Way Cool: Public Library Within a School

Daniel Pumay, 4, moves a jumbo chess piece

The new Kelloggsville Branch of Kent District Library was buzzing with activity as children, teens and families checked out the new community facility they can walk to for books, study and technology use. Teachers and staff members, who are already tapping into resources they can use in their classrooms, welcomed the new patrons.

The two-story, 6,000 square-foot public library recently opened inside the high school to serve students and community members with an 8,000-item collection, children’s section and materials for all ages. The branch includes resources to support the high-school curriculum and buildings district-wide.

Kelloggsville Branch of Kent District Library
Kelloggsville High School, 4787 Division Ave. S,
(616) 784-2007

Public Hours During School Year: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 3 to 8 p.m. 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

During a recent community night, families explored the children’s section, technology that includes eight public computer stations, and the upstairs teen and adult section. The high school, including the media center, was recently renovated with bonds funds from the 2015 bond proposal. To turn the space into a true community library, the district received a $250,000 grant from the Steelcase Foundation.

A Vision for the Community

The Kelloggsville KDL branch was a vision of administrators who wanted to bring a full-service library to the district, which straddles Wyoming and Kentwood. It makes library services more accessible to families in the low-income area, many who have limited transportation, than the Kentwood branch at 4.5 miles away and the Wyoming branch at 3.5 miles away.

Robert Sanchez scans pages of a “Where’s Waldo?” book, searching for the elusive stripe-shirted character

“It definitely is something that was very needed,” said Assistant Superintendent Tammy Savage. Every teacher district-wide can use materials and all students are receiving KDL student cards, allowing them to check out up to three books at a time.

“It’s way closer. People will have more chances to read and have a new environment around here,” said middle school eighth-grader Pablo Vicario as his mom and brothers signed up for library cards.

Savage said a community library ties with the district’s early literacy goals, and in helping all students become proficient in reading in third grade. Making it easy for families to get books makes that goal more reachable, she said. Teachers have already begun to tap into the network of materials.

Students sport their KDL backpacks

It’s a much-appreciated amenity for older students too, said high school Principal Kevin Simmons. “We are telling the students that when school’s out they have the opportunity to go to the library,” he said, noting the college-style feel of the second-story space. “Kids are in their own little zone for study in a quiet place.” The decor includes Kelloggsville Rocket touches.

Branch Manager Lori Holland said the location, staffed by KDL employees, offers all KDL services including programming. Students have access to digital books and KDL databases, and can request materials from other branches. “It’s the first time KDL has done anything like this,” Holland said.

Robin Marihugh sat in the children’s section reading books with Vincent Marihugh, a Southeast Kelloggsville fourth-grader, and Eaden King, a fourth-grader at West Godwin Elementary. “I think it’s great,” she said. “I just brought back two movies. It will benefit the community because they can walk to it.”

Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. Besides covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network, she writes freelance for the travel industry. Read Erin's full bio

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