Stair Library has a "branch office" at the middle school 2011.12.07

school.M.branch libraryStair Public Library director Colleen Leddy remembers the day she had a flash of ingenuity that would expand the reach of Morenci’s library. She would place a selection of the library’s books at the school for students to check out.

That day sticks in her mind because she later read an article in an American Library Association periodical about a public library taking that same approach at a school—an article that was published the same day she came up with the idea.

Maybe it wasn’t an original idea after all, but she still thinks it’s a great one.

The classroom of Morenci Middle School teacher Sally Kruger has served as a library of sorts for years, with the walls of the classroom lined with books for young readers.

Students from grades five through 12 are often perusing the books from her collection, which is nearly entirely fiction.

There’s now a shelf in her room designated for purchases made and owned by Stair, but circulated through Mrs. Kruger, who happens to be president of the Stair Public Library board of trustees. She calls the shelf Stair’s branch library.

“Kids were really excited when I told them it was coming,” Mrs. Kruger said. 

There are only 21 books in the collection so far, but several more are waiting to be processed and others are on order. Many are books that Mrs. Kruger wouldn’t have ordered herself, so the new arrangement is expanding what’s available at the school.

“We’re reaching some kids who don’t have library cards,” Leddy said, “and maybe some kids who don’t have transportation to the library.”

She’s hoping the arrangement will eventually lead to some new patrons at the library.

The books are not only for students to  check out at the school. They show up on Stair’s catalog of books and any request can easily be brought to the main library for a patron.

In the age of the internet, are students still interested in reading books? Mrs. Kruger says they are.

“There are still many kids interested in reading,” she said, “but you have to be excited about reading with them.”

The middle school library is not up to date in book purchases, Mrs. Kruger said, and her collection of 3,400 titles offers students a contemporary selection.

There is some order to her library, with books grouped into, for example, the “guys shelf,” an area with series books, the quick read collection and the Schaffner shelf—a selection that students in Mrs. Schaffner’s social studies classes can put to use.

Now, with the Stair collection, there’s one more option for students to fill their need for a good book.

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