The American Embassy School libraries support the AES Mission for the students, faculty, staff and parents of the AES community. The libraries encourage “inspired lifelong learning” and support all areas of the AES curriculum. Literacy, literature appreciation, inquiry, and collaboration are key components of the library programs. Both libraries’ welcoming environments provide access to current, relevant resources.
We experienced an impressive 139% increase in our Sora use and a 40% increase in our RBdigital use in our statistical year, which we are proud of. (We use April 1 to March 31 for reporting purposes.) Because of our switch to Continuous Learning on March 15, our Sora statistics are through the roof. From March 15 to May 26 we more than doubled our total Sora circulations for 2018-19 and almost matched our 2019-20 circulations!
Less is more! Our collection development focus continues to be to rid the library of outdated books to curate a "tighter" collection of fewer, better-quality titles. We currently have just over 25,500 titles per student, which averages to 35 books per student. Our average age is 16 years, which is still older than we'd like. We'll continue to weed out old titles and purchase new next year as we push towards our goal of an average age of 10 years with at least 25 books per student.
This year we got read of the General section and created a Classics section in its place. We also continued to reorganize and add navigational shelf labels to the non-fiction section to make finding books easier.
MS and HS students in all grade levels came to the library to conduct research in language arts, social studies, humanities, science, health, history, math, art, and English. A major focus of library lessons is how to conduct academically honest research. Students at all grade levels use Noodletools (which had over 14,000 AES logins this year) to help them cite their sources, and they're all encouraged to use a notetaking method that requires them to paraphrase as they go.
Once we went into continuous learning, research continued. Both 9th and 10th grade history classes adapted their already-scheduled research projects to a distance learning platform. It was great to collaborate with the history department as students pursued independent research.
The Libguides platform (where you're reading this report) is the library's home for digital content and resources. They are mostly used by our school community, but are viewable worldwide. The AES guides have been viewed over 24,000 times this year! The most-viewed guides were:
Anuradha Bhagwati, author of Unbecoming: A Memoir of Disobedience, spoke to some AES high school students, faculty, and parents in January on her way to the Jaipur Literature Festival. She told an inspiring story of her life as the daughter of Indian immigrants to America who became a US Marine and then an activist, leading the challenge that resulted in groundbreaking changes to US military policy. Ms. Bhagwati's visit was sponsored by the US Embassy.
The largest expense for the MSHS library is databases, with books coming in second.
Each month the library hosted a parent book club organized by Elizabeth Williams Oerberg.
The amazing AES Facilities team completed a couple of projects that transformed the library. They created a new entrance that is more easily accessible from the middle and high school buildings:
They helped make the library feel more open and accessible by removing the old magazine shelf and helping us rearrange some of the other shelving. Here are some before and after pics:
And, perhaps most importantly, they built a restroom that is accessible inside the library!
The AES libraries provide access to several databases to help students with their inquiry projects. Each year we analyze usage data to determine which databases we should keep, add, or discontinue. Based on usage data on the number of searches conducted, Britannica, Culturegrams, and JSTOR are the most-used databases.
This year we added the database APAPsycnet for high school psychology students, and the Journal of Chemical Education for science students, and The Atlantic for social studies students.
The library and the admissions office joined forces to create a monthly speaker series called AES Presents! for community members. The presenters spoke on a wide variety of interesting topics.
We appreciate our community members stepping forward to share their expertise!