Flexibility is spice of life for Colorado librarian of year

December 31, 2004
When Sherry Crow became a librarian more than 25 years ago, the library was a once-aweek destination for students. Librarians gave students a work sheet about the Dewey Decimal System, read a story aloud and helped each child check out a book, Crow said.
These days, library technology educators or library media specialists, as they might be called, never know what their day might hold. “This job is the most varied job,” Crow said. “A person’s got to be really flexible.” “Teachers are sending kids all day long” to find books or get help with research, Crow said. “It’s a constant flow of kids for all ages.” Crow works with teachers on how to include library skills in classroom lessons and troubleshoots technology problems that pop up. The library has several computers and, at Midland International Elementary School, an electronic selfcheckout system. Crow apparently has adapted well. She was named Colorado librarian of the year by the Colorado Association of Libraries this fall. Technology is an important component of a library, along with shelves of books and a comfy couch where students can read, she said. But “technology is not a goal, it’s a tool.” And it’s a tool most kids in school today are comfortable with, Crow said. Although their parents might struggle with computers and the Internet, kids are ready to jump online. A good topic excites students, Crow said, whether they get information from a book or computer. Although some reference books are cheaper and easier to update in an electronic format, physical books allow children to be in someone’s lap, Crow said. “I think books are here to stay.” George Marin, principal at Penrose Elementary School where Crow worked before coming to Midland this school year, said Crow is well-deserving of the state award because of her adaptability. One change was flexible scheduling, where students could come to the library outside the time their class was scheduled to be there, Marin said. Crow also kept statistics on which grade levels were checking out more books so she could show a correlation between better test scores and checking books out at the library, he said. Crow put “countless” ideas into practice at Penrose, Marin said, showing that the library, and the librarian, have a tremendous effect on academics. One of Crow’s most enjoyable librarian duties, she said, is keeping up with children’s literature and understanding what students at her school want to read. On a recent Tuesday, two copies of “The Polar Express” sat on a table enticing students to sit and read. A box of Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” books were in a box waiting for bar codes before they could be added to the shelves. Crow has focused on buying books that students want to read — “fun books,” said Vicki Fleecs, who works in the library with Crow. When new books arrive, “she’s just giddy,” Fleecs said. Crow says hot books at the Midland library are “Tell Me a Scary Story, But Not Too Scary” by Carl Reiner and “Eargon” by Christopher Paolini. “It’s big and fat,” Crow said about “Eargon,” but she added the Harry Potter series — including some books of more than 500 pages — makes students unafraid of big books. CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0394 or schaney@gazette.com
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