Every trick in the book

Paisley Regester, features writer

Whether it is being used for early morning group research, lunchtime cram sessions, or after school peer tutoring, the library has always been a hub for both social and independent learning at KHS. The library staff said they value the importance of adapting to the needs of each new generation of Kirkwood students, expanding the knowledge of reading and writing through platforms that are accessible and familiar.

This year, the library has expanded the amount of digital resources that are available to students. In addition to the thousands of books located throughout the Donald Duchek library, over 200 audiobooks and 300 eBooks are available for checkout online. If students want a book that is not located in the library or cannot be checked out as a digital copy, then they can request that it be added to the library through a form located on the library website.

Online databases and research assistance are some of the lesser-known resources accessible to students through the library website. This includes free, subject-specific resources taken from magazines, newspapers and journals that have been compiled in one location for students to utilize throughout the school year.

The library is a unique space in the school. It’s hopefully a place to come and get away from the chaos, and a lot of kids use it for that and need that space.”

— Janet Mees Reinert

“We’ve always had databases, but we try to change them and make them reflect the needs of what’s going on right now,” Janet Mees Reinert, KHS librarian, said. “A lot of issues with mental health are being discussed, so we talked to one of the counselors about resources, and we found some things that might be helpful [to students.]”

The online mental health database, which is run through the Gale Virtual Reference Library, provides information about specific illnesses and navigates students towards reliable books for research. Resources concerning Suicide Prevention Week are also located online.

Another new addition to the library is the ability for students to print to the copier directly from their laptops, rather than having a librarian do it for them. According to the library staff, teachers have been taking advantage of this new feature as well and can now bring their classes to the library to copy and print excerpts from books for future reference.

“The kids can print directly to the copier to scan things and make copies,” Mees Reinert said. “Before, we only had computers that could do that, and then [students] had to ask to get copies, but now they’ve got more independence and capabilities.”

The librarians also take into account the interests of students and teachers when it comes to the physical layout of the library. Two classroom spaces with mobile TVs, as well as a designated quiet area, have been established to fit the needs of all students and teachers.

“[The library] is a quiet place to work,” Atja Imamovic, senior, said. “I come here during lunch when I have to cram for something.”

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With the increased use of laptops to aid coursework throughout the building, the library has also acquired computer chargers, both plug-in and portable, that can be rented out to students. Portable charging outlets have also been added to tables throughout the library.

“I think that the laptop chargers are really helpful,” Natalie Radt, senior, said. “Sometimes I just don’t feel like lugging [my charger] around.”

Radt also values the Pride Center and the help she has received there during her Independent Period. She is thankful for immediate guidance that the KHS librarians offer her if she ever needs assistance as well.

“I think that the most helpful part [of the library] is the librarians because they are really easy to talk to,” said Radt. “I know that if I need an extra resource or something, they are the first people that I can go to.”

According to Mees Reinert, one of the primary goals of the library is to create a comfortable and safe learning space for all students and staff. She said that she values its multipurpose environment and believes that it is rightfully located at the heart of KHS’ campus.

“The library is a unique space in the school,” Mees Reinert said. “It’s hopefully a place to come and get way from the chaos, and a lot of kids use it for that and need that space. We have a really vibrant high school and there’s a lot of spirit in the halls, which I love, but we do have kids who are looking for a place that have a little bit of a calmer zone where they can decompress.”