The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Students Should Use Librarian’s Resources

A man dressed inconspicuously plays his violin in a crowded Washington D.C. subway. More than 1000 people walk past him, failing to recognize the harmonic melody projected from his several million dollar violin. At the end of the day, the world famous violinist Joshua Bell collected $32 worth of unrecognized pity.

A man goes similarly unnoticed at our high school. His name is Gordon Jack, and he is quietly revolutionizing the functionality of the library. For the amount of work Jack is putting into the library, most students do not use the resources he provides. The solution: Students must be aware of the library’s multi-purpose potential, and should communicate what kind of help they want so Jack can adjust to their needs.

Jack’s mission for his work at LAHS is summed up in three words: Read, Research, and Create. Over the summer he redesigned the library website, helping students become familiar with the internet and finding sources that are actually credible, not Wikipedia, for example.

“I think too often people stereotype the library as being a place where you go to just find books,” Jack said. “And I think that’s true—that’s one of its missions, to connect readers with booksBut especially for a school library, we have to do much more than that, especially given how important information literacy is now, how more and more information that was traditionally held in a book is now on the web.”

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And the library website, full of book suggestions, credible databases, presentation tools and more, has proven to be helpful for students. Jack has presented to senior English classes around the school, teaching them how to use the various source to aggregate websites. Students are already increasing use, and teachers highly encourage the use of these resources for senior projects.

Yet though the Read and Research parts of the library have been successes, it has been hard for Jack to tailor the Create space to what students want, simply because he hasn’t received enough student input. With so many different opportunities, students can create anything they desire, but they first need to tell Jack exactly what that is.
“When we first created this ‘make space,’ and I had people come and put ideas for what they’d use this space for, they had ideas like test prep and study and sleep, but they weren’t really ideas like, ‘I’d like to learn how to use Photoshop,’” Jack said. “That would be a cool thing to offer as a tutorial.”
With technology becoming more ubiquitous each year, being savvy with media is becoming a necessity instead of an option, and knowing Photoshop skills and video-editing skills can be essential to creating a comprehensive presentation.

Previously working at Freestyle Academy, Jack’s first project for the Create section was the green screen, which, to his disappointment, did not attract as much student attention as he anticipated.

“I guess what I need to know from the students is, ‘What are the things that are not being taught that you want to learn?”’ Jack said. “If I had that list, then I could start to say, ‘Okay, let’s move in order from most popular to least popular.’”

Senior Jacqueline Liu sees the library as a place to socialize and hang out, rather than learn and study. In her eyes, Jack needs to change the perception of library even more drastically.

“If he made it more of an environment for studying and learning, then I think more of the students who are interested in learning would come,” Jacqueline said.

It is difficult to change how students perceive the library, but the Create space has a lot of potential to restructure the library’s functions. The Create space can be a place within the library that fosters a brand new skillset within the students—there just needs to be a little bit of student initiative for the library to reach its utmost potential, the same initiative that started the various groups and organizations on campus that make this school so vibrant.

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