Zeman students enjoy reading adventures in refurbished library

Zeman Elementary School’s library has always been a place where students can map out grand literary adventures word by word with their books.
They can now trek on their reading trails in a room full of exciting updates.
Zeman’s library has been transformed this school year with a variety of design improvements. Students can now relax on couches, chairs and ottomans when turning pages of their stories, and new tables provide meeting spots for group lessons and activities. Shelves have also become more inviting with new books for students of all ages.

Fourth-grade students Gabe and Jack said they were happy with the changes. Both said the soft-seated couches and chairs have made headlines in Zeman’s hallways. 
“It’s really nice and comfortable in here now,” Gabe said. “It’s been fun. I really like reading in here.”
“There are a lot of good seats,” Jack said. “Our library is great.”
Sherri Day joined Zeman’s staff this summer as school librarian. She and Lincoln Public Schools Director of Library Services Chris Haeffner both felt students would benefit from having the space be more attractive. Both said the renovations have provided a burst of energy to the room’s reading environment.
“It’s been amazing,” Day said. “When I came here in the summer I thought it needed some cheering up, because the library should be a happy place for kids. It should be a place where they want to come and where they’re excited to be at.”
“The bones of the old library didn’t change,” Haeffner said. “We simply leveraged the space and added new furniture to create a more kid-friendly and inviting place to learn, collaborate or get lost in a book.”
Zeman Principal Rik Devney said staff members are proud of how the final product turned out. District employees spent many hours working on the semester-long renovations. The school also used $4,000 from a recent book fair fundraiser to add dozens of titles to the shelves.
“The amount of collective work that has been put into this is pretty remarkable,” Devney said.
Haeffner said part of the district department’s annual budget is specifically set aside for updating library spaces like Zeman’s. Devney worked with the library services team to ensure they could make all of the purchases at once instead of in smaller increments. The new furniture and fixtures cost approximately $20,000.
Another major part of the project took place on the shelves. Day and Haeffner led a team that removed damaged and outdated books from the library this summer. They inserted newer items into prominent places for students to enjoy.
“This makes a huge difference in the overall quality of the collection and the ease in which kids can find attractive books,” Haeffner said. “It also allows us to consolidate and re-arrange shelves to better fit the flow of the library.”
Fourth-grade classmates Charlie and Jeremy said they have enjoyed the larger selection of books. Jeremy said he likes to read chapter novels and books on arts and crafts, while Charlie said chapter books are his favorite ones.
Students expressed joy about the updates during a mid-morning library class. Day helped them learn about terms found in biographies such as the glossary, index and table of contents. They worked on laptop computers at larger tables before spending time in breakout sessions in smaller groups. They ended their 50 minutes by checking out new books to read at home.
Day has been teaching at LPS since 1993 and has been a librarian for the past five years. She leads a large number of library classes at Zeman each week. She felt the space could become home for a wide assortment of other school and community functions as well.
“I want this to be a place that gets a lot of use,” Day said. “It reflects the school so well, so I’d like to see it be a place where we have meetings and classes and all kinds of fun opportunities. I want this to be a place where people can gather.”
Day said she is extremely grateful for the support she has seen from both the school and community. She said Haeffner and Devney have been enthusiastic about helping with the project, and members of Zeman’s parent-teacher organization have given a large amount of encouragement. All of the partners cheered for her during each step of the project.
Day said everyone involved with the renovations could feel good about the outcome. They have mapped out a library where students can achieve academic success with a smile.
“I’m so proud of our library,” Day said. “I’m really happy. It’s so exciting to see how welcoming and inviting it is now.”
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Published: January 31, 2024, Updated: January 31, 2024

Zeman Elementary School students are enjoying the chance to read in a renovated library this school year. New chairs, tables, couches and ottomans provide more seating options for students, and multiple new books are on the library's shelves.