A.L.L. participants and friends said…

Richard Madison – age 13, 7th Grade Student, James Denman Middle School

A Living Library is a place where I can learn and relax at the same time.”


David Yee – age 9 1/2, 4th Grade Student, San Miguel Early Education School

“I feel that A Living Library is everything that we create with nature and gardens, buildings, and pieces of art work. And we should make it beautifully, so it could be a peaceful place. I feel again that there’s lots of things of a part of A Living Library. We work hard to make things change with dirt into flowers.”


Jill Wynns – Commissioner, San Francisco Board of Education

A Living Library is one of the most exciting and meaningful education initiatives in our district. The ability to integrate multiple ways of learning while enriching the environment is exactly what all students need. Teachers and curriculum developers benefit enormously from participating in this effort. This project should be a high priority for everyone dedicated to evolving the next steps in cross-disciplinary education for the future.”


Linda DavisFormer Superintendent, San Francisco Unified School District

A Living Library represents a wonderful opportunity for our students to engage in active learning by taking an ecological setting and integrating it into the curriculum. It provides authentic learning experiences for students that will motivate them to high levels of academic achievement, particularly in reading, mathematics and science.”


Arthur Francis – age 15, 9th Grade Student, Balboa High School

A Living Library is important because it helps nature because birds come into the garden and eat food. The plants supply the food for the birds and worms and stuff. If people came and looked at it, they would probably like it too.”


Debbie Servantes – age 11, 6th Grade Student, James Denman Middle School

“Whenever I go to A Living Library I feel so free. I forget all of my stuff and talk with my friends and most of all gardening. I think gardening is cool because you get to see insects you have never seen and flowers you have never seen. A Living Library is about different stuff like computers and everything.”


Elaine T. KouryFormer Executive Director of Information, San Francisco Unified School District

The Living Library & Think Park concept represents an attempt to look at education in a different way. This work speaks to the urgent need to rethink the way we educate our children.”


Layla Sollenberger – age 14, 8th Grade Student, James Denman Middle School

“For one thing, A Living Library is going to help us learn about what was here before all the buildings, and it will help us live longer with the oxygen we’re getting from the trees that we are planting, not to mention how beautiful it is. It’s here, not just for our generation, but for the generations to come.”


Rosemary CambraChairwoman, Muwekma Ohlone Indian Tribe

“On November 12, 1999, the Muwekma Ohlone Tribal representatives were invited to give a slide presentation about our history, heritage and culture to classes attending James Denman Middle School. Afterwards, Ms. Bonnie Sherk shared with us the scope of work that seeks to integrate environmental and cultural issues into the curriculum as a working outdoor laboratory and Living Library (identify endemic species of plants, habitat restoration and how our aboriginal culture related to the natural environment). I, as the Chairwoman of the Muwekma Tribe, fully endorse Ms. Sherk’s efforts and would like to establish a reciprocal relationship between educational projects and our tribe. I would also like to explore ways by which members of our tribe can get involved with this project and formulate strategies that support such important mutually educational endeavors.”


Rafael Urbinana – age 13, 7th Grade Student, James Denman Middle School

“I think what we are doing in A Living Library is good for us and the world.”


Carl Anthony – Former Executive Director & Founder, Urban Habitat Program and Former Ford Foundation Program Officer

A Living Library is a great gift to our communities, making tangible the connections between ecological and cultural diversity. This PreK-College educational project provides young people with splendid opportunities for hands-on learning in the fields of art, life sciences, enivironmental design, social studies, and technology. It should be made a part of every school curriculum.”


Mike VaseyDirector of Special Projects, Conservation Biology Program, San Francisco State University

“Humans face a rapidly expanding population of which half already reside in cities and in which more and more people will call cities their home in the future. Most cities today surround people in concrete and disconnect them from their natural heritage. It is difficult as a result, for the majority of people on the planet today to relate to themselves as part of nature and to understand how all species including humans are interdependent and ultimately reliant upon healthy ecosystems for their survival and quality of life. A Living Library gives children and young adults the opportunity to reconnect with their natural roots and to experience as well as learn about these important relationships. I support these efforts of A Living Library and look upon it as an important ally in my quest to get college students more engaged in community-based learning and service.”


