A vehicle inside a school library is the least expected place you would ever think to see such a sight. But Huntingdon Primary School just happens to have a blue and white 1978 Volkswagen bus model parked inside its library.
Visitors walking down the hallway often pause for a double take when they spy this unusual sight.
But this library has many unique features that have been brought to fruition through the ideas and work of library media specialist Beth Guess and her husband, Chris. She pointed out that he made three different style drapes for the library’s windows. Adorning the end of the library on the wall are tools that begin with a letter of the alphabet. Her daughter, Maggie Guess, covered letters of the word, “library,” in colorful material and hung it over the entrance.
“I’m all about reading and anything that promotes that idea and causes children to want to read more,” she said. “I’m for it one hundred percent.”
She admits the “vehicle in the library idea” came about while looking on Pinterest for unique desk ideas.
“When I noticed this Volkswagen that had been turned into a desk in this office building, I said,’Isn’t that cool.’”
The idea stuck and turned into a full blown project that consumed she and her husband until it was completed.
For 20 years previous to 2017, Guess had been a kindergarten teacher. It was that year that then principal Alan Eubanks ask her to change positions and become the library media specialist.
“He told me I could decorate it any way I wanted,” she said. “I just laughed and said, ‘are you sure?’”
Thus, the search for this special vehicle began. After a four month search, the couple found just what they were looking for on E-Bay. The burnt orange and white 1978 Volkswagen vehicle was found in an old barn in Maryland and was towed to the Guess residence. It had its engine and tires, but didn’t run.
It turned out to be her surprise 23rd wedding anniversary gift on June 16, 2017.
“My husband blindfolded me and led me into the back yard,” she said.”I was so excited when I saw it I literally jumped up and down.”
It was an emotional moment.
“This is going to happen and the kids will flip over it,” she thought as she stood there. “I wanted the kids to enter the library and be excited about books and reading.”
She added that she knew since it was unique that it would capture a child’s interest.
It turned out to be an almost three-year project.
Due to the vehicle being rusted, it had to be sandblasted which a Jackson company did. The Guess couple had to tear out the seats and remove the steering wheel and dashboard. The original tires were cut so they wouldn’t roll.
One side of the Volkswagen was cut away with the vehicle winding up in three pieces. The library doors were measured to make sure they were wide enough for its entry.
She says her husband loved every minute of the restoration. The couple decided to gift the vehicle to the library.
“He loves taking something old and restoring it,” she said.
She chose blue for the bottom half of the vehicle because she felt that color has a calming effect and makes one think of the ocean. White was used for the top of the vehicle.
On Jan. 20, 2020, Guess’ husband, along with Nathan Wallace, Jacob Warbritton, Ben Carter and Tim Carter moved the Volkswagen into the library.
After being moved there, the front desk and a rear area were made with card tables covered with wood tops.
“The kids just love it,” she said. “They ask such questions as: ‘Was that a real car once and did you know your tires are flat?’”
Educational assistant Richelle Stokes even purchased purple dice to hang over the mirror.
It even has a license plate on the rear that Chris purchased that says “Read.”
The school’s second graders were the first students to view the vehicle because Guess had placed paper over the windows.They had written about what they thought the secret was, but none guessed a vehicle.
The vehicle is a conversation piece that receives a lot of favorable comments and compliments.
Guess is a person with a lot of imagination and intuition when it comes to the library and reading. In fact, she longs for a larger library.
It is her quest and goal for the library to be a magical place.
“It’s like the magic of imagination,” she said. “I always want it to be a happy place for kids, teachers and visitors.”