Dimond Library Adapts to Change

At the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, the Dimond High School library experienced many changes.

The staffing went from one librarian and two full-time assistants to one librarian and a part time assistant. The library essentially lost one-and-a-half assistants, three-fourths of its support staff.

At the same time, more space was added to the library with the addition of a computer lab. Since then, still more has changed in the library.

Dimond’s Librarian Suzanne Metcalfe, who was recently named 2015 School Librarian of the Year by the Alaska Association of School Librarians, said the biggest change that happened in the library “since we lost two full-time assistants has been my accessibility to collaborating with teachers and working one-on-one with students.”

Metcalfe has a part-time assistant, Mishel Geraghty, in the library three and a half hours a day, every day.”

Metcalfe said, “I juggle a lot because I’m in here a little more that 50 percent of the time” without an assistant. “It almost works out to where I am the assistant to myself because I have to do what the assistants used to do to keep up.”.

As a result, Metcalfe has started to rely more heavily on her student aides. “I’m much more particular about who I hire to student aides. I make them fill out an application. I give them a little interview.”

She currently has a total of nine student aides split up throughout the day, but “it changes every semester.”

Because she has fewer assistants, Metcalfe does more ordering and deskwork before and after school and at home.

“I’m spending more time out of school trying to keep up and some things have just gone away.

“You just can’t go from three people to one and a half and still do everything you used to do. So those kinds of changes have happened,” she said.

The hours the library is open “really depends,” Metcalfe said. “Our official hours are 7:15 to 2:15. That said, I’m usually here a little before 7:00.”

Metcalfe does her best to stay until 2:30 p.m. every day if possible, although, there are required faculty meetings weekly.

There are many days where Metcalfe works late and tells students they can stay until 3 p.m. and walk out with her. “I do my best to stretch those hours out a little bit, but our days of being open every day from 7:00 to 3:00 are gone, unfortunately.”

During the summer before the 2013-2014 school year, the library’s size increased when the walls of the AV room in the library were taken down, creating space for a new computer lab.

“The lab opening up has been great because I can leave two really good student aides sort of monitoring the desk and I can be around the corner helping a teacher and still be in the room, still be the adult present and they can come get me if they need an adult, but they can check books out and help kids and teachers and that kind of stuff,” Metcalfe said.

In the last two years, the Anchorage School District has also added E-Books. If Metcalfe orders “a set of encyclopedias that has three volumes and the print resource,” there are only three volumes.

“If I order the online resource, then every student in the school can access those three volumes from their home, their classroom, from a lab and from their phones,” she said.

“We are starting to genre-fy our library.”

There are different colored labels on the spines of the library books that correspond to a genre.

“Red is paranormal, which will have the zombies and the ghosts and the witches and such. Dark blue is science fiction, and that is going to have your dystopian novels like “Divergent,” and “Hunger Games” and of course just pure science fiction. Light blue is fantasy; light green is mystery; dark green is sports and adventure.”