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Sangaree Elementary celebrates opening of 'amazing' new library

Published Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Photo of SRE library ribbon-cutting

Surrounded by students, librarian Sylvia Garland prepares to cut the ribbon at the grand opening for Sangaree Elementary's new library. (BCSD photo) 

For years, students struggled to return books at Sangaree Elementary School’s library. It was a dark room, with an old smell and a tall circulation desk at its center. It likely resembled a fortress to many kindergarten through 2nd-graders.

The library was originally designed with fifth-graders in mind. As the Sangaree area grew and the elementary school began to serve a younger group of students, its library didn’t change.

For 12 years the school’s librarian did the best she could, rearranging furniture and thinking and rethinking the best uses for the obtrusive circulation desk that many students couldn’t see over and some could not place a book upon.

Wednesday was pure bliss for librarian Sylvia Garland, as she cut the ribbon for the grand opening of the school’s new library. Surrounded by smiling students and a principal who spoke loudly and proudly to those in attendance, Mrs. Garland’s heart was full. For years she did what she could to make the library “workable.” Now, as she finishes her final year before retirement, she’s excited to pass the new crown jewel of the Sangaree school to her successor.

Eight months of planning and preparation, culminated by eight weeks of remodeling, removing and reorganizing, preceded Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting. Sangaree Elementary Principal Barb Webber described the day as “amazing.” VIEW PHOTOS

“We’re a K-2 school, and we want children to enjoy and begin to enjoy a love of reading,” Mrs. Webber said. “So, we felt with the library being, literally, the physical center of our building and the hub of our school – what a great place to have an environment that would encourage them to read and enjoy reading.”

School administrators, district office employees, a design team and others put thought into every nook, cranny, corner and creative space now found in the heart of Sangaree Elementary. Tables are smooth to the touch and can even be drawn on with a dry-erase marker. There’s ample, comfortable seating – from desk chairs designed specifically for children to wobble stools and cushy seats. The room is brighter than ever before – new paint, exciting color and attention-grabbing vinyl graphics meticulously placed on every wall. Students love the bright, new carpet. They even love the smell.

It’s not just a library. It’s what school employees are calling a “maker space.”

“The room arrangement is very flexible,” Mrs. Webber said. “The librarian can move things around and make it the way she needs each time for different things. It makes it a really good catalyst for our kids to enjoy reading.”

As Mrs. Garland reflected upon years of determination to better serve students at Sangaree Elementary, she described the renovation and the work that went into it as “emotional.”

“It was not user-friendly for primary students,” she said. “It really wasn’t.”

The best part, she said, is that so far she hasn’t run into any issues getting children to return books. They’re falling in love with the new library, and she hopes they also fall in love with reading. She’s pleased that the new space allows students to be comfortable and happy as they explore the shelves and lose themselves in books.

 “It encourages them right now, to bring them (books) back. Because, right now, they can go sit wherever they want,” Mrs. Garland said.

Brian Troutman