"As an English teacher and a library media specialist, I realize that reading is a part of everyday life," Smith-Harber said. "When I was in high school, I didn't read unless it was an assignment. Upon entering college, my professors spoke about books that I didn't even recognize. I must admit that I was embarrassed. So, now, if I know a student is college bound, I recommend those books to him. If a student isn't college bound, I try to find his interests and direct him to books in those areas. My goal is that students recognize that there is literature that will interest them. Plus, I offer monthly competitions to encourage readers to keep reading. The competitions are fun and the students seem to enjoy them."
According to Smith-Harber, the library's theme for the school year is Reading Roundup. Smith-Harber has made reading extra fun this year by giving away prizes that have been autographed by well-known celebrities. She said she mailed about 100 letters to celebrities around the world and received several responses. Some autographed items are from Adam Sandler, John Grisham, Dean Koontz, Lurlene McDaniel, Jeff Foxworthy, Dale Ernhardt Jr., Christopher Paolini, Tiger Woods, Paula Deen, Carrie Underwood, Alex Rodriguez and Michael Jordan. Smith-Harber said she plans to mail out more letters requesting autographed items from celebrities.
She said students can win the prizes by competing in monthly reading competitions.
"October's contest is, name the first line of the book. In November, students can design a bookmark. In January, students can design an original book cover. February's contest is, find the hidden books. In March, students will be given clues and they must tell which author matches the clues. For April, a Greyhound trivia contest is the focus. In May, the student with the most accelerated reader points (at their reading level) will win the prize," Smith-Harber said.
Her student volunteers have also been a big help to her, she said. "The library crew works diligently all school year to help the library run smoothly and efficiently. The crew helps with the contests and the book fair," Smith-Harber said. "In essence, the student volunteers are the best promotion for the library."
She said the annual book fair will be Oct. 20-24. A community night is scheduled for Oct. 21 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. for people in the community to choose from the selection of books being sold at the book fair. The normal hours for the bookfair are 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
"I am truly excited about this school year," Smith-Harber said. "The monthly competitions and the book fair are extras, but they are extras that the kids and I enjoy. The foundation of the library is to promote reading and allow students the opportunity to explore their interests. I try to make the library a fun place, not one of intimidation. I feel like I'm succeeding because students are visiting each day and commenting on the number of new books. They request books and I try to purchase them. We all work together to make the Salem High School Library the place to be."