Texas Governor Greg Abbott has declared Thursday, Sept. 15 as “Power Up At Your Library Day,” an opportunity to highlight how libraries promote technology, innovation, and creativity. Northside ISD libraries are celebrating all week long, Sept. 12-16.
“Northside libraries are active, flexible learning spaces with opportunities for students to collaborate and connect,” says Doug Shudde, Director of Academic Technology, Library, and Instructional Materials. “They’re not the quiet libraries of 20 years ago; there’s a new vision and mindset to help students navigate the vast amounts of information available to them. “Power Up At Your Library” is a great opportunity to showcase what we’re doing differently.”
Though libraries have evolved in recent years, students can still turn to their libraries for their educational, technological, and social needs, albeit in different ways.
“Some people think that libraries are going away because of e-books and I don’t think that’s true,” says Brandeis High School Librarian Connie Lippenholz. “Stairs didn’t go away when elevators were invented. The biggest change in libraries is we are expanding outside books.”
Visit the Brandeis library anytime to see evidence that it’s more than just books. On any given day there are students reading, studying, using the computers, playing chess, eating and socializing with friends, and participating in what Lippenholz refers to as the “Makerspace Petting Zoo.” Activities range from robotics, Legos, crafting with duct tape, adult coloring books, circuits, and a “deconstruction zone” to take electronics apart.
The Brandeis library is also open for extended hours, Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. Junior Val Solis describes herself as a library regular visiting straight off the bus in the morning and during lunch and extended hours.
“I like that there are different areas for studying and eating and talking with friends,” Solis says. “Today I was playing with Legos and I haven’t done that since I was little. It was a nice break from my classes.”
Junior Val Solis and a classmate experiment with Legos during their lunch period.
Junior Jared Lynch experimented with the Sphero robot, controlled by an iPad app, and watched the wireless transparent ball roll across the floor at his commands.
“It’s a cool gadget that you figure out as you go,” Lynch says. “This is the place to hang out and relax.”
Brandeis HS librarian Connie Lippenholz shows junior Jared Lynch how to use the Sphero robot app.
And even outside the library walls, there are plenty of opportunities to connect with NISD libraries. There are more than 24,600 digital resources available for students and staff mostly contained in Overdrive, NISD’s Digital Library, which includes e-books, audiobooks, and streaming video available on smart phones, tablets, e-readers, and computers. It’s available 24/7 as is NISD’s virtual reference library.
Solis said she still checks out books at Brandeis but also likes borrowing audio books on Overdrive that she can listen to while she gets ready for school in the morning.
Shudde says there’s still a lot of comfort in the paper collections, evidenced by the 2,527,533 books checked out of NISD libraries during the 2015-2016 school year.
But it’s clear, what draws students to the library has changed. One student told Lippenholz on the way out that she was texting her brother so he would “come and play” during his lunch period.
“It’s important for students to come explore skills and interests outside of the classroom too,” Lippenholz says. “In here they can have downtime, rest their brains, and play.”