Photo of thank you notes

Written by on April 9, 2012

Discovering the outside room

This is the story of when the Cappy Culver Elementary 4th graders in Anna Mumford’s class came to visit Kennedy Library. It’s excerpted from emails with Kristen Thorp, who essentially “wrote” this story by planning their visit. She, together with librarians Mark Bieraugel and Jesse Vestermark, led the fourth graders on library tours.

Kristen is “currently in my first year of the MLIS program [at] University of Washington. My focus is on Youth Service. Most of my experience in LA was with babies to tweens but in the last year or two there I started working with teens and loved it. When I moved up here I started volunteering at Paso Robles Library and worked on developing a teen program there. I just really love working with people under 25.”

That’s Kristen! She found out that the students were learning about California Missions as part of their first research project, and so once they were at the library she asked them to Google the San Luis Obispo Mission, where the students had just eaten lunch. What happened? Students reported seeing:

– maps
– ads
– a mission website

and then, “one kid said that there was over 9 million results. We used that to talk about how much information is available online and how not all of it is true because a lot of it can be opinion. Then we went into their project of California history and I asked if they wanted to search 9 million results for the paper.”

Kristen doesn’t say what their response was, but I think it was probably a collective, “Nooo!” So, she showed them a database called Social Studies Fact Card and explained that databases are a fact-checked resource. I imagine the students possibly sighed with relief at that point.

Then, they headed to the fish bowls, which are also known as collaboration rooms. Kristen said it was the best part, Hands Down. Their assignment involved sharing facts they pulled from books about California Missions by writing on the transparent walls that make up the fish bowls (thus the name). Why was it so awesome?

photo of fourth graders writing on the fish bowl walls“It gave them an opportunity to do something they normally would have gotten in trouble for (writing on the walls) and that element of being adult gave them confidence and eagerness to share their findings. My group was all boys. One in particular was shy and did not have a lot of confidence in himself. He was really working hard and took ownership of his writing and worked with his teacher to get it right. When it came time to present he had a difficult time, with a small stutter, but you could tell that it was really important to share his work.”

From there, the students visited the Special Collections rooms and got to see “old stuff” like a Gold Rush diary. Then they went on to learn about call numbers and how they’re the same for books everywhere, which is a pretty cool system.

Photo of a thank you note from fourth graderKristen took them to meet Mark Bieraugel, the business librarian, who led the 4th graders on a treasure hunt in his office and told them what it’s like to be a librarian. He asked them if they could find the stuffed elephant, map, paper mustache and three headed dog (Fluffy from Harry Potter, which he used as a prop for a poster session at CARL) in the room. They could.

Students then got a treat when Jesse Vestermark, architecture and environmental design librarian, took his group to the grad study room, where they played on the bean bags. Not bad for a field trip to the library!

The tour ended in the atrium. Kristen said the students called it “the outside room” which is one of my favorite parts of the story. What’s yours?

— Karen Lauritsen

Read more on cal poly, california missions, kennedy library, kristen thorp, library tours, MLIS, reserach assignment, Robert E. Kennedy Library, and student learning.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.