'Bout 4 years the district got a mega grant entitled Academics 2000. The bulk of the money went to buy zillions and zillions of Wright & Rigby Guided Reading books - more than anyone could process or even use at any given moment. Stacks of them are still piled up in assorted warehouses and stashed in back rooms and cubbyholes. Oddly, though it was supposed to "extend literacy" not one penny could be spent on books for the school libraries. However, a small amount of money was allocated to library programming, for the libraries. I'm not much for pull out the stops, one time programs so opted to open the library once a week to the community.
The Library @ Housman
For some reason it was just what the community needed and wanted. We average 50-100 people each week, even though we offer no food nor any bells and whistles. The computers are the big draw, but the kids love the games and puzzles and the adults just like having a place to chat. We seem to be a combination homework help, playing area and neighborhood Starbucks sans the coffee. It's made our parents more comfortable about coming up to school for other events also and given the school a standard night for activities. Since we require the children have a parent (loosely defined as someone over the age of 18 who can escort the child home when we close) it's not turned into a free daycare center, instead it really is a Family Library Night.
The place has an entirely different feel on Thursday nights. It's humming and buzzing but it's a good, positive energy. Amazingly we have few discipline problems and the children do a good job of respecting the library rules and sharing the computers. It's odd that something so simple is so successful. A classic case of KISS.