The chance to create a school library from the ground up was a dream come true for book lover and passionate librarian Heather Grey. Since joining the ACG Tauranga team, Heather has played a leading role in ensuring the school's new library is an inspiring and welcoming haven for students – from sourcing and stocking all the books right through to buying the pens and pencils.
Setting up a library is a significant undertaking; what are you enjoying most about the process?
Everything! Watching the space take shape as the shelving and furniture arrive. Buying and processing all the beautiful new books. Watching the students' excitement as they see the library starting to look like a library. I received a reading loan from National Library to supplement our collection, and the Primary students have been able to come and issue them for their class. They're so excited to access the fantastic new space!
What are the most challenging aspects?
Processing the books quickly enough so that we can get the library open and classes coming in.
Tell us a bit about the new facility.
It's a very open, bright and welcoming space with well thought out furniture and shelving and massive sliding doors opening onto the field. There are two large window boxes that students will be able to sit in and read. They look very inviting, and I can't wait until we get some cushions to make them even cosier.
What was it that attracted you to the role of librarian at ACG Tauranga?
I've been working in school libraries since 2011, and in 2017 I completed a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Humanities and Library and Information Studies. In my previous role as sole charge library manager at Tauranga Intermediate, I'd inherited a large, well-used collection and library – the challenge of setting up a library from scratch was pretty appealing. The chance to create reading relationships with the students was also an opportunity not to be missed. Now I'm lucky enough to have my dream job. For me working with books and children doesn't get any better. I am privileged to be able to work with the staff and students of ACG Tauranga.
Why is it so important for students to have access to an in-school library?
Apart from the chance to get lost in a book, the library allows students to expand their knowledge and develop empathy. Reading about someone else, laughing with them, and crying with them is an incredibly powerful resource. Studies show that students with access to a school library do better across all areas of the curriculum.
Are all ACG Tauranga students able to borrow books from the new library?
At the moment, our focus is on providing a well-resourced library for Years 1 to 9. However, I'm receiving and buying books for all levels. The library is an inclusive environment where everyone is welcome. All the students are loaded into our library management system, and once we are officially open (on 13th May), we'll be able to issue them books.
Do you have any advice for students to make the most of this new facility?
The best advice I can give them is to make use of the most essential resource in the library – me! I buy, catalogue, and handle every book, so I know the collection (and what's in it) better than the computer. If something is missing, then talk to me as I might be able to order it or find a resource online.
And finally, you're obviously a book lover! So what are your favourite reads?
Believe it or not, a few librarians out there aren't readers – but I'm not one of them. I love books, and I'll read anything, although I reserve the right to put it down and find something else if I'm not enjoying it. I do enjoy fantasy and a good murder mystery.
My favourite book? Not an easy one to answer. I love Anne of Green Gables, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Women's Murder Club, Lord of the Rings and David Walliams, just to name a few.