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Chapter 9: Library as Serving Information Needs of the Community

In reading Chapter 9, I realize that I may be coming to the profession from a slightly different position than some of my peers. Because I currently work in a different job within the same kind of community I hope to serve as a librarian, I am already pretty aware of the coummity needs. It’s partly because of  those under-served needs that I have decided to pursue this related career path.

Increasingly, the students in my district need to be educated about how to effectively access the wealth of information and textual sources available to them through the library, whether through hard copy or electonric sources. The high school library currently has a healthy budget of $42,000 per year, even after cuts prompted by the economic downturn. Our librarians currently use a variety of methods for determinig which books, journals, and databases to include in each year’s budget. For example, nearly all of our 11th grade English teachers have their students produce a “magazine project,” which involves studying and reading a wide vareity of periodicals. As the project  has evolved over the years, the librarians have solicited suggestions as to which magazines to keep, which to add to the current subscriptions, and so on. Furthermore, they solicit requests for all kinds of books, including reference books (such as Contemporary Literary Criticism), as well as a number of databases and services. (We tried turnitin.com through the library, for example, but we decided to drop the service, since too few teachers actually used it.)

What I love about the way our Library and Media Center at the high school currently functions is that our head librarian takes seriously her role as collaborator. As changes have occurred in her own profession, as well as in the scholarly areas of the teachers with whom she works, our librarian has met the challenges of those changes. For example, she maintains an oustanding, user-friendly homepage for the faculty and students. Through this homepage, she creates individual pages for teachers’ individual class projects. She works with teachers to build a collection that serves their individual needs, but she also helps them locate relevant websites, databases, and references works to help students and faculty members be more efficient. In serving these needs, she annually revises our style guide (which will undergo big changes this year, since both MLA and APA styles have been majorly overhauled). She provides students with handy bookmarks that list available databases and briefly describe their functions. She also teaches students how to access the library’s resources and makes herself available when students are working in the library, whether individually or with classes. Unfortunately, because my school has two buildings, the library does seem to better serve the part of the school community which is housed in the same building as the library. Thus, the library best serves the social studies, English,music, and art departments, who clearly use its services more than others, such as math, science, and foreign language.

Still, the needs of the community are changing, as is the technology available for delivering those needs. As I think about how the school library might change in the near future, I think that our students might appreciate related blogs and wikis, which they already use proficiently in other parts of their lives (including in our classes, where they often use blogs and wikis through Blackboard). I also realize that personally I will have to learn a lot about the basics of acquisitions, something I haven’t even thought about since I was an undergraduate working at the univeristy bookstore.

Evans, E.G. (2008). Reflections on rceating information service collections. In Haycock, K.  & Sheldon, B. E. (Eds.), The portable MLIS : Insights from the experts (pp. 87-97). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

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