Ask Bernal Middle School eighth graders Weston Thomas and Ben Wilson what they like most about their school library and they have the exact same response. Both turn and point across the room at librarian Zinnia Bayardo.
“Mrs. Bayardo is absolutely amazing,” Thomas says. “It’s fantastic how she can apply resources to help with our classes. She’s incredibly tech-savvy and we can access library information anytime, anywhere.”
As libraries continue to evolve as 21st century learning spaces, so do librarians. While their mission to promote literacy and learning remains unchanged, there’s a much expanded array of digital tools available to them to support and connect with students and teachers.
Power Up At Your Library Week, celebrated Oct. 2-5, is an opportunity to highlight how libraries promote technology, innovation, and creativity while also serving students’ educational, technological, and social needs.
“I’m constantly talking books and authors,” Bayardo says. “Do students think I’m goofy? Yes, but that’s not going to stop me! And I do this not just because it’s my job but because I do really love books and authors.”
While using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and SnapChat is not exactly familiar territory, the work is worth it for Bayardo, “I know that’s where kids are, so that’s where I’m going to be! I’m constantly trying to think like a teen and connect with what they want and resources they should look at.”
“You can keep up with events and challenges on (Bernal Library) social media,” Wilson says. “It helps when you’re not at school and reaches you on a different level.”
Bayardo also displays books she’s currently reading and books she’s finished on the library doors. She calls it “sharing her reading life” and encourages teachers and staff to do the same.
“I’m not asking students to do anything I’m not doing,” Bayardo says. “It’s ok to be cool and read but you can still hang out with friends and play basketball too.”
For Thomas, who struggles to find books he enjoys, Bayardo is a lifeline.
“She has a massive list to recommend and gives me honest feedback,” Thomas says. “If I don’t find something interesting, I’m not going to want to read.”
Visit any morning and you’re likely to find almost 100 students before school hanging out, finishing homework, using the computers for research, or playing board games. At the students’ request, two days a week are reserved for “quiet” activities, like studying, but it’s no exaggeration to say that the library is the hub of the campus.
It’s also a hub for teachers as Bayardo collaborates with staff from all grade levels and content areas to support their needs in the classroom.
“A librarian needs to be active, proactive, and out there,” says Bayardo. “Otherwise the space is just a space. I’m not just the keeper of the books.”
And while students at Bernal love their “real” books, there are more than 31,596 digital resources available for students and staff mostly contained in GVRL (Gale Virtual Reference Library) and Overdrive, NISD’s Digital Library, which includes e-books, audiobooks, and streaming video available on smart phones, tablets, e-readers, and computers. It’s available 24/7 as is NISD’s virtual reference library.
There’s still a lot of comfort in the paper collections, evidenced by the 2,374,494 books checked out of NISD libraries during the 2016-2017 school year.
And though the focus is on powering up in libraries, sometimes students seek their libraries to power down for a little while.
“Mrs. Bayardo is just great as a teacher and a librarian,” Wilson says. “She’s incorporated herself in this library – there’s so much creativity here and it’s a nice place to relax.”