Riceville K-12 School Library
“These books have been here since I started, so they are at least 20 years old,” Thomasine Conger, Riceville School’s librarian, says. “You can tell they are in bad shape. But these new hardcover books we were able to purchase with the grant are wonderful.”
If you could see the old joke books Conger pulled off the shelves for us to compare, you wouldn’t believe students were still checking them out. Taped and staples appear on most pages and colors that were once vibrant have faded. But the students still loved the jokes within each book. On a table against the wall lay new books Conger purchased with a $500 Community Care Grant from Iowa Select Farms.
“The main type of book we were looking for was joke books because everybody wants joke books,” Conger says. “The kids are also really into zombie, Batman, and of course, Minecraft books too, so were able to purchase a few of those as well.”
The joke books purchased were targeted for elementary school students, but that doesn’t mean older students can’t check them out. One book Conger purchased is a graphic novel called “Ghost.” The cool thing about this book is she was able to purchase one copy in English and another copy in Spanish. “I think it is neat because we do have students who speak Spanish. We only have two other books in Spanish, but this is the first set of the same book I have in two languages.”
Conger has been a librarian at Riceville Schools for 20 years and has seen the library move locations three times. The library currently is located in the high school building and has been there for the past eight years. One of the best aspects of her job is getting to know the students. “I really like the kids and seeing them grow from when they are young to graduating,” Conger says. “Many of them come back to visit.”
In order to make books last longer and go through many hands of students Conger gets to know, she aims to purchase hardcover books, which tend to be a bit more expensive than paperbacks. “Through grants we have gotten nice new up to date books thanks to people like you,” Conger says. This is the second grant Riceville School Library has received from Iowa Select Farms.
“When I get new books in, I have each class come in and sit in a circle,” Conger says. “I will explain to them how I got the books and let them know about Iowa Select Farms. Many of them will say ‘my mom works there’ or ‘my dad works there,’ or they know someone who works there.”
Conger then passes out the new books so that each student has one in their hands. They are given about a minute with each book to look at the cover and fan through the pages. Once time is up, they will pass their book to their peer on the right and receive a different book from the peer on their left. By doing this, each student in every grade is able to see the new additions to the library.