With community support, Emlen Elementary opens school library

Students, faculty, staff and members of the community gathered at Emlen Elementary School last week to celebrate the opening of the new Elbridge G. James Learning Center and Library. 

The library, which students will visit on a rotating basis with their classes, was the effort of “many hundreds of hours” of volunteer work and a grant from the Mt. Airy Schools Coalition, said school principal Tammy Thomas. The coalition, made up of three neighborhood groups — East Mt. Airy Neighbors, West Mt. Airy Neighbors and Mt. Airy USA — also sponsored a set of new computers at the school last year. 

Jan Deruiter, a local business owner, worked with teacher Dan Gordon to help mobilize fundraising and donation efforts throughout the community. The over 1,000 books that will line the shelves of the school’s library came in via donations from Germantown Friends School, Notre Dame Academy and Malvern Prep School. 

Students and teachers from Germantown Friends School came to Emlen on multiple occasions to help  paint, move furniture, and sort and catalogue books. The books are color coded by grade and reading level, explained Thomas. Kids will be able to walk into the library and easily identify what books are good good for them. 

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In addition to heading to the library with their classes, it will be open for students for an hour after school twice a week beginning in the fall. Thomas hopes to eventually expand that to five days a week by the end of the fall. The library, which won’t have a full time staffer, will be run by a group of teachers and community volunteers. 

“The beauty of this project is that it does not require a lot of money,” said Thomas. “But it does require a lot of volunteer work.”

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