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Owen Intermediate School Wins 2019-20 Model 21st Century School Library Award

June 5, 2019

LANSING – The Library of Michigan today announced that, for its innovative collaborations with local educators, the Owen Intermediate School Library Media Center in the Van Buren Public Schools district has won the state’s 2019-20 Model 21st Century School Library (SL 21) Award.

“The Owen Intermediate School Library Media Center makes use of many resources for a variety of productive collaborations with Language Arts and Social Studies educators in grades five and six,” State Librarian Randy Riley said, “and, the library’s focus on bringing primary sources to life helped to award it this honor.”

Riley said that, for instance, school library media specialist Jonathan Richards has done impersonations of historic and mythical figures as part of collaborative Social Studies lessons about Cristopher Columbus and Hades; and, for literature lessons based on Chinese American author Lawrence Yee, Richards introduced students to a collection of Chinese art and currency to broaden their experience of the novel Dragonwings.

Riley commended Richards and Principal Melissa Lloyd for providing such quality immersive learning experiences to students in Van Buren Public Schools, located in Belleville.

“Learning deeply about people through artifacts, art, and literature helps students understand the world around them. Owen Intermediate School strives to give that high-level experience to its students,” he said. 

The Model SL 21 program recognizes particularly high-quality school libraries and library media specialists; and promotes the development of similar initiatives in other schools. The program is based on the LM’s School Library 21st Century benchmarks ( The Owen Intermediate School Library Media Center holds Exemplary status in the SL 21 program through March 2020. 

The Library of Michigan staff select the Model SL 21 Library after reviewing applications from school librarians across the state. Applicants provide information such as curriculum, co-teaching activities, community collaboration, and participation in educational associations.

Owen Intermediate School staff are available for consultation with and visits from other school librarians and educators who want to learn more about the successful program. Interested persons may contact Jonathan Richards at or Karren Reish at