SHANNON – Lining the side wall of a classroom at Shannon Middle School, five newly built wooden shelves sit mostly empty.
By January, those shelves should be overflowing with some 5,000 or 6,000 books, giving the sixth- to eighth-grade school its first library.
In the past, students at the school would use the library at Shannon High School, whose building adjoins that of the middle school. It is only in the last two years that Shannon Middle has been considered a school separate than Shannon High.
But when Keith Steele became the middle school’s principal in May, adding a library was one of his top three priorities.
“We wanted it to be tailormade to our students and available at the times we need it,” he said.
Plus, in a school whose efforts are focused on improving literacy, having a library is important. “We are limited without a library,” Shannon Middle School literacy teacher Ashley Finch said. “You have to have the resources.
“What is a literacy class without being able to have books as resources? A library is critical to our success.”
Using grant money and federal funding, the district has already spent $45,000 on ordering books and a computer system to log its materials. The facility is expected to be ready by the time students return from Christmas break.
In the meantime, students are still able to use the high school’s library. Teachers also have books available from previous years or from the various reading programs that the school employs.
When the new library is complete, it will be much more convenient for students to stop by during the academic day or for teachers to bring their classes. The new library also will have a computer lab that students will be able to use.
“It is definitely going to help the kids improve their reading skills,” said Angela Medlin, the school’s library media specialist. “The students will have materials that are more geared toward them.”
Medlin said she has enjoyed the process of being able to build the library from scratch. She’s been able to get input from students and teachers about which books and resources they are most interesting in having. For instance, it will have many graphic novels and a classroom set of electronic book readers.
“I want to make sure we have things the kids can use but also that they enjoy using,” she said.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590
CHRIS KIEFFER / NEMS Daily Journal