Libraries shift with SISD realignment

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
Sherman Independent School District will be expanding its collection of books as several campuses will shift to new uses.

For many, the gift of reading and literacy can open portals to distant lands and other worlds. Through books, readers of all ages can learn about a myriad of topics and open themselves up to new ideas and perspectives.

Over the the course of the coming weeks, officials with Sherman Independent School District will work to ensure that students across the district have access to quality materials as they stock the libraries at campuses transitioning to new uses as a part of the district's ongoing transition plan.

Through this plan, the district will be investing about $350,000 in outfitting libraries at Sherman Middle School, Sherman High School and Perrin Early Childhood Center with materials that will broaden the horizons for generations of students.

"We are trying to instill in them a love of reading and literacy and that is a lot easier when you have access to good quality books and are engaged," said Mignon Plyler, SISD director of innovation and instruction technology.

The transition plan was necessitated by the opening of the  new Sherman High School in January. With the transition to the new campus, the district is able to shift the former high school building into a new role as the district's second middle school. This will allow the district to transition away from a four-tier school structure and convert Dillingham Intermediate School into a traditional elementary campus. 

Meanwhile, the Perrin Learning Center will transition into the district's second early childhood center and cater to young learners. The transition will also see Jefferson Elementary phase out of being used as an elementary campus and instead be used as the district's alternative school.

Plyler said many factors go into the district's choices for books at its libraries ranging from content quality and age appropriateness to the material of the books themselves. As the books will be handled by many young readers, it is important that their bindings are durable and can survive wear and tear.

"All of our librarians are very well read, so we look at the reviews coming from a variety of places. We look at the credibility of the author," Plyler said, adding that student and parent recommendations are also considered.

These materials are increasingly coming in alternative formats as well. Plyler said that e-books and audiobooks are becoming increasingly popular as alternatives to physical media.

The shift in the campus will mean a significant shift for the library collections at many of the affected schools and necessitated an update to many of the campus libraries. Over the coming months, the district will add more than 12,000 new pieces valued at over $204,000 to the new collection at Sherman Middle School.

"For Sherman Middle School it is a significant book purchase," Plyler said. "We did a lot of homework to make sure that we are choosing things that our audiences will want to read and the students will check out."

The majority of the former high school's collection went with it to the new campus, necessitating the need for a full new collection for the middle school.  The high school itself will be getting about $62,000 of new books to help fill the shelves of its expanded library.

While Sherman Middle School will be starting fresh with a new collection, the library will have help from someone with extensive experience with the age group, Plyler said.

"The beauty of  this is that our librarian, who has spent many years building up a quality collection at Piner (Middle School), is moving to the new Sherman Middle School," she said. "She has that knowledge, so she is very on top of what middle school students wants to read."

The district will not be purchasing a new collection for Dillingham Elementary when it shifts to its new role. Instead, the collection will be augmented using the books from Jefferson Elementary, which is transitioning away from its role as an elementary campus. This will include the school's Spanish language collection.

"We are realigning our campuses and changing our grade levels, so I am responsible for ensuring that our libraries are up to standard and have what they need," Plyler said.