Making the most

Librarian: Program run on a shoestring laces students firmly into early learning.

Bright Lights

September 05, 2000

NANCY BLOOM is not one to let her circumstances get her down. And as a city school librarian, it might be tempting.

She can't remember the last time she had money to buy books. Indeed, no shelf in her North Bend Elementary library is even half- full. She only has six computers wired for the Internet. And she's at the school just three days a week.

But Ms. Bloom is one of those diamonds in the rough, sparkling in a system scrutinized last week by a Sun editorial for its utter disrepair. While some librarians have thrown up their hands, others like Ms. Bloom have risen to the challenge to make learning happen despite formidable deficits.

"They are going to know I'm here," she says about teachers. "I can provide an important service."

Each month, Ms. Bloom sends teachers a request for topics they're studying. In return, she pulls books she has on those subjects and then goes online.

While the Internet can be a tremendous help in a book-poor library like North Bend's, success depends on a librarian who is willing to become a Web whiz. No problem for Ms. Bloom. This summer, she attended a technology workshop. There, she created an online quest for her students, based on an African folktale, that will teach them not only how to find a treasure of information, but also how to navigate the Web.

At the library, the classical music, the handmade chair covers, curtains and cushions draw kids in - and tell them they're special.

The school's reading incentive program - essential for enticing young readers - starts with her. Last year, "Book Your Passage" challenged readers to win a visit to the Constellation. The third grade won the trip. But with students schoolwide reading 2,228 books, everyone came out on top.

In short, Nancy Bloom is the kind of librarian we need in every school. Just imagine what she would do with full shelves and a full-time job.

Bright Lights spotlights people who make a difference in the quality of life of this area. It appears periodically in this column.

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