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Oakhills librarian goes the extra mile

Makes library special for readers with extravagant wall art
By: Sena Christian, Staff Reporter
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Some visitors might enter the library at Oakhills School in Granite Bay and think the space has been decorated by a professional artist.

The walls are covered up to the ceiling with colorful scenes made out of butcher paper. There’s a pond overflowing with animals, a cactus scene, giraffes roaming through the desert, a lighthouse and even a large-scale gray elephant — its trunk protruding several feet out from the wall.

The elephant has been there for 18 years old, and sometimes the students at the kindergarten through third grade school reach out and grab the trunk.

“I have to remind them that’s older than they are,” said Librarian Karen Coultas, who has worked at the campus for 19 years.

Coultas, 57, isn’t a professional artist. She’s just an educator who wants to make the library as special and as inviting as possible for the young readers.

1. What do you enjoy about being a librarian?

Everything. I literally tell the teachers even my worst day here was a good day. I love the kids. I love the people I work with. I love the other librarians in the district. Everybody is just wonderful. … I’ve always been a huge reader and I love to share my love of reading.

2. Everybody always wants to know a librarian’s favorite book or author. Do you have a favorite book?

I do. When a girl asks me what my favorite series is, I say, “Anne of Green Gables.” If a boy does, it is the Dan Gutman series of “And me” books. There’s “Honus & Me,” “Jackie & Me, “Babe & Me” and they’re really, really fun.

3. When there aren’t classes in here, what kinds of things do you do?

I put books away. That’s mainly what I do. This is the way I shop (she points to dozens of books prominently displayed). I don’t go through the rack, so I put a lot of things on display. If I don’t see it on display, I’m out the door. So I fill in the holes in my nonfiction wall, fiction wall and picture books.

4. Why is it so important that kids, at a young age, develop a love of reading?

Reading is fundamental for everything you do — whether it’s writing reports, filling out applications. There’s nothing I love seeing more than one of our students who’s walking back from lunch with a book wide open, reading and trying not to bump into anybody, enjoying their book so much they can’t put it down.

5. What do you do when the classes visit the library?

I always read them a story. I do different stories for every grade level. Third grade gets a lot more nonfiction, which I love. Two things I don’t like: When kids put a book away in the wrong place even though I’ve talked to them a thousand times about it, and not having enough time with each class — because I tend to get a little carried away with my excitement sometimes and, oops, we’re running out of time.