On Monday, April 28, 2014, I headed to western Ohio to visit Troy and Sidney high schools. Lori Fultz, INFOhio District/Building iCoach and high school librarian welcomes me to Troy High School’s media center. Troy High School, home of the Trojans, has 1400 students. The district has six elementary buildings, one 6th-grade building, and one junior high building for 7th and 8th grade students. Lori is the only licensed librarian in the district.
A bold “Get Graphic” sign is emblazoned on the display cases immediately outside the media center. They are filled with graphic novels such as Maus, When the Wind Blows, Kite Runner, A Family Secret. The classic, The Art of the Comic Book by Robert Harvey, is also among the books displayed.
Upon entering the media center, a circulation desk, bookshelves, and tables and chairs are part of the immediate landscape. At the circulation desk is Troy High School’s aide of eleven years – Tammy Starry. The nonfiction collection is located to the right; the fiction collection to the left. The original media center was built in the late 1950s; the addition, which now houses the computer labs, was added in the 1970s. Although not a large space, Lori has rearranged shelving to give it an open feel. Each of the bookshelf endcaps has READ posters of THS staff. To encourage reading among the students, Lori created a “Good Reads” bulletin board. Students can recommend a book by filling out a card with the title of the book, author, genre, their name as well as a sentence or two about why the book is great. An attractive display of new books at the entrance to the media center encourages reading by students and staff. As Lori explains, she has spent considerable time “weeding” the collection during her three-year tenure. Among the most notable topics she remembers weeding are “some day man will make a trip to the moon” and the Partridge Family.
Most of her collection development efforts now are focused on nonfiction and DVDs.
Among the unique features of this media center are the many rooms located off the main floor. One of the rooms houses the multimedia collection. English/Language Arts and Social Studies titles outnumber other disciplines in the collection. Another room houses back issues of magazines. A magazine display features the popular magazines such as Us, People, and Entertainment Weekly. The yearbooks are located in another room – a quick visual tour of the yearbooks’ spines and I could not resist pulling out the 1998 yearbook to see a photo of my cousin.
As we walk up the stairs to the newer section of the media center, it is filled with computer stations. The computer lab on the right is composed of 30 computers, the keyboards and monitors of which, were obtained through a grant. Lori spent the summer of 2013 rearranging bookshelves and weeding books to accommodate the computer labs. Surrounding the computer labs are reference books that students can use while researching. With PARCC testing around the corner, Lori is seeing an uptick in the scheduling of the labs. In addition, the media center will have to be closed during the testing period which limits access to the media center by both students and teachers.
We enter Lori’s office. On the back wall of her office she proudly displays that she is a University of Kentucky #1 Fan. Lori’s MLIS is from UK.
We spend considerable time talking about the Trojan high school library program. Lori’s efforts are focused on building rapport with the teachers and helping them find resources to supplement their learning and teaching. From INFOhio resources to book talks, Lori is all about making students aware of all the things available to them. Her most recent request from a student was advice on how to cite a Tweet!
Lori works closely with the junior-level English/Language Arts teachers. She administrators TRAILS to the students and gives the teachers the results, including the questions that students most often missed. The results make it obvious that students need the information literacy skills as well as the close reading practice that will be required with online testing. “Developing Topics” is one of the areas in which students struggle, so Lori spends considerable time focusing on how to develop a topic as well as search strategies and evaluating sources – distinguishing between authoritative resources and junk.
Among Lori’s plans for the future are the creation of a book club because Troy High School has a huge population of readers. She would also like to create more of a virtual presence for the media center and develop a checklist of district-wide information literacy skills to build on each year. She would also like to have the students in the TV Production class help her create a video that could be used to orient first-year students to the media center.
Media centers are dynamic – adapting to the needs of the students and teachers. It appears the Troy High School’s media center, under Lori’s direction, is well on its way to becoming an indispensable part of the school community.