Elizabeth von Nagy
Career Snapshot: I graduated from UNO in 2013 with a degree in Secondary Education and endorsements in School Library Media and English. I began working at Anderson Grove and Golden Hills Elementary Schools in Papillion-La Vista in the Fall of 2013. I split my time between those two schools for three years. I have spent the last two and a half years at Papillion-La Vista High School.
Digital Natives expect near-instant access to information.
This means that it is imperative that our digital Library resources are easily accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To support Learners in this endeavor, one of the first things I do each semester is send an email out to all staff and all students with a link to our catalog, all of our database passwords, and a tutorial on how to access and use our most frequently used resources. A simple email such as this one ensures that each Learner has the information they need to access our digital resources.
So, our staff spent some time weeding, refining, and rearranging our Fiction section. Now the entire portion of that collection is housed in stacks against walls and is clearly arranged. The simple act of moving books around affects how our students access our holdings. This new arrangement made more sense to them and I did get fewer questions for help finding books. That’s a good thing, though, because students have a right to privacy if they want it. Arranging your library in such a way that Learners can navigate your resources on their own is, in my opinion, best practice for equitable access.
Everyone in my district has full and unrestricted access to our materials.
Another librarian asked me last year if I would question or decline an ILL request for controversial materials for a young patron. I told her absolutely not and that if a patron wanted to read something from my library, it isn’t my responsibility to judge and censor. All learners, even our youngest, have a right to access information and any effort to impede that access violates the Library Bill of Rights.
Teaching accession to both students and teachers.
If learners don’t know how to use something, they most likely won’t use it. This is why I love hosting our Freshmen English classes at the beginning of the school year for a library orientation. Teaching Learners what is available to them and how to get to those materials is the first step in ensuring that they feel welcome to use our collections. Oftentimes, for one reason or another, we forget that our teachers are also Learners and that they too may not know what resources are available to them and how to access. This is why I asked my principal for some time on a staff development day to teach our teachers about their library resources. After that session, I received quite a few emails along the lines of, “This is great! When can you come co-teach with me?”
Fines restrict access.
I’ve struggled with library fines and overdues over the last few years because I’m well aware of the reality that if a student has a library fine, the narrative that accompanies that makes them feel unwelcome in the library, which in turn means they will not access as many materials. To mitigate this challenge while still maintaining consistent fine policies across district libraries, we now offer students the option to read or study off their fines. For every ten minutes they read or study, $1.00 will be taken off of their library account. Earlier this year, our NSLA president sent me a quote that prompted this change. It is from Doug Johnson and it says, “The mission of the school library isn’t to get all of the books back. It’s to get readers back.”