During Tuesday's professional day I had the opportunity to take a field trip to North Attleborough High School's library media center. I have lots of wonderful colleagues in Norton, but as the only media specialist (or library personnel of any kind) in the district, I have no one in my "department" with whom I can share ideas. So it was a real treat to get out of the building to talk to and share ideas with other media specialists. I won't bore you too much with library shop talk but I would like to share some of the similarities and differences between North Attleborough's media center and Norton's media center.
The most glaring difference is certainly the level of staffing. North Attleborough has two full time certified library media specialists and one full time paraprofession. Norton, as previously mentioned, has just me. Yes, the student population is larger (around 1200 for them and around 700 for us) but they didn't seem to see any more students than I do daily and far fewer than I saw in previous years when we still had studies. One of the nice things about having a larger staff is that there is less waiting for help. There are times when I have several students asking for help, someone else wanting to check out a book, a teacher asking for a video, a jammed copy machine and the phone ringing all at once. An extra person or two would certainly help in a situation like that. They also have a few more computers than our library (NA 15 Norton 12) but ours are newer and, believe it or not, faster. Their collection is larger, but again, they do have more students.
The size of the facilities are similar, though the layout is a little different. Norton's library is much more open with more tables for group work while North Attleborough has tables on one side and individual study carrels on the side. About six years ago the Norton High School library got a face lift. New carpeting and tile replaced the worn and stained avocado carpeting and new paint and furniture completed the look. North Attleborough is still waiting for its turn. Like our library in the not so distant past, damaged carpeting is mended with silver duct tape. One thing they do have that we will never have, however, is natural light. Their media center has windows! What a treat!
Overall, it was a great experience and I wish I could do it more often. It's important to stay in touch with colleagues and share best practices. We talked about student projects, print and electronic resources, schedules, and teaching. You can't help but learn something new when you get out of your own environment and experience something new. I'd like to thank the media center staff at North Attleborough High for taking the time to share their program with me.