No librarian, but others step up to help

When students returned to Fremont High School on Aug. 27, they found the library closed.

Six weeks later, it was still closed. And it probably won’t be open until at least the second semester, school officials say.

That’s because the school does not have a librarian or a library clerk and has had to rely on several non-librarian staff members to reorganize and renovate the library. In fact, the school has not had a librarian for seven years or a library clerk for two years.

“Children need books now,” said English teacher Elizabeth Gonzalez, who was distraught to hear how long it had been since Fremont had a full-service library. “The library needs to be reopened.”

Several staff members have been trying to get the library back open by reorganizing it.

Mikel Calderon, who is employed at Fremont as a full-time substitute teacher, has been working to renovate the library and to consolidate all textbooks on campus. He said that one of the big tasks to finish before re-opening the library is finishing a catalog system that will allow students to check out books in a easier way.  Also, Calderon says students will be able to look for books online once that system is running.

Calderon thinks the library will be improved in other ways as well.

“There will be more space for meetings and research,” said Calderon.

Those involved in renovating the library are trying to get help from the district to train student interns to manage the library.

Students at Fremont High have not been able to access the library as a fully functioning library for the second year in a row. Last school year, the library was used mainly for the afterschool program. It was open for students to get tutoring.

Athletes also got a chance to participate in study hall in the library before going to practice. But students could not go to the library to check out books.

English teacher Johanna Paraiso was working at Fremont when the last librarian was employed and is upset that it has been seven years.

“It is tragedy that students here lack such a basic resource.” said Paraiso. “How is that legal?”

Some students, including sophomore Richard Vu, have been very eager for the library to open. Vu asked one of his teachers three times to find out when the library would be open. He even volunteered to help speed up the process when he learned that it was closed until they could finish the work.

Nevertheless, he said he is being patient.

“The renovation will help,” Vu said, saying he likes the library because “it’s a quiet place to study and do homework.”

The Fremont staff in charge of the library renovations are planning on splitting the library into two sections; there will be a section for school textbooks as well as a book section where students can check out books on their own time.

Principal Daniel Hurst said that while  the school still does not have a designated person or certified librarian, having the library open will help the students a lot. He also said the changes taking place now would help students have orderly access to books.

Michelle Gonzalez, a teacher at Architecture Academy who has taken the lead on the library project, said the process of getting the library back in order required a lot of work and time. Volunteers and interns had to clean the library out, get rid of a few hundred books, clean shelves and throw away trash and rats, she said.

Another person who is looking forward to the library’s reopening is veteran teacher Michael Jackson.

“I’m glad that they are remodeling the library,” he said. “Books can’t hurt [us], the books are our friends.”