School Board Hears Update on Middle School Libraries

Librarian Stefania Metalious says students come into the school library for a variety of reasons. Some tell her, “I saw the movie and I want to get this book.” Others are more vague, asking for “The book with the eyeball on the cover,” while still others come in for the traditional reasons. “They need a pencil,” Metalious said with a smile.

Serena Levine, Derry Cooperative School District Director of Supplemental Services, and Metalious, the librarian who serves both Gilbert H. Hood and West Running Brook middle schools, spoke at the Dec. 16 School Board meeting on what today’s young teens need from a library and what they’re able to give. The presentation was introduced by Leslie Saucier, principal of West Running Brook.

Today’s library is more than books and today’s librarian more than someone who “shushes,” Metalious said. She is developing collections that are matched to the curriculum, in formats ranging from short stories to novels to biography, from how-to to poetry. She consults often with classroom teachers on what books they need to enhance their curriculum, or what books she already has.

Books are now planned to fit in with the Common Core standards, Levine said, and while there is still plenty of fiction on the shelves or on the e-readers, there’s a thrust toward “informational text.” There are also more magazines than when she and her audience were in school, including “Teen Ink” for young writers and “Chop Chop” for would-be cooks.

Metalious also buys a number of graphic novels, which draw students into the library and into reading, she said.

The emphasis is on drawing both eager and reluctant readers, and Levine said this is done in the following ways:

• Engaging displays;

• Book talks and “ads;”

• Subject searches;

• Easy and immediate access to materials;

• Catering to “impulse shoppers” and

• Constant updates to the collection.

The middle-school libraries have five subscriptions to databases for on-line inquiry-led research, Levine said.

This is crucial, Metalious said, because, “A lot of what the kids are looking at for research is so up-to-date, we don’t even have books on it.”

There is currently a curriculum focus on government, Metalious said, and she frequently directs her patrons to sites such as

She said she educates both students and staff on how to use online resources and the latest research tools.

Circulation is up, Metalious said, with 5,000 pieces of material circulated last year, as opposed to 4,900 the year before, and she’s projected 7,000 for this year.

“That does not include e-books or interlibrary loan,” she said.

Metalious attributed some of the increased usage to the fact that last year’s approved budget included a second library assistant. As she splits her time between the two middle schools, having an assistant at each school allows them to keep the libraries open more hours, and she’s seen an increase in walk-in traffic. “They come in after lunch, they come in after school,” she said.

She is currently part of a nationwide effort to rearrange and readdress how books are grouped together. “We are re-cataloguing the collections for easier access,” she said, adding, “We call it ‘Dewey lite.’”