A grandfather clock stands guard against an exposed brick wall. Five gray tables with blue and green chairs are arranged on a blue carpet. Beige metal carts hold biographies and graphic novels. Baskets display books for early readers on subjects as varied as sharks, LEGOs, and Spider-Man. A rotating wood magazine rack with issues of Boy’s Life, National Geographic +Kids, and Sports Illustrated Kids.
The library is different, but the librarian is a familiar face: Ms. Stephanie Loiselle, who departed the Wilton Public Library in September 2017, transitioning to her new role as Elementary Technology/Media Generalist Teacher at Florence Rideout Elementary School (FRES).
Her library is on the school’s third floor and is open for students to come in and exchange their books. During bi-weekly library class, Ms. Stephanie offers storytimes in a well-lit alcove as well as lessons in library skills, such as searching the catalog, finding books on the shelves, and learning the Dewey Decimal system.
“I do miss programming and special events.” Ms. Stephanie admits. “I also miss seeing the kids with their families. And I miss seeing their young siblings, the Pine Hill kids, and the homeschoolers.”
“Oh, and my co-workers of course,” she adds with a smirk.
Sporting a stylish and short haircut, Ms. Stephanie helps the first-graders navigate the shelves and operate the barcode scanner at the desk. The first graders have recently learned how to check out their own books. They grip the scanner in their little hands, aim the red laser at the barcode, and check out books with a satisfying beep.
The tech room, Ms. Stephanie’s other domain, is a floor below the library. It is marked with her name — Ms. Loiselle — and a drawing of a cartoon mouse. “It took me a minute to get why the mouse was there,” Ms. Stephanie confessed.
The room itself contains 22 computers, a rug with bold and bright patterns, and a smart board, which projects Ms. Stephanie’s desktop onto the whiteboard to demonstrate computer skills. “It’s so helpful,” she says. Signs decorating the real wall show students how to be creative communicators, digital citizens, and empowered learners.
At the computers, younger kids learn to find letters, write stories, sign into their accounts, and draw digital pictures. Older kids are creating a yearbook for the fifth-grade class to buy. Ms. Stephanie is planning a unit on online safety to teach kids “what to share, what not to share. What’s personal and what’s private information. How to be a good digital citizen and not bully people online and how to react when you see someone being cyberbullied.” She also plans a unit on body image as portrayed through advertising, social media, and PhotoShopped images. “Just because it’s there does not mean that it’s real.”
A planned lesson on Winter Olympic athletes combines library skills with tech skills. While researching a winter athlete of their choice, students learn to choose good sources, evaluate search results, research the athlete’s home country, design PowerPoint slides, and write a story. “I try co-operative units to show them that the skills are complimentary,” Ms. Stephanie explains.
As in her role as Youth Services Librarian at the Wilton Public Library, Ms. Stephanie’s skills aren’t only applied to those under four feet tall. A teacher needs help with the copier. Ms. Stephanie handily removes a sheet of paper jammed in the copier’s side panel. A blue light illuminates and the machine whirs to life. The teacher collects her pages, and Ms. Stephanie steps into the hall to greet her next class. “Tell everybody I said hi.”
(this article appeared in part in Circulation Vol. I, Issue 02)