Hannibal Middle School planning upgrades to library this summer

Surrounded by boxes of books in preparation for the end of the school year, a pair of students work recently in the Hannibal Middle School library. The library will have a new format next year. (H-W Photo/Phil Carlson)
Posted: May. 20, 2013 8:29 am Updated: Jun. 3, 2013 11:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Librarian Susan Harbert wants to add a little more noise to the Hannibal Middle School library.

Harbert will completely reform the quiet working space into a center for learning collaboration this summer. She said newer schools such as Mark Twain Elementary School and Veterans Elementary School already have implemented more student-friendly environments into their libraries. She hopes the upcoming changes will generate a growing interest in reading among the student body.

"It's really getting away from the idea that a library is a quiet place where children come and sit and read books," Harbert said.

Harbert has planned to remove some of the library's tables and replace them with sofas and bean bag chairs. She has already received donations from teachers and Families and Communities Together to make this possible. The library also will have whiteboards and projectors to aid students in group projects. The eighth-grade classes will use the new space to create and showcase book trailers. Harbert will have the trailers playing each morning so students can learn about books their classmates enjoy. She hopes this will boost their desire to pick up books and read in their own time.

"It's getting them to realize they can read any type of book," Harbert said. "Graphic novels are just as good for them to read as classics … Once you find something they're interested in, you can usually get them going."

Harbert has worked in the HMS library for the past decade. In that time, she's watched middle school students switch from using print almanacs and encyclopedias to searching the web.

Student needs also have changed. Teachers have steadily implemented more group projects, and the students need places to work together. Harbert said the library has always been available for early morning student use, but next year she's hoping to promote that more. Currently, most students spend the time before classes in the gymnasium or the auditorium.

"The big thing will be getting them here at 7:30 in the morning and getting them interested in making that part of their natural school day," Harbert said.