Library Media Center: an evolving learning space

HWRSH welcomes Ms. Davis, our new Library Media specialist


Students mostly think of the library as a place to go during powerblock, but the way we are using the library is changing. When you go there, you will see more books on display and projects around. Humanities projects are set up around the perimeter and books are organized by genre like biographies and fiction.

I interviewed Ms. Davis, hired this year as the school’s Library Media Specialist, on how the library changes and future plans.

Ms. Davis, who grew up in Western Massachusetts, was excited to start at Hamilton-Wenham this past August. She didn’t know much about the schools at first but heard great things about Hamilton-Wenham from her colleagues at Triton Regional High School, where she worked for two years.

Since being here she has noticed how the student body and faculty are a really tight knit community and has been impressed with how friendly and respectful the students are. She is enjoying getting to know and work with everyone.

Ms. Davis said she has done more here in one year than she has in other districts she worked for. The physical layout of all the books have been rearranged in hopes of promoting the circulation of our fiction collection. She also uses the library twitter account (@1HWlibrary), Goodreads, and YouTube to promote new books coming into the library. She is a fan of book trailers and is working on them to help advertise popular reads. She was also able to get 130 free books from Junior Library Guild after signing up for a membership with them.

In addition, Ms. Davis is working on getting more eBooks for the school. Currently we have access to EBSCO’s high school ebook collection, which includes over 11,000 titles (mainly nonfiction) that align with Common Core Curriculum Standards.

She also worked with the public librarians to secure a school library card number that students and staff can use to access almost all of the town library’s digital resources. The library has also purchased WebPath Express, which is a filtered search engine that’s part of our library catalog, as well as the following Infobase databases: Issues and Controversies, Bloom’s Literature, American History, Modern World History, and Ancient World History. The library’s “Quick Links Page” will guide students to resources they can use.

Ms. Davis said that Hamilton-Wenham is fairly similar to other schools she has been at. Some schools she has taught at didn’t have power blocks, studies, or open periods, while others did. That affects how often the library space is being used. Access to resources is different in schools as well. The schools that she has worked at that are 1-to-1 with technology have more digital resources compared to schools whose students don’t have computers to take home with them.

When I asked her what her vision was for the library, she responded, “Ultimately, the library should be the heart of a school; and in this case, the heart of two schools. It should be a place where everyone feels welcomed and supported, but also a shared space where everyone is respectful of the space itself as well as the other people using the space.”

Ms. Davis is planning to implement the Learning Commons model, which is the way most public libraries and schools are going libraries are changing to reflect the needs of society, and this includes school libraries. Ms. Davis says the Learning Commons model is great because it offers different spaces for different needs. Examples of these spaces would be quiet reading rooms, breakout learning areas, technology spaces, areas for speakers, and classroom spaces.

When asked about how technology will change, she said, “I will say that technology has come SO far in the past 20 years, that I foresee at least at the high school level, school libraries not housing many physical copies of books at all in the future. I honestly don’t think that anyone can predict what technology will look like in say 20 years, but I’m sure it will be exciting! Our school libraries are changing as technology and access changes, so I can’t be sure what my job will look like.”

The best way to utilize the library space is before 7:40 and after school until 3:30 unless Ms. Davis has a meeting to go to. Teachers can sign up to bring classes into the library on a digital sign-up sheet. Students can drop in from classes during the school day. For power block students jneed to sign up ahead of time using the form on the website and Twitter.