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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Tarzana

Volunteers Beef Up School's Library

October 18, 2000|ROBERTO J. MANZANO

At Tarzana Elementary School, workers have weeded out about 2,500 outdated books, some of them torn, some published as far back as the 1930s.

Now there are about 2,000 new books, plus a cadre of volunteers who will help students choose from among the volumes. New plants and posters were also placed in the library by the National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles, which will provide the library with a computerized system and volunteers. On Tuesday, officials and volunteers gathered to celebrate the improvements.

"Literacy is important," said Carol Henault, director of the Women Helping Children department at the National Council. "We're not only saying those words, but doing what it takes to provide a library for children--stacked with books and with volunteers who will be there to work with the children and to make them excited about books."

Due to school district budget constraints, a library aide is available to help the children only three hours a day at Tarzana, Henault said. But during the entire school day, several of 25 trained volunteers will read to children, help them check out books and answer their questions, she said.

"Volunteers know who the kids are and the kids know them," Henault said. "That allows for a mentoring relationship."

Having more library hours available will help the students read more, Principal Roberta MacAdam said.

"Children very often don't go to the public library," MacAdam said. "This way, they'll have access to books all day."

Three years ago, a National Council of Jewish Women task force determined that many LAUSD elementary school libraries were in ill repair, lacked staff or enough books, or had too many outdated ones. Since then, the group has improved three. The council will spend about $15,000 to improve Tarzana Elementary's library, Henault said.

Student Mike Sher said he likes the increased variety of mystery and adventure books the volunteers help him find.

"It's easier to find the books that you need," said the 10-year-old Reseda boy. "Now it's excellent. I love this library."

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