Historically, libraries in NYC public schools have faced a host of challenges including funding, scheduling, professional certification of personnel, and at times, lack of support. There is a new shift in education, though, that could be an answer to the challenges school libraries are facing. The Common Core Learning Standards have been adopted by New York State, as well as most states in our nation, and administrators and teachers need to understand the standards and how to apply them in their schools.
These standards are quite different from the NYS Standards because they are much more process-based and overarching. Fortunately, through NYCDOE (Department of Education) School Librarian Services professional development, school librarians have been honing their skills in these areas, so public school libraries are uniquely positioned to help meet this challenge.
Fifth grade students at PS 30M working on a Civil Rights unit. Photo courtesy Brenda Shufelt.
PS 30M (Hernandez Hughes) is a public elementary school in East Harlem. The PS 30M Library has a well-developed collection, up-to-date technology and a certified school librarian, Brenda Shufelt. This library once received little or no funding and was, in fact, closed for a number of years but gained new life in 2000 when a Manhattan Borough President Resolution “A” (“Reso A”) Capital Improvement Grant was awarded to the library. The library has also received grants from NYCDOE School Library Services, New Visions, the Fund for Public Schools, the Isabelle Middleton Foundation, NYPL, and the New York Chapter of the Continental Societies, Inc. DOE School Library Services offers resources including LibGuides and has provided invaluable professional development to Ms. Shufelt, who received school library certification in 2010.
The library’s vision is as follows:
- To promote students’ love of reading and a sense of ownership over their reading choices.
- To develop students’ research skills through use of books and information technology.
- To develop students’ familiarity and success in utilizing library resources and to encourage a life-long habit of library patronage.
- To advance students’ sense of respect and responsibility toward one another and our society as a whole.
The PS 30M Library features 10,000 books, DVDs and online subscriptions, a lab of desktop computers as well as laptops, an interactive whiteboard in the class instructional area and a rug area for book readings/talks and class activities. It has a set schedule enabling every class in the school to visit at least once every two weeks for a short class followed by book check out. In addition some classes visit the library once a week to receive English Language Arts instruction in the Social Studies or Science content areas.
Last November, Ms. Shufelt gave a workshop entitled "Research Projects with Second Grade Students: Meeting CCSS in the Library" at the Library Fall Conference: "Creating Engaged Learners" presented by the New York City School Library System Office of Library Services and this year the library was involved in the Union Catalog Pilot Project with the New York Public Library.
The School’s most recent success is the receipt of a grant in June 2012, which Ms. Shufelt worked on writing, funded by the Partnership for New York City, the City Council, and the teachers’ union, to become a Community Learning Center. This creates a partnership between the School and the local branch of the NYPL (125th Street Branch) to encourage child and parent participation in programs offered by both entities. The library was an important strength in the grant application and played a crucial role in this partnership plan.
This spotlight was written by Ellen Mehling, with input from Brenda Shufelt.
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