Robots and strategy games may not be the first thing to come to mind when you think “library,” but that’s what students find at Campion Academy. Managed by Lindsey Santana, who holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Science, the Campion library is a place where students can get help with research, find a book to read, and study quietly—but it’s also a place where students can get creative, color, play games like Suspend or Gravity Maze, or play with Sphero robots. In sum, our new librarian is helping Campion facilitate inquiry and exploration.
In the past, students could visit the library, read a magazine, or find plenty of books and online databases. However, the library management was tacked on to a teacher’s class load, so students often searched on their own. Now, Santana has the time to be a reading advocate, research assistant, curriculum collaborator, and instructor of information literacy.
Teachers at Campion are finding their librarian indispensable, and they recognize what a rare resource they have. According to North American Division policy, academies must allot $40 per student toward library resources. But, while the materials may be a standard investment, having an expert to manage those materials and guide students in their use is just as important.
English teacher Erin Johnson said, “Lindsey has great ideas and suggestions for my curriculum. She makes my job easier, and the students’ work is higher quality because she finds resources that I’ve never even seen before.” Kathy Binder, who teaches independent living and English, agreed, “She’s wonderful about ordering materials and making a display of the topic I’m covering in class. She also made the whole assignment, had a key prepared, and was there to teach students and encourage them. I had a team teacher for the period.”
Students benefit, too. Sophomore Juliessa Fernandez said, “I actually get stuff done when I come in [the library]. It’s a really big help with research and getting resources. I come to get help from Mrs. Santana a lot.” School Library Journal reports that student achievement levels are higher in schools that employ a librarian. Besides supporting Campion’s mission to expand minds, the library’s holdings on religion and spirituality—over 10 percent of the collection—provides students with resources to grow in their walk with God.
Campion recognizes that the role of the teacher-librarian is growing even more important as students and faculty are met with new challenges as they use digital information. Santana best explains her role: “Certainly there is a transition going on in the library world from the physical concept of books to ones that are digital. There’s also the mentality (especially among teenagers) that all you need is Google.
“But what people forget is that we are living in a world where knowledge is growing at an exponential rate. Virtually anyone can publish now, so finding reliable, quality information is like trying to find that one drop of water coming out of a running fire hydrant. It’s overwhelming. Especially for students. So that’s where librarians come in—we help you find just the information you need.”
She’s also an advocate of creativity, which students especially enjoy. At the end of March the library hosted Make & Create Week where students can trying soldering, programming and other activities. The creative process enhances the learning process. Whether students are programming Sphero robots, making their own Lego designs, or creating duct tape masterpieces, the Campion library is a place where students can engage in creativity and learn to be producers instead of just consumers.
Jennifer Sigler teaches English at Campion Academy.