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Building Enthusiasm for a New Library

By Sarah Cooper - Posted May 1, 2007
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The independent school where I teach is building a new library that's set to open this fall. Our library is growing from one story to two, from 3,200 to 8,000 square feet, from 14,000 to 18,000 volumes, from zero to six study and meeting rooms, and from 12 to more than 40 computers. Once this facility opens in September 2007, we want our students and teachers to use it as an intellectual hub for innovative research projects.

As the school's faculty-library liaison this school year, I have been able to work two periods a day with librarians, colleagues, administrators, and students to test resources and to help create assignments, all with an eye toward the next school year. Even in our current temporary library (a double-wide trailer on the far edge of campus), the librarians and I have discovered ways to bring in more classes, creating momentum that will sustain itself through next fall and beyond.

The Administration: A Driving Force

Our headmaster knew from the start that it was not enough to build a new library and hope people would come. Instead, he took steps to ensure that faculty and students would be ready to jump in long before the structure opens its doors.

Several years ago, he began laying the groundwork by asking me to write a detailed report from my perspective as an English and history teacher on collections policies, faculty involvement in libraries, electronic databases, and research scopes and sequences. He then circulated the document to the librarians and other interested parties and copied the report's table of contents for board members and potential donors.

In September 2006, the headmaster featured the library on the agenda of our opening faculty meeting. Gearing up for research was one of four major goals, along with continuing to fundraise for the building, completing construction, and addressing a 3-year interim accreditation report about departmental scopes and sequences.

During first semester, the librarians and I marveled at the influence of such strong administrative support. In previous years, the librarians showcased their lists of databases at department meetings and encouraged teachers to do research projects, but the same small group tended to come in over and over. This year, with the administrative directive to do research projects and a concerted effort by the history department to standardize its scope and sequence, the number of classes coming into the library has more than quadrupled.

The Librarians: Eager and Involved

Complete article is available now, or will be shortly, in a variety of formats — Preview (free), Full Text, Text+Graphics, and Page Image PDF — courtesy of ITI's InfoCentral. CLICK HERE and search “Multimedia & Internet@Schools” for the story by title.

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