New York Library Association. - The eBulletin

Pine Grove Middle School iStaff

By Sue Kowalski, School Librarian, Pine Grove Middle School

On a recent application, one student claimed, "I feel like the library is my HOME!!!!!!!!" and that is very telling about the atmosphere we want for our students. We are constantly searching for ways for students to be engaged participants in our library culture. Another student applicant shared about her work qualities, "I am proactive, nice and never give up." This attitude exemplifies the type of work ethic we want connected to all aspects of our library team.

The iStaff team at the Pine Grove Library has transformed from a casual group of student helpers who showed up sporadically to a committed team of young leaders who are playing a critical role in the delivery of goods, services, and programs throughout the entire school community.

Griffin, a third-year veteran, has become a walking advertisement for iStaff. Two years ago he saw a need for a designated graphic novel area and took the initiative to create a small special-interest reading area appropriately named "Griffin's Graphics." Since that time, he's assumed a great deal more leadership and now coordinates the delivery and set-up of mobile laptops and assists with special presentations before school each morning. Though he still supports the graphics area and a variety of other tasks, he has really diversified his resume by taking on new roles.

Technology integration requires leadership.  Leadership not only comes from the staff at Pine Grove Middle School, but from the student "iStaff" as well. This volunteer student work force run through the library averages about 50 actively "employed" at any one time and provides authentic opportunities for students to lead the way with technology.  Last week, for example, a team of 4 istaff members were asked if they knew anything about "Popplet", a web-based presentation tool.  Their answer was "No, but we'll figure it out".  The next day that group of iStaff students presented to a health class, provided one on one support to students, and worked with the class for a few days until the project was done.  The teacher had to be out one day and even include "consult iStaff" in her sub plans for this project.    Another team of students recently produced a Photostory for guests coming to our musical, Little Mermaid. Complete with soundtrack (legally purchased), this movie was completed and shown in the lobby of the building throughout the week.   iStaff students are also engaged in collection development through vendor websites, gaming in after school clubs, and production of various digital movies, presentations, and public relations materials.