Chatfield Elementary students can check out books from their library on a weekly basis. Kindergarten through second grade students also get story time during their library visits as well.

"They are read stories, often have a little activity, and check out their books," said librarian Marsha Duffy.

Students go each week to the Andrew and Alice Groen Library to explore the world through the pages of the books lining the shelves.

"The third through sixth grades have book check out time, but they do not have a library skills or story time session...sometimes the younger students have trouble picking out books and they enjoy checking out the books that have been read to them, which they may not have found on their own," Duffy added.

She also pointed out that the elementary library, with its new furnishings and books, was provided in part through the Andrew and Alice Groen Trust Fund when the school was built several years ago.

"The Groen Trust was a wonderful gift to school libraries. When the new building was built, the Groen money was used for the furnishings and the opening day collection, which provided new books for the students," she said. "While many books were transferred from the old library to the new building, most of the titles were new and very appealing to the students, as well as having current copyrights. It gave a wonderful boost to the offerings."

According to Duffy, students love new books and are excited when new, fresh-looking books come into the library.

"We are fortunate that the district has committed to funding books for the libraries and that it realizes how important it is to have appealing materials for students to access," she continued. "We add new titles throughout the year and try to have the current favorite series or authors available. Current copyrights on material for research are also important. The current focus on the Common Core curriculum shows a need for relevant nonfiction materials and our budget allows us to purchase books which meet this need."

Library assistant Cheryl Meyer added, "With our new reading program, Action 100, it is very important for them to be introduced to different genres, and there are requirements that they must read that assortment of different genres."

Technology has affected how the students learn and also how they use the library, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the books they read will not have paper pages.

Duffy commented, "This year we will be starting to purchase e-book titles for our elementary students. Students enjoy reading on their devices and often the additional benefit of an online dictionary and being able to increase the font size or having a word pronounced for them helps with their reading ability."

She did admit, however, that the e-book market for schools is limited by the publishers and some titles are not available or are very expensive to provide. Electronic devices benefit many students but those that love to read still enjoy the physical book. There are still many books that are not available in the e-book market so it is still important to have hardcover books available.

No matter what the format, Chatfield Elementary School students are voracious readers now that they have a reading program and a place to find engaging books.

The librarian stated, "The focus of our district on improving student reading abilities has increased the usage of the library on a daily basis. The encouragement from parents and staff is so important in getting students to recognize the importance of reading in achieving success in school. Since most families would be unable to provide enough reading material in their homes, it is the role of the school library to provide that equal access to all students."

Meyer likes that the assortment of media available to students has opened the world to them through the development of reading skills.

"It is awesome," she said. "Some of our students that have not really liked reading in the past...once we find what they are interested in reading, they seem to just take off. The library is a very busy place. It is wonderful place for our students here at Chatfield Elementary to come and check out books."

And that's why Meyer truly enjoys her job. "I feel that I have the best job in the school," she added. "I get to see every student in the building at least once a week. I enjoy listening to the younger students reading. At the first grade age, they, for the most part, read out loud and I have really noticed growth in many of the students."

Duffy related that the Scholastic Book Fair, in progress this week at the school library, is a vital part of the library's ability to expand its collection.

"The Scholastic Book Fair is the elementary library's fundraiser. We realize a profit from the book sales and use those funds to purchase replacement titles or items which the regular budget can't provide," she explained. "The entire community is invited to visit the book fair during our open hours. The fair will be in the elementary library from Dec. 2 through Dec. 5. It's a great time to pick up books for holiday gifts. In the spring, we host a buy one, get one free, book fair as a thank you to the community for their support of our fundraiser. We do not realize a profit from the spring book fair."

Meyer invited, "Please come and buy some great Christmas presents for your loved ones. You can never go wrong buying a book for your loved ones, and the elementary receives the proceeds from this book fair. Everyone is welcome."

Chatfield Elementary School's Scholastic Book Fair opened this past Monday, Dec. 2, and is set to last through this Thursday, Dec. 5. Book fair hours are Tuesday, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., Wednesday from 1 to 5 p.m. and Thursday from 4:30 to 7 p.m.

For more information, contact the elementary school or log onto the Chatfield district website at www.chatfield.k12.mn.us.