Thursday November 30, 2017
In response to the South Burlington Community Library (SBCL) moving from its shared space in the high school to the University Mall location, adjustments are being made for the future and vitality of the South Burlington High School (SBHS) library.
Per a September city council vote, the SBCL is currently in the process of settling in to its temporary location at the University Mall and preparing for a December 7 opening. A new building is tentatively being planned for a permanent public library and city hall on Market Street in City Center. Residents will weigh in on the new municipal building in a November 2018 vote.
Since 1971, one library, located at the high school, has served both the school district and the community. Under one librarian, it was operated jointly, with funding from the schools supplemented by city funds. In 2001 the city authorized hiring a full-time community librarian to accommodate programming and collection needs, and over the next years renovations were made to the shared space and staff was added.
Now everything has changed.
Responding to the move, the South Burlington School District is piecing together immediate modifications, collecting data to make informed decisions regarding students’ needs, and working on a process for long-term planning. The city’s decision to relocate the community library this fall came as a surprise to the district, which has benefitted for decades from the shared collections and services, as well as from the fees paid by the city to the schools for the use of the space, IT support and custodial services. Therefore, all planning since the September announcement has been swift and reactive.
“We have a number of folks directed by our new librarian who are working on a re-imagined standalone high school library,” said SBHS Principal Patrick Burke.
“There were advantages to us as a school having the city library here, and so as it’s leaving, that’s a loss for us. We’re going to have to develop plans to mitigate that loss. Those plans are in development for next year.”
Genevieve Gallagher, in her first year as the SBHS librarian, came onboard with great expectations about working at an exceptional school and finding new ways to enhance student learning. What she, and the district, didn’t expect, was the community library’s move. This has put Gallagher’s skills to the test.
“The high school library staff has been focusing on maintaining access for students and supporting their learning needs,” Gallagher explained. “As part of this process and to help us in our plans for the future, we have moved from a paper sign-in sheet to an electronic one that allows us to graph and compare usage data.”
She added, “We have had over 11,000 student visits so far and have been averaging over 300 visits by students to the library each day for needs ranging from finding a book, to looking for a quiet space, to studying with a group.”
Gallagher has worked in libraries since 1998, including her start at the New York Public Library, and several public and school libraries thereafter. She has a zest for helping high school students refine their research skills and connect with literature, so when she was offered the job at such a reputable school, she was thrilled.
“Since arriving, I have been continuously impressed by the students and staff,” she said. “The best thing about being a librarian is that every day holds opportunities to make connections and help people find the best information they can for whatever questions they need answered.”
In order to do so, that means adapting to change. While long-term plans for the high school library will depend on data collection, continued input, and assessment of budget capabilities, there are some immediate actions taking place.
The high school’s collection of 20,000 books will be shifted to lower shelves to allow availability to all students and staff and will be handicap accessible.Materials will be replaced in some of the collections. The space will be reorganized, and the addition of folding tables and chairs will provide more seating for students.
Though staffing will generally remain the same, a request for an additional 12 hours per week of Library Media Tech services will help the library remain open until 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Once the position is filled, hours will extend past the current 3:30 closing time most days and the library will close at 3:30 p.m. on Fridays.
“In the past, the public library staff provided the evening and weekend hours in the SBHS library space,” Gallagher said.
As a result of the sudden community library move, adjustments for the high school library will depend on what the current operating budget will allow; this year’s budget did not anticipate changes to the library.
The 2018-2019 budget proposal will include resource suggestions based on input from students, faculty, and administrators.
“I don’t think we’re going to be able to completely address all of the changes, even in one budget cycle, but we’re going to do the best we can,” Burke said.
SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent