Building a Library: Grizzlies Prep

Sara First, Grizzlies Prep Library Sara First, with Grizzlies Prep students in the school's fledgling library

In honor of National School Librarian Day, we have a special guest post from Sara First, Librarian at Grizzlies Prep Academy.  Sara is working hard to build the school’s book collection and transform their library into a well-stocked resource for their budding scholars.

Grizzlies Prep Middle School is committed to student achievement and we hold high expectations for all our scholars. We expect them to accomplish much in their education here and afterwards, to work hard to earn the grades, test scores, and knowledge that will open doors for their future. At the same time, we strive to build an environment which values learning for its own sake. The Grizzlies Prep Library, which began as a volunteer effort by teachers, represents that promise.

When the board and administration brought me on as the librarian, I understood my mission was to turn a well-loved and well-worn collection of books (and furniture) into an organized and workable space for pleasure reading but also into a center for age- and grade-appropriate research and learning. The computers donated by Orion are a key step towards creating a modern library, where we can teach students to appropriately access and evaluate the world of materials on the internet. We are so thankful for them.

Books remain at the core of my mission in the Grizzlies Prep Library. They are what bring the scholars into the library day in and day out, asking, “Is Allegiant back yet? Are you sure you put it on hold for me?”

This morning (a Friday) I told a student not to read while walking down the stairs. “But I have to finish this book today, Dr. First, so I can have two new ones for the weekend.” What could warm a book nerd’s heart more than that?

Not every student here loves reading yet, however. Some arrived reading below the third grade level. For many of these scholars, every page remains a challenge and the excitement of their classmates only reminds them of their difference. As long as they continue to improve at their assigned reading and school work, we could leave those scholars on their own. We could focus on the desires of avid readers for the newest book in James Patterson’s Daniel X series.

That wouldn’t be the Grizzlies Prep way. It’s my task to pour through our collection, finding a book that will speak to the reluctant reader. The most popular books aren’t always the way to tap into their passion. One scholar I couldn’t interest in any novel has now finished every book in a new science series I purchased, Creatures We Can’t Live Without (a valuable set for anyone wondering whether we really need rodents.)

Donations of all kinds are the core of our library collection at Grizzlies Prep. From boxes of books to monetary contributions, every little bit helps fill our shelves and diversify our collection. I firmly believe every child has a passion for learning and a curiosity about our world. A library should be a window into that world, a place without boundaries for the imagination or a limit on interests.


Sara First, Grizzlies Prep Academy Library
Sara First, talking books with a student


If you would like to help Grizzlies Prep, please consider making a donation to our book drive, now through April 15th.  Donations accepted  at any Orion branch!