Getting the Library Ready
I was so excited when I heard that 2800 books were coming, and a brand new set of encyclopedias! There was a lot of work to get done to get the space ready for a new library, though. The first task was definitely to clean the place up, get rid of some things, and reorganize what needed to stay. So I spent a lot of time getting rid of workbooks from students that were from 5 or 6 years previous, repairing books, and unpacking the retired text books from the states. The teachers were really excited when I explained to them that those old US reading books have awesome stories with questions already written that they could use with their students. Probably the funniest part of getting the library ready was when I went to open the supply cupboard to attempt to find a pen, and instead found a rat. What was I supposed to do with a rat? Unfortunately I knew it had to die, because when here are rats there are snakes. I was the lucky one to find the poisonous snake the year before hiding behind the cabinet. So I considered hitting it with a book and then realized I am not that mean. Earlier I had found this Tupperware container and filled it with flashcards. So I ran in and emptied it out, and caught the little rat inside. Then I realized, I have a rat in a box, what am I going to do now? Of course this was the perfect time for the Infant division to dismiss classes, so I had 25 4-6year olds running around me with my boxed rat. We ended up taking an impromptu class field trip to the house behind the school that has a cat :)
With pests taken care of, we were able to start thinking about shelving. The teachers and I discussed how we could arrange shelves and what we needed to accomplish and then I went to visit the PTA chairman (yes we have those here). Our PTA really is just a chairman, not an actual association. So I asked him if he could help build some bookshelves and who he wanted me to get to help him. The amazing thing is he works for the sawmill a few miles away and was more than happy to help, even volunteering to find some nicer wood that wasn't rough so the books wouldn't get messed up as easily. So he told me he would do it on Saturday. Friday his boss dropped him off from work with beautiful donated wood that was smooth and even pretty trim to make them look nice! Our PTA chairman and his son spent the entire day Saturday working, and created these two beautiful shelves, to go with our one old one :). You may ask, why did it take the entire day (7am-5pm) to make two shelves? Well we don't exactly have the nicest building supplies, so they used an old, slightly dull hand saw.
They Arrived!!! How am I getting them here again?
The books arrived into Belize City at the port in late October. When I finally heard they were ready for pick-up I scheduled my adventure up to Belize City for the 31st. This trip was a source of a lot of anxiety and probably contributed to my not sleeping. 16 boxes is a lot to figure out how to move when you don't have a car and are about 6 hours away. Maybe I shouldn't have picked Halloween for this adventure? I don't know, but everything turned out just fine :)
So in order to get to the City and back in one day I had to catch the first bus out of the village. I started waiting about 4:45am for the 5am bus, cause who knows when it would actually come. Well this day it was about 5:30, and it was packed! I didn't think they would let any of us on the bus, but when they found out I was going to Belize City they had to make room because of distance, this meant standing in the doorway with about 5 other people. Way too early for a ride like that. I made it to the city around 11am and found a taxi to take me to the port. This was apparently my lucky day, because he used to work at the port and was able to help me out in the confusion of where to go and when. They definitely do not make it simple. After about 10 different stops, and the customs search, etc, I was finally ready to go and we loaded the 16 boxes into the taxi. I was pretty full of anxiety about whether or not a bus would take them all at once. I know they move big things frequently, but they also occasionally lack any desire to be helpful :). So the bus driver had the great idea to take them to where the buses park instead of trying to unload them into the station. This meant there were two James buses waiting for me speak with. So they told me no, but that I should put them on the express bus which is not allowed to stop where I live. They reassured me that it would, however. So we unloaded all the boxes and I waited for the express bus to come and the driver told me no, but thanks to his conductor he eventually told me yes. So we loaded them on and I made it home with all the boxes around 8:30pm. Thankfully I had a few helpers to carry them up to the house. Our excited was a little high so there was definitely no waiting until the next day to at least peek into a few boxes. :)
Unpacking and Other Fun Adventures
The next morning I woke up and realized I have 16 boxes of books weighing about 50lbs each, I live at the bottom of the hill, and the school is at the top of the hill. My solution? Open every box at home and procrastinate the inevitable. :) So I opened every box, kept getting more and more excited about all the cool books, and sorted through them to take out the books that were better suited for classroom use, etc. So I had one box ready for the infants who aren't allowed to check out books. They had great big books with songs and dances in them, picture books, very beginning phonics, etc. Ms. Nadine was so excited for her box :)
After that I started recruiting some helpers. Niselia came to help count boxes (she is 4 and not in school yet), Abner (2 years old) stole his mom's broom and came to sweep my house and kiss the books with dogs on the cover. Eventually I went to get the rest of the help which included two men to haul them up the hill. Mateo brought a wheelbarrow and carried 6 at a time, and Luis and I each carried one. Two trips later they were all in the library and our three librarians were anxious to open them up and see what was there!
The hardest part was probably keeping the kids out of the library for the two days it took to organize, number, label and put the books on the shelves. They were so anxious to check out books and come see all of the new ones. So opening day was definitely exciting.
The Library Opens!
Picture 77 students in a very small room, all overly excited about their new books and this is what you get:
Searching for books:
Swarming the librarians:
It really was a great day :)
The library two years ago:
Abner kissing the books in my house:
Niselia counting books
Thanks again to EVERYONE who helped in any way :)