For immediate release | May 12, 2021

Melissa Raymer receives AASL Inspire Special Event Grant

CHICAGO – Melissa Raymer, librarian liaison for DC Virgo Preparatory Academy in Wilmington, North Carolina, is one of five school librarians from across the country receiving a 2021 American Association of School Librarians' (AASL) Inspire Special Event Grant. Made possible by the generosity of AASL member Marina “Marney” Welmers, the grant program provides funds for public middle or high school libraries to plan a special event to enhance student learning.

DC Virgo Preparatory Academy is a lab school serving kindergarten through eighth-grade students. Lacking a dedicated budget, the school has relied on grants to add books to the library collection. Staff is also working to overcome a lack of age-related texts for all grade levels, especially texts that are culturally diverse and current.

Raymer and colleagues will use grant funds to build book clubs and guided reading groups for all grade levels at the academy. The sets will include multiple copies of a title; a pamphlet containing more information about the author, book, and related reading; and bookmarks. For the sets, the educators will focus on purchasing books from various genres written by authors who are African American or people of color to represent the students in the school community. The grant team will also use funds to build a “book nook” where students can freely browse the book club sets, relax, read, and have discussions. Along with comfortable seating, this space will include a corkboard to display student-created promotional material.

“It has been a difficult year for libraries and the committee took note of that when looking at grant submissions,” said Zandra Lopez, grant committee chair. “A special event might mean something different to individual libraries. School librarians wanted to make connections with students and provide them with opportunities within the library environment. Whether that included virtual author visits, improving collections, or creating makerspaces, each submission focused on student engagement. In a year with many restrictions, the ability to provide a special event for students truly captures the spirit of this award.”

The AASL award winners will be recognized during the 2021 AASL National Conference taking place October 21-23 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The American Association of School Librarians,, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.


Jennifer Habley

Manager, Web Communications

American Association of School Librarians (AASL)