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Volunteers join together to create library for charter school

Date: 5/12/2010

May 12, 2010.

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD -- Up until last week, the New Leadership Charter School on Alderman Street didn't have a library. Now, thanks to the involvement of the school's board, Link to Libraries and other volunteers, the school has its own library.

School and city officials gathered with students to formally mark the opening of the library on Thursday.

"I think they're very excited about it," Susan Jaye Kaplan, the founder of Link to Libraries, said. The non-profit group donates an average of 1,100 books a month to school and youth organizations.

Kaplan added that helping to start a library was something the group hadn't undertaken before.

In a room in the school gymnasium building, half is devoted to a computer area and half to a library. The school's director, Charmaine White, said the library was the idea of sixth grade English teacher Jennifer Alexander.

Alexander said the students needed access and exposure to books as well as the opportunity within their own school to check out books from a library.

White said the idea to start a library came about last August when White challenged the school's board to help. Board members introduced White to Kaplan and the planning began.

Currently the library will be open part time until the school can hire a full-time librarian, White added. The school is also looking for additional donations of books.

Kaplan said 17 boxes of books formed the current library and Link to Libraries donated 200 of them.

The preparation and installation of the library took less than four weeks.

Kaplan said at the opening a library is where students can "find a quiet spot to look and educate themselves."