Southeast’s Library Renovation

This summer was one heck of a summer. I bit off a huge project to start my first year in the library off with a bang. I teach in a K-12 building, so we have two full-service libraries, one for elementary (K-6) students and one for secondary (7-12) students. I set out to renovate both of these spaces this summer, and I am glad to say: it’s finished (for the most part)! And it happened just in time for school to begin.

First off, both libraries deserved a good old-fashioned paint job. Goodness, it’s more difficult to choose color schemes for public spaces that one might imagine. I do like how both spaces turned out though in regards to the feel.

Because we painted, we in turn removed every book from every shelf. Since we were already doing that, we also went through and updated our collection. My hands touched around 30,000 books this summer. Wowza! This was a long and arduous process. Reshelving also takes an incredible amount of concentration and time. But this helped me know the collection much better than if I hadn’t done it. I’m thankful for that, at least!

There was an element of rearrangement that happened too. Bookcases moved, computers moved, furniture moved in and moved out, our offices were emptied and repainted, remodeled, rearranged. Teacher resources reorganized. Our storage closets overhauled. New wall features. New windows. New coffee shop (still underway, thanks Corona). New lighting system (still coming!).

The library also got a brand new cataloging system. Meaning all our records were transferred from old to new. New touchless self checkout system. Every library number for every patron changed. Every system that was in place had to be rethought. Policies written. Procedures spelled out. Job descriptions iterated. Vision created.

No stone was left unturned. It was a huge task. But it is done. And it is fabulous! Let this place be one of freedom to enjoy the art of reading, the craft of information literacy, and the pleasure of good company.

Excuse me while I shout out to SO MANY PEOPLE who deserve some lime light in this undertaking in no particular order:

  1. Kendall Lynn: Grateful that you gave me the freedom to innovate this spring during the crazy quarantine. Thank you for your support and advice as I begin my journey!
  2. Diane Reece: Oh my stars. I’d still be knee-deep in books if it wasn’t for your efforts to help me this summer! Thank you for being so selfless always and being a great listener and encourager. And being so knowledgable in all things! I could not ask for a better assistant!
  3. Roger Stumpf: None of this could be a thing without your green light of support as our superintendent. Making decisions at your level is not an easy thing, but I am grateful for your support in this position. I have appreciated your honesty and realism as we have worked together this summer to make the library renovation a reality.
  4. Southeast of Saline Board of Education Members: The task of learning the potential of the library over the course of the last year is one I am glad you invested time in. I truly believe the library is a centerpiece for our students’ learning and I am excited to be partnering with our staff to carry out our vision to think, create, share, and grow.
  5. Cassie Gorman: From the start of all this, I have been thankful for your encouraging words to go for it! May sound cheesy, but thank you for believing in me! 🙂
  6. Rhonda Wright: Thank you for allowing me to overhaul things in the library, even while being a new principal here. Trusting someone like that takes guts.
  7. John Kuhn, Randy Beaumont, Theresa Winters, Mary Weis, Emma Fear, Jeanette Leander: our rock-solid maintenance team this summer. Thank you for putting up with me, my laundry lists, my ideas, my emails, changing my mind, my impatience at times, all of it. Your hard work does NOT go unnoticed.
  8. All the lovely staff members we have at Southeast of Saline. Thank you for allowing me room to stretch and grow into this position. I have felt so loved by you guys, and I am having a blast helping meet your goals in the classroom through our library.
  9. Cindy Mueller for your encouraging words of wisdom this summer!
  10. CrossPoint Church (Namely Eric Franklin and Ryan Booth): Seriously, your donations to our secondary library outshine any other. The couches, chairs, artwork, and the work tables fit absolutely perfectly in our space. I cannot say thank you enough.
  11. Janell Tefft and Trail Spears: Said couches, chairs, and work tables could not be moved alone. Your muscles that Saturday were so necessary and appreciated! Thank you for slaving away to get those puppies through the doors. Literally. Those doors were a pain in the hiney.
  12. Neil Ward and Dustin Keiswetter: Dudes, thanks for allowing us access to the laser cutter. Our words are what ties the libraries together aesthetically and I absolutely love how they turned out. Your training and advice on materials has been second to none.
  13. Grandmas and Grandpas: Kid patrol was an absolute must this summer. Grateful always for your willingness to entertain our kids in your homes this summer. They love you so very much (and so do we!)
  14. Emily Leeds: Intermittent daycare this summer was a life-saver for us! Thank you for caring for our kiddos so well!
  15. Tara and Silas: Whether it was providing lunch, childcare, or coming to help pack up things or alphabetize things or haul things hither and thither, I am so glad to have a sister and nephew that were so willing to help with anything that needed done. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
  16. Kassie and Adam Cote: I absolutely love the way our Dr. Seuss bookcase looks in our elementary lounge area! Can’t wait to pack it with books for students to read in the lounge when we’re allowed to open it! Thank you for your contribution!
  17. Stephanie McDowell and Taylor Deutscher: Your alphabetizing skills are top-notch! So enjoyed our curry ramen and late night shelving party! Thank you!
  18. Faith Swank, Charlotte Knopf, Abigail Pearson, and Kennedy Stumpf: You ladies are my pro-shelvers! So grateful for help putting books in ABC order. It is NOT an easy task, but it’s definitely easier with donuts! 🙂
  19. STUCO Officers (Luisa Ortega, Dorothy Ann Sparacino, Makenna Bartholomew, MaKenna Roths, Lindsey Dean and Terry Anderson): Ladies (and Ander), thank you for your help and brains with the secondary library. I absolutely love how our stripe wall turned out, and the placement of artwork (and Luisa’s throwback art creation!) really sets off the place. Great work!
  20. Becca Glahn and Ivey Douglas: Your impromptu help that one morning at 9:30 in the library was seriously a Godsend. You helped me feel less like I was drowning that day – thank you for helping me!
  21. The long-term subs – Emily, Camden, Kelsey, Gary, and Chuck: I have put you to work countless times with seemingly silly tasks, but you have saved me HOURS of work, and the best part is that you keep coming back! Thank you so much for your willingness to serve SES!
  22. Trena Lackey and the Central Kansas Education Credit Union: Wow! I am so blown away by your generosity to our libraries at SES! Thank you so much for your contribution. We will use it well to serve our students!
  23. Andy Hanson: Good golly, I’m glad we’re friends. Thank you for your continued support and ideas and encouragement and bending over backward for our cause. Your expertise in technology gave me peace of mind to try new things!
  24. Kinsy McVay: Glad to be partners in crime with ya, man. You’ve taught me so much already! You are one of the best at what you do, and I’m grateful to be serving alongside you this year!
  25. Friends in my life who continued to ask and put up with hearing about my adventures, you are too many to call out by name. But thank you for being there for me and encouraging me and listening to me.
  26. Evie and Olan: Thank you for putting up with your stressed out, too busy mama this summer (and the last year). I am so glad to be done with my formal education, and I know you have been forced to sacrifice to make that happen. You have had such a happy attitude through the movie and Chick-fil-A nights at the library while I work, you’ve been so encouraging to me in good and bad times, and you still love me!
  27. Logan Henry: This man, my friends, is my best kept secret. This is how I did a million hours of work in 500,000 hours. He has been the most encouraging, happy-hearted, can-do guy through the three years I’ve worked toward this reality. He put in so much work moving stuff for me, taking apart things, brainstorming with me, making my hair-brained ideas a reality, and with not a single complaint. I am the luckiest lady. You are the gemmiest of all gems.
  28. Because I really shouldn’t leave off God, he is the recipient of my last thank you. You can say it’s cliche. But let me tell ya, I have seen the Lord all over this entire thing. From the beginning of my Master’s Degree courses to just today, he has provided in so many ways. Providing nearly exact amounts of tuition money unexplained. Working out a series of unfortunate events (ha) for the long term good, stretching the hours in a day for me, giving me discipline to stick with something that seemed futile, allowing me to pass my licensure exam (praise the LAWD). I could go on. These things do not happen by accident or happenstance. God is so good.

