Library beefs up its offerings, adds 2,100 books in 18 months

lpemberton@theolympian.comMarch 10, 2013 

Up until last year, South Sound High School’s library consisted of about 600 books that were outdated, and not being read by students.

Math paraeducator and book lover Terri Evans decided to change that.

Evans has greatly enhanced the $500 to $600 a year that was budgeted by the Lacey alternative school the past two years with money and book donations that she received from businesses and nonprofits. She also personally contacted authors and publishers who provided copies of their books for free.

And when there were still books that kids needed, Evans broke out her wallet or donated from her own personal book collection.

“That’s my drug of choice,” Evans said about books. “I’d rather spend my money on that than other things.”

The 160-student school’s library collection has grown to about 2,100 books during the past 18 months. They’re not just any books – they are the type students are interested in, such as ones about vampires, zombies and young people overcoming real life challenges such as drug abuse.

“It’s one of the coolest libraries I’ve been to,” said South Sound senior Nathan Vincent, 18. “It looks small, but it’s got a wide variety for its size.”

The library is set up in an English classroom so there are limited times that students can visit it.

Meshayla Barrett, 16, said she usually spends her lunch time browsing books, reading and talking with her friends.

“It’s becoming a place to hang out,” she said.

Kids have begun tracking their reading, too. In one month, last fall, South Sound students read a whopping 34,000 pages – a feat that thrilled Evans because she knew how many of the students have been reluctant readers, up until that point.

“I have kids reading who have never picked up a book before,” Evans said. “I have one girl who said, ‘My mom can’t believe I’m reading.’ ”

Evans is quick to explain she’s not a school librarian, she’s “more like a library adviser.” She also oversees the student leadership group, newspaper program and student store.

“We wear a lot of different hats here,” Evans said.

She said she hopes it can continue to grow. Someday, perhaps the library will have its own space, too.

Evans said helping students read is “one of the best feelings in the world.”

“Every one of them has had to struggle for so many things in their lives,” she said. “… By having a book in their hands, they kind of disappear into a different reality.”

To donate young adult fiction and non-fiction books to South Sound High School, contact Terri Evans at 360-412-4880 or tevans@nthurston.k12.wa.us.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 lpemberton@theolympian.com theolympian.com/edblog

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