School library gets help stocking shelves

Local News

East End Middle School library in Hensley on Jan. 29, 2020.

HENSLEY, Ark. — The shelves at East End Middle School’s new library has been bare bones since the district moved into a new building 6 months ago, but there are some new additions thanks to volunteers.

Most shelves in the library are empty, something the school calls temporary and a growing pain that comes with updating reading material, teachers growing classroom libraries, and students turning to e-readers.

“We’ve got this big library and there’s only about 3 shelves full of books,” said Norma VanBrunt. “I thought why is there only 3 shelves full of books?”

VanBrunt is an East End graduate herself, but says this isn’t the lesson she wants to teach current students, including her granddaughter.

“They sometimes don’t have books at home, so let’s get them the books from here,” she said. “I decided that I would donate some of the ones that I keep at my house.”

VanBrunt dropped off some books and word of her good deed spread quickly.

“I’ve had 68, 69 people text me back and say, ‘We’ve got books, where do we drop them?” VanBrunt added.

For the school it’s a bonus they weren’t expecting.

“We welcome and appreciate every single donation, but the district is really supporting us to get even more,” said East End Middle School Principal Lupe Peña de Martínez.

Peña de Martínez says when the school moved into the new building they decided to rework the library, which included buying new books that students would want to check out.

“The last thing we want are shelves filled with books, but covered in dust,” she said.

Every classroom, including the library is equipped with tablets that are part of the school’s growing digital library. Peña de Martínez says they also have an upcoming book fair which will help raise funds for the library to order new books.

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Arkansas’ Reading Deficit

  • Only 31% of Arkansas’ 4th-grade students are proficient in reading (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2015).
  • Arkansas ranks in the lower third in reading scores in comparison to other states (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2015).
  • One-third of Arkansas schools report average literacy scores lower than 25 percent (Department of Education in Arkansas, 2015).
  • Only 39% of Arkansas’ graduating seniors met reading readiness benchmarks on the ACT (2015).