Category Archives: NSHS Library

Homework Free Break + Free Books = More Free Reading

As you may know, teachers do not assign homework over February break so students have time to recharge their batteries, relax with friends or family, and return to school refreshed. That may also make it a great time for your student to dip into some independent reading. The library staff has created a display of high interest books near the circulation desk to make it a snap to quickly pick up a book before break. Encourage your student to stop by and check one out for a quiet afternoon at home or for a ride on a plane, train, or automobile. A book makes a great companion no matter what your family has in store over break.

In the event that you have an avid reader at your house, rest assured that they will continue to have access to books even when they are far away from school. Students can download the Axis 360 app on their mobile device (iOS, Android, Windows or Kindle Fire) and then log in using their Newton Public School credentials to download both e-books and audiobooks. Students can find more information, and even more sources for free e-books, by visiting the NSHS Library e-book guide.

Sophomore Speech in the Library

The Sophomore Speech project kicked off in the library during term two in a big way, with 12 English teachers coming to the library for a total of 44 classes. English teachers collaborated with the librarians to help students explore speech topics, find evidence to reinforce arguments, and properly cite their sources using NoodleTools (the library’s fabulous online citation tool for students — click the link to learn more about it and to view brief tutorial videos created by the librarians).

It is always such a pleasure to come across students in the library (and in the hallways all over the school) practicing their speeches and receiving coaching from their peers. Our commendation goes out to all the sophomores for making it through this NSHS rite of passage, and congratulations to the finalists!

Reminder: Support the Library with Success @ South!

The Success @ South Program is going strong! The Newton South Library is a busy place; on a typical day we have more than 2,000 visitors. The library serves many purposes: students may have a class meeting there; they may be doing research or homework during a free block; using one of our Chromebooks or printers to complete an assignment; or filming using our green screen. And of course, checking out books or to learning how to download e-books on their mobile device.

Your contributions will help the library meet all of your students’ needs. Our wish list includes:

  • Study carrels where students can focus in a quiet and private space
  • Comfortable reading chairs to replace broken chairs and create more casual seating
  • Computer tables to increase the number of computers available
  • Display shelves to more effectively organize and showcase reading material

Some possible options for new furniture:

Learn more about the Success@South Program here and click here to donate.

Concerned about the “Fake News” Phenomenon?

Part of the library’s mission is to ensure that our students become “information literate” — possessing the skills and dispositions required to evaluate all information and sources for credibility, accuracy, and reliability. This has never seemed more important than now, when our nation seems gripped by an epidemic of “fake news,” with real-life consequences. Unfortunately, a recent study by the Stanford University History Education Group on civic online reasoning concluded that, “Overall, young people’s ability to reason about the information on the Internet can be summed up in one word: bleak” (4).

The librarians are working with a variety of History and English teachers on lessons and hands-on activities that will help our students hone their information literacy skills. We’ve created an Information Literacy Guide that you might find helpful in your own lives. It includes helpful tips and tricks for evaluating and validating information, links to fact-checking sites, resources for teachers, and a blog with the latest articles on fake news.

Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning: Executive
Summary. Stanford History Education Group, 22 Nov. 2016. Stanford
History Education Group,
Executive%20Summary%2011.21.16.pdf. Accessed 15 Dec. 2016.

Support the Library with Success@South

The PTSO  has chosen the Newton South library for this year’s Success@South campaign. Our goal is to enhance and improve the Library’s facilities to ensure the space is a warm and welcoming place where kids can learn, study, and relax.

Success at South

Items on our wishlist include:

  • Study carrels where students can focus in a quiet and private space
  • Comfortable reading chairs to replace broken chairs and create more casual seating
  • Computer tables to increase the number of computers available
  • Display shelves to more effectively organize and showcase reading material

Learn more about the Success@South Program here and click here to donate.

Reading Ideas For December Break

The library is creating a warm, inviting display space filled with great reads for students and faculty to select books to enjoy over December break. We hope that students use this time to reconnect with reading for pleasure! Here’s a shot of last year’s space:


Afraid you might not get a chance to swing by to grab a few books? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered for recommendations, as well as e-books and audiobooks that you can download to your own device, for free.

For book recommendations, check the NSHS Library’s “Read” research guide, which is chock-full of recommendations from NSHS students, lists of books by genre, award-winning books, reviews, trailers and more. There are even links to interactive book recommendation sites where you can enter the title or author you like and get custom recommendations for your next read.

