New Library Furniture

At the end of February, the Solomon School Library underwent exciting changes thanks to Librarian Sarah Riordan, who was recently awarded a grant from the Community Foundation of Dickinson County. Reflecting on her motivation, Riordan stated, “After my first year, I kind of knew that I wanted some different seating. I was familiar with the foundation just from growing up in Abilene, and I applied for the grant last summer.” Superintendent Justin Coup emphasized the foundation’s longstanding support, noting, “The Community Foundation has always supported Solomon schools, not just Solomon, but all Dickinson County schools. We appreciate their efforts in supporting things that make it a little more special around here and things that we just don’t always have room for in the budget.”

With the grant funds, Riordan was able to realize her vision for the library, focusing on creating a more flexible seating area conducive to project-based learning and leisure reading. Jokingly, Riordan said, “I was kind of a little jealous because right across the hall it’s really nice, all neat and new, and I just wished we could do that in the library.” Encouraged by Coup, Riordan utilized the same company that supplied classroom furniture, enabling her to stretch the grant money further. Riordan was able to purchase new tables and red chairs in the library that now match the rest of the updated elementary building. In the new comfortable seating area, there is now a rounded half couch, two cushioned chairs, and two red stools that can also serve as seating. Another cozy corner of the library is centered around a new vibrant area rug used during her time with younger elementary students. “I do story time with the little kids, and that [rug] is more for classroom management purposes, they each have their own color spot and it helps keep them in one area,” Riordan said.

Combining the elementary and high school libraries within the last five years posed challenges, particularly in creating spaces and organizing resources that are age-appropriate for all. Riordan stated, “It has been a little challenging trying to figure out how to get preschool through twelfth-grade books into one space. We don’t want kids checking out books that aren’t age-appropriate, so it has taken some time configuring the space to make sure it makes sense for the kids.” Another aspect Riordan highlighted as a challenge in her role as a new librarian was collection management. Reflecting on this, she remarked, “I don’t think I fully understood how much time the collection management took. There are over ten thousand books in here, and it takes time to make sure they are ready to be checked out and keep things current.” Now that she has created the space that she envisioned, in the future she hopes to further enhance the library digitally, intending to update library software for increased accessibility on Chromebooks. In addition to her responsibilities as a librarian, Riordan also teaches a middle school technology class covering typing and digital citizenship.

The recent upgrades to the school library, made possible by a grant awarded, have significantly enhanced the space’s functionality and appeal. With a focus on flexible seating and age-appropriate resources, Riordan has created a dynamic environment conducive to both learning and leisure. Through the support of the Community Foundation of Dickinson County, the Solomon School Library now exemplifies the power of community partnerships in enhancing student learning opportunities.