Bismarck library assistant finds ‘colorful’ way to inspire students

Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 11:26 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Teachers are always thinking of new ways to challenge their students.

That might mean a new learning game or a contest. For one Bismarck Public Schools library assistant, it meant a whole new hair color.

Allison Keller is the first to admit she is a bit of a book nerd.

“I’ve always loved being around books,” she said.

She loves books so much she chose 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’s often at the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Library where she works as a circulation associate.

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

Much of her job at school involves reminding kids to bring back their library books.

“Getting books returned is a little tricky,” she said.

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

“I issued them a challenge 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 by that deadline could choose the color.

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

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 in the winning fourth grade class.

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

She’s even happier about the books that came back; only one book in the entire library is still missing. But what she says is even better – are the conversations her green hair has sparked among kids attending summer school.

“They always comment on my hair and so I get to tell them the story too,” she said. “And seeing that excitement is neat. The library is such a fun place, and the library is their safe space. It’s their fun space. And I love being able to foster and cultivate that love.”

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

Keller says she might have to touch up her hair color before school resumes in the fall. She’s already planning a new challenge for next year.

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