Fourth graders install free community library in Imperial

Mrs. Falkenstein’s Fourth Grade Class and CCPOA Centinela Chapter unveil community library at T.L. Waggoner Elementary School.

Imperial – With the help of the California Corrections Peace Officer Association (CCPOA), Centinela chapter, Mrs. Falkenstein’s fourth-grade class announced, June 7, the installation of the first community library in the T.L. Waggoner Elementary School area of Imperial.

Birdhouse-looking structures in random locations are popping up around the Valley with books and see through doors.  For those wondering about the new phenomena, they are honor-system based free libraries.

“At the beginning of the year, the students read the book, My Librarian is a Camel: How Books are Brought to Children Around the World,” explained Falkenstein.  “Each selection in the textbook poses a question within the reading curriculum. The selection question for this unit was ‘How are books and libraries important to people and communities?’”

After learning about the various ways librarians deliver books to communities around the world such as the “Borrower by Book” program in Canada, or the boat Kalkhom in Finland that carries hundreds of books, and elephants as book carriers in Thailand – the students posed the question, “what can we do in our community to spread the love for books and reading?”

“We got this idea from a story we were reading called, The Power of Wow, and, My Librarian is a Camel,” said the fourth-grade student council members.  “In Kenya, they would have camels to deliver the books and in The Power of Wow they raised money to help the community so they started a car wash. Since sometimes our libraries are closed, it’s neat, now children that live around here are able to come to it.”

The students chose various ways they wanted to contribute to the library.  One group of kids wrote the principal asking permission to put a community library in front of the school, some searched for a design, others gathered books and labeled their AR reading level, while a separate group invited the community to use it.

The CCPOA, Centinela Chapter aided the children by providing the necessary materials, building the actual structure, and donating money for the installation, the children painted the little library..

“You are the future and to think beyond your comfort area to develop something like this (a community library) it’s an honor to hear you guys say that.  So, keep going forward, keep studying, keep going to school, keep doing all these extra projects,” said Captain Joe Salcido greeting the kids. “We want to invest in you because we really appreciate what you are doing here in school, with your teachers, and at your homes.”

The students were eager to announce that local kids are already utilizing the community library.

“It’s really nice of you to put this library together, congratulated Prison Information Officer Mike Ramirez.  “It’s going to be a great benefit for everybody here to come and check out a book.

The library is located in front of the school where anyone can come select, and return once read or donate one for others to read.

“Thank you for letting us help you – you guys did an awesome job painting it.  Please get back with us again next year so that we can continue to help you again,” closed CCPOA Centinela Chapter President Steven Tirado.