After 20 years of reporting to the same space, Cindy Azevedo has a new home.
As classes resumed following the recent spring break, the student body of Magnolia Elementary School as well as the staff was treated to a long awaited reveal – their state of the art 21st century library is ready for use. At the helm of the newly completed project, none other than veteran librarian Azevedo.
The project marks the completion of the Oakdale Joint Unified District objective to renovate and modernize all elementary site libraries and tech centers. Magnolia’s came to fruition by a fluke of nature, quite literally.
“This was a resource classroom for special education,” school Principal Janet Hamby said of the newly renovated space, noting that in early 2017 it sustained a significant amount of roof damage due to a winter storm.
Hamby shared once the extent of the damage was realized, Superintendent of Schools Marc Malone inquired if she had considered converting the space to the new library. An idea which excited both Azevedo as well as Hamby.
“Once they had torn everything out, this wall was beautiful,” Hamby said of the vaulted ceiling, skylights and reclaimed wood revealed on three of the four walls. “We didn’t know any of this was here.”
“When I first got here, at this site, 20 years ago, they were lowering all the ceilings to conserve and heat,” Azevedo added.
The principal and librarian team shared that the designers hired by the district for the library projects also loved what was revealed, especially the wood. Their intent was to maintain one of the walls, as well as incorporate wood into the new design to maintain the integrity and history of Magnolia.
The vaulted ceiling, exposed duct work, drop lights and bright airy feel is a far cry from the space located at the far corner of the campus which Azevedo called home for 20 years. During her tenure at Magnolia, Azevedo shared she has lived through five library redesigns, this – the fifth – will be her last.
“One more school year and then I retire,” the librarian said. “It was kind of cool, I got to grow with the kids. Leaving that space down there, it was my second home.”
“But change is good,” she continued, “and I love seeing what we are going to be able to give to the kids.”
In addition to more book space, a Genius Bar, as well as a Smart Board has been added to the space. As librarian, Azevedo now has what one might call a ‘Command Center’ for a circulation area where students may self-check out books and all of her needs are in one place.
“Moving the library out here is so much nicer because now I’m by the yard,” she said of the school playground adjacent to the library entrance, “where the kids can come visit me a lot easier.”
Located at the end of the first hall of the enclosed campus, that made it hard for students to visit the library before and after school in the previous location … but not anymore.
“She can be open before school starts, since it’s right there on the yard,” the principal added. “Families can come before school or after school.”
“I just love the openness of it. The airy feeling, it feels fresh and light with the natural light coming in,” Hamby added of the welcoming feeling one gets from the new location. “I mean I want to be in here, as an adult and I know our students are going to want to be in here, because it’s such a fun space.”
“I can’t find anything faulty with anything,” Azevedo said of the space which will serve her for her final year.
The librarian noted the changes in “books,” as well as technology during her two decade tenure, candidly sharing an evolution of sorts she never could have fathomed 20 years ago. As a professional of literature there is one thing she is sure of, children still love a physical book. The young ones love to take one away like the “big kids” and the “big kids” love to move a book mark to mark their reading progress.
“And it was all thanks to a storm,” Hamby said of the library. “Out of the bad came something good. It’s unfortunate that we had to have the damage, it’s been very challenging space wise, everybody was displaced. But out of that came this.”