Bringing together a community of learners to collaborate, create, and think critically through reading, research, and projects was a priority this past fall, as I transitioned to Roosevelt Middle School (6th–8th grades) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. As I worked with students, I quickly came to realize that I needed to expand the library collection in order to meet their interests. Receiving the AASL Inspire Collection Development Grant sponsored by AASL member Marina “Marney” Welmers will allow my team to build our library collection this summer and begin the school year with books that students want to read.
Throughout this past school year, graphic novels were continuously in the most demand in our library. I was able to add single copies of some new titles to the collection, but hold lists were often long. In an end-of-the-year library survey that I was able to complete with 60% of Roosevelt’s student population, almost 20% of the students surveyed (about 68 students) indicated an improvement for next year as adding more new books to the collection or adding more copies of specific books. Utilizing the Inspire Collection Development funds as we prepare for this next school year, we will be able to further diversify the collection, as well as add second copies of specific titles and titles in Spanish.
Our transition this fall from Roosevelt Middle School to Roosevelt Creative Corridor Business Academy (RCCBA), Cedar Rapids Community School District’s first magnet middle school, also increased the need to strengthen our nonfiction book collection. Our business magnet school will have students engaging with our community and completing project-based learning within three pathways: STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics); Leadership and Entrepreneurship; and Global Systems (communicating and problem-solving around global issues). The grant funding that we have received will allow us to add current nonfiction books to our collection that support curriculum within the three pathways, as well as student engagement and inquiry with projects.
The generosity of AASL member Marina “Marney” Welmers will allow me to provide access to books that students have requested, including graphic novels; books in Spanish; books about technology and art; books about their home countries; and second copies of the most popular titles. I have found this year that when students have immediate access to the books that they want to read now, they are more likely to return to the library. I am thankful to have received AASL funding in order to continue to build a library collection that represents my students’ needs and interests. I am honored to use the Inspire Collection Development Grant to expand our library collection to bring together our community of learners.