An Arabian proverb says a book is “a garden carried in the pocket.” If that true – and many would argue it is – Hillcrest High School is about to get a whole lot greener.

That’s because this month, if DISD remains on schedule, work is slated to begin on a new-and-improved school library.

The library’s expansion was brought about because Hillcrest was recently put on an accreditation warning list by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), which states that a collection of 10 “balanced” books must exist for each student. With nearly 1,800 students and around 12,000 volumes in the school library, Hillcrest, which has been accredited by SACS since 1956, falls short.

For librarians Merri Lynne Alexander and Carol Mills, the library work couldn’t have come soon enough:

“We’re so happy,” Alexander says. “Right now, we can only serve one class at a time for research. This will allow us to have three full classes at a time. We’re real excited about that.”

More than 800,000 in bond program funds are being channeled into this project, which will renovate the existing library and add an additional 7,400 square feet, bringing the total square footage to nearly 11,000. During construction, classes typically held in the library will be moved to portables in the parking lot.

“They’re going to build out toward the parking lot on Aberdeen, and also the other way toward the tennis courts,” Alexander says. “This will mean more space for more books.”

The only thing that remains in question is when the project will start and when it will end. Ike Egbuonye, project manager for Hillcrest’s bond funds, says construction should begin this month. But Alexander says the project has already been pushed back multiple times, a matter she takes in stride.

“I’ve worked for DISD since 1988,” she says, “and I’ve learned you can’t let anything bother you. You just have to say, ‘OK, whatever!’”

If construction begins this month, it will concentrate first on renovation, saving the additional work for later, and should be finished up in time for the start of the 2005-06 school year.

It’s a time Alexander anticipates greatly.

“We’ve felt very limited in the services we can offer,” she says. “We’re looking forward to expanding just every part of the library – non-fiction and fiction – so we can serve everyone’s needs.”


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