Librarian: Pamela Vallee The new Lunenburg Middle-High School library opened in August 2016 and includes a sunny room of comfy chairs, outdoor seating, a Media Cafe, library classroom, and lots of group work spaces. The new library is gorgeous and spacious, and my goal has been to transform the empty space into a welcoming library shared by all students in grades 6 through 12. I have been the Lunenburg High School library media specialist since October 2000, and this is my second year as both the middle and high school library media specialist. Although it has been a challenge trying to assist so many students and teachers, I realize I am uniquely situated to know and reach every student in the building.
Moving into a new library meant deciding where collections would be located and unpacking hundreds of boxes. I placed fiction books near high traffic areas to attract attention. The high school fiction was placed near the “comfy chair” room, while the middle school fiction was located near the library entrance. Nonfiction books follow the fiction collections, with a reference section acting as the buffer between the two school collections.
A shared online Destiny catalog meant that I needed to indicate whether a book belonged to the high school or the middle school collection, and this required recataloging and adding new spine labels to all middle school books. I decided to go ahead and place the middle school fiction into genres, labeling each genre with colorful signage and each book with color-coded labels. Knowing I would be really busy managing the library myself, I thought using genres would make finding a good book easier for students. New middle school books are added into the genres as they arrive. I started adding the color-coded labels to some of the high school fiction, but those books remain in author rather than genre order. After organizing the middle school books into genres, I realized that students often ask for help determining the order of books in a series. So I decided to start a series labeling project using a label maker that allows for different patterns. This way I could indicate different series for the same author within a genre. And of course the project would not be complete without a series tracking spreadsheet indicating which books are available in either the middle or high school collections, which collections were missing books from series, and which books I needed to order next.
I could never manage without the help of my amazing student assistants. Last year, seniors Claudia and Sarah helped cover and process hundreds of new books for both the middle school and high school collections. This year, senior Shawn has helped reorganize library spaces, provide tech support for students and teachers, and assist me with library activities. Juniors Jung Chen and Jung Hsuan volunteer after school organizing the shelves and library spaces. And junior Jill has been a lifesaver volunteering during her studies to shelve books, help students find books, and cover new books.
I am continuously writing library curriculum for my new middle school classes, testing out lessons and activities, and revising after reflection. Students participate in Book Speed Dating to learn about genres, create word clouds to represent themselves visually, team up to solve complicated puzzles in BreakoutEDU activities, work on source evaluation and advanced searching skills, learn how to find print and digital resources for research, and hopefully discover that the library is a fun place for learning, creativity and collaboration. Plus students think it’s cool that I can check books in and out using an app on my phone
I also have a close-knit senior high school advisory that meets in the Media Cafe. Each week we plan a fun activity such as carving pumpkins, participating in cupcake wars, and playing very competitive Scattergories. I am really going to miss them when they graduate.
We are all still settling into the new library spaces, both physical and virtual. High school students engaged in Virtual High School courses use the library as their classroom, and teachers reserve the library spaces for group projects and research assignments. Students, teachers and administrators constantly visit the library for books, space to work, and technology assistance. I am in the process of rebuilding the library website to provide better access to print and digital resources. I hope to promote reading through displays and online programs, and encourage students to recommend books that should be added to the collections. More and more teachers seek out library resources to support research and projects. But most importantly, I want all students in grades 6 through 12 to feel welcome coming to the library to discover a great book, find help with research, and learn something new.