John Yeates Middle School Media Center Observations

The Space and Physical Access

John Yeates Middle School is an older single story brick building located on a main road in a residential area, and has a small post office neighboring it to the left. A recent study done to create a facility master plan for Suffolk Public Schools rated the building poorly and called for major renovations or replacement of the structure (LaRoue, 2021, para. 1-2). The 55 plus years of age show throughout the building.

The library itself is a medium sized room located in the middle of the school with two double doors at the front and back. Inside the carpeted room there is a small round desk for checkout towards the middle-back of the space. The exterior walls are lined with full bookshelves. Within the room there are several shorter double-sided mobile, three shelf bookcases. Additionally there are four person square tables each with four chairs to the left, and four round bar-height tables with three chairs to a table on the right side of the room. There is one more seating area that is more lounge-esque, featuring a soft padded yellow sofa like bench and several yellow and red padded sitting-stools. When I visited in person, I was surprised by how small the library space felt.

Services and Intellectual Access

A description of services in the library found on the school’s interactive map says, “[t]he JYMS Media Center is a flexible space that provides a wealth of information services to students and staff, in many different ways. From borrowing books to research, and in-services to conferences, the media center is a true learning hub of JYMS. Resource reservations, technology help, and engaging lessons are but a few of the many things you’d find our media specialist doing, on a daily basis” (Kubinak, 2021, book icon). I hope that in practice the John Yeates Middle School Library lives up to its lofty claims, and is truly a place where students have the ability to utilize a learning hub, access materials, conduct research, and receive instruction.

However, I was concerned by signage on the back doors to the library that said to stop and go around, because this space was being used as a classroom. The American Association of School Librarians (2009) specifically identify one of librarians missions as, “providing access to materials in all formats, including up-to-date, high-quality, varied literature to develop and strengthen a love of reading” (as cited in Rubin & Rubin, 2020, p. 154). These signs indicate there could be some major infringement occurring here on student’s access to this space and its accompanying resources, because if they aren’t welcome in the space how can they possible utilize or benefit from it?

July 13, 2022 Photograph depicting back entrance to library and the concerning “STOP! This is a classroom, please go around” signage there.

People (Patrons and Staff)

Despite this visit occurring during the summer while JYMS is on summer break, and the consequential lack of students, there were people in the library. It appeared that these individuals were teachers and other education professionals using laptops to work quietly on Professional Development in the library space. The “exploratory section” of the staff pages on the school’s website only lists one library relevant personnel: Lisa Oleary as the Media Specialist. This page also gives the option to send an email to Oleary, or to call (757)923-4105 which is the school’s phone number.

Digital Access

The website was somewhat difficult to find. From the JYMS homepage one must hover over “learning resources” and then click “Destiny Catalog”, which takes you to a district landing page where individuals can then select the link for “John Yeates Middle School” which will take them to the library homepage on https://destiny.spsk12.net/common/servlet/presenthomeform.do?l2m=Home&tm=Home.

Once there, there is a tab for the catalog. However, every search I attempted to perform came back with an error message. That being said the “Destiny Discover” option for browsing, opened easily and showed relevant materials as well as pertinent information like if the book was available or currently checked-out. This option was clearly designed with students in mind, as it was very visual with clickable book covers that opened overviews and allowed for students to checkout if logged in.

July 11, 2022 Screenshot from the “Destiny Discover” section of the catalog depicting the user friendly nature of this feature. This screenshot also illustrates how the website shows categories like new titles added, or the option to search by topic, and a title preview example for “Family Ties” by Gary Paulson on the right column of the screen. (Follett School Solutions, LLC, 2022a, [Screenshot by Kiley Miller]).

The “Standards Search” was also incredibly easy to use and could be a powerful tool for teachers. It allows for typed in text searches or browsing. Within the browsing feature users can narrow by state and subject to pull up specific standards, which will then pull all relevant materials under two tabs: websites or titles. The titles section had both physical holdings with corresponding call numbers and ebooks with direct links. Another handy feature here is that users also can save titles to a list or further refine the search.

July 11, 2022 Screenshot from the “Standards Search” section of the catalog depicting the scope of this tool and its ability to pull all relevant materials. This screenshot also illustrates how the catalog differentiates electronic holdings from physical ones, and how users can add titles to lists, or further refine their search. (Follett School Solutions, LLC, 2022b, [Screenshot by Kiley Miller]).

