Library Adds Non-Fiction, Non-English Books, Movies, and AP Capstone Resources


Molly McLaughlin

In front of the checkout desk, a bookshelf displays new books for students and staff to see.

Molly McLaughlin, Reporter

The library is looking to change up the books this year.  Daphne Foreman, the City High librarian, wants more relatable books for students. Researching what has been working for the best of high school libraries, this year was the first year with the improved non-fiction section.

“We really set out to revitalize our nonfiction this past year, because libraries have had a hard time deciding what nonfiction is for anymore,” Foreman said. 

During the last school year, the library staff have been working on getting more books that would be more reliable on issues students are facing or of interest. They have worked with guidance counselor Mary Peterson and Student-Family Advocate Amy Kahle to add books for related topics. This includes resources resources such as self-care, self-help, and fiction that had more accurate writing for today. 

“Both Amy Kahle and Mary Peterson recommended fiction books that are accurate portrayals of students with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues—to not be glorified, or simplified, or victimized, but have accurate portrayals,” Foreman said.

They’ve also worked with media literacy teacher Troy Peters for new movies, and added other resources such as more books in languages other than English, online resources for programs such as AP Capstone, and more nonfiction. However, like with any additions, whenever something new is added, one has to make space by getting rid of old materials. 

“We had a major…they call it a weeding,” Sandy Rackis, City High’s library secretary, said. “It was a list from the previous librarian [and] you have to go through the whole library and look for outdated books, especially reference books. If they’re outdated, they’re not reliable.”

Through this weeding process, at least a few hundred books and other materials were rotated out for the sections to re-expand, while keeping classic sources. In the weeding process, a large number of books cut were ones that weren’t relatively new—for example a book from 1997 about immigration. One of the largest sections that has gotten an expansion overall has to be the nonfiction section, with more materials on drugs, the Me Too movement, mental health, technology, and more. 

“I think they rearranged it from last year. It looks like they got more art and [it looks]more organized,” Sierra Reese ‘21 said. 

Notable books that have been added include “Educated: A Memoir,” the historical fiction book “Refugee,” and the biography “Radium Girls.” In addition to this, sections of books have been rearranged for this year and the graphic novels have been moved to the back wall behind the fiction, with various display stands being moved.

“Some of [that] stuff on the stand catches my eye,” Dan Gustafson ‘21 said. “But I haven’t really taken the time to look into it and try to find out if I can read it, or have time to.”

A display people may have noticed in the library so far is the small bookshelf in front of the checkout desk. On the display is a collection of biographies of all the presidents (except for the last two) which were donated by a retired judge for the school to give to the students, inspired by his own goal of wanting to know about all of the president’s lives. However, with budget cuts, one librarian position has been cut from the City High Library this year, leading to more work in the beginning of the school year for the two librarians left. 

“We’ll keep looking for better ways to do that,” Foreman said. “But with just a library secretary and one librarian it’s pretty hard to give out textbooks to 1600 kids; however, many classes they have textbooks in in just a period of a few days.”

This has caused the library to need more volunteers, with jobs including helping with check-in, check-out, and shelving books. If students don’t have time to help but want to, they can make displays, book reviews, and stop by to help with social media. Foreman has hope for plans in the future, including converting the stained-glass space into a quiet zone, and more nonfiction books expanding on global warming and rebuilding after disasters. The main focus now, though, is making the library a place for students to explore their interests. 

“I was an English teacher for 22 years and I loved it,” Foreman said. “I’ve always been really interested in other stuff too. I like math. I like design things. I’d like to know about new inventions. I’m interested in the environment, and I think that people in general are interested in lots of things, and I think Iowa City kids are interested in lots of things.”