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Library grants headed to local schools

Several Bureau County public schools have been awarded state grants for their libraries.

As announced April 17 by Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White, the DePue School District, Ohio High School, Ohio Grade School and Spring Valley Elementary School districts each received $750. The Bureau Valley School District received $807. Princeton Elementary received $812. The local schools are among the 656 public school districts statewide receiving the grants, which totaled nearly $1.4 million this year and will help libraries serving about 1.7 million students, White said.

On Tuesday, Ohio Grade and Ohio High schools library director Karla Norden said this grant is a yearly grant based on the number of students in the district. She has earmarked this year’s grant money for educational videos for classrooms and for eBooks in both the grade and high school buildings. Those videos and eBooks will cover a variety of topics, depending on the teachers’ needs and requests, she said.

Looking at the value of a strong library, Norden said it’s important for a school to have a strong library to add to what the teachers are teaching in the classrooms and also to provide enjoyment reading for the students.

At the Princeton Elementary School District, library director Amy Haring said she divides the grant money between the district’s four media centers and has instructed the media center clerks to spend the money on non-fiction materials for student research. Also, she and the media clerks will try to find where the centers are lacking in non-fiction to help support the teachers in their classroom work. The big push with school libraries/media centers is for information literacy and to provide the ever-changing ability to collect and gather information to help guide students and staff, she said.

In order for a school district to be eligible for the state grant, the district must belong to a library system, Bureau Valley School District library director Sharon Peterson said. Bureau Valley belongs to the Reading Across Illinois Library System (RAILS), through which Bureau Valley gets about 600 books a year and also loans out about 400 books.

There is an annual RAILS membership fee, currently at $750, but that money is well spent in order to keep many current items on the shelves and to meet various needs for school books clubs, classrooms needs, as well as student and staff interests, Peterson said. As another eligibility requirement, a school district must have someone on staff who is a qualified librarian.

Peterson will use this year’s grant money to buy an Amazon card to download eBooks for two Kindle readers and also to buy non-fiction research books for the freshman and sophomore classes.

Having a strong library is an important part of the school district, Peterson said.

“A library should be an integral part of the school, like the mortar that holds all parts of the building together,” Peterson said. “We buy materials to supplement our curriculum. We want to provide materials which will help develop life-long readers in our students. We also want to provide materials for our teaching staff, so they can model that they, too, are life-long readers.”

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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