To learn about e-books and audiobooks that you can download for free, refer to this article from our fall newsletter for all of the details, and go to the e-book page on the library website for the nitty-gritty.


Thank You NSHS PTSO!

The NSHS Library was grateful to receive another grant from the PTSO this fall.  The bulk of the grant was use to purchase a new bulletin board that has been dedicated to student activities and events.  The board was installed last week and it has already been put to good use. Bulletin Board

The remaining funds were used to purchase additional creativity resources: a bracelet making books and supplies.  NSHS is very academically focused and as a result, sometimes students need to relieve stress. Creativity resources in the library offer an opportunity for students to unwind without being a distraction to other students who may be completing more academic tasks.  The bracelet making supplies are currently being used  at a small craft table in the library entry. screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-12-44-04-pm

We plan to rotate the materials highlighted at this table periodically.  When interest in bracelet making wanes, we will change the station to highlight another recreational activity such as coloring, origami or crosswords.  This table in adjacent to the table that displays the Little Bits and Google Cardboard that were highlighted in the last newsletter.


New Parents: Welcome to the NSHS Library!

Welcome to the Library! Whether your students are just starting their high school experience or are joining us later in their academic career, the NSHS Library has plenty to offer.

Students are welcome to visit the library throughout the day, to study, find a good book, use our technology, or just relax with a board game or a coloring book.

The library has desktop computers and Chromebooks that students can check out for a block at a time for research and school work. We also have Green Screen equipment, Google Cardboard 3D viewers, and other tech tools students can use to produce videos and other projects.

For research projects, students will come to the library with teachers, where we prepare special guides for their assignment.  You can check out some of the research resources and databases available here, or click on the image below to explore our entire library website:


Thank You NSHS PTSO!

Thanks to the PTSO the NSHS Library collection currently includes a variety of gaming and creativity resources for students to use to de-stress during down time (before school, free blocks, lunch, J-Block), including board games, legos and adult coloring books. A more recent grant from the PTSO allowed us to purchase additional materials to expand the library’s gaming and creativity collection with a few technologically oriented resources for students who might enjoy these more than the traditional games. Here’s what we purchased with the grant:

  • 4 Google Cardboard Kits, which  allow students to use their smart phones to enjoy immersive virtual reality experiences using thousands of free apps, games and videos.

picture of Google Cardboard display

  • A Little Bits Gizmos and Gadgets Kit and an accompanying “how to” book, Getting Started with Little Bits: Prototyping and Inventing with Modular Electronics. These modular electronics are designed for young people and have been described as “legos for the iPad generation,” or “the ultimate invention toolbox,” including snap-together motors, wheels, lights, switches, servos, buzzers, and remote control. Students engaging in self-directed play with this product will build STEM skills and fuel engineering curiosity.


Depending on the ultimate popularity of these tools, we may propose to expand further into this “maker” arena and establish a library-based “Maker Space” for students. We thought we’d start with these few tools to help gauge demand.

So far so good — as you can see, students seem to be enjoying having access to these creativity tools in the library!



Axis 360: A New Source for eBooks and Audio Books at NSHS


This fall, the Newton South Librarians have been busy introducing students and faculty to our new eBook and Audio Book platform, Axis 360.  The response has been very positive, most likely because Axis 360 offers an easy-to-use mobile platform.  The app is available to Newton South students and faculty, for iOS, Android or Windows devices. Downloads are completed over wi-fi, and then the content is available offline for reading and listening.  Students and teachers can log in with their Newton credentials and begin browsing or searching using an intuitive interface. The app has many of the features that savvy users would expect: the ability to bookmark or highlight text, both an integrated dictionary and encyclopedia, adjustable playback speeds for audio books and much more.



Axis 360 is one of the platforms available to Newton South through our participation in the Commonwealth eBook Collections (CEC). Our Axis 360 collection, which is curated by the Newton South Librarians,  currently includes more than 2,500 Young Adult titles, 6,000 general fiction titles, 4,000 non-fiction titles, and 1,000 audio books.  And Axis 360 is not just for popular best sellers, it also includes handy references such as test prep books and cook books. New titles are being added regularly and the EC purchases multiple copies of popular titles. When more than three CEC patrons have placed a hold on a particular title, an additionally copy is automatically purchased.