This year the UHS library has undergone some drastic changes. The library has always been a popular place for students to go to, and the changes are intended to better meet their needs.
One of the biggest changes is Ms. Dawn Jan (Librarian), the new librarian, replacing Ms. Turner who had been a librarian at UHS for 26 years. “Mrs. Jan has been amazing; she’s really good with the students; she’s super passionate about working in the library,” says Mr. Dominic Fratantaro (Librarian).
In addition to the changes in staffing, the layout of the library has been altered. The rows of desktop computers previously in front of the front desk of the library have been removed to allow more freedom for the students to be able to come in with whatever device they have. New tables, mobile chairs and seating are now in place. Some tables have been equipped with outlets in order to let students power their own devices. Students now can also check out a laptop or chromebook in exchange for their ID card.
Removing 10,000 books also contributed to the increase in open space in the library. Fratantaro and Mrs. Jan reviewed circulation records of the books, the amount of books and the years of the books. “Then we went through every book ndividually and decided whether we’re going to keep it or not,” said Fratantaro. The books that did not meet their standards and were not frequently checked out were removed and sent to either a recycling center or a center that finds a new home for them. “The idea is that we’re trying to match the online resources with the resources that we have in the library, so it’s more like a book boutique. Even though we’ve gotten rid of 10,000 books, our circulation is actually way up.” Circulation has increased by more than 50% compared to last year.
Fratantaro also attributes the circulation increase to the book displays that Jan has been putting up, as well as the new books that were bought, which include graphic novels. The librarians have been working with UHS’s Anime Club to find new titles that students would enjoy.
In fact, clubs can now hold meetings or gatherings in a new space in the upstairs library, and clubs, as well as teachers, are welcome to check it out and reserve it.
The library has become a center for various arts to come interact. Shiva Verma (Sr.) has played a concert in the library, and there are plans to have the school’s a capella group hold another concert. The art show was held in the upstairs library for the first time this year, and different murals have been added. Former UHS student Aidan Galassetti (2015) painted the mural above the fiction section, and the AP Art students will paint the yearly mural that matches the yearbook theme.
There are plans to add a maker space to the art supply section of the library for students. “We’ll have different things they can tinker with: robotics and things like that, and whatever they’re doing in engineering class too,” says Fratantaro. “We added in a new website to the library to try to simplify the students’ path to all the resources that we have.”
On average there are around 150 students in the library at lunch, and although there are only 75 seats available, there is no limit to the number of students who can come in.
The changes were spurred on with the arrival of Jan and Fratantaro’s desire to keep up-to-date with advancing technology. “It just came about naturally that the space needed to be changed to meet the needs of the students, and I wanted to make it a cool space that people can come in and feel comfortable, and they feel they actually own a part of it.”
The new and improved library has also undergone a change in ambience. Fratantaro’s goal was to turn it into a lounge-like space, “the Starbucks/Apple genius bar, but also add in a bookstore feel to it, where you can come in and you would see different resources, not lined up in the different stacks but more facing forward so it’s more like a book boutique.”
To fund further technological changes to the library such as cabelling, wiring and networking upgrades and additions, the library has been trying to raise money. However, “I think we’re doing a good job based on the budget that we do have, which is basically nothing,” said Fratantaro.