“Books allow readers to experience things they might not otherwise get a chance to,” said UHS’s media specialist Jessica Kachur. Especially books that have been banned or challenged to be banned.
The media center is currently celebrating Banned Books Weeks with a display that, according to Kachur, give readers the chance “to experience the sometimes difficult lives of other people in a safe place.” Many of these books allow readers to relate to lives very different from their own.
One such example for Kachur was the reading of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, who describes the difficulties of his life growing up on an Indian Reservation and attending a mostly white high school in a nearby town. Kachur said, “I didn’t know about how tough life could be on a reservation,” said Kachur. “What I like about books is that they let you relate to other people, to see and understand what they go through.”
Urbana High students can go check out this and other banned books in the media center, where Kachur is now in her second year as media specialist. Assistant Media Specialist, Ms. Williams, is again in charge of additional library services, such as Chromebook carts, maintaining library technology, and assisting Kachur when she has a class in session.
Serving as a multimedia center and a place for students to congregate, the library is an important resource for all Urbana students. There are additional things students can do in the library besides reading and researching, including a giant community jigsaw puzzle. When the puzzle is completed, Kachur said, “a new one will be available and there will also be a table-sized adult coloring sheet.” The Urbana High School library is not only a good resource for a project or essay, but also provides a relaxing and quiet atmosphere.
In accordance with a current topic or school event, Kachur will often decorate the library display window with objects and books related to the theme. Last year, Kachur chose a theme of antique technology for several weeks for the display window. A working typewriter was also kept on the reference desk, where students could try using a historical piece of technology. Kachur credits the past window theme with her love of collecting antique technology. Williams also assists with the creation of the window display. The antique technology window display and typewriter will return to the UHS library this year.
A new year for the library also brings new books, including titles by high school level 2017-2018 Black Eyed Susan nominees. The Urbana High School Library has also sponsored writing contests in the past, including the Untold Stories of Women in History Writing Contest.
When asked about future writing contests for UHS, Kachur said that any suggestions for writing contests would be appreciated and should be discussed with her. The Urbana High School library provides a valuable service for students to find out about events involving reading and writing, as well as providing a lucrative resource for research. This school year is a great opportunity to visit and take advantage of everything the library has to offer—banned books and all.