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America’s Favorite K-12 Library 2017: Brookland Middle School

You submitted your favorites, we read your comments, and now it’s time to announce our winner of America’s Favorite Library Contest! Congratulations to Brookland Middle School, located in Henrico, Virginia!

This past April, during National Library Week, we ran a contest calling for students and staff to share the name of their favorite library. We received hundreds of responses, but there was one clear winner: Brookland Middle School in Henrico, Virginia. Congratulations to Brookland Middle School and their two librarians for winning this award. We reached out to Brookland Middle School’s library with some questions about their programming, collection, and future goals, and librarian, Chad Kroll, shared his responses. Continue reading to see why Brookland Middle School has an exemplary library.

1. Can you share a brief, general summary of your library and librarian?

We actually have two librarians. One is usually considered the senior librarian, and the second is usually the junior. This is usually just because one has been in the school longer than the other.

When I first came to Brookland MS, we had to struggle to come back from a reputation of not wanting students in the library. That was almost 13 years ago. We now have teachers coming in regularly, and even approaching us for personal research for college. Our students come in, not just for class or for class related things, but even if they need certain things like: a moment break (IEP related) from their teacher or classmates, if they need someone to talk to (I often mentor students), if they want to discuss ideas for High School or even College, and on some occasions we even have our ELL students come in to simply enjoy being out of the typical classroom and play a board game. This last one happens about once every two weeks, depending on their classroom performance. We actually do everything we possibly can to make the library an inviting place where students and teachers feel comfortable, not just coming in and using the facility, but with asking questions, talking with us and using what we know AND finding out what we can do for them.

2. Which library resources in your library are you most proud of?  

We just received a Grant from the Henrico Education Foundation for $11,000 for new iPad Pros, iPod Touches, a 3D printer, 3D glasses, a Lego WeDo 2.0 Set, and a class set of SPRK + Spheros. This will all become part of a mobile Maker Space/Technology lab that teachers will be able to sign out. However, they will not just get the lab and we just say “Here you go!” No, that isn’t how we do things here. It will come with either a librarian or the Technology Trainer to help assist with a lesson that the teacher wishes to teach to the students. Also, during the year, every department will receive professional development related to the new technology. Every lesson will be placed into a repository for teachers to share with each other for the following years.

3. What are some notable events at your library?

Every month we have our ELL students come in and we introduce them to holidays that are particular to the United States. We include crafts and videos and research along with Question and Answer time. All of the students enjoy the time and seem to walk away with a new appreciation of different holidays that they might not have even known about.

We also do an annual lesson with our Spanish classes on Dia de Los Muertos that includes research on the holiday and several crafts that are very specific to celebrating the two day holiday. Both Spanish teachers love to do the lessons with us and we plan on incorporating the 3D printers with the lessons this year.

4. Many of your students wrote about the wonderful books that you have in your collection. Any favorites?

Do I have favorites!?!? How can I narrow the list down to just what I could email? Sure, I could rely on the old reliable Harry Potter, Hunger Games, or Artemis Fowl series. But, while I do like them and have thoroughly enjoyed them over the years, I have a tendency to gravitate toward the more esoteric titles like Department 19, H.I.V.E. or anything by Timothy Zahn.

5. What are you most excited about or looking to incorporate in your library this school year?

Since we were just awarded the HEF Grant of $11K, I am looking forward to incorporating all the new technology into the lessons and seeing what our students can create and develop. I hope to see some of them start to develop new skills and possibly become real app programmers.

6. What is your ultimate goal for your school library?

My goal is as it always has been, and always will be. I want the library to be the hub of the school. A place where everyone can feel comfortable coming to for answers and as a refuge from all the insanity of a normal school day. It should be a place where everyone should be able to go and always have the chance to see a bright future, no matter what your past entails.

Congratulations to Brookland Middle School and their two librarians for creating and maintaining a school library that promotes and fosters learning for all students and staff!

Click here to learn more about ALA’s National Library Week and to learn about upcoming plans for 2018.


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