Check it Out: Rhona Updates the Library


When Rhona Campbell first came to the high school, she knew she had her work cut out for her. As the high school’s only librarian, she faced the daunting task of organizing a library that serves over five hundred students.

“It’s not so much a matter of limitation,” Campbell said. “It’s more a matter of deciding what are our priorities. One of our main priorities is research, and supporting classroom research, which is why the majority of our library budget goes towards online resources.”

From fixing a checkout system that seems to malfunction almost as often as it works to addressing lack of student reading engagement, Campbell has many ideas for how to improve the library.

“I think it’s important to think of changes not as in the specific physical things that are different but in terms of what’s the purpose of a library and why are we here?” Cambell said.

One addition is the self-checkout system. Because Campbell is the only librarian, the checkout desk is unmanned when she is assisting classes, but she wanted students to be able to check out books even when she wasn’t physically present at the desk.

“When I first got here, people said books and Chromebooks walk out of the space without being checked out,” Cambell said. “And I think that’s a problem.”

As a result, she implemented what seemed like a simple and cost-effective solution: the electronic self-checkout system.

The process, however, as many students have pointed out, has its own technical issues since technology is not always reliable. Campbell wants to consider other ways to work the self-checkout, but the lack of flexibility with the online catalog makes using a different app difficult. She has taken note of frequent complaints from students and has written to the developer of the app detailing the issues people have encountered but has not heard back.

“It is unfortunately up to the developers,” she said. “Unless we can come up with a totally different system. I’m open to that.”

The prospect of a new ID system has raised the hopes of many students and Campbell. She hopes that the check-out system will become more accessible to students.

“I think it makes it faster for some people,” she said of incorporating the IDs into the self-checkout system. “It also makes it more like what students will encounter outside of GDS, where you have a library card.”

Despite her best efforts, Campbell said she can’t know how to best improve the library without the help of students.

“I want to hear what’s going on,” she said. “This is the library for all of us, and I have a lot of ideas of things to change, and I would love some help in doing that.”

By Avani Ahuja ’22 and Lyra Gemmill-Nexon ’22