Eufaula GEAR UP eighth graders tour area public libraries

Thirty-two Eufaula eighth grade GEAR UP students recently visited McAlester Public Library, in the Southeastern Public Library System of Oklahoma, and the Eufaula Memorial Library, which is in the Eastern Oklahoma District Library System. Both libraries are within 30 miles of each other but are in different Oklahoma library districts and can offer different resources.

Students began the morning by visiting the McAlester Public Library. Chris Elliott, the Information Resources Librarian, welcomed students to the White Acre Room to inform students about the free online resources available through During the visit, students were able to access computers and follow along as library specialists lead them through each step on the big screen. Students looked up online resources for homework help, practice driver tests/guides, citation sources, how to access reference materials, webinars teaching different languages and even a guide for various types of auto repairs. Students learned about free downloadable media like movies, music, audiobooks and more.

Next Yuliya Zhugina, McAlester Public Library’s Youth Services Coordinator, talked with students about summer and after-school programs the library offers free of charge. There is a monthly schedule with activities for all age groups. Activities are both educational, social, fun, and FREE. There is a “teen room” on the third floor where teens to meet up to hang out and do activities. Some of the activities are video gaming, nail art, monthly book club, board games, wall art and Community Action Teens (CATS). CATS is a unique program where teens help out with work and setup for library events while earning community service hours to support scholarships in the future. All supplies are provided by the library and food is usually included for those who participate.

“I’m excited to learn about teen programs, like CATS, where students can gather for positive social interaction while volunteering in the community,” said Rachael Ranallo, Education Coordinator.

Before leaving McAlester, students toured the large library. The library is divided into easy to find sections for all materials. Ellen Barlow, the Branch Manager led students through the main floor where most materials can be found. They have mapped out the library to be very user friendly and help patrons find materials easily. Students were very excited to learn that you can check out video games, audiobooks, magazines, DVDs, graphic novels and numerous books. On the third floor, they learned about the Oklahoma Heritage Room, which houses anything to do with Oklahoma or famous Oklahomans. This unique collection highlights accomplishments of our state. These materials are often requested around the world.

fter lunch, students ventured north to the Eufaula Memorial Library. Kim Patterson, Library Assistant, welcomed students to The Charles L. Follansbee Room and showed students online resources available through the Eastern Oklahoma District Library System. While some resources are similar to the McAlester library, they are somewhat different since they are in different library systems. Patterson showed students how to login with a library card and access account information like re-checking out materials without having to drive to the library. They were also surprised to learn about Mango, an app through the library website that will translate languages and help students learn a foreign language if they are interested. Patterson is also working on the teen programs offered at the Eufaula Memorial Library. Each students took a survey to learn about hobbies and interests to build on the afterschool and summer programs offered.

tudents took a quick tour through the library to learn how materials are organized before heading back to school. Prior to the field trip, students had the opportunity to apply for a library card at both library systems. Students that had one or both of the library card applications complete picked up their library cards during the field trip.

The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP. Participating schools take two field trips each academic year—one to tour a college or university and one that is cultural/educational in nature. In 2017, Eastern received a $17 million federal GEAR UP grant and will serve over 3,000 students in 39 area schools for seven years.

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