More than a book depot: Our library and its wide range of purposes

Seniors collaborate in the Scholar Lab during fourth period on Jan. 16. The Scholar Lab is librarian Zandra Lopezs classroom, but when not being used for instruction, students or teachers can reserve the space for a focused ambience.
Seniors collaborate in the Scholar Lab during fourth period on Jan. 16. The Scholar Lab is librarian Zandra Lopez’s classroom, but when not being used for instruction, students or teachers can reserve the space for a focused ambience.
Aisha Rashid

Like organs in a body, the Viper library carries the essential parts of our school community. In addition to its access to a vast range of information, it offers a space to study, hang out with friends, work on multimedia projects and more. While some say that the rise of information technology may threaten the productivity of public libraries, our library serves as a reminder that these centers are vital agents of community integration and promoters of research.

“Especially nowadays, books are usually electronic,” Assistant librarian Deb Roberts said. “But students use [the library] to research, hold meetings, collaborate together, tutor and study.”

For centuries, public libraries have served as community centers, and in recent years, libraries – ours included – have taken this to new heights by implementing numerous programs in which individuals can meet and bond with other members of their community. Beginning in 2017, librarian Zandra Lopez began redesigning the library in order for it to offer more to students.

“Each zone was created in the library based on student needs,” Lopez said. “I held focus groups with students and asked them about the areas they wanted to see in the library.”

In response to seeing how appealing the concept of having lunch in the library was to students, this became a daily thing for our school. Students are now able to sign up and meet with friends for lunch in the library, transforming its quiet and peaceful atmosphere into a bustling and vibrant environment for 60 minutes everyday. During PIT and among the periods of the day, students can also sign up for a place to study or have a chat with their friends. In addition to this, there are three library collaboration tables in which students can display content from their laptop onto a TV screen in order to practice presentation skills.

“[Students] wanted to be able to create and collaborate,” Lopez said. “I converted my office into the Viper Production Studio so that we had a dedicated space that students could reserve and create.”

The Viper Production Studio has a greenscreen, microphones, and several other materials used for recording interviews/podcasts, practicing presentations and printing 3D designs. The library is also home to ViperTech, a team of

A student utilizes the Quiet Zone during fourth period on Jan. 16 to complete their assignments. The Quiet Zone was created in response to some students expressing distraction regarding the bustling environment of the library. (Aisha Rashid)

students who work to fix the school’s technology issues, the Quiet Zone, the perfect place to get studying done amidst the liveliness of the library and the Scholar Lab, a collaborative research space often used by AP or IB classes. The resources that the library facilitates students with opens them up to a range of educational opportunities much larger than they might’ve been equipped with otherwise. With these innovations, students can enhance their knowledge in subjects of their own interest, produce better quality projects and assignments, use printers/computers that they may not have access to at home and improve their skills. For example, with ViperTech, students get the opportunity to advance their own technology expertise as well as help others who are facing computer issues.

“My favorite part of being a librarian is creating a space that students want to be in,” Lopez said. “I enjoy working with students to make them critical consumers of information, which happens through reading and instruction.”

Many may underestimate the productivity of libraries in this day and age, considering the rise of eBooks and endless online resources that they have access to, however our library still has a momentous impact on our community. Whether it’s the IB students collaborating in the Scholar Lab or a group of students who become friends after continuously running into each other in the same aisle, our library creates memories and brings people together. No computer program will be able to accurately simulate having a laugh with your weekly book club. Overall, our library is now focusing on emphasizing that they’re more than a book depot; their purpose is to unite the student population – and there’s no digitizing that.

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About the Contributor
Aisha Rashid, Editor
Aisha Rashid is a junior, elated to be Feature Editor this year on the Voice. She is the president of the ConnectHER club, secretary of Muslim Culture Club, secretary of NEHS and secretary of MYNA Austin. In her free time, Aisha loves spending time with family and friends, baking, volunteering and traveling.

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