If you Build it They will Come

Zack Agerton

I knew this would be difficult work as it is filled with many outdated and damaged books. My plan was to finish this task before letting students check out books. My plan was foiled one afternoon when the students, being the curious children they are took notice. I suppose the sound of music and my dancing around the room didn’t help my cause.

Children began slowly filing into the room standing dumbfounded. Many had never entered the library before and were excited just to be in the room. I was shifting books from one shelf to another when students began to ask questions. This may not sound like a big deal, but when you only speak a minimal amount of the same language conversation gets a little tricky. Somehow I was able to make out that they simply wanted the chance to take books home.

I was hesitant to allow this, as I did not yet have a system in place. I also had my doubts on whether they would return the books. Unable to say no to their smiles I quickly developed a check out list and showed how them to use it. Being bright, they quickly caught on and were ecstatic to pick their own books. How could I say no to children who wanted to read so badly?

Unfortunately, opening the library and allowing the children to have free roam while working turned into a nightmare quickly. Every morning I go and work at organizing the shelves and allow children to return books and read. A group of year 4 girls wanted to help tidy up the room so I thought, “why not?” They took books off shelves and put them back in an order that was aesthetically pleasing. I thought this was great, so I allowed them to come back the next day.

The following day they returned with more students. A large part of the culture in Samoa is service and the students will sometimes fight over who gets to do a particular task. The shelves were quickly turned upside down as many students all wanted to have a hand in cleaning in the library. The sense of ownership was amazing, but all my hard work was quickly reversed. I couldn’t be angry with the children, as it was me who allowed them to do this.

Moving forward I have decided to reclose the library until I am completely through developing an easy way to sort the books. I want the children to be able to place the books without prompting. I will also need to have each year come into the library and show them how to properly act while in the room. Rules and etiquette will need to be developed. I feel bad that I must take away the library, but at least I now know the children are excited to read!