Robots and strategy games may not be the first thing to come to mind when you think library, but that’s what students find at Campion Academy. Managed by Lindsey Santana, who holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Science, the Campion library is a place where students can get help with research, find a book to read, and study quietly, but it’s also a place where students can get creative, color, play games like Suspend or Gravity Maze, or play with Sphero robots. In sum, our new librarian is helping Campion facilitate inquiry and exploration.
In the past, students could visit the library, read a magazine, or find plenty of books and online databases. However, the library management was tacked on to a teacher’s class load, so students often searched on their own. Now, Lindsey has the time to be a reading advocate, research assistant, curriculum collaborator, and instructor of information literacy.
Teachers at Campion are finding their librarian indispensable, and they recognize what a rare resource they have. According to NAD policy, academies must allot $40 per student towards library resources. But, while the materials may be a standard investment, having an expert to manage those materials and guide students in their use is just as important.
English teacher Erin Johnson said, “Lindsey has great ideas and suggestions for my curriculum. She makes my job easier, and the students’ work is higher quality because she finds resources that I’ve never even seen before.” Kathy Binder, who teaches independent living and English, agreed, “She’s wonderful about ordering materials and making a display of the topic I’m covering in class. She also made the whole assignment, had a key prepared, and was there to teach students and encourage them. I had a team teacher for the period.”
Students benefit, too. Sophomore Juliessa Fernandez said, “I actually get stuff done when I come in [the library]. It’s a really big help with research and getting resources. I come to get help from Mrs. Santana a lot.” School Library Journal reports that student achievement levels are higher in schools that employ a librarian. Besides supporting Campion’s mission to expand minds, the library’s holdings on religion and spirituality—over 10% of the collection—provides students with resources to grow in their walk with God.
Campion recognizes that the role of the teacher librarian is growing even more important as students and faculty are met with new challenges as they use digital information. Lindsey explains her role the best: “Certainly there is a transition going on in the library world from the physical concept of books to ones that are digital. There’s also the mentality (especially among teenagers) that all you need is Google. But what people forget is that we are living in a world where knowledge is growing at an exponential rate. Virtually anyone can publish now, so finding reliable, quality information is like trying to find that one drop of water coming out of a running fire hydrant. It’s overwhelming. Especially for students. So that’s where librarians come in—we help you find just the information you need.”
She’s also an advocate of creativity, which students especially enjoy. At the end of March the library will host “Make & Create Week” where students can trying soldering, programming, and other activities. The creative process enhances the learning process. Whether students are programming Sphero robots, making their own Lego designs, or creating duct tape masterpieces, the Campion library is a place where students can engage in creativity and learn to be producers instead of just consumers.
CN: I can tell you have a bent for the literary by naming your son after a character in The Chronicles of Narnia!
LS: Yes, I love reading and learning new things constantly!
CN: Which brings me to a question that may seem a bit irreverent to your profession: Since Campion has gone to iPads, is there really any place for books or a future for a library here at the school?
LS: I love it when people bring this up. Certainly there is a transition going on in the library world from the physical concept of books to ones that are digital. There’s also the mentality (especially amongst teenagers) that all you need is Google. But what people forget is that we are living in a world where knowledge is growing at an exponential rate. Virtually anyone can publish now, so that finding reliable, quality information is like trying to find that one drop of water coming out of a running fire hydrant. It’s overwhelming. Especially for students. So that’s where librarians come in—we help you find just the information you need.
CN: I like the fire hydrant analogy. So tell us a bit more about your role as librarian.
LS: I’m working on collaborating with teachers—helping them and their students find the right materials to help support curricular needs. I mentor students in their research and homework needs. I teach information literacy skills to classes that come in for certain projects. I assess and determine how the library collection needs to change and evolve to support the classes offered here at Campion. I champion literacy by helping each reader find his or her book.
CN: What are you most excited about in regards to your job?
LS: I’m really excited to start implementing a Makerspace here at the Campion Library. It’s a movement that’s growing popularity all over, but especially in libraries. The concept of the movement is simple: get out there and make something. Projects range anywhere from something made using a 3D printer (a technology Campion acquired last school year), learning how to solder, programming robots, building a catapult, knitting a hat, or making a wallet out of duct tape. I want students to learn the satisfaction of making something they dreamed up on their own, instead of just consuming what is so readily available. After Christmas, students at Campion will begin to enjoy Makerspace events probably twice a month. Our first event will involve programming a Sphero (a robot, for lack of a better term) using their phones or iPads. There will be a competition and prizes for winning teams.
CN: That’s awesome! If anyone is interested in coming to these events, what do they need to know?
LS: They will typically be held during the lunch hour, 12:00-1:00, in the library. Look for announcements in the Campion News emails. And if you’re looking for more information, people can definitely email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.