Aris Silzars President, International Society for Information Display; Contributing Editor, Information Display Magazine

“By integrating technology as part of nature, A Living Library is providing a great service for all of us by broadening our view and understanding of interconnected phenomena. A Living Library is introducing entirely new and innovative concepts for the application of display technology in the landscape environment and its integration into education. We can expect, that in the future A Living Library will set an example that stimulates the development of entirely new electronic display technologies and display application concepts for implementation into non-traditional environments such as in bright sunlight and for conformable shapes, such as the projected ‘Green Powered Digital Gateways’. This is a project with potentially far-reaching consequences.”


Sara G. Parker, Ph.D, Lecturer; former Fellow, Townsend Center for the Humanities

A Living Library provides a utilitarian program for educators that collapses the distance between cultural experience and regional diversity. Through the Life Frames model and readily available telecommunications technology, teachers, students, their families and mentors can share knowledge of their cultures and locales with other groups around the world. I can’t think of a better way to encourage planetary problem solving and life-long, community-based learning.”

John Ignacio, EdD.- Former Principal, James Denman Middle School

A Living Library has benefited James Denman Middle School through both ‘big ideas’ and several ‘little successes’. The big ideas include the expansion of the learning ‘universe’ into the community in a meaningful way. For example, our students and staff now interact with the two adjacent schools, the nearby community college and also several service agencies, such as Friends of the Urban Forest. There have been scores of ‘little’ but highly significant successes, particularly with the students. One example is the habitual truant who watered the garden started by A Living Library throughout even the summer months. Another is the group of neighboring pre-school and special education elementary students who are voracious workers in the garden. This is just the beginning as more and more students, staff, and community are becoming active in our Living Library.”


Ted Barone, Former Assistant Principal, Balboa High School

“The conceptual construct of A Living Library is outstanding. We at Balboa are intensely interested in the historical, cultural, and biological/geographical connections inherent in the idea.”


Kimberly Vail – age 13, 8th Grade Student, James Denman Middle School

“I think A Living Library is a fun learning experience, not just for our age, but for many ages. It helps people live longer by doing work to make it look better and because of all the oxygen from the planls. It helps people with diseases feel alot better and it also makes you feel good that you are part of something so beautiful. It looks like a magic castle.”


John NavarroFormer Technology Academy Director- Balboa High School

“The concept of A Living Library/Think Park is one whose time has come. In an age where technology and life, science and spirit, have come together, it is only natural that our educational facilities begin mirroring the past, present, and future, hopes and dreams of its community.”


Frank TorranoTechnology Resource Coordinator – James Denman Middle School

“Obviously we’re becoming more interconnected each day. A Living Library is an extension of what TV was – a way of exchanging ideas only this is more interactive and ecological. A Living Library is a guider and a marker – where we are and where we’re going. A.L.L. is great for storing data bases of plants indigenous to our area; the care and feeding of those plants; displaying who, what, and where we were and who, what, and where we’re going. It will be wonderful to see the technology displays in the gardens and be connected with Branch Living Libraries around the world.”


Gail MartinFormer 4th Grade Teacher, San Miguel Child Development Center

“Creating and building our Living Library has been a wonderful, enriching experience for myself as an early childhood educator and for the children in my classroom. The children love working in the Garden and enjoy the hands-on experience – planting, watering and watching their flowers grow. The children are growing and blooming with the Garden. They are working together as a team creating a beautiful space for us all to share. We are also implementing the Garden and flowers into our classroom through various activities and it has become the topic of interest for our project approach. Together we are building a community of learners.”

Annie Ha – age 9 , 4th Grade Student, San Miguel Early Education School 

“I feel good about our teamwork. I like what we have done. We create nature. Our life can’t go on without nature. Animals can’t live without nature. We create a home for animals. We are making our city a better home. Trees give us oxygen. Different kinds of plants give us vegetables. Sunflowers give us sunflower seeds. Grain gives us rice. Flowers make the air smell gooder and makes our city beautiful. A garden helps animals live. I feel happy about what we did. A Living Library‘s initials are A.L.L. All means all of us are involved in the Living Library. Everything that is alive is one part of it. We work as a team. Teamwork ! We need water and sun to do this. Our environment is part of it, too.”


Dante Calloway – age 9, 4th Grade Student, San Miguel Early Education School 

“I learned about the garden. We have to pull grass. I learned to plant seeds. I learned how to dig and plant plants. I learned how to pick things. I learned how to water. I learned how to take care of plants. I learned how to work together. I learned how to make friends.”


