Glenridge library renovation generates community, school enthusiasm

As if coming to life from the pages of a fairy tale, the Glenridge Elementary School Library has been transformed into a magical new space.

Over the past several months, the Glenridge Library Renovation Project has brought the community together to renovate and restore the nearly 50-year-old library to its traditional beauty and create a more inviting space for students to immerse themselves in the enchanted world of literature.

Glenridge students, parents, and teachers gather at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the renovated library on October 10, 2010.
Glenridge students, parents, and teachers gather at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the renovated library on October 10, 2010.

“The Glenridge Library Renovation Project served as a venue to highlight the many attributes found within the Glenridge community,” Glenridge Principal Beth Scott said. “I feel honored to have had the opportunity to work alongside our talented parents as they worked cooperatively together to raise money, craft a design, and execute the design while overseeing every fine detail of its completion.  I am humbled by the countless hours of volunteer service that parents dedicated; the amount of money raised within a short period of time; and the support and enthusiasm students and teachers displayed throughout the project.”

The renovation project garnered tremendous community support.  In the end, the Glenridge PTO raised over $150,000 to update the library.  Glenridge parents and PTO members, Judy Glik and Sole Van Emden, were instrumental in organizing the fundraising and leading the renovation project.

“This was a great experience,” Van Emden said.  “We are so lucky to be a part of such an amazing community of families, teachers and staff.  Everyone pulled together to make this happen.”

The goal of the new library renovations was two-fold: to incorporate new technologies that expand the informational boundaries of the library and foster a child’s love for reading.

“First, we wanted to create the heart of our school by providing a space that everyone in our school community would be excited to spend time in, a sort of information hub and social center,” Van Emden said.  “Secondly, we wanted to inspire in the children a passion for learning.  By creating a fabulous space we sent the message to the children and teachers that this community truly values the work that is taking place in our school.”

The library now features two multipurpose teaching stations, each with a large interactive Smartboard.  In the center of the library, students can work at one of 24 laptops on massive tables.  The use of laptops not only provides enhanced flexibility but also, allows for students to expand their exploration and research to online resources.

Recently, the State of Missouri adopted new Grade Level Expectations for Information & Communication Technology Skills to promote a greater emphasis on using these online resources and applications.

“Having 24 laptops will make teaching and learning this new curriculum easier,” Glenridge Librarian Jude Hagene said.  “Whole classes will be able to publish writing pieces more efficiently, learn about websites, search on-line databases, [and] create power point presentations.”

Parents and students explore the newly renovated library. (Photos by Zach Praiss)
Parents and students explore the newly renovated library. (Photos by Zach Praiss)

In addition, there are new cozy places to curl up with a great book in window seats, cushy benches, and elegant comfy chairs.  The library’s original stained-glass windows have been refurbished.  Beautiful artwork including silhouettes of famous Missourians and characters from children’s literature, as well as stenciled quotes, now decorate the walls. Flags from countries across the world line the back wall and a beautiful new circulation desk was installed at the head of the library.

“We wanted to definitely inspire the children as well as attract families that are looking at the district, but inspire them to love reading,” Glik said.  “We wanted to cut down on the fluorescent lighting, get in more natural lighting and make it a warmer more inviting place for the children to learn and read.”

All the old weathered shelving was replaced with dark satin shelves and four new hanging circular light fixtures were mounted from the ceiling.

“I am amazed at how lucky we all are to work and learn in such a gorgeous space,” said Hagene.  “My vision of the library is that it will be filled with people – students learning on the computers, students curled up reading, students using the Smartboards, students checking out books, and students doing research.  As the future unfolds, my hope is that our Glenridge Library stays on the cutting edge and can provide for the information needs of all its patrons.”

Students, teachers, and parents have all been astonished by the magical transformation.  In some aspects, the newly renovated space has the feel of a college library.

“I think the library [now] really feels like the heart of the school and the heart of our community,” Van Endem said.  “I was amazed at the number of people that attended our grand opening…There was so much enthusiasm, it was amazing.”

About one hundred people attended the library’s ribbon cutting ceremony.  Glenridge students eagerly showed their parents around the new library, pointing out their favorite little details.  James Thach, a well-known children’s author and Glenridge graduate, dedicated a poem for the new library.

“I want to say how much I appreciate the parents and staff who worked so diligently to create this wonderful space, from all the design work, fundraising, actual construction, to all the planning and attention to detail at every step of the process,” Hagene said.  “Respect for reading and learning was the heart and soul of this entire project and it sends a meaningful message to our children.”

Ultimately, the Glenridge Library Renovation Project revitalized the beauty of the elementary school library, making it a more inviting and innovative space for generations of students to come.

“Enter its space to understand that its beauty reflects the strengths of wonderful people – parents, students, staff, alumni, etc. – connected to the excellence found at Glenridge,” Scott said.  “This library is a gift that will keep on giving for years to come.”

Click and browse through some of the pictures from the library’s ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 10, 2010.