Markham Elementary’s Library Dream Team

By Children Rising | April 2, 2018

by Kim Farnham-Flom, Director of Library Services

Janice McClure, Marian McGaw, and Poly Thy at Janice’s graduation

Three years ago, Janice McClure was approaching retirement from her professional position. At that time, she read an article in the Children Rising newsletter about our contribution in opening and sustaining libraries in Oakland public schools*. Intrigued, she set about using some of her newfound time as a library volunteer.

Since then, she has discovered a new love working with students in East Oakland. “The students have taught me a lot. I am more aware of the need for providing books for students connecting with their own culture and the urban environment,” she explains. “Kids at the elementary age believe they can do anything and books encourage those dreams.”

Two years ago, Janice’s enthusiasm and commitment led her to join a group of other library staff to work towards a Library Technician certification. The cohort of school staff and volunteers completed the program with a festive graduation in February 2018. Children Rising provides training and support to all volunteers, which is instrumental to the success of the Library Services program. However, Janice took it further and committed to a series of 10 classes in Library Science through Diablo Valley College. “The program was a lot of work, but now I approach my time leading class visits differently. I research books, assist with the bulletin boards, and try to stay one step ahead of the students.”

Janice is part of a Children Rising team serving Markham Elementary. Marian McGaw has served school libraries for over 12 years with Children Rising. During this time, she has mentored and inspired a new generation of library volunteers. Marian’s dedication has inspired hundreds of elementary students to develop their love of reading. Together, Janice and Marian work with Poly Thy, the school’s library technician, to make a library dream team. “We feed ideas off of one another, laugh together and ensure the students have the best library experiences we can offer.”

If you would like to be part of a future library dream team, there are schools in need of library assistance. Both reading for pleasure and for school are important to a child’s literacy development. Just a few volunteer hours a week can impact a child’s ability to explore the world of books discovered in the school library. Visit to learn more.

“Librarians save lives: by handing the right book, at the right time, to a kid in need.”

– Judy Blume, American author

*Lack of funding has forced many schools to close their libraries. Our library volunteers help provide library services so that students have access to books on a weekly basis.