Lowell Library 2.0:

Due to the library staff weeding out its collection, unused books were offered to teachers and students. Photo by Jennifer Cheung

The Lowell library staff got rid of over a third of its book collection in order to create space for a quiet study area.

The library’s nearly 18,000 book collection goes largely unused with only about 6,000 books, mainly fiction, being regularly checked out, according to head librarian Steve Sasso. The books not being checked out are mostly outdated non-fiction books. According to Sasso, the library staff removed 6,874 books.

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The changes will give students more elbow room in the crowded library, according to substitute librarian Philip Raggazino. “They were really on top of each other,” he said.

The changes will give students more elbow room in the crowded library.

They removed the shelves that were in the middle of the main room of the library and put the collection of books on bookshelves around the walls of the Meyer room.

With the new space available, the library added more tables, seats and a new quiet study section.

According to Sasso, weeding the collection was an intense process that required not just choosing which books to remove and taking them off the shelf, but also removing all 6,874 books from the online catalog and taking off any security tags on the books.

The process was especially difficult for Sasso because he is currently the only full-time librarian at Lowell. Another librarian, who was hired at the beginning of the fall semester, was supposed to move to San Francisco from Texas, but left Lowell after three days. No one with the qualifications has applied for the position. Raggazino has been filling in since August.

Administrators from the district library curriculum office helped select which books were removed. Students helped Sasso by removing the books from the system and boxing them. The books that were removed were offered to students and teachers for free. Books that weren’t taken were boxed up and taken to the district warehouse, according to Sasso.

The process of weeding the non-fiction books is done, but the fiction collection may be eventually weeded, according to Sasso.

The library staff had to remove the unwanted books from the shelves. Photo by Chris Hackett

While the books were being weeded, Sasso put together an open discussion focus group of eight students and alumni. This comes after he sent out a School Loop email in November to get feedback about how the new library space could best be used.

Senior Patrick Villegas, a former teacher’s assistant for the library, participated in the group. As a senior, he wanted to help improve the library for future Lowell students. “I just felt the need to say something about the way the library is formatted, because I noticed that it wasn’t like any other library I’ve been to,” Villegas said. “It’s very loud and obnoxious. Sometimes it’s really hard to study, especially during finals week or during fifth bock.”

“It’s very loud and obnoxious. Sometimes it’s really hard to study, especially during finals week or during fifth bock.”

Villegas suggested a quiet study space, separate from the main library and enforced by signs and librarians. The library introduced a quiet study space on Jan. 18.

Reducing the collection is only the first step in a larger plan to create a library that meets the needs of modern schools.

“I see the library as sort of a hub for the whole school that connects all the different services,” said Sasso, who is also chair of Lowell’s Technology Committee. “The curriculum, the classes, the clubs, and everything. It’s sort of the nerve center for the school, and a lot of purposes of the school are virtual.”

Instead of a place just for books, Sasso suggests spaces for audio and video production, and collaborative work. “Right now I’m just immediately dealing with the collection and the space, but when we talk about five and ten years, we’re really talking about places for students to create media, to have presentations, and things like that,” Sasso said.