Sunday, March 2, 2008

Digital memory lane

I got a little thrill when looking at the weblinks for this week's blog assignment. Singapore American School! I was a student at SAS for 4 years, from 1991-1995. While this isn't exactly related to digital libraries, I'd like to tell you a bit about my experiences with the physical library there.

First off, the school was located in a different set of buildings when I went there, but they were no less impressive than the current buildings to a kid from Red Deer. I remember thinking "this library is bigger than my whole school!" the first time I went into the elementary/middle school library. But it wasn't a library. No one called it that. It was the media center. And there weren't just books. There were newspapers! Magazines! A full edition of the Oxford English Dictionary! Encyclopedias that weren't ancient! As a young bookworm, this place was paradise. Looking back with the knowledge I have now, my school in Red Deer had a pretty good library-- certainly better than any of the schools I've worked in as a teacher. But what SAS had was incredible.

Then there was the high school library. Again, paradise. This was a two storey stand alone building on the campus, tremendous collections as far as I was concerned, plenty of space for studying, reading, and working on computers (though at the time, the Internet was very closely controlled by the government and not available on library computers).

Teachers used the library in ways I wasn't used to, either. It wasn't just a place to exchange books once a week or gather materials for research, it was more of a place to learn about learning. Our teachers team-taught with the media specialist on topics related to research: finding, analyzing, and using information. While this may be standard in many schools now, it was new to me as a student. I liked it.

What I liked best though was the accessibility of the libraries, and I see this is something that SAS has continued. They were open after school for awhile, and even had hours during the summer. The whole school community (parents, siblings...) was welcome and you'd often see someone's mother reading in the high school library. Both libraries were welcoming places, and the staff were welcoming people. I had a grade 8 teacher challenge me to find the origin and context of a different quote each day after school, and I still remember the help I got from the media specialist until I had mastered Bartlett's Quotations.

If I really think about it, I would say it was the time I spent learning in those two libraries that caught my interest in libraries. Before that, I was certainly interested in books, but I didn't really know how much more a library could be other than stacks of books to browse.


Arlene said...

Wow! What a wonderful experience. Thank you for putting a "face" to the library website that I explored! Sounds like the physical space was/is as wonderful as the virtual one. Arlene

Linda Morgan said...

Lucky girl! May I ask how you ended up at SAS?

Jessica said...


i ended up at SAS when my Dad took a job with an oil service company in Alberta that transfered him to Singapore. Ignited a wanderlust I have yet to quell!