North Pines Middle School teacher librarian Theresa Darke is cleaning out her nonfiction shelves. She found an old “DOS for Dummies” book. She found only two books on the human body, both about the skeletal system. There were only two books on foreign languages – a French to English dictionary and a book about Yiddish. There was a book about the new craze of disco, and a biography about what a lovely woman Mrs. Lincoln was, written by a relative of the former first lady.
The collection has an average copyright date of 1960. Darke is busy getting rid of anything older than 1980 to make room for new books purchased with a $5,000 grant from the Laura Bush Foundation.
“To say it’s like Christmas is an understatement,” Darke said.
To celebrate the new collection, Darke placed the new books on the tables of the library for the eighth-graders to see for the first time during their library time last week.
“They look brand new,” said Bailey Lomae, 13.
Ericka VanderBurgh, 14, and Jazmine Hewitt, 13, were interested in a book about snowflakes and one about the history of Facebook. They started a conversation about how computer keyboards are different in countries where they speak a different language.
Darke said she selected books that fit with the school’s curriculum. She said she found books on the endocrine system and diseases. After she tackled the science curriculum, she moved on to history. She thought about subjects students had asked her about such as biographies and took suggestions from teachers in the building.
The injection of new materials in the library has been exciting for Darke, who said when she started at the school two years ago, she was excited to learn there were 22,000 books. Once she took a look at some of them, that excitement faded. Some of the books were older than the school, which opened in 1948.
Many of the subjects the students study were not in the collection. There was nothing about either Gulf War or even about the countries involved in them. There were no books about using technology responsibly, such as how to avoid online predators.
The English Language Development students are housed at North Pines, but there was nothing in the library about the languages many of them speak.
While her students were very comfortable in the fiction section, she said they were testing lower in nonfiction reading comprehension.
“I’m getting them in the mindset that maybe there is something in there (which interests them),” Darke said.
Getting new books for the library has been very exciting for the library staff at North Pines, but so has getting rid of the outdated material.
“The librarian is having fun putting old books in my mailbox,” said Principal Gordon Grassi. The other day, he found a dance book from Arthur Murray. There was even a “Winnie the Pooh” book in Latin.
The old books – 240 boxes worth – will be shipped back to the Central Valley School District to be auctioned off at some point.
Darke said she will reapply for the grant for next year, hoping to bring in more new materials.