RHS library thrives, even after school

In the age of technological innovation, one would think a library couldn’t keep up. Between the competitive search engines and online encyclopedias, why would today’s students ever need a book, let alone an entire building devoted to them?

Well, don’t count out the evolving art form, especially Ramona High School’s. Despite the budget cuts, tech booms and hard economic times, it is thriving.

Thanks to the recently awarded federal ASSETs grant (After-School Safety and Enrichment for Teens), the RHS library is keeping its doors open three hours after the final bell rings.

Part of the requirement that came with the U.S. Department of Education funds was to have an open area for students who wanted to come and use resources like computer applications and printers. So, the library was the perfect venue.

And RHS found the perfect librarian to staff the afternoon hours. Gerri Lull comes with more than 40 years of high school library experience. She grew up in Wisconsin and earned her bachelor’s degree and library science credential from the University of Wisconsin. In 1988, she moved to Ramona and the following year went to work for San Diego Unified Schools.

She spent 15 years with Kearny High and has since retired but is thrilled to be back in the library scene, especially in her hometown and at her three children’s alma mater.

“Libraries are the center of the school,” said Lull. “As a librarian, I get to know what’s happening in many classes.  I also get to know a lot of students.

“I enjoy working with classes and teachers and I especially enjoy helping students find answers to difficult research questions. It makes my day!”     

Full-time day librarian Carolyn Owens, who celebrates her 20th year as RHS librarian and 10th year as RHS webmaster, is pleased to see the library remain open longer and serve more students. As it stands, more than 300 students per day come to the library, which is located literally at the heart of the campus. Now, with the later hours, it is expected to see even more students.

“If you walked inside on any given day, you would see 40 networked computers, a scanner, digital and video cameras—all student accessible. Each computer allows students to word process, organize data through a spread sheet and database, utilize presentation applications, design Web pages, and access the Internet,” said Owens, who strives to always give her students what they need.

Through her constant communication with students and staff, Owens grabs what they desire and tosses what is obsolete.

In addition to the access to technology, the library Web site, rhslmc.ramonausd.net, offers several online paid subscription services that students can access from school and home.  These include: two online encyclopedia suites—Encyclopedia Americana and World Book; EBSCO, a full text newspaper, magazine, journals, and pamphlet database plus student resource centers with literature, science and history; Facts.com, the online version of the World Almanac, Issues & Controversies, and an encyclopedia; Gale Reference Library, six online reference e-books; the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary; and NoodleTools, an online source citation wizard. And, of course, more than 12,500 books.

Owens is grateful for the grants, and for the support of Principal Tony Newman and the district office staff, that enable her to keep abreast on the current trends. But she sees outfitting the library as only a fraction of her job.

She also collaborates with RHS staff members in creating curriculum projects for students and to ensure that the necessary resources are available so that students are successful. She also provides training and inservices on technology and computer applications.

Lastly, and perhaps the most immediate, she is the person everyone goes to when they are having technology issues.

“I don’t know where we would be without Carolyn,” said Newman. “She is everywhere, doing everything. She is responsible for our Web site, which always has the latest information available, our booming library, and many other services here at RHS. She loves her job, helps out students tremendously, is appreciated by our staff and is just one of the many invaluable people that run our campus.”

 That praise is what Owens strives for. She is at heart a teacher and, above all, loves to pass down the wealth of knowledge that comes from her years of experience.

“There is nothing better than the rush you get when a student or staff member as well as myself gets excited about something new they have learned,” she said. “I love that energy that is created when that happens. Secondly, I love the hunt!  Bring me a question or questions and I want to find the answer.”

And, now, she and Lull can continue to do what they do best, assist students so they can reach their ultimate potentials —all in a day’s (and late afternoon’s) work.

   
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