GREENE COUNTY,TN (WJHL)- Greene County Schools is gearing up to roll out mobile book libraries this summer to ensure kids are still developing critical reading skills even when they are not in school.
Greene County Schools K-8 Curriculum Supervisor Dr. Kristi Wallin said two school buses are in the process of being transformed into libraries on wheels. Over the summer, drivers will take them around the county and kids will be allowed to check out books for free. “It’ll be set up like a library,” Dr. Wallin said. “They can come in and check out a book and then bring the book back the next time we’re back.”
Dr. Wallin said the school system has been talking about the “Magic Book Bus” program for several years but the project was only recently able to move forward after the Greene County School Board donated two old school buses to the project.
Dr. Wallin said the goal is to make sure children have access to books year-round, especially kids living in rural parts of the county where access to libraries is limited. “We’re hoping to hit some areas, maybe some Dollar Generals, maybe some [places] where people come already so they’re not making a special trip… if there’s a neighborhood with a lot of students living in it [we’ll go there].”
The community has helped donate roughly 6,000 books for students to check out. The Greene County Imagination Library helped with the efforts. Greene County Imagination Library Coordinator Ruth Burkey said, “I put out the word through social media- Facebook, Twitter, asking parents who might have old Imagination Library books [which] their kids no longer used- to please donate them back to us, so that we could share them with the Book mobile.” Burkey said she was hoping to collect about 50 books, but in a matter of weeks she collected hundreds. “My board and I are excited about this venture and glad that we could get parents involved.”
Students at Greene Technology Center are also involved in getting the project off the ground. Dozens of students, including some from county high schools, are using their welding and mechanical skills to transform the two buses into libraries.
“It’s a lot of fun. It gives you a sense of [accomplishment and pride] to know you’re helping out other people,” said 18-year-old West Greene High School student Greg Craft. He is part of the welding team that will build a gate that will section the library off from the front of the bus, protecting the driver. Shelves will also be installed in the buses and they will be painted.
Bus routes and times are still being worked out but Greene County Schools hopes to have the book mobiles on the road by June running in three hour shifts, four days a week.
Dr. Wallin said the school system still needs donations to help with materials for the buses and maintenance. Money can be donated through the non-profit organization Greene Leaf, which was established by community leaders to help Greene County Schools. To make a donation call 423-430-3429 or contact Greene Leaf Executive Director Darlene McCleish at firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteer librarians are also needed to ride on the buses during the summer. Anyone who is interested should contact Dr. Kristi Wallin at 423-639-4194 or Kristi.email@example.com.
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