The reopening today of the library at Dorris Place Elementary resembled the reveal at the end of an HGTV home makeover show, with students at the Elysian Valley school oohing and aahing as they gazed at murals of clouds hovering over book shelves and a tree, fashioned from cardboard tubes and artificial leaves, spreading its branches across a corner of the room. “Can I sit under the tree,” said one student as his classmates gathered under the branches for a reading in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday. The fabricated tree and the reopening of the library, which had been shuttered last year by budget cuts, was orchestrated by a new group of school parents and supporters – Partners of Dorris – that made restoring the library its first priority. Not only did the parents and volunteers redecorate the library and arranged for donated furnishings and materials, members of the group underwent training to help staff the library and keep it open.
The library closure was “unacceptable to our young students, especially when they are at such a crucial stage in their learning process,” said Blaire Lennane, President of the nonprofit support group. “Developing a love for reading during these formative years is essential to the success of each of their futures.”
Unlike nearby Atwater Elementary, which launched a fundraiser to rehire a library aide, Lennane said her fledgling group was not in a position to raise the estimated $15,000 needed to pay the salary of a library aide. Instead, Lennane and her fellow volunteers decided a Do-It-Yourself approach was more practical to get the Dorris library up and running again. Crate & Barrel donated furniture, Home Depot provided supplied paint, Mission Renaissance Art School provided volunteer painters, and a former Disneyland Imagineer and current designer/3D model maker helped spruce up the functional but bland library interior.
Lennane, who approached parent support groups at Ivanhoe Elementary and Mt. Washington Elementary for advice, said Partners for Dorris is also busy with fundraisers to buy musical equipment, hire a physical education teacher and establish a community park next door to the school. Parents or residents who want to volunteer or help the group can contact Lennane at [email protected]