Episode # 41
Technology in the Library with Lori Pringle
October 12, 2023
About This Episode
Meet Lori Pringle, District Library Media Specialist at East Holmes Local Schools. She guides Kara through her process of teaching kids at an early age the importance of library skills, technology skills, and how the two come together in the classroom.
Lori Pringle is District Library Media Specialist at East Holmes Local Schools since the 1999/2000 school year. East Holmes has 1560 students in eight buildings with library parapros at each that she supports. She is married to a high school principal and has two daughters. In her free time she enjoys camping, gardening, and cooking.
[00:00:15] Kara: Joining me today is Lori Pringle, who is a District Media Specialist for East Holmes Local Schools in Berlin, Ohio. So, hey, Lori, thanks for chatting with me today.
[00:00:28] Lori: Hi, good to visit with you again.
[00:00:30] Kara: Yeah. And we have to mention, I guess, that it’s just you and I, Caryn’s not on this call. So yeah, for those of you that are tuning in, it’s just the two of us.
[00:00:42] So I’m going to start, Lori, by asking. Just how did you end up as district librarian. What led you to that position?
[00:00:53] Lori: Well in 95, I started in early childhood education and title one reading with East [00:01:00] Holmes. And my husband and I got our administrative master’s from Ashland University. And right at the beginning of the school year in 99, 2000 I noticed a position was open for library media specialist and I talked to the superintendent and I’m like, Hey, what’s this job?
[00:01:14] I just got my administrative license. He’s like, you’re in, but I knew nothing about libraries. So I actually started, I started that first year. My library paraprofessionals at my elementaries mentored me. I took my classes at, at Kent state and began my library licensure because I already had administrative license.
[00:01:34] I was able to just add. The library media licensure instead of getting complete second masters. Yeah. Yeah. So that’s kind of where it began. And so it was really collaboration with those library parapros and, you know, working with those college classes and learning under those professors through my first year.
[00:01:53] And I’ve kind of been there ever since this is my 24th year. I just completed as a library media specialist. [00:02:00] My home base is at Highland High and middle. School. So that’s where my office is, but I facilitate and help in all eight buildings across our district. We have about 1, 500 students. A lot of Amish.
[00:02:11] So our elementaries are pretty large. Lots of little community schools. But then there’s only about 400 students in our high school, which is middle, actually seventh through 12th grade at Highland.
[00:02:22] Kara: Oh, wow. That’s awesome. So, okay. As a media specialist what is your, I guess, role, like, especially in elementary, what kind of a role do you take there? Are they media aides that are in that position or?
[00:02:38] Lori: So each of our elementary buildings does have a library media paraprofessional. So they’re okay. High school diploma, typically people that just love kids and want to interact with students and they facilitate the libraries.
[00:02:49] They also do extra duties, like recess or lunch. And so I am kind of the guide on the side for them. I write up some lesson plans and do some [00:03:00] leadership with them, giving them guidelines of what to do with library skills, technology skills.
[00:03:05] And we do the Internet safety instruction for our district through our libraries. So I do that, I give them all their training and support as they become library para pros in our district and help get them underway. But then I’m also at the high school, collaborating in, in connecting with those high school teachers and being a co teacher and doing life space experiences in the library as well.
[00:03:28] So, kind of wearing a lot of different hats over the years, I have been active in the technology piece being kind of that. Professional support with the tech department with the administration over the years, you know, as we went 1 to 1, as we went Google, we shifted to being a Google school. I was right there in the heart of the teacher support kind of district wide, but focusing more Highland just because I, I do work part time.
[00:03:53] So I’m typically only there 3 days a week. So I just kind of have to work through my pair of pros at the elementaries [00:04:00] and and then at the high school as well. Wow, that’s kind of a cool role, really. Yeah, it’s fun.
[00:04:08] Kara: Yeah, you get to do a little bit of everything with everybody.
[00:04:11] Lori: Yeah, yeah, it’s involved, you know, when I look back at what the job looked like, when I began, you know, as transitions have happened as we’ve transformed with technologies, you know, I started with card catalogs and physical sign out cards in, you know, my, yeah, my more rule Amish focused elementary buildings, we automated all of them in those 1st, 5 years that I was in the district.
[00:04:35] So things have really transformed and involved and the job looks different from year to year, which it keeps it a lot of. A lot of variety and I enjoy that.