I tried to document the transformation from beginning to end. Some stages are better documented than others. Ha!

Elementary Library BEFORE:

Elementary Library DURING:

Paint Begins!

Every shelf moved, and every book off every shelf. This was an enormous undertaking and I am grateful for the helpers I had at all stages. See shout outs above!

Elementary Library AFTER:

Our story time area!

Our future elementary lounge area… when we can enjoy comfy fabrics again! 🙂

Transformed a computer bay with a workspace for classes, both library, and small groups from classrooms. Literally my favorite spot so far as a library teacher!

Removed large bay of computers and replaced with fewer desktops. Since all students are 1:1 with devices, there’s been much less of a need for computers in the library. This is a great space for students to look up books they are looking for on our new Destiny catalog!

Secondary Library BEFORE:


Secondary Library DURING:

Removed two large computer bays (lack of use) to open up space for cafe area. Coffee shop is still underway, and slightly Covidelayed.

Secondary Library AFTER:

Cafe area – turn around from here to see the serving window and our front desk area.

A portion of the furniture donated by CrossPoint Church. These fit so well in this space and are loved by the students! Thank you so much!

Collaborative workspace for students. Each of the two alcoves have space for a mobile TV and whiteboard to utilize for group projects, presentations, and breakout instruction.

We kept 11 computers, but now have a greater amount of open space that has been needed now that the library is used for passing from class to class. Hooray for movement in the library! And I especially love that stripe wall over there!

To My Seven-Year-Old Evie

Hi little lady!

Another birthday has arrived: number seven! I have had so much fun with you as a six-year-old. The years just keep getting more fun! I have loved to watch you try out the school thing and you rocked it despite the many challenges you have faced. You have grown up in many ways, right before our very eyes.

