As she gathered with friends in the new library at Glenoaks Elementary School on Monday, 11-year-old Meghan Imperio eagerly volunteered her endorsement.
“I love how it is organized, especially from fiction to nonfiction,” the sixth-grade student said. “It is more roomy and colorful, and more kid-friendly.”
That was exactly what parent volunteers had in mind when they began fundraising in fall 2010 to revamp the facility.
“Our goal was not just to have a new library space, but really to reinvent the culture of the library here at the school,” said Karen Veloz, president of the Glenoaks Elementary School Foundation. “It had gotten kind of flat and non-relevant, and we wanted to make it more relevant and exciting for the kids.”
Previously, the school library was housed in a bungalow on the edge of campus. It was old and inaccessible, and did little to stoke excitement for literature and reading, parents and staff said.
A subcommittee of foundation members began conducting research, surveying students and staff members about what they would like to see in a new library. With the support of Principal Kristine Siegal, they asked a teacher who taught in a classroom in the main academic building to relocate so as to give the library a more central location on campus.
“We wanted to make something that was visually appealing to [students],” said parent volunteer Cristine Lauridsen.
They also raised $40,000 during the 2010-11 school year, $32,000 of which was invested in new shelving, furniture and books, among other expenses.
“It is miles and miles of improvement, and it is all because of the parents,” Siegal said.
A soft opening in October was followed by a formal ribbon cutting ceremony Monday that drew Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan and school board President Joylene Wagner. Each of the school's 575 students are now spending a minimum of 45 minutes each week in the new library.
“I am speechless because the space is so beautiful compared to the little bungalow we had before,” said Judy Rogers, who has worked in the library, first as a volunteer and later as a paid staff member, since 1995.
The library is just one of several major undertakings spearheaded by the Glenoaks Elementary School Foundation in recent years. During the 2009-10 school year, parent volunteers raised enough money to remodel and outfit the school's computer lab.
“In the world of everything going digital, there is still a place for a library and tangible books,” Veloz said.