By Catherine Greene, Miami Country Day School

Libraries, whether they are public, school or private, are experiencing budget cuts and reduced staffing along with the pressing need for expanded services. Our present economic times demand belt-tightening, creativity and prudent fiscal decisions. Financial planning in administering a private school library can be daunting in the best of times. Whether present budget issues revolve around database pricing, technology, book purchases or periodical subscriptions, some form of seriously reduced spending is reality. But what about issues that are more subtle, more cosmetic and, from the perspective of young patrons, more important?

One dilemma we faced was the pressing need to re-upholster fourteen barstool chair seats for six high top tables in the middle/upper school library. Our necessity-driven solution was to issue an all-school request for used jeansóall sizes accepted. Had we anticipated the huge response, we would have limited it to certain grades.

Library staff members each took a large bundle of jeans home for washing. We later sorted them by size. Our school nurse purchased a heavy duty needle for her sewing machine, cut the jeans and proceeded to mix, match and include pockets and special designs for the barstool chairs. The one stipulation from the library staff was that all pockets be sewn closed.

The results exceeded expectations. Students loved the new chair seats. When they first saw them, they searched for “their” jeans. The staff is also no longer concerned about pencil or ink marksówe now have a reserve supply of jeans for years of upholstering projects.