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Still Your Grandparents’ Library (with an accent on high tech)

Despite fast and furious 21st century changes, the school library remains a repository of knowledge, a retreat for those seeking solitude, and a gathering place for young collaborators.

Library Department Chair Kathy Hartzler, now in her 23rd year at the school, has long pushed for enhanced technologies in the school’s hubs of learning.  “Print and digital resources including video programs, countless databases, and apps for all grades are here,” she boasted, “along with iPads, Chromebooks, Macbooks and Kindles.” Just this year, the Library purchased an additional 24 Chromebooks to enhance and facilitate learning.

Such innovations are the norm for educational technology spending in the school’s classrooms, but the libraries have had to keep pace, too.  “The great thing about infusing educational technology into the library is that it allows us to support the curriculum, promote literacy and foster a love of reading and learning,” said Middle School Librarian Angela Ungaro. Still, it’s not gadgets that make libraries effective learning centers.   “Technologies are always improving and that’s great, but it’s not so much what tools we use as the research skills we’re teaching students that matter most, for now and when they get to college.”

Most recently, Kathy and her colleagues have been experimenting with makerspaces, a way to encourage creativity and critical thinking both individually and in groups.  For the month of May, all Lower School students got to interact with a variety of materials and digital resources during their Library class.  “Our themes were The Art of Words, Book Arts, Makerspace Roundup and Build it, Fold it, Tinker,” explained Preschool-Lower School Librarian Christina Karvounis. “Embedded within each of these themes were curated opportunities for students to run with ideas, share ideas, bring ideas to life and learn something new.”

“What has not changed is our mission,” Kathy said.  “The Preschool-Lower School, Middle School, and soon-to-be new Upper School library have always been here for faculty, staff and families.”