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Students' Summer Project Helps Library Leaders

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Rochester: Students' Summer Project Helps Library Leaders
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A summer student project in Irondequoit is also helping local leaders decide what should be in their plans for a new central library.

Irondequoit High School's Summer Institute students, who struggled in English or Social Studies this past year, were given a chance to make up some credits by tackling a summer project.

This year – research what should go in Irondequoit's soon-to-be-built centralized library.

They presented their ideas to an audience of school, district and town leaders Friday.

"I learned how to work on being independent, doing independent work, doing a lot of research and finding out new information that I would never have known before," said junior Alex Laduca.

In their report, they call the library a civic responsibility and say they want to make it the center of the town's intellectual life. They'd like the library to hold programs for different age groups and have a lab there where people could get help with homework and tutoring.

They 'd like comfortable seating areas, charging stations for electronics, a cafe, and even a store on site where students could buy supplies like paper.

At the top of their list was a teen center that could include books, TVs, games and even a recording studio similar to one in Chicago's Public Library.

"Teenagers aren't typically attracted to go to libraries, but if you make it more modern and put things they would want to see there, they'll be more likely to visit," said Morgan Hyatt.

Voters recently approved plans for a new centralized library at the Town Hall site, but the decision has not come without opposition. Some have filed a lawsuit in an effort to stop construction.

"Libraries have often been given a death sentence by people when a new technology or a new way of thinking has come along, but they don't understand that libraries evolve to meet the needs of the community," said library director Terry Buford. "If electronic resources become more popular, the library becomes a source of retrieving them, just like they used to retrieve information from books. Only if you go through the library, it's free."

There are financial constraints, but leaders say many of the ideas they heard Friday are possible. They walk away with those, and the students walk away with much more than that.

"They get to use their literacy skills, their research skills and critical thinking skills and apply them to a real-life setting. And on top of that, there's that kind of civic involvement," explained Irondequoit English teacher Jeff Guercio, who helps run the Summer Institute. He said the students present their ideas and "get people who make these decisions in their own communities, listen to them and there's a value to that also."

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