Students reflect on evolution of library usage from books to online resources

CHECKING OUT:
Christopher “Chris” Coraggio, independent study student and senior, works on his laptop for his independent study in the media center. Coraggio said he has seen a notable increase in the use of electronic resources instead of physical books.

CHECKING OUT: Christopher “Chris” Coraggio, independent study student and senior, works on his laptop for his independent study in the media center. Coraggio said he has seen a notable increase in the use of electronic resources instead of physical books.

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It’s a typical day at the library, and Teri Sharlow, media center aide and senior, watches a class file into the computer lab to use the computers there for their recently assigned research projects.

Most students use the databases and search engines that the computers offer, but a couple of students check out books to help with their research process.

Meanwhile, in a different area, independent study students use their own laptops and lounge in the recently replaced furniture.

Constantly on the move, Theresa Ramos, CHS media center specialist and department chairperson, gathers all the books the library owns regarding marginalized groups of the 1930s for a cart that a teacher requested for her students’ research papers.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 12.26.10 PMWith all this activity in one library, how could someone think libraries were going out of fashion?

According to a September 2015 study conducted by Pew Research, 65 percent of all Americans ages 16 and older said closing their public library would have a major impact on their community.

Additionally, in comparison to 46 percent of all Americans, 52 percent of people from ages 16 to 29 said that they had visited a library in the last 12 months.

This implies that high school students actually use the library more than other age groups despite the fact that this age group values the library less than their parents’ generation, which doesn’t use the library as much.

“In terms of circulation, which is the check-out of resources, we’ve definitely seen increases,” Ramos said. “We’ve seen more teachers requiring print materials in the research projects that students have to do, so even if someone is not checking out a book, they may be using a reference book that has been copied.”

Additionally, Ramos said she has seen an increase in teachers who ask for a cart of books on reserve for students to use for research. Multiple teachers doing the same unit in class will make use of the carts, exposing many students to the print resources.

Sharlow said she mainly sees students checking out books for research. The most popular pleasure reading, though, is the manga books.

Ramos said, “(The manga readers) use a lot of our books. They check in four and take out six, and they bring back five and they take out three more. They are very avid users of the library,”

However, while students and communities still seem to value their libraries, the percent of Americans, especially teens, who have been to a library in the past year has dropped seven percent in the past three years.

“I think libraries are still valued. Probably, as the time has been going on and there’s more access to the internet, however, it’s been valued less because there’s no ‘control-F’ on a book,” Sharlow said, referring to the keyboard shortcut for searching for information within a document online.

She said, “Instead of checking out a book, diving deep into it and trying to find what you need, you can just search it on the computer and get what you need right away so that people tend to not come here as much as they might use the internet at home or on their phones.”

Checking out books, however, is not the only activity students do at the media center.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 12.26.39 PMRamos described a new area of the library called ‘Makerspace,’ where students can tinker with devices such as a Sphero ball, a robot that people can direct with their phones to complete challenges that it provides.

Other facilities at the Makerspace include programming pieces, circuits and a “Makey Makey,” which allows students to turn pretty much anything into a keyboard that can be used with any computer program.

“Brain research tells that it’s important to offer young people the opportunity to try new things,” Ramos said.

Ramos said in the late tween to early teen years, adolescents’ brains undergo a process similar to infants’, where each new experience creates neural pathways and opens the brain to new ideas.

According to Ramos, the Makerspace offers these new experiences, as well as providing a way to spark student’s interests in courses that are in close conjunction with engineering, technology and business subjects.In terms of technology, Christopher “Chris” Coraggio, independent study student and senior, uses the library as his classroom for his computer science independent study class every other day.

“I can definitely see they’ve been getting more technological. I see they’ve got a new set of laptops to try to engage students in new curriculum,” Coraggio said.

CHECKING OUT: Christopher “Chris” Coraggio, independent study student and senior, works on his laptop for his independent study in the media center. Coraggio said he has seen a notable increase in the use of electronic resources instead of physical books.
CHECKING OUT:
Christopher “Chris” Coraggio, independent study student and senior, works on his laptop for his independent study in the media center. Coraggio said he has seen a notable increase in the use of electronic resources instead of physical books.

Coraggio said he primarily uses the library as a study space, but sees students checking out books, mainly for research projects.

Both Sharlow and Coraggio noted that students tend to use the public library more for pleasure reading purposes.

Another resource the CHS library offers is its gallery walks. Based around a book that is being read in English classes, gallery walks immerse students in resources that correlate with the book.

From books and films to exhibits and posters, students explore the subject areas and the time periods of which they read in an interactive way, Ramos said.

But according to Ramos, above all, the most important resource the library has is its librarian.

She said, “The library is the shell that holds the resources. But without a librarian to direct which resources go into that library, to have the finger on the pulse of what do my students need or what do my patrons need, that’s the most important thing.”

Still, while librarians are the most valuable resource, Ramos said the people who come are what the library is centered around.

“The librarian is the one who says, ‘I see that we need new furniture,’ and we need furniture that is electric because we have all of these students who have all these devices. It’s the librarian that drives everything that happens there,” Ramos said.

Sharlow said she has learned a lot by being a media center aide at CHS. Her experience has opened her eyes to all the library offers and all the work that goes into it.

“There’s a lot of time that goes into the displays and the shelving and the decorations that I had no idea about before,” Sharlow said, “I really appreciate the work that people do here now.”

Ramos said, “The most important things in a library are the people (who come and visit). The resources are chosen based on the needs of the patrons and you have a few people who work here to make sure all those needs are met.”

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