Turning the page: Prescott school libraries show renewed focus
PUSD’s two libraries aim to increase student traffic and save money
In Prescott Unified School District, the tale of two libraries – Mile High and Prescott High — is all about preserving and enhancing their mission, increasing student traffic in the space and saving dollars.
School administrators opted to do without two staff library positions this year as part of a required $700,000 school level budget cut. The move announced before the end of the school year provoked some initial objections from the impacted staff, as well as some students and faculty concerned about the potential loss of what, historically, is a school learning hub.
The school principals assured the Governing Board they would spend the summer coming up with ways to ensure the libraries not only continued to operate, but do so with a renewed focus that taps into the evolution of technology and need for a student study and research haven.
On Tuesday night, at the first Prescott Unified Governing Board meeting of the school year, Mile High and Prescott High principals Andrew Binder and Mark Goligoski were clear that their libraries will continue to be student-centric with the help of both existing staff and volunteers. Mile High’s librarian, Karen Rauls, retired at the end of the last school year, but intends to volunteer her services a couple times a week.
One of the things both principals mentioned prior to the budget reduction was how they wanted to revitalize library operations because students were no longer depending on them as they once had due to a new reliance on technology, including use of personal devices.
“I want to see foot traffic,” Goligoski said.
Agreeing with his colleague’s focus, Binder said that this year, language arts classes will be held in the second-floor library a couple times a week. In addition, the library space is being rearranged so it looks more like a college and career center. A school counselor will be there on a rotating basis to assist students with use of the Naviance computer tool that helps teens identify college and career choices so they can then pick courses to meet those goals, he said.
At the high school, Goligoski said he envisions the library located in the main hallway across from the administrative offices to be transformed into a place similar to a college student union – with one of the academic advisors to be a regular library presence.
Tapping into the strengths of the student body, Goligoski said his intent is to infuse more energy into the space.
“We want to give students the opportunities to drive what it is they want in their school,” Goligoski said.
With strong student support, Goligoski envisions a library that appeals to students, whether they come to do homework, meet for small group study or are meeting with an academic advisor familiar with the Naviance college/career technology tool.
Students will still be able to find classic literature and leisure reads in the rear stacks, Goligoski said. The shelves, however, will be culled of books that haven’t been checked out in decades – and Goligoski said students have volunteered to help with that task.
“We eliminated a library position, we did not eliminate the library,” Goligoski said. “We are still a 21st century library, a learning center.”
IN THE COMMUNITY
The Prescott Public Library has no shortage of foot traffic – it is a bustling place that welcomes thousands of people of all ages every day and month of the year.
Their patrons are young and old alike. Some come to drink a cup of coffee and read the daily newspaper; some come for children’s story time, some want the latest mystery thriller and some want to check online resources for job employment.
Various rooms in the library are used for everything from guest lectures to board game nights.
Public Services Manager Martha Baden said libraries have evolved over time, yet still play a critical role in the life of a community. Libraries have always been the place where people can, at no charge, come and be directed to the information they require, be it a book, a computer research reference or to find out about other local resources.
Library staff are folks professionally equipped to help the community seek out “authoritative information.”
Prescott High senior Madison Jackson, the newly appointed Governing Board student representative, said students are excited about revitalizing the library into a place “where they want to go.”
National Honor Society and Student Council leaders already are talking about the use of the library as a potential space to begin a tutoring program for younger students in the district, Madison said.
“I think it’s going to be a very positive change,” she said.