Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

FLASHBACKS: I'm a reporter. The library's my beat.

More old writing by me! My junior high was Henry David Thoreau Intermediate in Vienna, Va. (When I entered the seventh grade, I entered my sixth school. And plenty of military brats had more schools under their belt than that by then…) I was a firmly committed writing geek by then, so of course I gravitated to the school paper, The Naturalist. I’ve found two of my pieces: one from 1987, one from 1988. Weird to see how much I already “sounded” like me. In seventh grade, I tended to sign “C. M. Walsh,” which I guess was attempted flair; but eventually I stopped, which is good – “C.M. Walsh’ looks pretentious (and doesn’t sound nearly as good as “J.K. Rowling”) – and signed my stuff Chris Walsh.

(published May 1987, when I was in the seventh grade)

A Spacial Library [titled “Library Daze” after the jump from Page 1 to Page 4]

by C.M. Walsh

Thoreau Intermediate has been in the process of being turned upside down. And while everybody in the school has had to make some adjustments for the renovation, some of us have suffered more than others. I interviewed the school’s librarian, Mrs. Regalis, to get her renovation story, and this is what I found.

On May 19th, 1986, Mrs. Regalis was told about her job for the next few months. She, along with Mrs. Snead (the library secretary) and a handful of volunteers would have to putt all of the library’s books into boxes. About 1,430 boxes to be exact. Ms. Musgrave and the custodial staff than had to move the boxes to the drafting room on the opposite end of the building, in the Industrial Arts wing. And they had to finish the job by June 12th, 1986.

To do the job they almost had to throw the books into the boxes. The shelves of books went down fast and the boxes filled up very fast. Ms. Musgrave and the custodians taped the boxes, labeled them, dragged them to the drafting room, and went back for more. Everybody worked fast, adult and student helpers alike. But despite the frantic pace, they got five days behind. This small group of people mover [sp] their last box on June 17th.

As soon as this was done, the construction workers moved in. They tore down almost everything. They knocked out the end wall and began building our new section of the library, an extension that covers about 1,000 square feet. Soon, it became evident that the old section of the library would be ready long before the extension would be finished. The workers built a temporary wall between the two sections and went back to laying bricks. But the work got farther and farther behind schedule and it wasn’t until Sing of 1987 (instead of Fall of 1986) that our “new” library finally opened.

And it was quite an improvement! Before the renovation, the twenty-five-year-old library had poor lighting, inadequate shelving, little storage space, few electrical outlets, and there was no air-conditioning. The lack of air-conditioning was actually making the books moldy. Mrs. Regalis worked with the architect designing plans for the changes. And today the library has new light, air-conditioning, new and proper shelving, and much more working space. A redesigned and relocated reserve shelf and circulation counter, an improved production room, closed-circuit T.V., cable T.V., and a computer are also some of the new features of the library.

But that is still not all! The library received new furniture, a brand new card catalog, carts, dictionary stands, atlas stands, audio-visual equipment, and paperback and magazine racks. There have also been a number of new magazines added and the library’s collection of videotapes has risen to 185 movies, T.V. shows, and specials.

Of course before all of these wonderful improvements could be completed, all of the books had to be moved back to the library. The 1400 boxes were moved once again, opened, the books were inventoried, and finally placed on the new shelves. So, after almost a year of confusion and chaos, Mrs. Regalis, Mrs. Snead, and 36 volunteer workers enjoy their new library as they wait to help you.

Check It Out [published March, 1988, when I was in the eighth grade]

By Chris Walsh

As one enters the Carter N. Thorpe Library at Thoreau, perhaps one notices the new lighting, or maybe the rearranged checkout area, or perhaps the new study room in the back. However, a new addition is coming that is almost more important than the other new features. It involves checkout. A new system, one that is computerized, is coming soon, and it will speed the process so students can get through more quickly.

Mrs. Regalis, Thoreau’s librarian, along with a host of volunteers, is working fast to do everything needed to convert the library to the new system. It will certainly be worth it for now and for future seventh and eighth graders. The system was originally going to be funded by the county public school system, but the idea was voted down by the school board, leaving the individual schools to decide whether or not to buy it for themselves. Thoreau did, and is now preparing the library for it. First of all, the library personnel are labeling all 10,000 books in the inventory with special bar codes with information about the book. After that, the information is stored on an IBM Model 30 hard disk using the Circulation Plus computer program. Once this is done with every book, the names of ever student at Thoreau will be entered on the computer and assigned an ID card.

Here’s how the system will work when installed: a student will go up to the desk and identify himself/herself. The student then receives his/her ID, which will be scanned with a bar scanner laser. The book will then be scanned with the laser, and checked out.

On most days, bar codes, books, and patrons are entered onto the computer. This is a very long process – in the first week of entering, only 276 books out of nearly 10,000 were entered, with 125 books just barcoded. But, as Mrs. Regalis says, “This is a long term project, so the library cannot be closed to do this. It must be done during the normal school day, while students are using the services of the library.” Of course, after this is set up and working, checkout and checkin will be greatly eased, errors will be reduced, inventory time will be considerably shortened, and late notices and bills will be done by the computer, instead of by hand as Mrs. Messerschmidt, the library secretary, does currently.

But one more major change is coming. A new microfiche system will be installed. The system is a link to the county library system. If a student cannot find a particular book, he/she can check on the microfiche whether or not a certain book is at Patrick Henry [the Vienna branch] or one of the local regionals. And, Mrs. Regalis said she would like a security system (although she admits it’s a dream that probably won’t be realized), plus more money in the library budget in general. After this is finished, Mrs. Regalis will be spending much more time with students, helping with research projects, teaching students about sources, promoting books, and book discussion groups, which she hasn’t been able to do to the extent she’s wanted to do for a while, what with the chaos of the renovation and the new computer system. Watch for these innovations at your school library.

[2008 note: Hey, Tarah, our future Hawk Talk colleague Jennifer Walter was on the Naturalist staff in 1988; she had a lot of articles in the issue that my second story came from.]
Tags: flashbacks, language

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