[00:04:43] Kara: Yeah, that’s really cool. That’s really cool. So I want to know about the Life Spaces program. So I guess maybe talk a little bit about how that evolved.
[00:04:58] Lori: So, about 7 years [00:05:00] ago libraries were really shifting to a makerspace movement and that’s when makerspace was such a big thing. We were learning at about Ohio. We were all, you know, on this makerspace wave. And I really, I was like, yeah, I like the makerspace piece, but. I think it needs to be more life focused and part of that stem from student needs too.
[00:05:20] We had eliminated our home ec department when that teacher retired. So like kids were not going to get any more cooking classes, sewing classes, parenting classes. Those were all eliminated and replaced with technology classes, which were needed. But it was a big, it was a big shift for our district and our students.
[00:05:39] And, and I just, I kind of was like, I love the microspace concept, but I want it to be life based and I want it to be more than just tinkering. I want it to be content specific and aligned really to what’s happening in the classrooms. So that’s kind of where I began with the whole. I called it my life space instead of my maker space.
[00:05:58] Yeah, I like that. [00:06:00] Yeah. And so, you know, that’s really the roots. And, and I also wanted to think bigger than just traditional technology, you know, so often when we think makerspace and tech, we think computer and we think internet and it’s like, technology is so much bigger than that. So, you know, that’s where I, you know, The roots, I guess, of that movement and as we kind of looked at that, I looked at my library space.
[00:06:23] I had a ton of nonfiction that was dusty and never being used. So I made my nonfiction about a 3rd smaller by doing some weeding of, you know, those titles that were outdated. They fit the musty kind of. Format and that freed up some space in my library to put like a big circle table for collaboration.
[00:06:44] We set up some be bag chairs, and then I moved to some Ikea kind of rockers and created kind of a space that kids could casually read. So have more of a fluent kind of space. It opened up a little bit of space for, just project tables as [00:07:00] well, and I still have nonfiction. My fiction is definitely the, the target.
[00:07:04] Our kids read fiction. That’s where they’re at. So that, that moved into genrefying, you know, we genrefied our fiction section. We moved a lot of the nonfiction in the biographies that read like fiction, you know, that. Page turner kind of text, we moved those over into the fiction section and put them in a special collection.
[00:07:23] So that freed up some more space in that back nonfiction area to allow that more flexible learning space in the last couple of years. We’ve added a water feature that just kind of creates that piece and that was an alumni donation. We’ve got a TV. You know, the TVs back in that learning space area that, you know, the announcements feed feature books feed and any life space experiences can be projected there as well.
[00:07:49] So just kind of slightly transforming. It still looks a very much like it did when the library is built, but a lot of, you know, just making it more flexible. Really?
[00:07:59] Kara: That’s cool. [00:08:00] Yeah, that’s really cool. So what kinds of things are covered with life spaces?
[00:08:05] Lori: Well, and that, you know, I’ve kind of gone on student need, I’ve gone on accessibility to materials, and that’s evolved too over the last, I’d say about seven years.
[00:08:15] Okay. With Hallmark being eliminated. They had awesome Bernita sewing machines, and I am a 4 H sewing person. So I’m like, who can’t get rid of these machines? And so I went to the principal and he said, yeah, we could keep some of those for the library. So that was really one of my first projects I did. I had the four sewing machines set up in the library and I had the students go through a licensure program.
[00:08:39] Yeah, they had to show me that they could thread the bobbin. They had to show me they could thread the machine, keep their fingers back. Those basic just Can I basic do sewing and then I licensed them and then I didn’t have to stand with them I knew that they were gonna break our machines. Yeah, and we started out with just real simple projects We’ve made like little [00:09:00] pouches that you put like a gift card in Sleep masks a couple of kids made like dog blankets we made mittens one year out of just re like up cycled sweaters that you basically make a pair of mittens.
[00:09:14] So just kind of whatever the kids wanted to do. I actually did a repeat of the sewing here this year and the students made tote bags. The girls all wanted to make just a simple tote bag after we did our basic pouch project to, to, to learn the basics of sewing. Oh, cool. And then one of my other early life spaces, because of that home ec transition, Debbie had all kinds of knitting needles and yarn.
[00:09:38] So another phase we did was knitting and it was probably about 5 years ago. It was before COVID. I taught a few girls how to knit and then a couple guys started joining in and so I like, basically we loaned knitting needles, we loaned a wad of just random basic yarn and got them started [00:10:00] and some of the kids, once they learned those basic stitches, they took off and they were YouTube in and making head wraps and they were making scarves.
