Metro Detroit elementary honored with National School Library of the Year award

West Maple Elementary in the Birmingham school district is one of the few school libraries in Michigan that has a full-time certified librarian.

The school's library was recently named the 2023 National School Library of the Year by the American Association of School Libraries. It's the first time a Michigan school has received the honor in 10 years.

"Nine percent of school libraries in Michigan have a full-time certified librarian, so this school is part of that 9%. If we think about the numbers, 53% of school libraries, K-12, do not have a staff in a library to help their students," Carrie Betts said.

Betts has been a librarian for 13 years, and is the person behind all the books at West Maple.

"Really it’s about finding the right book for them, like finding the right material for them, whether it’s nonfiction or fiction, and engaging them that way," she said. 

To receive the library of the year honor, Betts and others had to come together and showcase the school's impact.

"We had to collect letters of recommendation from our superintendent, from Jason, our principal, also community support, hearing from community members. Some of my volunteers that come here to help, and then I had to provide them with a digital portfolio of what West Maple Elementary does," Betts said.

Principal Jason Pesamoska said having librarians is an investment in the education system.

"It’s really a reinvestment I think in Michigan and our education system to bring in and realize and recognize the power of librarians, that they can be within our systems," he said.

Along with the honor, the school library received $10,000, which will be used to buy new furniture.