Media, Research and Technology

A conversation with Asunción Romo, Director of Library Services  

Background

 I handle all library and instructional materials such as textbooks. Previously I worked in Los Angeles’ Public Library System for nine years. I love what I do. I love working with kids. I like being able to have an impact on a student's life, from helping them with projects to teaching them how to do research.

What makes CCUSD unique? CCUSD has never stopped supporting libraries. I saw LAUSD stop the Friends for Libraries program. What happens outside of the classroom is so important. It is another support system that connects students from another angle.

Describe your vision for media, research and technology: Our approach to supporting future ready learning is technology based. I have a unique role to support the students’ time in the classroom. The library is the space to expand on that. Students learn how to use digital resources more effectively. They learn how to do research, honing their expertise in vetting the resources they come across online. The librarian and classroom support staff provide students with the tools to be successful in the classroom. 

It is as basic as teaching students how to structure a research paper, or it can more involved, like what’s happening with the video game club. They asked for a space and they meet twice a week to do video game design. I envision us providing them with even more resources, supporting them with game design, giving them the needed space and time. The students lead with technology, even teaching us how to better use it for teaming. We give them the same respect as any staff member would get. Supporting them in their endeavors has worked out tremendously.

How should the environment change or look different in the future? The library is open to everyone. It is always a safe environment. We always offer access to the kids. This means access to resources, space, safety and education. We always make them feel welcome. Traditionally, the library was a quiet space with no food allowed. Now kids are seeing it more as a café.  Students act differently here than the classroom environment. It’s a multi-use space to them. They don’t hang out in the cafeteria, but they want that café -like environment where they can work, connect to their electronic devices and be a little loud. The kids would absolutely love that. 

How do media resources enhance the integrated learning progression? Ideally, we want a flexible space that is inviting and comfortable that can double as a classroom environment. The idea is to make the transition from one level to the next seamless. We should give kids what they will have at a college level so that they are prepared. We want different types of learning that introduce kids to technology and learning spaces.  We want a learning continuum from elementary to middle to high school and the library needs to be able to support that.

Is the current environment preventing you from achieving your vision, if at all?  You are speaking to my passion. Being a librarian, supporting the classroom, helping students build new behaviors around technology—these are the things that really motivate me. And yet, 85% of my time is textbook based. Textbooks play a very important role in the district’s functioning. I do everything that relates to instructional materials, from processing new purchases to receiving sample materials for pilot books. If special education has a new student who needs these resources, I see if we have it, and if we don’t, I buy it. There are so many parts and pieces that I don’t get enough time with the library part. I need more time to focus on this part of my job, and we need more spaces like the library for students to socialize, relax and just enjoy learning.