Annie Kong – age 8, 3rd Grade Student, San Miguel Early Education School

“I feel like a rock is nature. Flowers are most beautiful smells. I think A Living Library is part of nature and if you think nature is everywhere, you are right.”


Seth EisenGraduate Student Volunteer, 2001 JFK University’s Arts & Consciousness Program

” I am in support of A Living Library and the work of Bonnie Sherk, President of Life Frames, Inc., whose outstanding contribution over the past thirty years has integrated art, science, and technology creating a new paradigm that acknowledges and utilizes the link between ecology, sociology, biology, landscape architecture, and a variety of other fields often seen as unrelated. Through her innovative way of working with communities, education, and government agencies, her work breaks down barriers of differences and creates a collaborative and diverse whole. The work I have done with Bonnie at James Denman Middle School, the site of A Living Library, has been an invaluable learning experience in my studies in Arts and Consciousness. I have had the opportunity to be mentored by one of the most significant artists in my field and gained experience teaching, gardening, grant writing, and recruiting and coordinating volunteers. I feel that the work that Bonnie is doing will be necessary to survive the challenges we face in the new millennium in the areas of the environment, education, technology, and the survival of the human species.”


Alvina Lei – age 9, 4th Grade Student, San Miguel Early Education School

A Living Library is part of nature and it can be part things that are alive like us. It is also part of things that are useful for us and nature. Just like water and trees, also vegetables for us to eat and sell to other people for money.”


Neilson Chan – age 8, 3rd Grade Student, San Miguel Child Development Center

A Living Library is something that is living and what people create. Nature is part of a living library, a garden, vegetables, buildings, etc. A living library is very beautiful. Everything is part of a living libraryA living library is everything around us.”


Stan DeBellaFormer Head, Science Department, Balboa High School

“I believe that A Living Library will be a valuable asset to the science programs at all three linked campuses. The Elementary, Middle School, and High School students are only familiar with an urban environment generally. By setting up model plant communities they can see the critical interactions necessary to form a community. By participating they also get “buy in” and feel that they are also responsible for the care and maintenance of these sites.”


Dennice DiGirolamoLead Teacher, San Miguel Child Development Center

“Children learn best in settings that clearly relate to real life. This is just one reason why it is important to further develop and implement the OMI / Excelsior Living Library & Think Park. It provides a context in which children can define for themselves the relationships between ideas and learnings and their applications to real life situations. It provides a setting in which children can apply what they are learning, test out new ideas and learn to work with others on common goals.”


Terry Chan – age 9, 4th Grade Student, San Miguel Early Education School

A Living Library is nature. Nature is part of A Living Library; I feel alot of living things here. A Living Library has living things. Everthing is like a living library.”


Simon Zhong – age 9, 4th Grade Student, San Miguel Early Education School

A Living Library means nature and I think it means a library with different stories that come to life !!!!!!! And that is my theory. Buildings and things people make is part of A Living Library too.”


Thomas Lei – age 9, 4th Grade Student, San Miguel Early Education School

“I feel every thing like nature feels. I think a living library is something that lives. The second thing I feel is that god gave us this. I like every thing in a living library.”


Tony Wolcott Former Chief Arborist, Former Urban Forester City of Albany, CA

A Living Library is something without boundaries. We always think in terms of boxes and if there’s anything that can tear down those boxes, then it is all to the good. You take some plants and as a group plant them. The benefit lies in the process of the doing. So people learn about what species to plant, how to plant properly, and how to work together with other people. Over a period of time, plants will grow and everybody’s understanding will also grow. A Living Library is creating an ongoing process that is always producing benefits.”


Michael Gemmet Former Dean and Head Counselor, James Denman Middle School

A Living Library is a wonderful way to give students the opportunity to learn, work cooperatively with others, and take pride in their environment. It also provides a way to give students who have experienced truancy problems, a compelling reason to once again be interested in their studies.”


Mary PhelpsFormer Speech & Language Specialist, James Denman Middle School

“The concept and program of A Living Library helps kids with language development. I’ll never forget the smile on David Talo’s face as he watered the garden. I’m sure this contributed to his feeling of self worth.”


