Due to budget cuts in the district this school year, Holliston High School librarian, Ms. Eagle, now splits her time between the high school and middle school libraries with a paraprofessional.
“The decision was made as a result of budget cuts that we had to implement. The middle school librarian was retiring and rather than lay off a teacher, we decided not to fill the middle school position,” said superintendent of Holliston schools, Dr. Brad Jackson.
A paraprofessional was then hired, Ms. Judy Grosjean, who had volunteered for many years at the Placentino and Miller school libraries.
“I had seen Ms. Ahern [librarian at elementary schools] move to a position where she was running in between two libraries and thought I would like being in a job that would support a librarian in that position,” Ms. Grosjean said.
While Ms. Eagle is at Robert Adams Middle School on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Wednesday mornings, Ms. Grosjean is here at the high school and then they rotate on the other days.
“I guess it is a work in progress and we are figuring it out,” said Ms. Grosjean, who also said when two full time librarians were working, there was probably more attention behind the scenes.
With two professional librarians there was more time to focus on building the book collections and other details that occur behind the desk.
According to all three sources, it’s too early to tell how well the system is working.
“I really hope for the district that this is not a long term solution. All four schools deserve professional librarians full time, disregarding budgets. We need literacy more than ever right now, for students,” said Ms. Eagle.
“The benefits to this set up is that it allows us to keep both libraries open full time at a lower cost, and also allows middle school students to benefit from Ms. Eagles’ talents,” said Dr. Jackson.
By replacing the retired librarian’s position at the middle school with a paraprofessional, the school has saved over $40,000.
He also believes Ms. Eagle brings a new and exciting perspective to libraries that has rubbed off on high school students and will with the middle school students as well.
Ms. Eagle had not worked with younger students for the past few years and wasn’t as familiar with middle school books, which concerned her. She also didn’t want student services to suffer with not having professional librarians full time at each school.
The biggest challenge for Ms. Eagle has been scheduling between two buildings who have completely different schedules and getting everyone used to it.
On the flipside, Ms. Grosjean who is new to both schools has said her biggest challenge has been having to learn so many new faces and names so quickly and having to answer questions and issues of students ages eleven to eighteen.
Luckily, Ms. Eagle and Ms. Grosjean both said that there have been pleasant surprises.
“The middle school is very strong at reading and excited about books which is something that we lack at the high school.” Ms. Eagle said, who was also pleased that a very capable paraprofessional was hired.
Ms. Eagle and Ms. Grojean both agree that there have been challenges and surprises but they are doing their best to adjust everyone to this new set up for this school year.