Librarians to split time between two campuses



A look inside of the Roseville High School library. Starting next year, Roseville High School librarian Lauren Zdybel will divide her time between RHS and another school in the district.


No RJUHSD school will have a teacher librarian overseeing its library services full-time as of next year. 

The district released plans to have each teacher librarian manage the libraries of two schools, only present at either campus part-time. This means three librarians would cover all six of RJUHSD’s sites.  The six sites will also take on a library media technician to address students’ Chromebook issues and keep the libraries running on a daily basis. 

What this will look like in practice is still up in the air. The librarians are responsible for arranging lessons with teachers and teaching information literacy, as well as crafting the library’s book collection. According to assistant superintendent of human resources Brad Basham, it will fall to the librarians to determine how they split up their time between sites and organize lessons under the new plan. 

“The whole idea here is that they get to start to define what that’s going to look like for them,” Basham said. “I’m not going to tell them they have to be at this site this many days. This gives them an opportunity to collaborate together on the new job description.” 

It’s a death knell for libraries, because if teachers can’t depend on the librarian to be there, and students can’t either, they will stop coming.

— Lauren Zdybel, Roseville High School librarian

Basham said part of the hope is to unify library services across the district, with the three librarians centralizing their purchases, creating instruction together and crafting an online presence. For the librarians, however, the lack of direction has made tackling the change more daunting, especially with only a couple months before school starts. 

According to Roseville High School librarian Lauren Zdybel, the librarians still do not know their second school. 

“I wish I could tell you what it will look like. I can’t because we don’t know,” Zdybel said. “We have our own frustrations. We don’t know the protocols at each site. We just literally know nothing. That’s why we’re starting to panic.” 

The change aims to address the librarians’ concerns that, since the transition to one-to-one Chromebooks, handling students’ Chromebook issues has prevented them from providing students the support and instruction intended of their job. 

For Antelope High School librarian Johanna McCoy, the new Chromebook responsibilities left her less time to collaborate with students and teachers.

“Because of the Chromebooks, we were pretty much tied to the desk,” McCoy said. “We weren’t able to go into the classrooms if we needed to. We never really could set a schedule.” 

RJUHSD brought in School Services of California to conduct a classification study, which found that Chromebook management did interfere with their responsibility to teach information literacy. 

In response, RJUHSD took inspiration from nearby districts to create the new model, adding the media technicians to address Chromebooks and cutting down on the number of librarians to keep the cost roughly the same. Basham said that if the librarians share the workload, this should help alleviate the problems. 

“They don’t have to deal with Chromebook issues anymore,” Basham said. “They’re going to have more time to do their role, and time that they can certainly be spending at the two sites while they have two other adults to help them. We think this actually increases services for students in the district.” 

A student works with a Chromebook after the transition to one-to-one. School Services of California found that the new Chromebook responsibilities handed to librarians interfered with their intended job. (DANIELLE BENNETT / EYE OF THE TIGER)

The librarians spoke at a board meeting last month hoping to reverse the change, believing that dividing time between multiple schools will prevent the library from functioning as a reliable resource – the same issue they faced when managing Chromebooks. 

Though the library media technician would be present to address students’ immediate needs, they would not design the book collections nor have training to arrange lessons with teachers for students. 

“It’s a death knell for libraries, because if teachers can’t depend on the librarian to be there, and students can’t either, they will stop coming,” Zdybel said. “A library tech cannot teach. They don’t have a credential. They can’t do the collaboration. They’ll have a limited impact on the library and what they can do when students or teachers need help.” 

There may also be complications in aiming for centralized library services. Until this year, the librarians designed their book collections around the students at their school, which will be harder under the new model.

“Each site is different in terms of the student body, and their needs and wants for materials and resources,” McCoy said. “You can’t just take what you develop at one site and carbon copy it to another site, because that’s not how you develop collections. You develop collections with the users in mind.” 

One way library services vary from school to school relates to the school’s programs. For instance, Oakmont librarian Loretta Saenz is heavily involved with the research projects required of Oakmont’s IB program. Saenz is retiring this year, meaning whichever librarian takes on Oakmont will also need to adjust to the IB program, while only working there part-time. 

[The Chromebooks] shouldn’t be their work. And it has to be someone’s work. And we can’t afford to have both positions.

— Brad Basham, assistant superintendent

“It’s all this jigsaw of who’s learning what research skill when and where, and I’m the central person who knows the answer to that question,” Saenz said. “That’s our area of expertise. The subject area teachers may know the subjects, but not necessarily where to go for the specific database or how to apply that to the research question. You can’t do that half-time.” 

Before the change, the district had five librarians total – no librarian had been hired yet for West Park High School, which is set to open next year. While Saenz has retired and three librarians will be adapting to the new approach to library services, Granite Bay librarian Zenia Treto underwent an involuntary transfer from her librarian position at Granite Bay to an economics teaching position at Woodcreek. 

Treto had been footing the bill for classes to earn her emergency credential as a librarian. However, based on seniority, the district shifted her to a teaching position to attain the three-librarian model. 

“The problem too is that they waited so long,” Treto said. “We had had someone retire at Granite Bay and they were really sad because they had already hired to replace that individual. If we would have known this before, I could have stayed at my site.” 

Although the change may make it difficult to continue offering library science as a class for students, Basham said he believes – between the librarian and the library technician – there may be a way to continue the course in the future. 

According to Basham, the set-up could change in future years. As of now, the district will move to this new model as a cost-neutral way to add the technicians amidst the COVID-19 budget cuts. 

“In the ideal world, we’d be able to have teacher librarians, full-time at each of our comprehensive sites, as well as a classified library technician,” Basham said. “We need to be able to support the Chromebook issues, and I agree with the librarians – it shouldn’t be their work. And it has to be someone’s work. And we can’t afford to have both positions.”