Instant Library at Frederick Douglass
It sounds like something you’d see advertised on late-night television: Library in a Box!
Actually, it’s an instant library (just add people).
In days gone by, Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Instructional Media Specialist Lisa Shacklette said setting up a school library was an onerous task. Thousands of books would trickle in from various publishers over a period of weeks and librarians would have to sort and shelve them in a disjointed manner.
That ended several years ago when LCPS contracted with Mackin Educational Resources of Burnsville, Minn. Mackin contracts with all major publishers and sorts the books so they can be completely shelved in a matter of hours (and sometimes much less).
On Friday, July 20th, 264 boxes of books waited for shelving in the gym of Frederick Douglass Elementary, which will open for the first time in August.
Mackin Sales Consultant Alesia Stevenson was on hand to help with the shelving and explained how it works.
Mackin sorts all the books by the Dewey Decimal System in the order they will appear on the shelf and packs them into numbered boxes. To further sort the books, each box is sealed with a different color tape (white for non-fiction, orange for fiction, green for biography and yellow for books that can be read by everyone). Early on the morning of the shelving, Stevenson comes by with labels to put on every shelf to delineate where every boxed book should go. (Stevenson holds a master’s degree in library science and also helps LCPS librarians configure the shelves and furniture in their library.)
Once the shelves are labeled, the books are brought in and volunteers start stacking the shelves. (The books are sorted and arranged so that they occupy half to two-thirds of the shelf, which Stevenson said is the optimum range for proper book display.)
The first book to go on the shelf at Douglass (at 9:30 a.m.) was “Lions and Tigers and Graphs! Oh my!”
The record for shelving an entire LCPS library is 45 minutes at Liberty Elementary. Douglass, which used 14 volunteers for the shelving, didn’t beat that time, but everyone seemed to have a good time putting the library together. (Part of the lag in time could be blamed on Principal Tim Martino, a perfectionist by nature, who took extra time to adjust every book and shelf so it looked “just right.”)
Altogether 10,114 books were shelved before the morning’s coffee got cold (in one hour to be exact).
Among the volunteers were current and former LCPS librarians. Willa Kiser, a classmate of Shacklette’s at Madison College and a retired librarian, came by to help; “Once a librarian, always a librarian.”
And the work wasn’t done when the last book hit wood.
Shacklette broke down all of the 264 boxes and took them back to LCPS’ Round Hill Center. They will be reassembled and used to move instructional materials during the upcoming school year.