Connecting young readers with books they will enjoy is a passion of Cornerstone’s librarian, Ann LaPrise. For the past three years, she has established and expanded Cornerstone’s libraries, a labor of love that fills the shelves with books whose characters reflect the lives of our students and their families.
Books Should Reflect The Community
“I understand the feeling of not finding yourself in books,” says LaPrise, who is half Cherokee. “I’m proud to build collections so that our students don’t have to feel that. Being able to offer our students books they want to read and seeing those books in their hands – and the smiles on their faces – makes me happy and proud.”
Under LaPrise’s leadership, libraries at Jefferson-Douglass Academy and Washington-Parks Academy were greatly improved and expanded with these books and more. At Madison-Carver Academy, LaPrise had a blank slate to create an enviable space where students are developing a love for reading. It was for this project that she sought out and was awarded a grant from the prestigious Laura Bush Foundation to help fill the shelves.
To help stretch limited budgets, LaPrise gets creative, like seeking out larger library systems for donations. “I have reached out to public libraries to see if we can have some of the books they are weeding from their collections, especially in the more well-funded suburbs,” she explained. “I’m still picky about books that are donated. I don’t want just any books for our students. Children have to want to read that book or subject.”
Fostering Curiosity Through The Libraries
LaPrise works with a staff of media specialists to keep the school libraries running smoothly. But they aren’t just in the library helping students check out books. The can often be found in classrooms, reading to students to pique their interest in a particular subject or author, sharing library and book etiquette practices, and building relationships with students so that they feel comfortable in the library.
What The Future Holds
While the libraries at JDA, MCA, AYE and WPA are up and running, there is still much work to do. LaPrise’s next big task is to build the library at Adams-Young Middle School. “We have the space and a small collection of books. We need the shelving and furniture, and about $20,000 more to spend on books to fill that space with enough variety that students will be compelled to put down their phones and pick up a book!” says LaPrise. “We are hoping to have the AYMS library open by the end of this school year, and then get to work on the Lincoln-King High School library in the 2024-25 school year.”
LaPrise and her staff are dedicated to student success and do all they can to help students enjoy reading and develop a love for books. She says, “Because of Cornerstone’s commitment to building excellent libraries, we get to help turn thousands of kids into life-long learners and lovers of reading. What could be better than that?”