Over four years after work officially began, the Kirkbride School is finally inching closer to fully opening its upgraded library to all students.
Kirkbride, 1501 S. 7th St., recently announced that the library is ready to open, with the school eyeing Jan. 18 for its grand opening. Students will gain full access to the library later this month.
Thanks to contributions from both school supporters and local organizations, the new library will not only offer a new space for students to further their education, but, as Kirkbride principal Rebecca Julien hopes, serve as a gathering space for the community.
“We have a really big vision of how we can make this a real community space,” Julien said.
Efforts to restore the school’s library began back in 2017, but due to school shutdowns as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, that work was put on hold in the spring of 2020. Since reopening, school staff have been hard at work keeping the space organized, training school staff to properly use book checkout software, and recruiting volunteers to work in the library.
“We’ve really been putting all the pieces of the puzzle together to get it operational,” Julien said.
One of the library’s most notable features is its collection of multicultural texts, a majority of which were acquired through the school’s partnership with its neighborhood bookstore, A Novel Idea.
Kirkbride’s student body is especially culturally and ethnically diverse, with over 30 different ethnic and racial communities being represented. Julien said that providing students an opportunity to learn about the different customs their fellow classmates practice is especially beneficial for both the students’ overall development and sense of inclusion.
“We know that reading is a gateway to life experience,” Julien said. “And we know that students are exposed to different cultures and different understandings through reading books.”
Julien also added, “it’s about opening their eyes to the cultures of others and building an appreciation and respect.”
Above all, Julien is eager to see students take advantage of the new space that has been gifted to them.
“Especially in a time where we’ve been so isolated, I’m hoping that this becomes a community space,” Julien said. “I would love to see students hanging out there after school reading, doing book clubs, or any sort of different possibilities.”