Her Library Club has a large number of boys who live for the Book Fair.
Contrast the picture of Diane’s library to others I have visited. I went to another middle school library recently. It was so clean and neat and quiet. The books were all standing upright and not a chair was out of place. There were also NO students for a good 3 hour period. I don‘t know how to conclude this blog, except to say that Diane is my hero. She is the best librarian I have ever known. She is incredibly patient with the neediest of students and multi-tasks her heart out.