Collections

It is evident based on the collection that this library is intended for middle school students. There are an assortment of fiction and nonfiction materials geared to 6th thru 8th graders, as well as many middle grade reads on display, in both the physical and digital collections. The school’s interactive map features a video with the Assistant Vice-Principal in the media center, and he speaks about the availability of chromebooks and a copy machine in this space (Kubinak, 2021, book icon). I believe that the level of digital literacy required to even find the library’s homepage and catalog could be a barrier to use for some caregivers wishing to assist their students.

Other

This visit was a bit upsetting to me, as it highlighted a lack of funding and priority given to these middle schooler’s media center experiences. It makes me want to pursue activity in the school board to be an advocate for these students. I wonder about Oleary’s thoughts and initiatives regarding student access. I also am curious if parents and caregivers are aware of the space being repurposed for regular classes? If so are they fighting for their student’s right to access, or do they even have the required capacity or knowledge to do so?

References

Follett School Solutions, LLC. (2022a). Destiny Discover. [Screenshot by Kiley Miller]. Retrieved July 11, 2022, from https://search.follettsoftware.com/metasearch/ui/43200

Follett School Solutions, LLC. (2022b). Standards Search. [Screenshot by Kiley Miller]. Retrieved July 11, 2022, from https://destiny.spsk12.net/cataloging/servlet/handlestatestandardssupportingtitlesform.do?stateOID=35161&includeLibrary=true&includeMedia=false&siteTypeID=-2&mediaSiteID=&ssOID=2029730

LaRoue, J. (February 9, 2021). Facility study details major needs at multiple schools. Suffolk News Herald. Retrieved July 11, 2022, from https://www.suffolknewsherald.com/2021/02/09/facility-study-details-major-needs-at-multiple-schools/

Kubinak, T. (2021) JYMS Interactive Map: Media Center. [Map]. Retrieved July 11, 2022, from https://www.thinglink.com/scene/1354867560733999106

Rubin, R. E., & Rubin, R. G. (2020). Foundations of library and information science (5th ed.). ALA Neal-Schuman.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Theresa O'Byrne says:

    Kiley
    My son is going to John Yeates this coming school year as a 6th grader. I’ve also worked on and off in this building over the past 4ish years. Your look into this library is very interesting to me. It’s eye opening to hear your view from the outside. I wonder what you would find in the brand new Suffolk middle school George Cherry if you looked at their media center. It is a shame that they use this space for classroom use. I’ve often seen it closed to student use during my time in the building. Especially during state testing!

    1. Theresa O'Byrne says:

      I realized on the way to the grocery store I wrote George Cherry! It’s Fred Cherry. Got it wrong. Oops!

      1. kmill069 says:

        Theresa,
        It’s reassuring that someone who actually has a child who will be attending here next year got something out of my summary! So so frustrating about it being closed to students for use. I am curious about Fred Cherry now.

  2. eweid001 says:

    It was nice to read about another middle school library in a neighboring district. I am glad my post helped to shed some light on the Classlink-Launchpad feature you were exploring. Destiny Discover is pretty easy to use and there are two interfaces, the screenshot you shared is the interface that I feel is very kid-friendly. Students and staff can switch to a more standard-looking database to search for books as well. The signage you found is interesting and I wonder if that has been up all year or if it is specific to summer classes or something? In terms of budget, every district and school runs differently. Principals have a lot of say on how much will be devoted to the school library. It is definitely a challenge for many though!

  3. Jordan Fowler says:

    It’s interesting how so many school libraries show such an obvious lack of funding and school support, yours is not the only blog post to discuss it. The school library I chose has similar problems but they at least have staff defending it and allowing it to be used as library space, it sounds like this school is struggling with that. It seems like they have a great space that just needs some advocacy.

    1. kmill069 says:

      I agree! I can also understand the burnout and overwhelm the librarians in these spaces are feeling, which is probably contributing to their diminished advocacy.

  4. Tina Richard says:

    Because of the limited budgets, it seems many schools choose to put the library at the bottom of the list of things to fund. It sounds like this has happened at John Yeates also. It is sad that there are times that the students don’t even have access to the space. This shows that the administration does not understand the importance of a good library space and qualified librarian to student achievement.

  5. sedwa032 says:

    It’s really upsetting to see a library taken over as a classroom. That image you posted of “Welcome to the library” but the door says otherwise is so…I can’t really think of the word to describe it. I wonder why it seems that school websites are either poorly designed and hard to navigate. It really sounds like the website and library need some TLC but I wonder how much of a budget it has considering some of it isn’t even used as a library.

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