On June 1st, I was able to meet with Lizet Valenciana, librarian at Ramirez Elementary in Pharr. Ramirez Elementary is an older campus (at least 15 years old.) The library is located in a separate building apart from the classrooms. As I walked into the library I immediately noticed it was quite small. The circulation desk was rather large, it took up about 1/4 of the room. The second thing I noticed was that there were not very many books on the shelves. I knew that this school was a recipent of a grant to purchase additional books for the 2008-2009 school year. In total, they received approximately $30,000 which was spent on books, computers, staffing, etc. I did not realize how little books their campus must have had before the grant. The librarian informed me that the goal of the grant was to raise the average age of the collection. Previously it had been in the 1970's. This year she weeded over 700 books from the collection in an effort to make it more current.
During my interview of Mrs. Valenciana, I found out that her school enrollment in 720 students. She has 36 classes which meet on a fixed schedule. She is in rotation with PE and Music for grades 3-5. She says she does not like this schedule and she is asking her principal to take her off of rotation. In total she has 8,149 books in her collection and 519 AV items. The library has very limited seating. Six small tables are arranged in the center of the library with four chairs each for a total of 24 seats. Towards the back of the library is a computer station with ten computers (some of which were purchased with the grant.) I had to take into consideration that this was during inventory time, so there were not many displays or decorations in the library.
I was curious about how books were shelved and labeled in the library. Mrs. Valenciana stated that all books have a yellow label with a number on it. This number signifies the grade level. The only problem, she says, is that some of these labels are hand written. She is working to replace all handwritten labels with typed professional labels. Mrs. Valenciana mentioned that she had literacy nights once per week during which the library was open until 5pm. She said that sometimes these events did not draw a very large crowd.
I think it is important to visit other libraries within my district to inspire me to try new ideas in my own library. It is also a good way to network with other librarians.