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An Anchorage elementary school librarian is delivering books to students using a borrowed van

  • Author: Loren Holmes
  • Updated: October 22
  • Published October 22

Klatt Elementary School librarian Genevieve Stephens sets up a mobile book delivery station on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020 at the Dimond Estates mobile home park. About 75% of the students at Klatt live in the park, which is over 3 miles from the school. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

With the help of a donated van, getting books to hundreds of Klatt Elementary School students in South Anchorage just got easier.

Genevieve Stephens, the librarian at Klatt Elementary, is trying to make it easier for students to access books by bringing the library to them.

Klatt Elementary, situated on Old Klatt Road, serves about 400 students. The school has been closed to in-person learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and like many other schools in Anchorage, students can come to the front door on certain days to pick up library books and other study materials.

But unlike most other schools in Anchorage, about 75% of Klatt Elementary students live over 3 miles away, at the Dimond Estates mobile home park.

With no school buses running, this makes it hard for those students to get new books and return ones previously borrowed. “I have a school that services kids that live way far away from where we actually are,” Stephens said.

“I think that anytime somebody has to get in the car and drive somewhere, it’s tricky,” she said. “So I wanted to give both populations the same opportunities — ones that live right near school and my ones that live in Dimond Estates.”

Klatt Elementary School librarian Genevieve Stephens talks with second grader Marcus Helms and fifth grader Rosario Helms during a book pickup event on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 at the school. Stephens also operates a bookmobile, which brings books to students who live at Dimond Estates, a mobile home park 3 miles from the school. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

Denise Pranger, a behavior coach who started working at Klatt this year, offered her 15-passenger van as a way to get the books from the school to Dimond Estates. The art teacher made a large sign, and in early October the women made their first trip to the park. The effort doesn’t receive any extra funding from the school or the district.

The van works a lot like an actual library, just without the ability to browse the stacks. Students request books online, and Stephens bags them up for each family and delivers them to Dimond Estates each week.

Klatt Elementary School fourth grade teacher Ashley Headley hands her student Jason Bang a supplemental packet on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020 at the Dimond Estates mobile home park. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

“In a normal world, I see all the kids once a week,” Stephens said. “We do read-alouds, and talk about genres.”

While her job has changed with the pandemic, her core mission hasn’t changed.

“We just get them excited about reading and they check out books," Stephens said.

Klatt Elementary School behavior coach Denise Pranger, left, and librarian Genevieve Stephens organize books at a mobile book delivery station on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020 at the Dimond Estates mobile home park. Pranger is donating the use of her van for the weekly trips to the park, which is over 3 miles from the school. (Loren Holmes / ADN)
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