Kathi Knop came to SME as a librarian after working at a Blue Valley elementary school. After being at East, she became the librarian at Mission Valley Middle School, then returned to East when Mission Valley closed. She has worked at East to make the library a more fun and inviting place for students and teachers by organizing new programs to encourage more people to visit the library.
When Knop first became librarian at East, along with co-librarian Mrs. Larson, she implemented a change to raise money for the library in a monthly event called Cappuccino Day. The program raised almost $1,000 each month, most of which went to buying new books. The rest of the money was donated to charities like Habitat for Humanity, which is a charity for building houses for the less fortunate, or Heart to Heart, a charity that gives medical supplies to people in need (like natural disaster victims). Although, when the school’s coffee shop opened, the fundraiser was stopped. Knop also worked to get SMART boards for the library. As a result, more teachers came to the library to teach a class in order to use it.
Knop returned to SME last year, after having been the librarian at Mission Valley for five years. She says she took last year to get “re-acclimated” with the East library, yet she still made changes to the library. Just last year, Knop got a grant and bought 20 Nooks for the library with it.
“It’s great because when the movie came out for Perks [Perks of Being a Wallflower] everyone wanted a copy of the book, and I ran out of copies, but then I had 15 copies with the Nooks,” she said. “I have really seen an increase in the number of students who read more books.”
Knop is working on encouraging students to come to the library and be more comfortable by coming to clubs. She started lunch book clubs for students who want to participate once a month in a book discussion during their lunch. Juniors Alec Armer and Sam Bernard started chess club this year, which meets on Mondays after school.
“It’s great because we have sometimes 15 to 20 kids here after school on Mondays,” Knop said.
More recently, she started Student Library Advisory Board (SLAB), an organization for students to improve the library. The SLAB members suggest ideas for library improvement and new books, as well as help implement changes wherever needed. For instance, they are now working on a project to rearrange the spacing in the library by moving furniture and replacing bookshelves. The library just got new, shorter bookshelves to make the entire space more open. Before, there may have been just four or five books on certain shelves, but now they’ve been consolidated into the shorter bookshelves to make better use of space.
Knop says the reason she makes changes in the library comes from her process of evaluating the program and asking herself what she can do to make it better.
“I don’t do changes just to have changes,” Knop said. “I try to make it better; to involve more teachers and more students and to improve the physical space.”