[00:10:07] I did bring the knitting back. Yeah, the knitting, we came back again this year and I had a girl actually, once she learned the basics, she started making one of the big bulky blankets with the real thick yarn. Oh, cool. She was doing that, you know, she’d come into the library during study halls and things and work on it.
[00:10:24] Over the years, we’ve also done cooking basic little. Projects that you could do with like a microwave or a couple little toaster ovens. Simple cooking projects. I’ve done book clubs and those were really more student focused as well. What this, we started out as a traditional book club, but we quickly found they wanted to read what.
[00:10:43] Everybody else was reading. Yeah, that’s true. So we became more of a talk about books club and recommend books to each other. And we would read the same. Yeah, we read the same genre. And then back when Google CS first was real popular and just [00:11:00] pushed out, we did the, the coding, the Google CS first.
[00:11:03] Content where students were kind of self paced. I set those up and they could work through those modules. We’ve done breakout challenges. That’s been really popular throughout the whole life space concept. We do those within classrooms, but the kids can also come to the library. We’ve done the virtual breakouts with breakout edu, but also the kits with the physical locks and cool.
[00:11:25] Yeah. And we try to tie those to content. So like a teacher is rounding up. Yeah. You know, a literacy unit or a science unit, we either create or look to find something we can build from applies the student’s knowledge in their classes, but also gets those breakout challenge kind of thought processes moving.
[00:11:47] Kara: How cool is that? Okay, how do the kids get to participate? Like do they have to sign up or is there a designated like bell time or how does that work?
[00:11:58] Lori: So when I began the [00:12:00] Lifespaces in the library, it was just kids during study hall.
[00:12:02] Our students can sign out each period when they’re in study hall. We have a sheet, they can sign out to come to the library. So they come up to the library during their study hall and that’s when they would sew or they would learn to knit things like the cooking. I would do like a featured day. So I, you know, I said, you know, this Tuesday and Thursday, we’re going to do cooking.
[00:12:23] And then because those were so popular, I did have them kind of pre register. Things like book club, I would that actually became like a group of students and we met every like, we pick a day of the week 1 year. It was Tuesdays 1 year. It was Mondays, but we’d meet everyone. And we would do that kind of through that lunchtime block.
[00:12:43] We have like a. Intervention kind of time at that point and this year we had like a hawk time at lunchtime. And so that was more of a designated time. The kids would come for like a book club. So it really looks different depending on the day. The breakout challenges are more [00:13:00] teacher collaboration. So we’re, you know, setting up a specific.
[00:13:03] You know, prepare that kit that breakout challenge or that online and then that’s happening at a certain time within a whole class. So all the English 9 kids do that breakout challenge all day long or taking those kits to the elementaries. And we do, you know, all the 5th grade classes on a certain day.
[00:13:20] So it really looks different for each project. Okay. I’ve had 3D printers and the cricket machines in the library. Those have happened during study halls. Students can come up like 1 year for Christmas time block. We, I was envisioning putting cricket vinyl on like gifts, but the kids quickly. They all wanted to design their own fogues, so I was like, okay, it’s all right.
[00:13:43] It’s still Christmas time, but my vision was gifting and they’re like, yeah, you know, I want to put this on my phone, which that was a big hit. They all put little vinyl decals on their phone cases. Oh, that’s funny. Some of the kids did their water bottles, so they, you know, they wanted to put their [00:14:00] name or their sport on their water bottle.
[00:14:02] And so we used that, and that happened during study hall. They just came up and, you know, the days that I was there, I’d say, okay, Cricut’s open, and they could come and do that. Because those were, usually it was a new group of kids every couple of days, so I kind of had to help facilitate to get them onto the software, doing their design, and then getting the application and process of getting that to stick properly.
[00:14:24] Kara: How cool! have you seen, I guess, over the years, the benefit of this with students? Like, what do you, I mean, what do you think it’s done for the ones that are participating?
[00:14:38] Lori: Well, I, I think for 1 thing is really, you build relationship with students on a new level getting that connection, you know, watching, especially, for example like the book club or, you know, even the, the design space kind of pieces when you see kids that don’t normally interact.
