Corvallis primary school library sends students "To the book fair and beyond"

2011-11-15T19:36:00Z 2011-11-15T20:12:04Z Corvallis primary school library sends students "To the book fair and beyond"PERRY BACKUS Ravalli Republic
November 15, 2011 7:36 pm  • 

CORVALLIS – Some people like to say that words printed on paper are on their way out.

Those people probably haven’t hung around the library at the Corvallis Primary School during book fair week.

It was Tuesday morning, and Carolyn Mickens’ third-grade class had just walked through the door. Some of the students took a moment to glance skyward at the 96 paper rockets dangling from the ceiling.

But that isn’t what held their attention.

In matter of minutes, almost every one was leafing through the new selection of books on sale and pointing out what they discovered to whomever was close enough to listen.

“‘Pokemon’ is my favorite book to read,” said one.

“‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ is the best,” replied another.

“I like to read a lot,” said a third.

Clad in her space shuttl commander-best, school librarian Beth Swallow wasn’t at all surprised by the excitement that filled the library during the book fair.

She’s seen it before.

“It can be difficult in this day and age, when you have video games and TV, to think that kids would want to read a book printed on paper,” Swallow said.

Every year, when the latest shipment of Scholastic books arrive, this librarian can’t help but feel encouraged about the future.

“Normally, we get the books a little bit early so the kids can come down, take a look and make a wish list,” Swallow said. “We didn’t have that this time around. They are seeing the books for the very first time.

“They are really excited.”

Corvallis Primary School can trace its book-fair roots back more than a quarter-century to the days when Margaret Sperry was head librarian.

“Back in the early days, all the books came in cardboard boxes,” Swallow said. “It was a little more work back then.”

Today, the books are shipped in metal boxes that become instant bookcases when they are opened. The shipment is mostly filled with children’s books, but there’s a selection for adults too.

“We do have a parent table,” Swallow said. “I had one gentleman come in looking for a mechanic’s manual. I had to tell him we didn’t have that. We are not Barnes and Noble.”

The book fairs held in the fall and spring are the main fundraisers for the Corvallis Primary School library.

Swallow does whatever she can to make them an event that students will remember.

This year, she organized a rocket-building contest for kindergarten through fourth-grade classes.

The young rocketeers were challenged to create their own spaceships based on a theme from one of their favorite books.

“I think some were a little disappointed that they weren’t going to be real rockets,” Swallow said, with a smile. “I had one ask me if they could bring bottle rockets. I said, ‘No, you cannot.’”

The decision to keep the spaceships grounded without explosions didn’t keep many students from taking part in the contest that featured a $25 first prize and gift certificates to all who entered.

By the time the last rocket came through the door, Swallow had 96 entries.

“They were all very creative,” she said. “We had the teachers vote on their favorites and then awarded a grand prize, runner-up and honorable mentions.”

The grand prize winner was fourth-grader Carson Whiteley for his rocket rendition of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.”

“My mom helped me on it,” Whiteley said after being handed his $25 gift certificate.

Parents will have a chance to take a look at the library’s rocket display through Friday this week. The book fair is open Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The money raised at the fair will go toward adding some more pages of paper to those volumes already waiting on the shelves lining the library’s walls.

“I think there is always going to be a place for books made from paper,” Swallow said. “There’s something about turning those pages and getting lost in the words that fill all paper pages. I don’t think that will ever be completely replaced.”

Reporter Perry Backus can be reached at 363-3300 or

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