Sue Subel, Library Media Specialist
On Tuesday, October 8, 2013, I stopped in to see Sue Subel, Kenston High School’s librarian. The bright morning sun streamed in the floor-to-ceiling windows. Students enrolled in an art class worked with their art teachers in the library’s computer lab. The computer lab is the focal point of the library. With the location of the overhead projector and pull-down screen, students working in the computer lab today can easily see what is being projected as each student sets up his/her own Google space to upload future art projects. Beyond the computer lab, there is ample space for students to work independently at tables or in comfy chairs.
A display featuring banned and challenged books caught my eye as I stood outside the library as did the display of books as I entered the library, Books were also displayed on the window sills at the back of the library. It was there that I paused to reflect on the view – rolling green lawns and trees – what a peaceful spot to read and relax. As I glanced around the library, I noticed students working at the circulation desk. Sue explained that these are students taking online AP classes. Rather than have them work in the computer lab where their work can be interrupted by scheduled classes, Subel set up computers at the circulation desk to enable the AP students to work throughout the day. I remembered an earlier conversation with Sue about the increasing press on the library space to accommodate students taking online courses that raised some significant questions such as: Who monitors the student’s work? How can libraries accommodate students taking online courses? What are best practices? Sue seems to have come up with a viable solution for now, but what happens when the number of students enrolled in online courses exceeds the designated space in the library? It is certainly an issue that librarians will have to grapple with in the near future.
As I’ve visited school libraries around the state one of the interesting questions that has emerged is what do we do with magazines? The magazine display is located to the right as students enter the library. Subscriptions to Mental Floss, Congressional Digest, Money, Popular Science, Time, Nation, Consumer Reports, Health, Sports Illustrated, Scientific American in red plastic binders did not look too unlike the magazine display at Orange High School – Discover, Glamour, Health, Elle, Forbes, Bloomberg Business, Christian Science Monitor, ESPN. Are students still reading print magazines or are they gravitating to online magazines?
After my visit, I sent questions to Sue and asked her to respond via e-mail.
Since your school library was constructed in 2005 what are some hurdles you’ve experienced and how have you managed them?
I have been very lucky in the space that was provided for the KHS library when it was built in 2005. I was able to work with the architects throughout the process and frequently discussed the layout so as to have a space conducive for class use. I cannot think of any hurdles I have faced since the opening. Perhaps one that is a “negative-positive” comes to mind! Staff makes frequent use of our LMC and there have been some complaints about not being able to get into the library! I find this a “good” complaint! We are busy, we are active and we are creating new knowledge, new ideas and new information products in our space. It has been great.
What is your best collaboration?
Some of the best collaborative lessons in our new space have been in using our interactive video distance learning (IVDL) with other schools across the country and world! For example, we participated in an environmental initiative with schools from across the United States. One of the sessions in which we participated brought the groups “together” to hear a national expert from Stanford speak about environmental issues. He started his session by asking students where they get their information about the environment and climate change. He started with the Internet and almost every class attending had 100% of the students raise their hands. Next, came newspapers and magazines, and the number of students raising their hands went down to about 50%. Finally, he asked how many got information from journals and perhaps a handful raised their hands (in all classes, that is)! He explained how journals are written by the experts and this is where students should get their information! I loved it! As part of this cooperative environmental lesson, a Wikispace was created and students in all of the participating schools added content!
Our school has a Holocaust class as an English elective. The teacher, Dr. Gray, brings in Holocaust survivors to speak to the students. We have used our IVDL equipment to broadcast the speaker to a school in England. The students at the school in England take a comparative religions course and travel to Europe to visit some of the concentration camps. The speakers usually bring documents and photos. We are able to share these using a document camera. Sharing the speakers’ experiences and the experience of the English students who have traveled to the camps has been an invaluable experience.
We were also able to make a science “connection” with the same English school. Our biology teacher always does a seining project, finding specimens in the local streams. The Kenston biology students brought the specimens to the IVDL lab and during the session, using the document camera and computer, shared what was found. The biology students in England also shared their specimens and it was interesting to see how different some of the specimens were that students found.
Thank you Sue for sharing your time with me.
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