Our School Is Celebrating Its 150th Anniversary
Many cities, states, colleges, and universities are approaching noteworthy anniversaries. Standford University will celebrate 150 years in 2035, Vanderbilt University will celebrate its sesquicentennial in 2024. The state of Alabama turns 200 this year, and Maine is 200 next year. And coming up on its 100th anniversary is the 19th amendment, ratified on August 18,1920; it granted women the right to vote. My school, The Webb School of Bell Buckle, shares its 150th anniversary in 2020 with The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Like the Met, we are planning many activities and exhibits to celebrate this milestone.
Making the School Library Beautiful
In a celebratory year, institutions welcome guests that do not regularly visit. This event means planning for extra guests. The library at my school is a stunning, church-like structure that is rather large, approximately 10,000 square feet. The size and beauty of the building have made it “event central” for the big anniversary. Knowing this series of events are coming, we have done everything we can to make the space inviting for our patrons and guests. Some of the preparation has included weeding the collection and rearranging the shelving and furniture.
LibGuide for the Big Year
Many of the states and other institutions have created lesson plans for educators. Since we are celebrating this year, we decided that it would be nice to create a site with some information for our teachers about the school’s history and the era of the school’s founding. We used LibGuides to create links to articles, books, and activities.
Andrew Maraniss’ book Strong Inside is the choice for the 150th school year all-school read. Maraniss has authored not only the extensively researched biography of Perry Wallace but also a young readers version appropriate for Webb’s middle school students. The book’s themes of civil rights, the importance of education, and of course basketball should have broad appeal with our students and community. Webb has longtime connections to Vanderbilt University, and the popularity of basketball is at an all-time high.
We Wrote a Book
Webb’s archivist Susan Coop Howell and I set out to write an archival photography book in time for the anniversary. In the beginning, we gathered photographs that we were confident that we wanted to include in the book. We even chose the cover image. We then struggled in the planning and brainstorming phase. Should we organize the book by themes, or should we organize chronologically? In the end, we decided that telling the story of the school in chronological order was the best method. We then presented our idea to a publisher, Arcadia Publishing, and The History Press.
We designed a system to work together electronically in a shared database. We started with a general table of contents comprised of four broad sections. This system helped us keep a page and photograph count as we worked within our publisher’s parameters.
We selected photos that had several purposes in the telling of The Webb School story. The cover photo of an 1897 tennis team not only indicated that the school is co-ed, but also male and female students were involved in sports. This same photo included several children of the school’s founders, and there is a dog. This dog identified as the founder’s dog, Spica, let me know that being a dog-friendly campus is nothing new.
Challenges and Opportunities This Year
The most challenging aspect of the project is making time to write during the school year while running the library. Another challenge is the pressure of deadlines with our publisher and our self-imposed internal deadlines.
It is exciting to see your name on a book for the first time as an author, and the experience made me want to write even more. This summer, I will work on industry writing, but I may also work on a fiction project I started two years ago. Who knows I may have another project to talk about in the near future.
Author: Hannah Byrd Little
Hello, I am the Library Director at The Webb School of Bell Buckle. I use my past experience in college and university libraries to help my current students in school libraries transition into college, career, and life. I am currently the lead Senior Class Adviser for the Capstone Project. I also served at the state level with the Tennessee Association of School Librarians executive board from 2009-2013 and was the TASL president in 2012. I am certified as a Library Information Specialist for PreK-12th grade, have a BS in Communications with a concentration in Advertising and Public Relations, a BS in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Education and Information Systems and a Masters in Library and Information Science.