Category Archives: NSHS Library

New J Block Norms in the Library

After a long history of requests from students, including discussion with South Senate, the decision was made to revamp the library during J block, a block at the end of the day on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday during which students can meet with teachers, take make-up exams, do homework or hang out and wait for the bus. In the past, the library had been used as a social space during J block with students playing games and generally hanging out. The number of students in the library far exceeded the number of chairs. Volume levels were high as large groups congregated to socialize. As a result, the library was not a quiet space for students to study. Starting January 2nd, the library has been reserved for quiet study and students have been invited to use the adjacent student center/cafeteria for socializing. The library is close to capacity with quiet studiers every J block, so it seems the change is meeting our goal of providing quiet space for students to work after school.

Research Appointments Thrive

Over the course of terms 1 & 2 librarians met with 89 students for more than 22 hours of direct instruction on citations, research help, and more as part of our research appointment service. This support is available to all students and we are currently meeting with a lot of students on Sophomore Speech projects, which often require more individualized research strategies and critical assessment of online resources. For some classes and projects, this is a more effective way to work with students than full class library instruction, and some teachers have begun requiring the appointments for research projects. If your student is struggling with their research, encourage them to book an appointment with a librarian! 


“Thank you so much! While I was a bit overwhelmed after our meeting, I felt so much better that I have a solid start to my essay before the break. The librarian was very receptive and I felt that she understood what I needed.” — NSHS Senior

This appointment was incredibly helpful, and it helped me narrow down what I wanted to write about. I have so many sources for my paper now!!!! Thank you so much. — NSHS Sophomore

Genrefication in the Library

The library is testing a new way of organizing our fiction collection: Genrefication. Like a bookstore, fiction books will be sorted by categories such as Romance, Mystery, or Science Fiction, instead of just by author. The goal is to help students find reading choices more easily, identify gaps in the collection, and make the collection more inclusive.

Our first test was with the romance category. More than 100 books were pulled, sorted, and labeled, with new displays and signage created. Students have responded positively to the new display, and we will be monitoring circulation statistics to track the impact on check-outs.

We’re also using this project to analyze our collection for diversity, with the goal of having a collection that reflects our community. The analysis has helped us identify areas that need improvement, and will guide us in future purchasing decisions.

Display of Romance books

Library Introduction

Every fall a librarian makes a presentation to the new teachers at Newton South to introduce them to all of the ways that the library can support them in their new job. It occurs to us that parents might also be interested in the ways we work with classroom teachers to advance the curriculum across all disciplines — enjoy!

Looking for Library Help?

Is your student looking for library help? There is a range  of ways to reach out to the Newton South Library team for help with research, citations, finding a book, and more.

For short answers, email the staff at, or send a message on Schoology to NSHS Library. Librarians monitor these accounts (including nights and weekends) and will get back to you as soon as possible.

For more detailed help, make an appointment with a librarian. Let us know what your project is and what you’re struggling with, and we can offer a range of help, including finding books, helping choose the best databases, developing search strategies, and even finding specific articles. Librarians can also review in-text citations and bibliographies for papers.

In the first term of this year, students booked 68 individual research appointments, totaling 17 hours of one-on-one conferencing with students. Appointments are available in 15-minute slots throughout the day, so students can come down during lunch or a free block. They can be booked via our web site here.



eBooks and Audiobooks from the Library

The library’s app for checking out free eBooks and audiobooks to students and faculty has transitioned from the Overdrive app to the Sora app, designed for use by school libraries. Sora is free and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play to work on any ios or Android phone or tablet. To start checking out books, students simply add our library (Newton Public Schools) to the app and sign in with their school login. Students can also add the Newton Free Library to the app (with a library card number) to gain access to the public library eBook and audiobook collection — they can even search both the school and public library collections simultaneously! These books can also be accessed on computers (Chromebooks included) and Amazon Kindles. Check out the library’s eBook and audiobook page to learn more, or send your student to the library for help getting their device set up with the app.

Summer Reading and eBooks

The NSHS Library is still open for business during finals week. Students can study in between exams and also pick up books for summer reading. Students and staff are welcome to check out up to ten books for the summer. Both eBooks and audiobooks, primarily through the OverDrive platform, are available for check out all summer long. Find more information here. Students log in with their NSHS credentials to access books.

Summer reading display

Summer Reading Display

Information about summer reading requirements can be found on the library website.  Have a wonderful summer!

NSHS Library Annual Report 2019

It was another busy year here at the NSHS Library. Check out the highlights in our Annual Report.

Library Teachers Lead Training on Chrome Extensions

On December 5th, NSHS faculty and staff had a half day of professional development about Chromebooks and the 1:1 initiative. Participants could choose the sessions that were most relevant to them. The Library teachers led a professional development session about using Chrome extensions.

A Chrome extension is a small plug-in application that you install into your Chrome browser to do one or two small — but powerful — tasks. You can find these in the Chrome Store online. Install them and you’ll get a little button in your Chrome browser bar in order to launch them when you need it (though some will work instantly as you browse). 

The librarians demonstrated some of our favorite Chrome extensions, listed below. All of these are free, (or were at the time of writing), though some have paid versions with more features:

Print Friendly & PDF: an easy tool for printing content from the web that removes ads, navigation info, and other extraneous stuff to format the content for printing or to save as a PDF.


Kami – A PDF annotation and markup tool. We love this tool for filling out online forms. Once it is installed, you can open any PDF online within the Kami extension, which allows you to edit, annotate and save your markups. 

FireShot – Trying to grab a screenshot, but the content you want extends past the visible part of your page? This extension will let you snap a picture of an entire page and save it as either an image (PNG or JPG) or a PDF. 

You can check out all of our favorite extensions in this Google Slides presentation.

Need Research Help? Make an Appointment with a Librarian!

The Newton South Library has added a new service for students – one-on-one research appointments with a librarian. Students can sign up for a 15-minute appointment to get help with research, citations, or to find independent reading choices.

Students can sign up for appointments here, or by clicking the “Request an Appointment” button on the library home page. So far this year, librarians have met with more than 75 students for almost 20 hours of direct one-on-one help, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“This was a great resource and I think that it should be advertised through the teachers more. I was skeptical that it would be helpful, but Mr.Greiner really encouraged us all to go and I was very pleased that I did. If more people knew that it was an option, more people would take advantage of the opportunity.” AP US History Senior

“Ms. Dimmick was really helpful and gave tips on different ways to tell if news sources are credible and how to use advanced search.”  English Sophomore (Sophomore Speech)