David Kubrin, PhD – Former 7th Grade Science Teacher – James Denman Middle School

“The opportunity to have my students out of the classroom, interacting with our immediate environment through the medium of A Living Library and diversifying our surroundings by planting trees, introducing or restoring riparian habitat and thereby bringing about a significant increase in the kinds of animals and birds in our school grounds, is invaluable. Their new experiences, including the use of tools, with A Living Library, greatly enrich the curriculum, and our lessons enjoy a substantially wider and deeper grounding. The concrete examples of our work readily branch out into science, math, language arts, art, social studies, and physical education, making clear the linkages between the various disciplines. I love the chance to teach my students against the background of these shared experiences and believe it helps sustain their interest in school.”


Florinda YatcoFormer 7th & 8th Grade Language ArtsTeacher, James Denman Middle School

A Living Library provides a good context for my students to be involved in service learning and integrate language arts through reading, writing, and speaking with members of the community. They are working with the younger children of San Miguel and transforming the bleak, trash-filled school environment into something that they can identify with positively. Part of our future plans include creating multicultural gardens that will bring the community together. We envision A Living Library to continuously grow and involve the needs of the students as well as the community.”


Sung Kim8th Grade Math Teacher – James Denman Middle School

” What I like about A Living Library is it is now more colorful outside. It is the only place where you can see some beauty. I like that. It makes it much nicer to be here. A Living Library also gives me an opportunity to have some real life applications for my students with such things as proportions, scaled drawings, measurement, area, volume, geometry, among other mathematical topics. I’m excited to get the kids out of the classroom and do some hands-on mathematics. It makes the learning experience much more relevant.”


Ann MillerFormer Art Teacher, James Denman Middle School

A Living Library is a very valuable asset to assist my teaching of art in a larger context. From intensive involvement and creating artworks for the environment to simply being able to take my class outside to draw something else besides buildings, A Living Library brings to my school an integrated complex aesthetic.”


Marnie ShapiroArtist/Educator

“As an artist-educator and participant in A Living Library, I have a deep understanding of the transformative power this project has to deepen not only each student’s experience of ecology and his or her role in it, but it also provides the entire community the oportunity to see the beauty that is all around us, all the time by celebrating life as the interconnected system of relationships that it truly is.”


Elisa Poulos 7th & 8th Grade Science & Health Teacher – James Denman Middle School

“The creation of A Living Library at James Denman Middle School is providing an environment that inspires creative thought, teaches environmental awareness, and energizes students in meaningful transformation.”


Michael Fox8th Grade Science Teacher – James Denman Middle School

“As a science teacher I love to enhance classroom teaching with experiences out of the classroom. A Living Library gets the students’ hands dirty. It makes science real and gives science a context within the local community. When a student plants a native species outside the school, not only have they learned about plants and soil, but they now have a stake in their environment and take pride in having changed it for the better.”


Jaime HernandezFormer 8th Grade Social Studies Teacher – James Denman Middle School

“This hands-on project invites students to explore their living environment in a manner that is more tangible to them. The experience of uncovering their neighborhood’s history will draw students closer to understanding their rich historic city.”


Elizabeth St. Clair Former Special Education Teacher, James Denman Middle School

” I was proud to make a written presentation to my Library Management Class at San Jose State University last Spring citing Bonnie Sherk’s Living Library as an excellent example of what I would like to see the library of the 21st century become. Also, as a teacher of students with severe disabilities, A Living Library encompasses my educational philosophy and vision for my students which supports the inclusion model and hands-on learning.”


Brian HarriganPre-School Teacher, San Miguel Early Education School

“The environment proposes many forms of exploration to a Pre-School child. Being able to take part in the Living Library Garden Project has allowed my children to get their hands dirty, drop seeds to begin life, and then watch their creations grow. Thus being able to feel proud when they say, ‘That’s my tree or plant’.”


Georgene Sanchez –  Parent of 2 former students at Denman

“As a native San Franciscan and parent, I feel A Living Library is very important because our youth need to experience being in touch with the earth. A Living Library brings exposure in many subjects and cultures. I had two children in this school who benefited and I look forward to my grandchildren also enjoying A Living Library. I live in the neighborhood and I see how it is starting to impact the pride of people. Not only is it looking gorgeous, but it’s improving the property values and the quality of our life – and all the animals who will be reaping the benefits too, by our making new habitats.”



© 2023 Life Frames, Inc. & A Living Library

A Living Library, Life Frame, Think Park, & A.L.L. are registered trademarks

Follow us Facebook Twiter Instagram Flickr YouTube RSS