[00:14:54] Coming together, you know, it’s a freshman and a senior that would have never really talked to each other and they, [00:15:00] they build those relationships and they’re helping each other. You know, with my sewing, just this last semester, I saw that a lot you know, a student was struggling and another student, you know, is all of a sudden over there over shoulder, guiding her through winding that bobbin or whatever tasks they were struggling with.
[00:15:15] And they were students that you wouldn’t normally see hanging out together. So. So seeing that, and then I’ve really found it’s a way to connect with students in a new level too, and they see me differently and, and get to know them because with my district role and being part time, I don’t get a lot of 1 to 1 time with students.
[00:15:33] I have an aid at the high school that does day to day checkout. And so. It brought me out into the students as well, and able to interact and connect with them. And in the last couple of years, Highland has moved to, like, a leader in the philosophy. And actually, this life space has been embraced by our whole building and not to say that I’m the roots of it.
[00:15:53] I just, I think it was that it’s a true need of our building through our student leadership team. [00:16:00] They, Worked with administration and we came up with what we call Hawk time. So the way our lunches work, we have like a half hour that the middle school students are all at lunch. So during that half hour, all the high school students are in what we call Hawk time.
[00:16:15] And that is where I did my sewing this year. And I did my book club during that time frame. And so basically. The teachers all say what kind of a life kind of space experience they want to share with kids, whether it’s you know, a personal interest, like 1 of the guys did refereeing 1 did golfing.
[00:16:34] Another teacher did cooking. We had e sports. We had I had book club junk journaling. Scrapbooking, just whatever kind of life hobby kinds of experiences ag teacher did fishing and so cool. So that kind of. I think fits in that bigger picture of that life space concept. And I mean, it’s in a sense happening [00:17:00] across our whole building and all the teachers.
[00:17:02] And so, and we all talked about how, you know, some days it’s a struggle to keep kids on task because it’s, it’s not graded, you know, and their interest windows, or maybe they didn’t get into their topic. They really wanted, but then other times it’s really a powerful, like, You know, seeing these students thrive and learn something new and build that partnership with that teacher.
[00:17:21] And, and really we’re encompassing that ed tech, we’re encompassing that technology, but it’s in authentic life kind of experiences. So that was really cool. And we don’t meet hoc time meets every day, but you don’t actually do hoc time experiences every day. So some days the kids are just in like a study hall environment and that’s when like student council can meet.
[00:17:42] The guidance counselor can meet with a class and things like that. So so that’s where the sewing fit in really well. Is it actually filled in larger into that larger building plan?
[00:17:53] Kara: That’s really cool. And I think, I don’t know, giving them that real world experiences and [00:18:00] exposure to figure out what they enjoy doing.
[00:18:03] Lori: Yeah, I think that’s very valuable. Yeah, so it’s been neat and and then through that experience and even just that student leadership team they’ve actually done like community service days and they’ve done, guest speakers have come in. We had a whole day where they had guest speakers all morning and the kids rotated around to different sessions and, you know, heard from community.
[00:18:26] And I’ve done that too, within my library life space. We’ve had a guest seamstress. I had an author years ago that publishes like teenage and adult literature. And then this past year we had a children’s author and she actually went through the, the. Editing process and the writing process, and she actually coauthors with her grandchildren and makes kind of like a book, but it’s kind of a scrapbook story kind of with her grandkids and so, you know, having those guest speakers in and allowing students to see how technology can be used in real life experiences [00:19:00] to with journaling and writing and editing and things like that.
[00:19:03] Kara: Yeah, well, and just like the exposure of the possibilities, you know, because I mean just like with that author and the scrapbooking as kind of like a, a story, you know, is something you might not think that you could do. Past your like maybe personal personal story. Yeah. Yeah. So that’s that’s really cool.
[00:19:28] Lori: Yeah It’s neat. It’s fun to experience and explore all those different avenues
[00:19:34] Kara: Yeah, well, and I like the that you also because I know that idea of makerspace Mm hmm was so big and I know like a lot of people including myself struggled with Like how to make it meaningful, you know, as opposed to just like you know, free play because while that’s important, but it doesn’t necessarily always offer, I guess, a meaningful [00:20:00] experience. They’re not necessarily getting something from it.
[00:20:04] Lori: I think it’s great to tinker and play. I mean, and I. Early on I was envisioning just having the cardboard and letting them explore And I I had just haven’t gotten moved into that and really that whole covid thing did kind of delay my whole like I was felt like I was just kind of up and rolling and really moving and then And education looked different and then that year when we finally came back We were sitting two to a table and assigned seating and so like there was no makerspace Space.
