BASD librarian reinventing school libraries to make it space for students to collaborate

Bellefonte Area School District  |  Posted on

Naomi Rupert will be the first to tell you that libraries are still extremely relevant, despite phasing out things like card catalogs; they’ve just evolved into a place that promotes knowledge and creativity beyond checking out books and reading in silence.

The former Bellefonte Area Middle School and Pleasant Gap Elementary School librarian found a passion for the work more than five years ago when she began substitute teaching in a library at a school district in Indiana County. She tested in the subject after graduating in 2013 with a degree in education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

By the 2014-15 school year, she found herself as a librarian at Bellefonte Area School District, and became known around the schools as a “Jane of all trades,” as she also teaches a math class, and acts as a research-finder, tech-helper, newsletter-writer and more. She now works as the librarian and Bellefonte Area middle and high schools.

Rupert does this all while balancing motherhood. She and her husband also have a son, Jaxon.

“I always felt like I was more mature beyond my years and always the mom of the group, so now, I think about how I would want people to react to Jaxon and I think I bring that attitude of understanding and calmness,” she said. “It also teaches you a lot about patience, which many students need from you.”

At the elementary level, Rupert teaches students library lessons such as the Dewey Decimal System and call numbers, how the library works, locating books and facilitates activities to help students become independent when navigating a library. At the middle school, she helps students with research skills, how to site and use reliable sources and more.

Libraries are also now a place for collaboration with projects, use of technology and more.

“People still have that mindset that it’s only for quiet reading and not allowed to talk,” Rupert said. “Now, if it isn’t needed for quiet, it’s a great place for collaboration and makerspace and STEM or STEAM activities for kids to be creative.”