Target volunteers complete P.S. 76’s library makeover

P.S. 76 principal Louise Sedotto (scissors) and Sabrina King of the Department of Education (center right) joined students and teachers to celebrate the opening of the school’s new library, sponsored by Target and Heart of America. Photo by Victor Chu

On Thursday, September 10, 250 Target volunteers flooded P.S. 76 to assemble a new library and hand out thousands of books. Target and The Heart of America Foundation selected P.S. 76 for a library makeover in April.

The Adee Avenue school won new furniture, bookshelves and paint, an automated library catalog, six desktop computers and 2,000 library books for the popular department store.

“Wow!” said Jacob Baran, 8, who helped design the new library. “It looks good.”

Schimenti Construction knocked down a wall between the old P.S. 76 library and a classroom to double the library’s square footage. Students rarely used the old library; it held a small collection of old books, assistant principal Maria Cioffi said.

The new library boasts bright floors and red trim, beanbag chairs and café tables. Quotations from Robert Frost, Nikki Giovanni, Thomas Edison, Maurice Sendak, Maya Angelou and Aristotle adorn its walls.

“An absolute transformation,” principal Louise Sedotto said. “Target and Heart of America tripled our book collection.”

Sedotto expects P.S. 76 students and parents to do research and read for pleasure in the new library. Each class at the school will visit the library each week. The Department of Education awarded P.S. 76 and its 1100 students an “A” report card for 2008-2009.

“P.S. 76 is a high-quality school,” Heart of America co-founder Angie Halamandaris said. “Today it gained a high-quality library. Students at P.S. 76 know that the library is important, and that books are important.”

Heart of America, headquartered in Washington D.C., promotes volunteerism to boost literacy. The 250 Target volunteers, at P.S. 76 on their own time, arranged the library, read to students and helped build a gumball sculpture.

Target and Heart of America sent each P.S. 76 student home with seven new books and each P.S. 76 sibling home with five new books. Baran, a third grader from Barnes Avenue, has read Goodnight Moon and a handful of chapter books.

“I like to read,” he said. “I want to use the library every day.”

P.S. 76 is one of 16 schools to win a library makeover in 2009; Target and Heart of America remade a Harlem library in 2008.

DOE Chief Academic Officer Sabrina King attended the September 10 ribbon cutting.

“What a great way to start the school year,” King said.

One of Baran’s friends suggested that Target and Heart of America paint the new library’s doors to resemble books; the sponsors agreed.

“Since we heard that P.S. 76 had won a library makeover, the school has been a whirlwind of excitement,” Sedotto said. “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

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