Aside from being several inches taller, I have seen you transform into a more compassionate, thoughtful, and loving person this year. You care about others and I can see that in your interactions with our family. When Olan needs help, you’re there. I treasure the times when I’m laying in bed before your clock says 7:00am and I hear you helping him get a toy, read a book, or get dressed. The day I told you I finished my last homework assignment for my classes you melted my heart when you look at me and said, “Mom, I’m so proud of you.” The sympathy in your heart you felt for Jigglypuff when you learned that he was the weakest Super Smash Brothers character. The mornings you get up and make my cereal bowl with extra milk and cautiously bring it to my bedside. The surprise bathroom sink cleanings you’ve done countless times. The way you look after animals of all sorts. The times we leave grandma and grandpa’s house and you say with concern, “I’m really gonna miss them.” For these traits I have prayed!

Speaking of answered prayers, this was the year you decided you’d follow Jesus. My mom heart leaps for joy to share in the riches of our awesome God with you! He is slowly and surely changing you to be more like him. If I have any advice for you this year, it would be to make it a thing to read your Bible each day. You are already hiding the Word in your heart, but make it something you just do everyday.

You have the makings of an engineer. No kidding! Instead of bunches of toys, put some tape, scissors, string and paper in your hands and you’re set for the day! It is a delight for me to watch you try and figure things out. You’re much like your daddy in this area. I love that about you!

You are a reader today, and you’ll be a leader in the future! The way you devour books is rare, but I keep thinking about how your brain must be growing by the truckloads every day. Keep going on reading adventures beyond these four walls. Then tell me all about it!

This year, I am praying for you to learn to be humble and find ways to put others before yourself. It may be true that you are very talented in a lot of ways, but let others discover that by the way you act, not in the words you say. God has given you many gifts, and I thank him for that! I pray you can use those gifts to make God look good!

Girl, I can’t tell you enough how much I love you! I am so glad God gave me another year with you. You help make our family something special and I am SO excited to see how you grow in year number seven!


Evie is Seven!

Evie’s #7! I have loved to watch this wild child grow up this year. She is still her crazy self, but just starting to blossom into a witty, thoughtful, creative little creature. She is my beautiful girl!

Kindergarten is complete. Obviously at the point I’m writing this, we’re in a global COVID pandemic. That has slowed our outings, but not slowed Evie down! I heard her counting by 3’s the other day. Who does that? She picks up on patterns in a snap.

She’s read a bunch of books this year, but we can safely say that we completed The Chronicles of Narnia series in one year! Whew! Something new we implemented this year was some independent bedtime reading. Every other night I’ll read aloud, and on the opposite nights, she’ll choose a different book to read. She loves her “Flippy” book easel and her 20 minutes of reading before snoozing! She is super into chapter books, typically 3rd-4th grade level. That girl’s gonna read all the books in our library.

Evie has exploded with an obsession over animals. She wants a pet sooooo bad. Hoping by her eighth birthday, we’ll have chickens! A useful pet! 🙂 Frogs, turtles, cats, bugs, I mean, she wants it all! I need to convince her that rocks are good pets.

She loves to care for our garden. She is faithful in patrolling the yard for bunnies and picking veggies right on time. She is a tree hugger!

Her personality can still be off in the clouds. We’ll ask a question and wait for a response, and she was literally in such a zone that she didn’t know we said anything at all. If you want her attention, be sure to say her name until she acknowledges you. Sigh.

She is passionate. She loves to play soccer and foosball, but watch out if you win. We’re working on the poker face. It’s most definitely still a work in progress.

We started loose piano lessons during quarantine. She is just like me… trainable but much more of a play-it-by-ear musician. She isn’t that interested in learning the basic Bastien tunes, she’s over there plunking out Smoke on the Water and Swan Lake. However, she’s been asking for more lessons, so let’s go with it! If anyone out there knows how to train a naturally in tune improvising little one, let me know.

Biking without training wheels. We’ll just say she started the process as a six-year-old and will hopefully finish as a seven-year-old. Hopefully. LOL.

Games have been her jam this year! Lots of Uno, Sorry, War, and Skip-bo. Yay for games! Also, we introduced a Wednesday night video game session for 20 minutes on our ancient N64. Super Smash, Mario Kart, you know, the classics.

Kitties, stuffed animals, unicorns, wrestling with dad, digging in rocks, fort building, dessert, bows, technology, music (Jesus and Classic Rock), creating, swinging, soccer, and crushed ice are some of her favorite things. Here are a few others from the horse’s mouth:

  • Color: Red
  • Animal: Cats
  • Food: Chocolate cake and desserts
  • Drink: Strawberry Lemonade
  • Song: Smoke on the Water
  • TV Show: Inspector Gadget
  • Movie: Madagascar
  • Game: Super Mario Games
  • Bible Story: When Jesus calms the sea (“That’s like, really amazing.”)
  • Season: Winter (“We can make ice cream and build snowmen!”)
  • Toy: Stripes and Simba (two years in a row)
  • Outfit: Happy and fabulous pink shirt
  • Book: The BFG
  • Friend: Ethyn McFarland
  • Thing to do outside: Play soccer
  • Future Career: An engineer (“They build things.”)

Blog at