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Librarian at Jones College Prep wants students to read more

Photo credit: no attribution required
Photo credit: no attribution required

A South Loop high school will try to make its students read more.

A presentation made during a local school council meeting on Dec. 8 by Fran Feeley, Jones College Prep’s librarian, showed that even though the school has more than 6,000 books, only 420 have been checked out this quarter.

“There is a popular notion that the students here are extremely busy meeting the demands of the rigorous academic program and their many other extracurricular activities,” Feeley said. “While this is completely true, it’s part of my job to push back against this notion and establish a culture that embraces discretionary reading for pleasure throughout the year.”

Ernesto Saldivar, an English teacher, says he takes his students to the library not only for the technology, but also for the comfort. “Sometimes it’s necessary to come out of the classroom environment and come to the library, sit down in a circle and just talk.”

Saldivar says he is not surprised the amount of books that has been checked out is so low because students have a lot of resources. “I see students reading books. They are constantly recommending books to me, whether they got them here or somewhere else,” Saldivar said. “They know how to access the resources.”

Jones College Prep High School. Photo credit: Steven Vance, via Flickr.
Jones College Prep High School. Photo credit: Steven Vance, via Flickr.

Some of the ideas Feeley has to improve the number of checkouts are coordinating with the book clubs, hanging promotional materials for specific books and re-firing the “Just take a book!” campaign that took place before their winter break. Teachers took their students to the library during class to checkout books they could read during their break.

Although the number of items circulated is low, the same presentation showed that the total of library drop-ins has been of 14, 517 this quarter, an average of 469 students per day.

“I was encouraged by the participation of how many students are here everyday,” said Janet Roderick, whose daughter is a senior at Jones. Roderick is also the board president of Friends of Jones, a parent-run organization that organizes fundraisers throughout the year for the school’s benefit. The organization raised $5,163 for 10 more iPads for the library (for a total of 20) and $2,500 for the annual renewal subscription of JSTOR, a digital library system.

“It’s library heaven,” said Dr. Joseph Powers, Jones’ principal.

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