Creativity Comes Alive in the Midlo Library

Sharing a Love of Culture and Reading

Photo by: Ms. Heather Murfee
The Midlo librarians create the Black History month display in the library.

Few libraries have an atmosphere as lively as the Midlothian High School library. When one enters the creative space, one of the first impressions is that it certainly is not the silent library of old; this library vibrates with life.  Midlo librarians, Ms. Heather Murfee and Ms. Emilia Mazzanti, create some of the most eye-catching pieces in the library. Their goal is to draw attention to certain books for reading pleasure by matching the theme with the corresponding holiday or celebration for a certain month. However, the effort behind the creation of these creative and festive displays often goes unnoticed. The average display, including the cylindrical center, the graphic novels section, and the bulletin board outside of the library, requires anywhere from half to an entire day to complete, depending on the painting or building required. The organization layout includes gathering books, creating signage, and arrangement of the materials. When searching for inspiration, Ms. Mazzanti stated, “Consulting Pinterest is always a must.” The origins of this imaginative project began with the desire to inspire more students to read. This way of going about it “captures students’ attention,” said Ms. Murfee. Both admitted to enjoying this facet of being librarians. Ms. Mazzanti reminisced about her time as an elementary school librarian, where making the bulletin board in the beginning of the year allowed her to use her crafting skills she doesn’t often get to use.

Some of the classics include:

The 2018 September Will Rock Your Year

This timeless piece includes all of the rock legends over the decades from The Beatles to AC/DC with a poster saying, “Rock Your Year” with a record in place of the “O” in rock, AC/DC record albums, The Beatles t-shirt, and a black electric guitar. The librarians paired the display with books related to the Rock-n-Roll topic. This was their first Midlo display, and the librarians wanted it to be both appealing and a conversation starter. “I am a huge classic and alternative rock fan, so what better way to start a conversation than with music?!” exclaims Mrs. Murfee. With this display, Mrs. Murfee mentions her favorite parts of the display were the electric guitar and vintage albums. When asked what was memorable about the “Rock Your Year” display, Mrs. Murfee shared, “The albums hold a special place in my heart because they are special to my husband.  He worked hard while in high school and purchased them with money he earned. In the days before downloads, an album was the only way to experience the music outside of live concerts. We sometimes listen to them on our record player at home, and they remind us of when and why we fell in love with music.”

The 2019 February Black History Month

This elegant piece, which includes a magnificent centerpiece with a stunning African-American woman with three dimensional curls on one side and a piece of Kenyan art, donated by Mrs. Tully, on the other side, hangs from the ceiling. Posters filled with quotes about power and peace decorate the circular center with Black History-related books. The woman represents strong and beautiful women of color. The inspiration stems from this WEBSITE, which Ms. Murfee discovered when she searched the internet for ideas for the display. With this display, Ms. Murfee mentioned her favorite book in the display, Dear Martin: “After a ivy-league bound student, Justyce, is racially profiled, he searches for answers by writing letters to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” she explained,.“It’s been a very long time since a book has reached down and grabbed my soul like this. Author Nic Stone gives the reader a lot to consider with the masterful way she represents a wide array of viewpoints.”

The 2018 September Hispanic Heritage Month

The graphic novels display case showcased the Hispanic Heritage Month for September. The central idea focused on the Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo. IB Spanish teacher Señora Travis Jimenez loaned the librarians a DVD about Kahlo, inspiring them to research the famous painter. “I knew I wanted to display her in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month,” Ms. Murfee said. Individually wrapped and stacked graduating-sized boxes provided the main components of the Frida Kahlo creation. In regards to the final touches, Ms. Murfee shared, “I especially liked putting a beautiful, golden scarf and earrings on her!”

Chinese New Year

This display is Ms. Murfee’s favorite she has ever created. This display had paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling, alongside a sign written in Chinese and streamers to convey the festive vibe. Around the circular center lay posters and books about Chinese history and culture. When they began putting it together, other staff members, Mr. Huerbin and Dr. Szwabowski, almost immediately loaned their special artifacts. Mr. Huerbin created in the past a paper mache dragon head, an ideal headpiece to the display. Dr. Szwabowski, on the other hand, had traveled to China a while ago and shared her souvenirs like a Diet Coke can, chopsticks, and a cloth fish. On the experience, Ms. Murfee commented, ”The Chinese New Year display was bold, colorful, and a wonderful example of collaboration within the Midlo family.”

The 2018 Global Celebrations

This display is Ms. Mazzanti’s favorite so far. This elaborate display included three parts. The first involved the doors to enter the library, which was decorated with a banner on the top that said, “Reading Lights Up Your World” and two large cut outs of the globe posted on the two exterior windows of the library. The second consisted of two white Christmas trees, decorated with blue and silver ornaments, a menorah, a nutcracker, Hanukkah-themed books, and a plethora of other small decorations correlating with Hanukkah. The last piece of the display was made up of a Christmas tree decorated with lots of colorful ornaments and topped with a silver star, a “Joy to the World” plaque, and books about the Christian holiday. Ms. Mazzanti shares that she loved this display because they were able to represent all of the religions, cultures, and celebrations on a single display. They included: Chinese New Year, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Ramadan, and Christmas. Ms. Mazzanti spoke about this display by saying, “I especially love how all the cultures’ decorations and religious symbols blend together to make a beautiful display that represents the diversity here at Midlo.”

Both Mrs. Murfee and Ms. Mazzanti love sharing their art pieces with the students in Midlo. These monthly displays will continue throughout the end of the year, and hopefully continue in the years to come.