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Library has fairy-tale ending
Grant money pays for upgrades and new books at Sir Alexander Mackenzie School

Kira Curtis
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, February 17, 2011

INUVIK - Once upon a time, in a school not too far away, lay a poor, neglected library.

NNSL photo/graphic

The upgrade of the Sir Alexander Mackenzie School library means there's all sorts of up-to-date books to enjoy. Nakita Jacobson-Blake finds her favourite: Justin Bieber! Not only does she rock a similar hairdo, the first thing she'd scream out if she saw him would be "marry me!" -Kira Curtis/NNSL photos

This sad little room longed to hear children's feet squeaking down the hallway as they ran in excitedly between classes to nab the newest "Ivy and Bean" book. It wished boys and girls would quietly cozy into its corners, intently studying the images of Tom Elm's adventures through the "Bone" series.

But no, this library sat forgotten in the corridors of Sir Alexander Mackenzie School all alone, with no one to keep it company save a bobcat with no tail and a beaver with googly eyes.

Until one day, a hero named Grant rode into town.

Grant was handsome, brave, and carried magical $108,000-from-the-Indigo-Love-of-Reading-Fund dust, which he slowly sprinkled over the library over the course of three years.

Now as far as magical dust goes, this one was relatively slow working and required a lot of help from a lot of teachers, but now at the end of the three years, the results are truly a marvel.

"The library is just so attractive now, and the books are so appealing," said the school's principal Janette Vlanich. "The usership of the library has gone up substantially."

Now when children seek out this library, and they do, they are met with a smorgasbord of tantalizing displays to check out.

Dead ahead is a wall of graphic novels, immediately to the right are two cases of new arrivals, and to the left, through the festive wall of dangling tinsel and hearts, is a softly lit room with pillows and chairs - a perfect place to read.

This year Cynthia Whelan has taken on the role of librarian to this resurrected treasure. Not only has she been stocking the shelves with new tales, cataloguing each book and tossing out the outdated (and sometimes culturally inappropriate) books, she is also in charge of decorating. This month, being that it's Valentine's Day, pink and red and white dominate the room.

"We kind of try to keep it to a theme," Whelan said while straightening a floor-to-ceiling Valentine's Day bookcase. In between holidays she still keeps it interesting.

"We just did a Northern theme here, so I had some of the birds in, and some of the Northern books and stuff like that for them," she said, pointing to the stuffed, local birds that reside in the library.

"I think just mixing it up really helps, every time they come in there's something new and fresh."

Whelan is nearly finished scanning every book in to the new computer system they were able to purchase. She also has plans to establish a Northern corner, which will include a huge mural and a tipi meant for reading circles.

In the end this little library was valiantly rescued, keeping the odd, googly-eyed beaver to watch the now-full Northern section, hopefully watching there happily ever after.

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