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NYC School Library System Homepage: 75Q177

75Q177 The Robin Sue Ward School for Exceptional Children

Robin Sue Ward SchoolChristopher 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.


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.

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.

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.

More inappropriate books.

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

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

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

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

What the room looked like before the new materials arrived.

Another before photo.

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


The library is also a worksite where students learn skills they can apply to jobs in other libraries.

Students enjoying the soundproof thinknook in the 177Q library.

More flexible seating options at the 177Q library.

Students enjoying their time in the library at 177Q.

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.

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

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

Muzo tables that nest and fold allow for creating flexible spaces to suit the different activities in the library.

The library furniture can be arranged in a multitude of ways!

A new bookshelf. 

Students working in groups in the new library space.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Brittany teaching students library worksite skills.

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