Bismarck’s library assistant finds ‘colorful’ way to inspire students

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BISMARCK, ND (KFYR) — Teachers are always thinking of new ways to challenge their students.

It could mean a new learning game or a contest. For a public school library assistant in Bismarck, that meant a whole new hair color.

Allison Keller is the first to admit that she’s a little into books.

“I’ve always loved being surrounded by books,” she says.

She loves books so much that she has chosen a career that allows her to be surrounded by books at all times. During the day, you’ll find her at Roosevelt Elementary School where she works as a library assistant.

And in the evenings, she is often at the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Library where she works as a circulation associate.

“It’s just my house. I love being surrounded by books,” Keller said.

Much of her job at school is to remind children to return their library books.

“Retrieving books is a bit tricky,” she said.

Last month, before school ended for the summer, she found a creative way to motivate her students to return their books.

“I challenged them if they could return 90% of their library books by a certain date, then I would dye my hair,” she recalled.

To add a little extra motivation, she promised the first class to return all their books before this deadline so they could choose the color.

“We wanted to win,” said William Doll, who just finished his fourth year.

The fourth graders won the contest, and Keller’s hair changed from brown to green.

“I think it looks good,” said Alexander Johnson, who was part of the winning fourth-grade class.

“It’s faded a bit in the month or so since I had it dyed, but I’m incredibly happy with the color they chose,” Keller said.

She is even happier about the books that have returned; there is still one book missing in the entire library. But what she says is even better – these are the conversations her green hair has sparked among kids attending summer school.

“They always comment on my hair so I can tell them the story too,” she said. “And seeing that excitement is great. The library is such a fun place and the library is their safe space. This is their play area. And I love being able to nurture and nurture that love.

And she’s willing to go just about any length — and any color — to share her love of books.

Keller says she may need to touch up her hair color before classes resume in the fall. She is already planning a new challenge for next year.

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