PAL’s book vending machine filled, ready for readers

Last spring, the Project for Alternative Learning (PAL) and the Helena school district received a generous and innovative donation from the Lewis & Clark Library Foundation.  Not wanting to settle for donating supplies or even books, the Library Foundation – with the idea and urging of Teen Services Librarian, Heather Dickerson – have gone above and beyond expectations with the installation of a book vending machine at PAL.

All involved parties – and this excited staff member – have followed each step of the process with growing anticipation.  From ordering the machine to arrival at the school – and taking doors of their hinges to get the machine into the school – each step has brought the machine closer to completion.  One giant step took place this morning, as Dickerson and PAL Principal, Wynn Randall, stocked the vending machine, much to the delight and growing curiosity of district staff and student onlookers.  Students stopped briefly not just to see the filling machine, but to visit with Dickerson, who hosts some of the students at the library for “workdays” and internships.

Although the twenty titles currently supplying the vending machine have been handpicked by Dickerson, she next plans on involving some of the students in selecting future featured books and evaluating past picks.  It’s a unique and valuable opportunity for students to be part of a decision-making process and to have a visual reminder of their opinions.

The current books – representing multiple genres – will be available free to students who earn special tokens for perfect attendance or other staff-determined accolades.

We at the Helena Public Schools are so grateful for the involvement of our Lewis & Clark Library the hard work and dedication throughout the process.  We’re so excited to see what happens next!