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The Evolving Role of Libraries in Dublin’s 21 Century Schools

September 28, 2016

DUBLIN, CA–When one considers the role of a “Librarian”, the most common frame of reference is to reflect upon the time spent in elementary school. One might conclude that the job was centered upon the checking in/out of books, maintain the Dewey Decimal System and suggesting reading selections. All of those qualities remain necessary. However, in 2016, the role of has evolved into a much more complex and rigorous role. Examples of these changes can be found in our very own schools within the Dublin Unified School District.

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OneDublin.org wanted to explore this evolution and we were able to do so by reaching out to a long tenured Dublin Unified School District employee as well as one that has recently joined this district after a decorated career. However, it may be useful to employ some perspective. In the primary level of education (K-5), students at all seven elementary schools rotate through their respective libraries on a weekly basis to check out new materials. The goal is to establish/confirm a love of reading while broadening young minds outside of the online world. Numerous studies have confirmed that continuous reading by young people accelerates learning, increases vocabulary and provides a healthy alternative to watching television.

It is equally important to consider the role of a librarian. In this district, these professionals are commonly referred to as Media Technicians. As the title would infer, the scope of work has moved well beyond the management of books.

We recently visited with Sandy Chang-Yee at Wells Middle School. After a lengthy and successful stint at Frederiksen Elementary School, she accepted the challenge of a different environment at Wells Middle School.

OneDublin.org:  In middle school, it would appear that the Library/Media center serves multiple purposes to the students.  We observed everything from quiet study to those playing Minecraft.  Please comment on what your environment offers to all students. 

dsc_1780Sandy Chang-Yee: “Wells is the “School with Heart” and its Library Media Center is where it beats the strongest. The 80 library passes are the hot tickets for admission to the library at lunch period as evidenced by the long line. Students can come in for the traditional uses of the library such as to check out books to read and/or research as well as study and do homework. Yet, it is also a safe haven for students to just hang out with their friends or to be along in a quiet place. The library has game boards, card games, computers and Chromebooks available. Minecraft will soon be installed as part of the Makerspace movement in libraries. For now, students can go to scratch.mit.edu, thisissand.com and the various .io sites to develop their creativity, strategy and team skills.”

OneDublin.org: Please comment on the role that the media center at Wells Middle School serves versus what you were very familiar with at Frederiksen Elementary School. 

Chang-Yee: “While elementary school students have the privilege of going to the library on their weekly class visits for read alouds and check-outs, Wells students learn to take individual responsibility for their library check-outs and core literature returns. Some English Language Arts teachers bring in their classes bi-weekly or once a month. But, the norm is for students to take advantage of the many opportunities to come to the library on their own time before school, during Academic Prep, during lunch or after school. Most teachers will allow their students to go to the library when class work is done to return, renew and/or check out another book for Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) time. Students have more choices of activities at the middle school library media center. There’s a lot happening in the Wells Library Media Center!”

So, the narrative now moves us to Dublin High School. Part of the major re-build at DHS over the past several years has included a vast physical improvement in the library environment. More importantly, the purpose of the library into “The Hub” represents a very different valuation of this space. With the district’s commitment to true collaboration and a professional learning environment, the Hub has housed an enhanced learning environment that includes a Guided Gael period, a quiet place for independent study and a center for test taking.

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One of the newest staff members at Dublin High School is Patricia Simmons as the Library Media Teacher. Her distinguished career was largely based in Southern California. She ultimately made her way up north to San Francisco and very recently joined the staff at Dublin High School. We gathered her thoughts on the enhancements in the Hub for all students.

OneDublin.org: Over the last two years, the Dublin High School Library has evolved into “The Hub”.  It is more than a place to check out media, but also a place of daily learning for many students.  Please comment on what you have observed in your new tenure at Dublin High School.

dsc_1781Patricia Simmons: “The Hub is a place where struggling students come for mandatory tutoring. It is a place where all students can receive help with assignments or homework.  The Hub also has a testing center where students can make up tests, and, of course, the library where students can check out books. I have observed very dedicated, hard working staff here in the Hub. I wanted be more involved with the tutoring program, so last week I began tutoring English and History, in addition to my duties as Librarian. This has given me the opportunity to interact more with students and tutors. I am very impressed with both groups. I think this is a great program and DHS is a great place to work, with friendly, welcoming staff and nice students.”

OneDublin.org:  We now understand that in your previous role in the San Francisco Unified School District that teaching technology was a primary tenet of your position.  Articulate how you anticipate that this will carry over into your role within Dublin Unified School District.

Simmons: “In my previous position as teacher librarian with SFUSD, I was primarily a technology teacher. All students in grades K-12 have Google accounts and I did not have much previous experience with Google. At first, I relied on the students to help me. I learned all about Google Apps, and soon I was teaching a research class using Google Classroom. This experience has helped me immensely in my new position, as I am now proficient in Google Apps!”

Our purpose in this profile was to provide a peek into what is occurring in our school libraries. The visits provided a simple confirmation that these media spaces are continuing a serve a very valuable service to our students at all levels. What is clear is that they are serving as an extension of the learning day. OneDublin.org would like to thank Ms. Chang-Yee and Ms. Simmons for their insights.

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