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SAISD celebrates its library workers

Spring is the perfect time to celebrate all things libraries! April is National School Library Month as designated by the American Association of School Librarians, with April 4 designated as National School Librarian Day and April 9 as National Library Workers Day.

Here in SAISD, the District’s school librarians and media specialists are hard at work helping students learn in a variety of different ways. From books, to games, to technology, to maker-spaces, there is no shortage of creativity happening across SAISD’s libraries.

Jennifer De Waelsche, Librarian, Burbank High School

Jennifer De Waelsche, Librarian, Burbank High School

Jennifer De Waelsche, Librarian, Burbank High School

Jennifer De Waelsche, Librarian, Burbank High School

“I have ditched Dewy,” said Jennifer De Waelsche, librarian at Burbank High School. “I have made the non-fiction section like a book store; the books are organized more topically. So far, the students really like it; they know where to go and find what they need.”

Additionally, De Waelsche has been getting a lot of maker-space money in the form of grants so now the library has a green screen, and she is turning one of the backrooms into a recording studio.

De Waelsche has taken her desk out of her office so she can be more accessible to students. She then turned her office into a craft room, which is mainly used by the Harry Potter Club – whose members recently hosted an Escape Room fundraiser during the spring Bulldog Fest that was popular with the students.

“The library should be a place for anybody to do anything they want,” she said. “It should be the repository of information, and the repository doesn’t necessarily have to be books. The information can be knowledge of how to do something or integrating technology. Librarians in the 21st century have to start doing a lot more of that technology integration. We have to go beyond just researching online. Technology can be in every part of our students’ lives.”

De Waelsche has a wide-range of games students can borrow as well as a coffee and tea bar. Students’ lunchtime visits to the library has doubled over the past semester.

Jeannette Trevino, Librarian, Poe Middle School

Jeannette Trevino, Librarian, Poe Middle School

Jeannette Trevino, Librarian, Poe Middle School

“I try to offer all kinds of incentives to the students,” said Jeannette Trevino, librarian at Poe Middle School. “For example, if they read a book and do a novel study, they can get Tiger Bucks, which they can spend at the school store. They can ‘buy’ gift cards, pens, pencils, stickers and all kinds of stuff they like.”

Trevino says that the students are motivated by the incentive program, which was just implemented last year.

Another unique program that Trevino has led was a Blind Date with a Book event, for which she covered a number of books in wrapping paper. When the students came into the library, they were asked to select a book to unwrap.

“They had to go on a ‘date’ with the book,” Trevino said with a smile. “They may have never seen the book before, or been familiar with the genre. Their eyes were opened to the different kinds of book that are available in the library.”

Trevino makes the Poe library a warm, inviting and safe space for students to come.

“One of my main goals for my library is to give students access to books and to the computers,” she said. “Some of the students don’t have cell phones or computers or games to play at home; so overall, I just want them to always feel welcome to come in here and find something they need.”

Analisa Spicer, Library Media Specialist, Barkley-Ruiz Elementary School

Analisa Spicer, Library Media Specialist, Barkley-Ruiz Elementary School

Analisa Spicer, Library Media Specialist, Barkley-Ruiz Elementary School

“I let the kids explore. They get loud, but that is okay, it doesn’t bother me!” said Analisa Spicer, library media specialist at Barkley-Ruiz Elementary School. “As long as they are learning and having fun, it’s okay.”

Spicer has incorporated various technologies into her elementary school library including a green screen, Spheros, littleBits, and gif and meme-making projects.

“I love for the kids to use their creativity, critical thinking and teamwork skills,” she said. “We use a lot of imagination here. When we got the green screen, I just started playing with it. I didn’t even wait for the stand, I just put it over my SMART Board! My sixth graders were studying China in their history class, so they came in and posed with backdrops of China and acted like they were traveling. It was really fun and educational.”

Spicer says that even with all the technology available, her students still love books and they “just scoop them up!”

“Libraries are so important because they are a safe place where kids can be themselves,” said Spicer. “They can be who they are and have fun and not get judged.”