Libraries are often seen as a collection of books, but in the past decade libraries, including the one at Lainer School, have comprehensively transcended this outdated definition.
According to Head Librarian Martha McMahon, “After a few minutes in our Library, you will easily notice that the stereotype of the quiet, dusty, book-focused libraries from your childhood are truly a thing of the past. Our library hums with activity and learning all day no matter who is in it or what they are working on.”
At any given moment, students and other members of our community can be found in the library involved in a number of activities. “Students are conducting scholarly research on our databases, collaboratively studying using the whiteboard tables, and yes, even reading a title from the library’s extensive collection,” noted 4th-8th Grade Librarian, Alex Quay. In fact, more than 13,000 books were checked out of the library last year alone! But that’s not all. “They are also working to create videos in the recording studio and checking out tech tools like green screens, microphones, headphones, and Chromebooks, and even building circuit boards or engineering structures using tools from our J-STEAM section,” she added.
The library remains a vital part of each student’s overall education, but Ms. Quay remarked that when classes come to the library for scheduled visits, their learning experience has also evolved from what we used to know. “While storytime, along with its many valuable extensions, is still a feature of library time, it is intertwined with opportunities to develop information literacy, a term used to reflect the research process,” she shared. In other words, when a student has a question, how do they go about getting an answer? Where do they look and what resources do they use? How do they know that the answer they find is right and that they can trust that the source of the answer?
In the library, students are guided through the research process, so they can begin to understand the how and why of good research and apply it to the work they do during both their General and Jewish studies. “Library class is also a time for students to practice using a variety of relevant technology tools, from using online databases and scholarly websites to educational apps where they can demonstrate their learning in multiple ways. Even the youngest of students are learning how to navigate the complexity of today’s internet and how to be good digital citizens,” said Ms. McMahon. “These skills are essential for academic and personal success from kindergarten all the way to adulthood.”
While libraries and their purpose have shifted over the years, there is one thing that remains the same: the love of stories, reading, and sharing that love with our community. Both librarians see the library as a special place of learning about the world around us through various modes of information and exploration… and yes, also a collection of books.
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