[00:20:31] No life space, no interaction. ’cause it was so dry trying to avoid the covid mess. And so, yeah, and then this year I’m really trying to kick it back off again and, and move forward with it. So it, and I think it has to evolve with what the needs of the school are. You know, like I mentioned, now we’re moving into this whole HOK time thing.
[00:20:49] So if that happens again next year, I foresee some of my library life space. Working with that time frame and then like I told the students that learned in my, they were in [00:21:00] my sewing Hawk time. I’m like, you can come use the sewing machines during study hall. And, you know, they would come up and work on projects.
[00:21:06] And I had a student come and have a pair of shorts, you know, she made a pair of sweats into shorts. So I was guiding her through that. And that was happening during just library study hall time. And then there’s other kids sitting and reading, there’s other kids doing homework, there’s other kids working on, you know, their Chromebook on an assignment, all kind of in that multi space, just providing whatever need in that environment we can provide.
[00:21:45] Kara: And to find ideas for topics and stuff, do you have kids that are, they’ll just come run into you in the library and be like, Hey, I really want to do x or do you, how do you kind of survey [00:22:00] what the need is ?
[00:22:01] Lori: Yeah. I mean, early on, I did talk to the kids back when I was trying to evolving this.
[00:22:06] I had an English teacher that I partnered with and we kind of Surveyed the kids and we discussed with kids. What did they want? And that’s where part of that life space concept because they’re like, we want cooking. We want, you know, because they were, they were still bitter. They wanted their home ec.
[00:22:21] They like their home ec classes or family computer. I guess we should say family consumer science. You know, they like their family consumer science classes, and that’s kind of where that began at the beginning. Now, I, I kind of, I almost facilitate what I know I can work into that month or that year, and yeah, what tools I have available.
[00:22:42] Okay. So, like, you know, I was like, you know, I haven’t used the sewing machines for a couple of years. So I got those out again this year and I was able to borrow, like, the virtual reality headsets from WUB learning lab. So we had those in last spring and the drones, I borrowed some drones from the [00:23:00] WUB learning lab.
[00:23:02] And so we were doing drones in some of the classes, my English teacher and my tech teacher, we took the kids outside and we did explorations with the drone. So because I had availability of that tool. Gotcha. Okay. And you know, that was great because I had students that were fluent with drones and they could kind of guide and facilitate.
[00:23:22] And I very much just laid it out as, you know, here’s a drone. Here’s the one on one, like how you run it. You guys figure it out and explore it and see what you could do. This is the land, you know, those most important pieces and just let it be kind of a learning exploration and not a direct instruction environment.
[00:23:42] Kara: Which honestly offers really great skills because, you know, they’re having to try and figure it out on their own and troubleshoot and problem solve .
[00:23:52] Lori: Yes, I like to see that collaboration between students and helping each other and so it really helped, you know, it’s like, well, let’s figure it out.
[00:23:59] [00:24:00] Let’s look up the manual and, you know, cause they wanted to do something that I didn’t even know. And we’re like, let’s figure it out. And we looked up the manual and kind of one on one it.
[00:24:09] Kara: I know we had talked about the whole life space thing.
[00:24:12] I love that concept of it being a life space versus You know, a makerspace and learning life skills and how it fits into everything. So, yeah,
[00:24:24] Lori: and I, I know just looking at what I’ve read and keep abreast on the makerspace movement, I think it has evolved and changed and it’s looking differently than when we did roll it out five, 10 years ago.
[00:24:35] So, and I think that’s what makes education so unique is we mm-hmm. , you know, we. Learn from our past experiences and we look at what the kids needs. We look at the school needs and we make it work. And we just, you know, I think that’s what’s so special about working in a library media center environment.
[00:24:52] It is it evolves with the times and, and just trying to provide that safe, comfortable space that all students feel welcome [00:25:00] and that they’re able to glean. Life skills, collaboration skills learning that whatever it is, that resource that they need and that we can provide that and, and evolve with them and grow and learn with them along their journey of school.
[00:25:16] Kara: Yeah. I totally agree. I feel like in your job, there’s probably never really a dull moment.
[00:25:22] Lori: Yeah, It’s a lot of variety and just kind of which way I want to go. What focus I want to hit on. So, yeah.
[00:25:30] Kara: Well, thanks for talking to me.
[00:25:32] Lori: Yeah, it’s been fun.