The school library, too often a neglected resource, has the potential to bring school communities together around the goal of giving students the literacy skills to participate and succeed in the 21st century. A vibrant, modern library media center supports research in all content areas, provides access to technology, and offers materials to help students explore and pursue postsecondary opportunities. With the support of the Astor Fund for Public School Libraries, school libraries are becoming vibrant centers of learning for all New Visions schools, helping schools prepare students for college and careers.
Library Media Centers for the 21st Century
In 2006, the Astor Center at New Visions launched a powerful initiative, Library Media Centers for the 21st Century (LMC 21). The goal of LMC 21 was to revitalize the libraries in New Visions' public schools--small schools often located within larger campuses with neglected facilites. Funding and support from the New York City Council and the Astor Fund for Public School Libraries made this work possible.
New Visions gathered key stakeholders from each campus -- librarians, principals, teachers, students, parents and community partners -- to re-envision the media center as a hub of campus-wide learning.
The effort focused on 9 libraries in Brooklyn and the Bronx: libaries at eight campuses have already been completed and three more are currently under renovation.
The Prospect Heights Campus in Brooklyn
The Prospects Heights campus completed its library renovation in November 2010. In addition, a grant from the Heckscher Foundation for Children allowed the Prospect Heights campus Library to develop strategies for a deeper integration of library resources and technology into the larger campus community.
The newly renovated spaces feature upgraded technology, modular furniture to allow for multiple and comfortable seating and room arrangements, and an overall learning environment that is more welcoming and attractive.
Comment from the students:
"Nooks make reading go faster."
"I used the dictionary for the words that I didn't understand."
"It was fun because you can do more than reading."
"I used the dictionary and bookmarking which made reading really easy to track down.'
The Evander Childs Campus Library in the Bronx
The Evander Childs campus recently reopened the newly renovated library that restored a forgotten skylight and preserved historically sensitive WPA murals and original casework, while incorporating technology. The project created an Information Hub and included custom computer pods and stations. The library was featured in the Library Design Showcase 2012.
Currently the JFK campus is beginning renovation with completion scheduled for Fall 2013.
For more than 10 years, Publishers Weekly and Scholastic Books have donated thousands of review copies of young adult books to the Astor Center at New Visions for distribution to schools and classrooms. Since 2006, the Astor Center at New Visions has distributed nearly 15,000 high-quality books to schools to support students at all reading levels. Teachers and librarians alike have commented on the impact of these resources:
"I cannot thank you enough for what you've done. The books you sent are titles that interest my students and that are well written. Not only have you made this part of my job more fun, but you've provided a window of opportunity for some students who rarely or never read. Now that we are building a classroom library, new things are possible for the students."