The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

By Sean C. Morgan
Of The New Era 

City Library seeking to work with schools on book shortage


February 23, 2016

LIBRARIAN Rose Peda, center, leads participants in the Oak Heights Library Night in an activity on Feb. 18.

The Friends of the Library, a volunteer organization, bought pizza for those attending an Oak Heights family night at the Sweet Home Public Library Wednesday evening, Feb. 17.

Some 95 persons signed up to attend the event, one of several similar events and part of an effort to begin uniting the resources of the city library with those of the Sweet Home School District.

Library Director Rose Peda and Sweet Home Junior High Principal Colleen Henry, who heads up library services for the district, outlined their combined yearlong efforts to the School Board recently.

Henry earned a library media endorsement two years ago from Central Washington University, she said. After that she and Peda began trying to find ways to collaborate and improve library services in the community.

“I was looking for a way to expand what we’re doing,” Henry said when Peda reached out to her.

“You didn’t say, no, to me,” Peda said.

“Rose was just being a sounding board of so many ideas,” Henry said.

City and district librarians have started training together, and Peda has offered plenty of advice and the public library’s resources to the district’s children.

Since they began collaborating, Henry has completed an analysis of the district’s collections in its six libraries, and they’re not in good shape. The oldest collection is at the Sweet Home High School. The average age of the collection there is 35 years.

The High School has the most modern facilities, but it has the oldest collection, Henry said. It also has the lowest number of items per student in its collection.

The average age of the district’s holdings is 22 years. Foster Elementary school has the youngest collection, with an average age of 17 years.

The district has a collection of some 57,000 items, larger than the Sweet Home Public Library, with approximately 46,000 items.

“I wasn’t aware until we did the collection analysis,” Henry said. “You don’t know until you start digging around. I think having outdated books, especially non-fiction books, that concerns me.”

As knowledge, such as astronomy and computer science, changes and progresses, those books are often wrong.

“Wrong information, or even out-dated information, is no information,” Peda said.

Henry said fiction collections need to be updated with contemporary books, though the shelf life of fiction is longer than non-fiction.

“You want your fiction to move off the shelf,” she said.

On average, the elementary non-fiction section is almost 20 years old, and the secondary libraries’ nonfiction collection is 30 to 40 years old, Henry said. At that age, these sections may not be equipped to support student and teacher needs in respect to meeting Common Core state standards.

New technology, the Internet, may be useful, Henry said, but books remain important. They can be passed around and used in classrooms without worrying about technology.

Henry is moving forward with plans to start improving district libraries, and Peda wants to be there to support her effort.

“One of the things I’ve appreciated most about Rose is her staff has similar needs,” Henry said.

Henry’s library staff recently attended a training session with Public Library staff on book repair.

“The Friends of the Library saw it as a way to benefit the community,” Peda said, and it helps the schools keep books on the shelves.

The Public Library and Friends have been successfully serving the district’s students for years through its Summer Reading Program, helping students maintain what they learned during the school year.

“I always look at the number of kids in the School District,” Peda said. “I want them all. Two hundred is not enough.”

And she’s looking for ways to expand summer programs for students. Last summer, the Public Library was involved with a summer lunch program in front of Oak Heights.

“There’s physical resources,” Peda said. “And there are other resources, the staff and knowledge resources.”

“There’s a lot of money out there for being innovative,” Henry said, as the two organizations find ways to collaborate and expand.

Just getting the libraries coordinated can improve things for everyone.

Maybe Hawthorne doesn’t need 10 books on penguins if one of the other libraries has them, Henry said. Library staff already talk to each other, but she can’t access Hawthorne’s database from her school. Cutting down potential duplication can help the libraries expand their selections.

At some point, they would like inter-institutional lending made easier, Peda said. Conceivably, a teacher could borrow a book from the Public Library, and the district’s courier system could deliver it. The two systems would complement each other.

“This is a system that’s been neglected,” Henry said, but “we’re on our way.”

Going forward, Henry’s next steps include weeding the most age-sensitive material from the shelves at all the schools and then completing a full collection inventory at each school library.

She plans to survey teachers, students and parents to determine academic needs the libraries should be meeting, Henry said. Also, the district will need to provide continual training to staff on how to access and incorporate Oregon School Library Information System digital resources in the classroom.

Finally, Henry would like to assemble a collection development committee to look at current practices and establish district policies to maintain and enhance school library resources.

As part of their partnership, the Public Library can provide classroom visits for story time, continue providing family nights, help curate subject-specific micro-collections, expand access to high interest books in a series, assist in the Oregon Battle of the Books program, help provide early literacy learning and improve access to accelerated reader tests.

It’s not common for public libraries to work closely with school library systems, Peda said. The idea is often that public libraries are for recreational use and school libraries are educational.

“I think these lines need to be done away with,” Peda said. “We’re educational too.”

And school libraries serve a recreational function too, she said. “If you’re reading, there’s concepts you’ll learn.”

To help connect the library systems, library officials are working on setting up a kiosk in the district where students can browse the Public Library’s collection and even put holds on books.

They’re also working on bringing electronic books to Sweet Home, so students can access copies of texts on their electronic devices. A new policy at the Junior High allows students to use their cell phones for educational purposes.

“That’s another way we’re networking,” Peda said.

“I don’t know of another School District that’s pursuing e-books through their library,” Henry said.

“We’re coming up with other ideas,” Peda said. “When schools and public libraries partner, kids win, and the community wins too. We just want to make the library a part of every kid’s life every day, whether it’s the school library or Public Library.”


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