Support Local Journalism


Subscribe


Students at a local elementary school have been hard at work personalizing lending libraries for an upcoming art auction. They’re hoping to see their 12 creations filled with books and spread throughout Bozeman.

Longfellow Elementary School’s annual art auction will look different this year due to the pandemic but organizers said they wanted to find a way to creatively engage the students while giving back to the city.

The wooden lending libraries, which operate on the leave-a-book or take-a-book principle, will be auctioned next week to benefit the school’s art programs for next school year. The virtual auction is scheduled to open Monday with bids starting at $200 and close at 8:30 p.m. on May 21.

Longfellow Little Library Art Auction

Students gather around to look at the little lending library panels they helped design and decorate for the Longfellow Elementary School ArtWorks auction that will take place on Friday, May 21, 2021. The auction will open for bids on Monday, May 17, on the website www.32auctions.com/artworks2021.com.

Bids can be placed at 32auctions.com/artworks2021.

Longfellow Principal Laura Conwell said the ArtWorks fundraiser has been happening since the early 90s. Traditionally, each student would create an individual art piece and classes would collaborate on larger art projects.

“We felt it was a unique year and our community really came together to support us and we wanted to give back by creating community libraries,” Conwell said in an email to the Chronicle.

There will be a virtual live auction on May 21 with additional items, including themed baskets donated by community members and organizations. A family trivia night is also planned that night hosted by the Science Center and Moss, according to Conwell.

Longfellow Little Library Art Auction

Twelve classes at Longfellow Elementary School and an artist worked together to decorate a little lending library for the Longfellow Elementary School ArtWorks auction that will take place on Friday, May 21, 2021. The auction will open for bids on Monday, May 17, on the website www.32auctions.com/artworks2021.com.

“When I was thinking through what we could do as a group project, little libraries came to mind as a way to give back to the community and be a resources to everyone,” said Amanda Jones, parent co-chair of Longfellow’s ArtWorks.

The idea was fueled by her and her children’s experience during the last year of the pandemic, Jones said. Her children are avid readers but with the public library shut down last year and the school library closed, their access to books was limited.

Longfellow Little Library Art Auction

Twelve classes at Longfellow Elementary School and an artist worked together to decorate a little lending library for the Longfellow Elementary School ArtWorks auction that will take place on Friday, May 21, 2021. For this library, students designed their own seed packets.

“We started searching the Facebook groups and then we craved this connection to community any way so my kids and I got on our bikes and started riding around looking for lending libraries,” she said.

Typically, the elementary school’s annual ArtWorks event features 100 to 150 items made by the students throughout the school year. To simplify the workload for teachers and still have a community-focused event, Jones said they decided to have each class personalize a lending library to be auctioned off and placed in the city by the winning bidder.

Longfellow Little Library Art Auction

Twelve classes at Longfellow Elementary School and an artist worked together to decorate a little lending library for the Longfellow Elementary School ArtWorks auction that will take place on Friday, May 21, 2021. The auction will open for bids on Monday, May 17, on the website www.32auctions.com/artworks2021.com.

Jones said they’re hopeful people outside of the Longfellow neighborhoods will bid on the libraries so they can be placed throughout Bozeman, especially on the west side of town where access to the public library might be more limited.

People who place a winning bid on the libraries will also have the option of sponsoring its placement in front of Family Promise of Gallatin Valley or two spots on the Main Street to the mountains trail with the support of the city of Bozeman.

Individuals can also place them in their neighborhoods or businesses can place them near their offices, Jones said.

A parent volunteer, Craig Hancock, built 11 of the 12 libraries. Another parent volunteer built the remaining one for the class of about 30 Longfellow students in the Bozeman Online School to personalize.

Longfellow Little Library Art Auction

Artist Marypat Zitzer helped collaborate with students create two little lending libraries for the Longfellow Elementary School auction on Friday, May 21, 2021.

Each class decided on a theme for its library, including outdoor adventures, wildflowers, glass mosaics and sand paintings of the Navajo.

According to Conwell, one first grader said, “We built our library for our community so everyone can have books even if they are poor.”

Another said they loved art because they can make mistakes and learn to persevere. A fifth grade student said they loved working together to make the libraries to share with others.

Organizers are hoping to raise at least $20,000 to maintain current programs, including purchasing art supplies for the school, funding the artists-in-residence program and bringing performances of Shakespeare, Chet Leach drumming and 406Cirque. If the auction is able to raise more money, organizers are hoping to bring in a community theater show next year, too.

Through the artist residence program, children get exposure to pottery, wool murals, fire art and mosaic artists, Jones said.

“It’s such a cool program and art just isn’t funded like it should be anymore,” Jones said.

Longfellow Little Library Art Auction

Students gather around to look at the little lending library panels they helped design and decorate for the Longfellow Elementary School ArtWorks auction that will take place on Friday, May 21, 2021. The auction will open for bids on Monday, May 17, on the website www.32auctions.com/artworks2021.com.

Support Local Journalism

To see what else is happening in Gallatin County subscribe to the online paper.

Liz Weber can be reached at lweber@dailychronicle.com or 582-2633.

Support quality local journalism. Become a subscriber.

Subscribers get full, survey-free access to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle's award-winning coverage both on our website and in our e-edition, a digital replica of the print edition.