February 18, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

SLJ and LEGO Education Announce the Winner of the Build Something Bold Library Design Award


The “digital diner” at Walnut Grove Elementary School in New Market, AL.
Walnut Grove’s library is the winner of the Build Something Bold Design Award. Photo by Bob Gathany

Today School Library Journal and LEGO Education announced the winner and runners-up for the inaugural 2014 Build Something Bold Library Design Award, which recognizes innovative design within a school library or classroom that demonstrates exemplary and creative use of library space and resources to effectively engage children and/or teens.

The Walnut Grove Elementary School library, in Madison County, AL, takes first place. Led by librarian Holly Whitt, Walnut Grove’s library features a “digital diner,” with tabletop “jukeboxes” of technology, including tablets and an afterschool computer science program involving Arduino and LEGO Education robotics kits. Whitt will transform another part of the 2,500-square-foot library into a makerspace, which serves as a gathering point for tools, projects, mentors, and expertise to enable anyone to make.


Walnut Grove Elementary School library. Photos by Bob Gathany

Despite being the highest poverty school in this rural district, Walnut Grove students have consistently led the district with the highest scores on state tests. The Walnut Grove school library, according to the application, “is an example of building a bold library through transforming physical spaces and creating authentic, diverse experiences for all learners.” Whitt will receive a $5,000 cash award, a profile in SLJ’s November 2014 issue and a LEGO Education StoryStarter Classroom set with software and curriculum.

The runners-up are: 1st runner-up, Nimitz High School, Irving, TX ($1,500 cash award); 2nd runner-up, Kaechele Elementary School, Glen Allen, VA ($500 cash award); editor’s choice, Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, IL ($500 cash award).

The winning entries demonstrated the effective use of creative library programming and design to enhance literacy, STEM, and creative problem-solving.


From left: Nimitz High School (Irving, TX); Kaechele Elementary School (Glen Allen, VA);
and Adlai E. Stevenson High School (Lincolnshire, IL). Photos courtesy of the school libraries

“Congratulations to everyone who entered and to our winners!” said Stephan Turnipseed, president of LEGO Education, North America. “Our goal with this award is to encourage schools to use their library space to create an atmosphere that will make learning an exciting experience for students of all abilities and backgrounds.”

“School Library Journal is honored to highlight the work of these stellar examples, which highlight the creative work and ‘can do’ ethic of school librarians as they strive to provide creative learning opportunities for their students,” says Kathy Ishizuka, executive editor of SLJ.

The winner will be honored at the SLJ Leadership Summit 2014 in St. Paul, MN, on October 26.