Reading Between the Lines: Media specialists adapting to varying needs of visitors

The days where one can climb up in a loft and sit on a comfy cushion or have fun book hunts may be over, but don’t lose hope on  care-free elementary days. One can still find a good book and read in peace at the CFHS library.

Media specialists Kim Traw and Kristi Anhalt see 100 to 150 students a day. Some of the students are regular “customers” coming in to snuggle up in a cozy spot in the corner and read and some of them are just there to check out a book and make their way back to class.  Anhalt said, “Students do want to read, they just don’t have time to read. I have noticed students pick up books at the beginning of the year, and then I hear from the students that they don’t have time to read. I also notice they pick up books right before breaks, and many of them like to check out a pile of books for the summer.”

As students make their way through high school, homework increases, and it is hard to do the free reading that students once had time for in junior high. Junior Josh Ochoa said he reads “not as much as I wish I did. I probably read two or three books a year,”

Although students may not be doing free reading, they still venture into the library sporadically. Most of them do so to check books out for classes and to use the printer/copier machine. Senior Sam Schmitz said that the library is where he goes for books needed in class, and he visits the library one to two times a month.

Other students, like sophomore Astoria Chao, visit the library about twice a week for a variety of reasons. “I go to hold volunteer club meetings, check out books and print papers,” Chao said.

Students find it easy to go to the high school library because of the librarians’ willingness to help and their knowledge on how to pick out the right books. “The librarians always help by picking out the perfect books that we need to write papers,” senior Katie Rygh said.

Traw has a clever trick for zeroing in on the right books. “I always ask what kind of movies they like,” she said, “then try to find a book similar. I also recommend that the student read every day. It is hard to stay interested in a book if you try to read only once a week or so.”

Another reason the library is a go-to place for class books is because of the organization. Traw and Anhalt are currently working on making improvements in the library so it is easier for student to use. “Currently we are working toward the bookstore approach.  We are organizing the fiction into 10 genres,” Anhalt said. “Hopefully, this will make it easier for students to find books they like.”

They are also getting new shelving. “The new shelving will go around the perimeter of the library, allowing us to have more floor space in the library. The new shelving should also make it easier to see the books and display books,” Anhalt said.

Along with checking out books for class and using the printer, some students come to the library for free reading and for research papers. “We have some regular students who spend time reading in the library,” Anhalt said.

One of those “regulars” is Astoria Chao. She comes in a few times a week, and although she said she struggles with finding time to read as much as she would like because of all her homework, she still finds time to enjoy reading in the library. “I love libraries because you can read so many things without buying them, and it’s a nice place to hang out,” Chao said.

Most students that check out books from the library read books in the genre of dystopian fiction, fantasy and realistic fiction. The popular books also all have “ teenaged main characters who are leaders and overcome some obstacle.  Many are fighting against those in power,” Anhalt said.

Both media specialists said they have “go-to-titles” for people who are looking for recommendations. For dystopian fiction, they recommend “The Selection” series by Kiera Cass, the “Young Elite” series and the “Legend” series by Marie Lu. Realistic fiction books are also flying off the shelves, Anhalt’s “go- to-titles” for realistic fiction are “Everything, Everything” by Nicola Yoon and “Panic” by Lauren Oliver and “Sophie and Carter” by Chelsea Fine.

Both specialists said there are no special books that are popular for the winter time, but they encourage students to stop by the library before holiday break to check out as many books as they would want to read during break.

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