“It takes one book. I tell all the kids when they come in for library orientation, ‘If you don’t like reading, you’re doing it wrong,’” said Sharon Timothy, Media Specialist at the new Viewpoint Middle School. Timothy has enlisted the help of the Lehi community to speed up the years-long process of stocking a library for 1,800 students.
For a school the size of Viewpoint, the library should have about 10,000 books. The start-up money for the school bought about 1,000 books, computers and software, book covers (approximately $1 per book), shelves and desks. “It takes ten years to fill a library this size,” Timothy explained.
Thanks to teacher-librarian Patti Smith, Viewpoint now has about 2,500 books on the shelf. Smith came from Polaris West, an alternative high school that closed and brought many books from their library. In July, August and September, she worked 14-hour days unboxing books, re-covering, cataloging and labeling every book. When school started, the library had no desk or shelves.
Construction on the building was delayed because of COVID and supply issues. Teachers didn’t even get into their classrooms until three days before school started. When the school budget money came in July, Viewpoint didn’t have a permanent address, so there was no official location to send books for the library. Teachers and staff scrambled to prepare for the students.
Smith and Timothy open boxes of books every day now and go through the arduous cataloging and documenting process with each one. Students make suggestions for books they want in the library, and Patti researches to make sure it’s age and content appropriate for middle schoolers. She will often go to Barnes & Noble to hunt down missing books from a series on the shelf.
“We hope to have at least 3,000 books on the shelves by the end of the school year,” said Timothy. She and Smith have reached out to the community asking for donations of books and money. Donated money goes to the Alpine School District Foundation, which will match up to $5,000. The average cost of each book is $25. Hardcover books with durable library binding can cost up to $50, but they last much longer than paperbacks.
“People have asked why the foundation doesn’t just give us $5,000, but they really try to encourage community involvement,” Timothy explained.
Smith and Timothy are anxious to get kids into the library and create a culture of reading and learning at Viewpoint. “I can’t help kids if I can’t get them in the library. We need books to get them in the door,” said Timothy
Viewpoint’s library has a wall of windows with an incredible view of the valley, Utah Lake and the mountains beyond. The library offers quiet reading time during flex periods, and more than 150 students take advantage of the serene environment every day. “It’s the only place and the only time of day kids can come where it’s silent, and they can read. They need this place, and they appreciate it,” said Timothy.