A library to love

By Pat Sunderland

A library to love | Lincoln Elementary, library

For WinterFest at Lincoln Elementary School, school librarian Nancy Green drew inspiration from two books -- "Polar Bears" by Mark Newman and "Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear" by Erik Carle to create a wintry scene that complemented the school th

As the school librarian, Nancy Green helps students locate suitable reading materials, checks out books, tracks Accelerated Reader exams and reads to the younger students. But most of all, she shares a love of the library, and nurtures a lifelong desire to continue reading, by making the school library a delightful place to visit.

"You know why I like to do this?" she asks, pointing to shelves lined with holiday decorations. "I do it because some of these children don't get this at home."

She decorates for every season, but Christmas is undeniably one of her favorite times of year -- and a chance to show off an extensive collection of nutcrackers. She came across a 5-foot-tall nutcracker at Sam's Club several years ago, and that was the beginning of her "obsession."

According to wikipedia, nutcrackers -- often in the form of wood carvings of a soldier, knight or king -- have existed since at least the 15th century. Figurative nutcrackers are a good luck symbol in Germany. A folk tale recounts that a puppet maker won a nutcracking challenge by creating a doll with a mouth for a lever to crack the nuts.These nutcrackers portray a person with a large mouth which the operator opens by lifting a lever in the back of the figurine.

These days, nutcrackers are primarily decorative and a traditional symbol of Christmas. Green has added to her collection with yard sale finds and souvenirs from trips to Hawaii.

While nutcrackers figure prominently in the decorations at the Lincoln Elementary School library, Green also displays snowman figurines, a Christmas village and other holiday delights. Often, students who have moved on to middle or high school will stop in to see how the library is decorated.

Green also loves to decorate her home, and now has so many holiday decorations she's had to rent a storage unit. She and her husband fill a flatbed trailer twice to transport decorations to their home and to the library.

"I love it!" she said. "I decorate for every season -- Valentine's, St. Patrick's Day, Easter."

Green has been the school librarian for 16 years, and before that played school with her two children when they were very young. "I read to them a lot," she said.

At Lincoln, every K-1-2 student visits the library twice a week. Students in grades 3-5 come in to the library whenever they need books. She taught them the Dewey Decimal system so they can properly re-shelve their books after they've been checked in. When kids are done with a book, she tests comprehension and vocabulary with computerized Accelerated Reader tests. Her library was once twice as large; now half is devoted to a computer lab that she also monitors.

In the library, one decorative item doesn't change, regardless of the seasons -- it's a very unique book chair accessorized with lions for the "Lincoln Lions." As a reward for good behavior in the library, she crowns a young girl or boy queen and king, drapes them in crowns and capes, and sings a special ditty. "They love it," she said.

It's just another way Nancy Green has discovered to bring a love of books into the hearts of her students.