March 02, 2021

West Seneca librarian works to keep her students reading - and to keep her colleagues connected via technology

Author: Liza Frenette
Source:  NYSUT Communications
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Rosalia Carraba
Caption: “Teachers were desperate for help. Some had never created a Google Classroom,” said West Seneca school librarian Rosalia Carraba. “It was a huge, quick learning curve. We provided professional development.” Photo provided.

Even the pandemic cannot curb her enthusiasm.

In fact, for West Seneca school librarian Rosalia Carraba, it’s given her opportunity to actually get out to the curb — the one outside the school, where she’s been dashing for the past year to hand parents the books they have requested for their children.

On the day that school buildings closed last March, Carraba and three helpers checked out 1,446 books to students in one day.

“We had no idea when we’d be coming back,” she said.

So, like a parent making sure their children have enough food for a road trip, Carraba made sure her students left school a year ago with books to read. Then she began curbside deliveries to keep the books coming.

The Italian-born librarian said she knew the pandemic was likely to hit hard, since her many relatives in Italy — where it hit before arriving here — were keeping her updated on its impact there.

West Seneca schools did not reopen to students until this past January, and some students are still taking classes completely remotely. To support the ongoing need for books, Carraba said the district recently put in outdoor book drops at every school so parents can return the books at a time convenient for them.

“We saw the need, especially for working parents,” she said.

Students choosing hybrid learning are in the school building two days a week and can come into the library to choose a book. Each teacher can send one student at a time.

Like school librarians everywhere, her job also includes technology training. Her knowledge has been in high demand this past year.

What is Read Across America? NEA's Read Across America is a reading motivation and awareness program that focuses on "Celebrating a Nation of Diverse Readers" year-round and culminates with a call for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2.

For more information:

read across america

When school buildings across the country closed a year ago, Carraba went into full throttle to develop a catalogue of classes for teachers. For starters, they had to know how to set up a classroom online.

Carraba began hosting Google Meets two to three times a week with teachers, fielding questions about the new technology required for teaching remotely.

“Teachers were desperate for help. Some had never created a Google Classroom,” she said. “It was a huge, quick learning curve. We provided professional development.”

You can almost see her break into a smile over the telephone as she says “Now, our teachers are pretty much rock stars.”

She also accepts invitations to come into virtual classrooms to work with students on using technology. She explains how to use Destiny, an online catalogue of available books in a host of genres: science fiction, historical fiction, teen issues, narrative non-fiction, humor, horror. Through Destiny, students can put a hold on a book, and then the school librarians hand them off to parents at the curb.

Last summer, Carraba worked four or five days a week through the West Seneca Teacher Center, providing classes on using Google Drive, how to turn worksheets into digital copies, and how to use Sora, an app that allows students to use ebooks or audiobooks. She has been working with other librarians in the district and colleagues Torrance Jones and Lisa Leahy.

Like most readers, Carraba has favorite books, and favorite stories about being a book minder. Her best moments are when she can give students a book to keep.

“That, to me, is one of the most powerful things you can do for a child.”

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