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NYC School Library System Homepage: Queens

75Q177 The Robin Sue Ward School for Exceptional Children

Christopher Duffy is the principal of the Robin Sue Ward School for Exceptional Children. This school serves students in District 75, a New York City-based non-geographical district in the Fresh Meadows neighborhood of Queens. District 75 is the district that serves students with special needs. 

Brittany Falesto is the library teacher, a New York state-certified special education teacher who is currently working towards her master's degree in library science through our Teacher2Librarian program. Brittany wrote the VITAL libraries grant in order to create a worksite for her special needs students. On this worksite, students learn all aspects of library operations from circulation to shelving to cataloging. Brittany painstakingly teaches each child how to do each job so that her students are prepared for jobs in the public library or other settings where attention to detail is necessary. 

Below are some before and after photos of the library.

Before

75Q177 library before photo

One wall of the four-walled room that was called the school library. This wall had bookcases filled with materials that were not suited for the population of students in this school.

75Q177 library before photo

This was one of the bookcases that jutted out into the room. The books were paperback and inappropriate for the age group of these students. This bookcase and the other that jutted out into the room would be removed to make way for flexible bookcases on wheels.

75Q177 library before photo

This was the other bookcase that jutted out into the room. It took was filled with inappropriate books, unsuitable for the age group this library serves. The Department of Library Services came with the entire team and weeded the books.

75Q177 library before photo

More inappropriate books.

75Q177 library before photo

Taken the day that the entire Department of Library Services came to 75Q177 to weed the library.

75Q177 library before photo

The bookcases that jutted out into the library have been removed and two new bookcases have been installed against the wall between the windows.

75Q177 library before photo

More weeding done by the team at the Department of Library Services.

75Q177 library before photo

The librarian's old desk in the corner of the room behind a screen.

75Q177 library before photo

What the room looked like before the new materials arrived.

75Q177 library before photo

Another before photo.

75Q177 library before photo

Brittany placed the old, unwanted books in boxes in the hallway outside the library as giveaways.

After

75Q177 library after photo

The custodians pulled out the shelves that used to be along this wall, plastered and painted, and a computer workstation space was put in its place. Above the laptop computers are sensory panels.

75Q177 library after photo

A student shelving a book on the new bookshelves. These shelves are on wheels in order to create a flexible working environment.

75Q177 library after photo

New flexible seating options are available now. Here are students working in a makerspace.

75Q177 library after photo

A new bookshelf. 

75Q177 library after photo

Students working in groups in the new library space.

75Q177 library after photo

Flexible and comfortable seating options in the corner of the library.

75Q177 library after photo

The librarian's new desk is to the right, under the interactive whiteboard. It is no longer in the corner behind a screen. It is on wheels so that she can move around amongst the students if necessary with a laptop computer.

75Q177 library after photo

A conference table seating option that was designed by the students. The students put all the furniture together under Brittany's supervision and reconfigure the furniture as needed.

75Q177 library after photo

Flexible seating was the vision for this library. Here are other configurations for the furniture.

75Q177 library after photo

These are the new library books. They are hardcovers as opposed to paperbacks. Hardcover books are more appropriate for libraries because they are more durable. These books were a gift made in kind by the Department of Library Services. The library books have custom spine labels. The numbers are larger and vertical as opposed to horizontal. The books are also color-coded to make shelving the books easier for the students.

75Q177 library after photo

This is called a Thinknook. It prevents outside sounds from coming in when the students sit in it. A sit-to-stand desk, like the one Brittany uses for herself, allows students to work on a surface.

75Q177 library after photo

Brittany teaching students library worksite skills.

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