Manor View Elementary library gets a major makeover

  • Duane Iverson, a facilities manager for Target, shelves books along with other volunteers from Target stores who have redesigned the library at Manor View Elementary School.
Duane Iverson, a facilities manager for Target, shelves books…
November 13, 2010|By Joe Burris, The Baltimore Sun

Until recently, the library at Manor View Elementary School in Fort Meade did little to inspire an interest in reading. Its ceiling and walls were a drab off-white, its carpeting dull and worn, and its configuration was so bad that many of its books were shelved in an adjacent hallway.

"It was all boring and weird," said Manor View fifth-grader Nathan Martinez. "It was plain and it had no color."

That's why on Veterans Day, he and other Manor View Elementary students marveled at the library's makeover: bright with pastel blue, green and orange walls, customized art murals, carpeting in an array of colorful shapes, reading corners and 2,000 new books, and an eclectic literacy support room designed by HGTV's Sabrina Soto.

The school was among 32 schools nationwide to be part of the Target School Library Makeover program. The Minneapolis-based department store chain partnered with the nonprofit literacy group Heart of America Foundation to transform libraries nationwide.

Target officials say they put an average of about $200,000 into each transformation, with input from each community, including local artists. Among those who took part in Manor View's unveiling was U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who volunteered with his family to shelve books in the library before the unveiling.

"This is part of America's mission," said Duncan. "To give the children of veterans and of those serving today a chance to go to an amazing library is what it's all about. My [school] library was pretty basic, not as colorful, not as creative, and you really want places to inspire children to build a lifelong love of learning."

In addition to the new library, each student at Manor View received seven free books. Many of them hadn't seen the renovation until Thursday, because Target had placed the area off-limits during work. Some of the books were placed in classrooms, and teachers made use of local public libraries.

Manor View fifth-grader Grace McCray, who had classes near the library, said she sat through loud noises during the construction, but the finished product was worth it.

"It's awesome. It was very bright, and I would not mind staying in there overnight," she said.

Manor View principal Anita Dempsey said the school applied for the makeover after Sarah Bonise, Fort Meade's school liaison officer, heard about the Target program. The school was selected in July and the renovation process began in October.

Target said it chose the 614-student school as a show of support for military families; school officials say 95 percent of Manor View students are from military families.

She said that among the suggestions they made were improvements to the circulation desk and shelving. Having seen the finished product, she said, "We are able to have more instructional programs or activities that are going on in the media center [library] at the same time, as well as the ease of the circulation desk getting books in and out. It really does make the library come alive."

Target president of community relations Laysha Ward said that the program was launched with Heart of America Foundation three years ago. More than 2,000 school libraries have been renovated since the program's inception. This year the company donated more than $7 million for the 32 makeovers, with Manor View being its last.

She said schools that were awarded the free makeovers have a considerable number of students who receive free and reduced meals and show community involvement in students' education.

"We want to ensure that the library is really the heart of the school and it is used as a learning lab to encourage a love of learning and reading," Ward said.

During the library's renovation, Manor View discontinued circulation, which McCray said was disappointing, even for a drab library. "I like to read a lot, but then I had to remind myself that [the school was receiving] a new library."

joseph.burris@baltsun.com

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