17 June 2024

This school year, I was lucky enough to receive a My Library is… Grant from RAILS at Glenbard East High School. Glenbard East is a majority-minority, Title 1 high school in Lombard, IL. Of our 2253 students, forty three percent are eligible for free or reduced lunch. Fourteen percent of our students are classified as English Language Learners, and twelve percent are eligible for Special Education services. This population is reflected in both our English Dual Credit and AP English Language classes. We strive to create a balanced collection where all students can see themselves on the shelves of our library.  

My initial goal was to create a more robust, recent, and relevant nonfiction collection that supported both our curriculum needs and student interest. More specifically, many of our upper-level classes have been integrating more nonfiction into their independent reading assignments.  

Knowing this, I worked with our teachers to create a list of topics to which our students seemed to gravitate. We also discussed what kinds of texts would blend seamlessly into their curricula. It was quite clear we also needed to purchase more materials written by authors from marginalized communities, including, but not limited to, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and authors with disabilities.  

Over the summer of 2023, I embarked on a major weeding project, which cut my nonfiction holdings by 40%. The weeded texts were outdated, inaccurate, replicated in our databases, and sometimes even moldy. Weeding my collection also freed up room to show more books facing outward.  

The RAILS grant then enabled me to purchase display stands and signage, as well as to curate a collection of 154 new nonfiction books on subjects from personal growth to social justice to sports to finance to true crime to poetry to science, and beyond. The display materials have made it incredibly easy for students to browse our nonfiction section on their own, and our nonfiction circulation has increased by 12% this school year. The set-up makes it feel like patrons are visiting a bookstore, which in turn makes it less intimidating to peruse. 

I am grateful to RAILS for the opportunity to overhaul my nonfiction collection, and I encourage others to apply in the next round. Thanks to this grant, My Library is… Informative and Engaging! 

Today's blog post was written by Kelly Roberts, Glenbard East High School Librarian.  

This project was made possible by the My Library Is... Grant.