Skip to content

New energy infuses school library

"In waves of fiction and non-fiction, the school library sea ebbs, pulses, crashes, erodes; it deposits and builds, creating and recreating each school's cultural and educational heritage, the broadest and best of 'old' and 'new.

"In waves of fiction and non-fiction, the school library sea ebbs, pulses, crashes, erodes; it deposits and builds, creating and recreating each school's cultural and educational heritage, the broadest and best of 'old' and 'new.' From republished classics to the increasingly commercial contemporary, each book, poster, CD, and DVD advances and retreats, riding lunar tides of wind and water, before returning home very often requiring a teacher-librarian's replacement or repair." These are the words of BICS school librarian Kalen Marquis who is leading the charge to update and refresh the collection of the Bowen Island Community School library as well as adding new tools in attempts to maintain information literacy.

Marquis is not alone in his quest to modernize the library. He has ample help from devoted book lovers from all grades. Children love stories. Molly Macintosh is part of the Library Club and an avid reader. She and other BICS students know why reading is important. "It is like entering a different world", Macintosh says, "When you need to escape, you just need to go to that world. It is like a movie. It is like I am one of the characters."

Grade 4 student Caitlin Walker reads to learn. "When I read a book, " Caitlin says, "sometimes it has interesting facts that teach me stuff."

Whatever the reason, children are drawn to books and Marquis is drawn to literacy, fostering a love of reading in every child he meets. Marquis recognizes that the world of reading and information gathering is rapidly shifting. "We are in changing times. What we are trying to do as librarians is to keep up with the change while at the same time hopefully doing that in a purposeful way. We want to know how the libraries of the future are going to look"

Marquis knows that reading time for children now has stiff competition. "There are so many wonderful distractions. Research is showing that kids get their story from other means now. For a long time, the competition was movies and television. Now it is through inter-active games. The story is built into their gaming but it is not similar to the reading of the past that was considered passive."

Marquis's job is to be a cheerleader for literacy. To do this, he pulls out all the stops. Four mascots have been enlisted to help BICS children learn to love to read including the Radical Researcher, a writer, an artist and an avid reader. His mascots target all of the arts and they incorporate reflection and dialogue. The younger students can write letters to the mascots and the mascots will write them back.

Marquis has created a "publishing centre" in the library. "If we teach them to read and write with the same kind of passion that we use when we celebrate every syllable they utter when they first start to speak, it's natural. It's fun. I will do anything to engage them"

Under Marquis's direction and influence, the BICS library is being updated along with help and support from Trish Jacquet, the West Vancouver School District district librarian. She agrees it is time to cull the BICS collection. "There are books here from the 50s and 60s", she says, "and there was no room to put any more books. The new ones were getting lost."

Jacquet managed to find a good home for the old books; many were sent off to Africa.

It takes manpower to update a school library. And it takes money. Quality and award-winning books and novels from Canadian and international authors will be bought. New and gently used books from an Aboriginal bookseller will be purchased. The teen section will be expanded. Supplies and incentives for future reading, writing and research programs will also be purchased. Digital storybook clubs are on the horizon as well as traditional and electronic book clubs. The last element of the list of expenditures includes and upgrade of library technology for research and audio-visual presentations.

For such an ambitious, list a major star had to be enlisted to help raise the funds. Enter Elvis Presley. Indeed, he is breaking away from the Heartbreak Hotel and lending his talents to help raise funds for the BICS library. Elvis will be performing at a sold-out event on Saturday, May 7 at the Tunstall Bay Community Club.

As fate would have it, literacy is very important to Elvis. "I was born poor in a two-room shotgun house. I was an average student and I struggled with reading. That is how I found music. I envied those kids who could study and read."

With Elvis' commitment to literacy, the future of the BICS school library is in good hands. And long after Elvis is gone, devoted teachers and librarians will be keeping the love of books and stories growing strong.

Lorraine Ashdown

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks