Nikki Capshaw was hired as the school librarian at Bret Harte Elementary in May of 2019. When COVID swooped over the nation in mid-March she reached out to families to offer a personal lawn library meet up where she could come and read in their front yards, socially distanced, while still providing the kids with some normalcy.
Nikki is not new to the Burbank school district, having raised two daughters in the area, both attending Roosevelt, Jordan, and Burroughs. She has been PTA President, founded multiple Booster Clubs, served on the Facilities Oversight Committee, and volunteered for Choir. Her love of story brought her back to school where she received her MFA in Screenwriting from Cal State Northridge.
When Burbank schools closed and students were adapting to distance learning, Nikki reached out to families to volunteer her services as a community member by reading to the kids. Some families felt more comfortable connecting via zoom, while others enjoyed safely distanced storytime on their lawns. “I love reading to the students and helping them develop a love of reading by guiding them to books they might connect with. Nothing makes me happier than when kids come up to me and excitedly tell me how much they love a book I suggested,” said Capshaw.
Nikki has been serving over 20 families during quarantine, providing weekly meetups to read books like The One and Only Ivan, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Aesop’s Fables, Charlotte’s Web, and more. “I wanted to do something to help the Bret Harte families have a slice of normal in a very not normal situation. And as part of their school week, every student comes to the Library with their class and I read. This seemed like an extension of that,” added Capshaw.
The future of school libraries and librarians have been a subject at recent school board meetings and Nikki hopes that both will continue to be funded. When school was in session she would welcome kids into her library during lunch to provide a quiet and safe place for the students to read and discuss books with her. “Many children don’t have the opportunity to go to a public library and for them, their school library is where they are able to freely explore the world of literature,” said Capshaw, who also believes in teaching the kid’s library etiquette so that it stays with them forever.
With the new school year, Nikki is still volunteering her time to some Bret Harte families, continuing to bring the love of reading and a sense of normalcy to her students.