Grant to help replace aging books in school library

Photo by Chad Koenen
The Henning School Library has received a grant to help and replace aging books on its shelves. Currently, 46 percent of the library’s resources are non-fiction with an average book age of 32 years. 

In October, Laura Smith, Title 1/ECFE/Preschool teacher and Pamela Wiese, Library/Media Center paraprofessional began the Pages for a Purpose library book campaign. The purpose of the campaign is to replace aged fiction and nonfiction books.  

Currently, 46 percent of Henning’s School library resources are non-fiction with an average book age of 32 years. According to the School Library Association (SLA) books should not be over 10 years old in the non-fiction section because of the need for accurate, current information.  Currently, preschool through 12th grade students (approximately 400 students)  utilize the library as well as community members.  

    Pages for a Purpose has set a goal of $100,000 for phase one of the campaign.  Since each book costs roughly $25, this would have the potential to replace 4,000 books in the library.  Although that seems like a lot of books, it is not even a quarter of the total number of books the library has on hand. 

“To clarify, all the books in the library do not need to be replaced because of accurate content-for example, autobiographies and biographies.  Some of them need to be replaced because of old covers, yellowed pages, and wear and tear of the books,”  said Wiese

“By bringing our library books up-to-date, we will be able to provide an equitable opportunity of high-quality reading materials for all students and community members regardless of ethnicity, income or geographic location,” said Smith. “For many community members, Henning Public School library is the only library available to them, as the nearest larger library is 45 minutes away.”  

“Our dream is to foster curiosity, creativity, and knowledge for all community residents,” said Wiese.

“To continue to increase reading comprehension we know we need to give our students the ability to have current and fact-based, interesting reading materials readily available to them,” said Smith.  

On October 24, 2022, the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) released a report showing a drop in reading performance back to 1992 levels (  This was a discouraging report, but having appealing books encourages children to read, which is a very high priority at Henning Public School.  While national scores have fallen, Henning’s reading scores have consistently been above the state average-due in part to many opportunities for literacy instruction in the school, opportunities to read at the library, and children receiving literacy support from families.  

“Enticing our students to want to check out books at an early age can encourage many students to take (and keep) an interest in reading.   If we can keep them interested in captivating books when they are young, they will most likely continue to read in middle school and high school,” said Wiese.

     Just last year, the library replaced some of the bookshelves with new black slat wall display panels which showcase as many as 500 books with their covers showing straight on to students. This new way of seeing the books face forward has increased the book checkout exponentially.  

“Getting the library patron to see the book cover is part of the overall new look to our library, because our students actually do judge a book by its cover,” said Wiese.  

Also added to the library were two new rolling display racks that can be filled and taken to the classroom for extended check out periods, such as the geography books on the 50 United States traveling to the fourth grade classroom.

Pages for a Purpose is not only writing grants for funds to help with purchasing/replacing/updating books, but they are also working concessions at local sporting events with all the profits to be used for library book purchases.