It has often been said that the library is the heart of the school. This is certainly true for the Valley School of Ligonier Library. Each person in the school is connected in various ways to this beautiful space… surrounded by walls of words. Everyone that enters the library is immediately drawn to the large mural with the words, “Follow the Trails of Fable and Fancy Into a Forest of Books!” The centerpiece of our library is the Caldecott Collection, in memory of former student, Maggie Elder. The collection holds every book ever honored with the Caldecott medal. The library is accessible to all throughout the day. There are clearly defined areas in the library: picture books, biography, early, middle, and upper grade fiction, and nonfiction. There is a sectional sofa and pillows for listening, tables for crafts and writing, and a large open space for games and discussions.
Groups of children from kindergarten through fourth grade come together twice a rotation for regular classes. The lower school curriculum has age appropriate units teaching how to navigate the library or understand the different way to approach reading fiction and non-fiction. Students begin to see patterns of writing when exposed to poetry, memoir, and author or genre studies. Of course, students also have many opportunities to relax and listen. Reading aloud to students helps them visualize text, develop vocabulary, expand background knowledge, understand the importance of fluency, open new worlds, and think deeply. Experiences in the library also help the teachers learn about the students’ interests, which gives insight to conversation starters and strengthens relationships.
Upper School students visit the library during extra help, recess, and study halls when they seek a quiet space to read, write, work, or unwind. At quiet times in the library, it is not unusual for a student, teacher, or parent to stop in “just because” stepping in provides a sense of tranquility, or even nostalgia. The library is a place where teachers can find mentor texts or books that support a lesson. The library is a meeting space for professional development, special events, classes that extend beyond the curriculum, and the yearly carol sing. The library is a place designed for “memory moments.” That time when a reluctant student finishes a book and returns it asking, “Do you have any more of these?” That time when an alum walks in asking if a certain book is still on the shelf and saying, “that book changed my life.”
The library is key to fulfilling the School’s mission to instill in students a lifelong habit of seeking wisdom.