Wake up and read!
That’s the message librarians across the CNMI are sharing today in celebration of National Library Month and “Drop Everything and Read Day.”
During the month of April, Public School System schools are celebrating National Library Month with various activities, including today’s D.E.A.R. event where everyone is encouraged to take a picture of themselves reading and post their picture on social media with the hashtag #WakeUpAndReadCNMI.
“Imagine waking up with your family and getting together and reading. What a great way to start your day,” said Maria Ornes, the Kagman High School librarian. “Reading doesn’t have to be a solitary experience; it’s a community experience.”
It’s that feeling of community and connection the library is focusing on during this year’s National Library Month, with the theme “Connect with your library.” Libraries across PSS are offering a host of opportunities for students to get involved.
First created in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association and libraries across the United States each April.
“Libraries are really the hub and the heart of the school,” said Natalie Hill-Beyer, the librarian at Marianas High School. “That’s why we celebrate the libraries and promote the things we do in the library. And it’s not just during library month––but all year long.”
The benefits of reading for students are immeasurable, Ornes said. People pick up and read books for different reasons, but it’s a great way to connect with the world.
“Students look for themselves in books and look for situations that they are dealing with and learn how other people deal with the same problem,” Ornes said. “It’s a great way to learn empathy. Books are so real sometimes. If you can make those connections, and feel what those characters are feeling, it really opens up your mind.”
It’s that connection that Ornes, Hill-Beyer, and librarians across the CNMI are working to make in their schools. And that connection goes beyond traditional books.
For example, Ornes helps run a podcasting project at Kagman High School out of the library, complete with audio and video equipment.
At Marianas High School, Hill-Beyer has partnered with the coding and art clubs to build an interactive media wall display in the library. “The art club is painting a big mural on a frame with electric paint. So, the students will be able to touch images and on the back of the frame, there are motherboards and wires that the coding club has programmed. All so you’ll be able to touch an image and a sound will play associated with that image.”
Each librarian brings their own passion to their school library, Ornes said. And that’s what makes each library so different.
“We need to move beyond the idea that a library is this musty old hall filled with books,” Ornes said. “Yes, we have books, and we encourage people to read, but it’s so much more dynamic than that.”
Lindsay Nash (Special to the Saipan Tribune)