The Heart of Learning: A Look Inside the Middle School Library
At the American School of The Hague (ASH), every grade level enjoys its own library, tailored to the unique learning needs of its students. From the Early Childhood Center to Upper Elementary, Middle, and High School, these libraries are central to supporting both academic and personal growth. In this interview, we speak with Robin, the Middle School Librarian, and Alexis, the Library Assistant. Together, they strive to make the Middle School library an inclusive, accessible, and curiosity-driven space—a true oasis, as Robin describes it.
The Middle School Library: A Camelot
The Middle School library is a dynamic, vibrant space filled with color, board games, and an extensive collection of over 7,000 titles. It's a favorite spot for students, who can be found reading in cozy nooks, playing games like chess, or searching for their next novel. As Alexis described it: “It’s an energetic space with lots of pockets of activity. Its engaging and positive environment is also a community space.”
As a Teacher-Librarian, Robin helps students explore their interests through books and supports teachers with resources to enrich their lessons. She also conducts classes in the library on various topics, showcasing the unique skills librarians bring to education. Alexis, with her background in special education, supports students by cataloging books, assisting in classes, organizing events, and guiding them through the library's offerings.
More Than Books
The library's collection is just the beginning. It’s also a space where we host international authors like Nora Neus and Dan Gemeinhart, who provide workshops, participate in student-led interviews, and discuss their work and creative processes.
Art plays a significant role in the library, promoting a safe, diverse, and inclusive space. Craft tables celebrate historical, social, cultural, and environmental themes from around the world, inviting students to participate in these celebrations. Thematic book displays change frequently to reflect current events and seasonal festivities, attracting not only Middle Schoolers but also High School students, parents, and ASH staff.
An Inclusive and Engaging Environment
The library caters to the diverse needs of students. Some need a quiet space, others thrive on stories, and some feel more at home among books than on a playground. The library offers a comfortable and safe haven within the school grounds. Robin emphasizes two main considerations in running the library: high-interest resources and adherence to Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion (DEI) principles.
“The goal is for everyone that comes here to feel safe and be able to be themselves, and to also have fun,” says Robin Graphic novels are particularly popular, especially for students learning English. These narratives help them engage with a new language effectively.
Supporting Learning and Literacy
The library plays a crucial role in supporting academic literacy. Robin assists teachers by providing supplementary materials and teaching essential skills, like citation. “They build up knowledge throughout Middle School so by the end of it, they are well prepared for new challenges in writing and research for High School.” she says.
Despite its supportive role, the library remains an informal, transformative space where creativity flourishes. Alexis notes that "anything is possible if you’re creative enough to make it happen."
Creating Connections and a Love for Reading
Robin and Alexis significantly influence how students relate to books and develop a love for reading. Robin starts by getting to know the students personally, and then guides them to books they might enjoy. “This helps in particular with kids who don’t naturally gravitate to books,” she says, “It’s also a great way to develop relationships with readers - you learn things about them and slowly get to know them better. ”
The success of the Middle School library, like all ASH libraries, depends on the support from the wider school community. Principals, teachers, curriculum directors, and the head of the library department all contribute their perspectives and advice, ensuring that the libraries work in harmony to enhance student learning.
The Middle School library at ASH is more than just a place for books. It's a dynamic, inclusive space that fosters curiosity, supports academic growth, and cultivates a lifelong love of reading.