Cheryl Robson reminisces on changes in school libraries during 25-year career

Cheryl Robson

~by Taylor Bates for The Scranton Journal

Three schools and 25 years later, Cheryl Robson has retired from her career as a school librarian.

Robson attended the University of Northern Iowa, where she obtained a business education degree. Soon after graduation, she was married and moved to Carroll with her husband Allen, as he was teaching at Carroll Kuemper. There wasn’t an opening for a teaching position for Cheryl at that point, so she got a job at the Carroll County road department. With her background in typing and other office duties, she stayed there for three years.

After the time spent in Carroll, Robson and her husband moved to the Scranton area to live on the family farm. They had three daughters and Robson student taught for a while at Coon Rapids-Bayard and other schools close by. In 1993, she was presented with the opportunity to work as an associate in the Jefferson-Scranton school library.

While at Jefferson-Scranton, Robson saw a lot of changes in technology. There was a computer lab with about 30 machines for the whole school to use. In the library, there was a computer with a disk that could be inserted to be able to see the encyclopedia on the screen, which was a pretty big deal for the time. There were also two machines that students could use for word processing and that could be used by teachers to score tests.

Toward the end of her time at Jefferson-Scranton, the library got a little Mac computer that had Internet on it and not long after, a bigger computer was purchased that worked better. It was the only computer in the entire building with Internet. Why was that one computer in the library? So everyone could have access, and so that everyone could share.

“For kids to be able to use that one machine and to use the internet, they had to take a test and borrow videotapes and learn about the Internet,” Robson explained. “Then, they had to get a ‘license’ so they could be on the Internet. It was a pretty big deal.”

After working in the Greene County area for five years, the Coon Rapids-Bayard school needed a librarian. Robson began her job as the K-12 media specialist in 1998. The Bayard school had one Internet connection that was split out to multiple machines, making the connection slow. In Coon Rapids, the machines were old, which made that connection slow, also. Somewhere along the line, the school got new machines and things began to work better. Robson helped to apply for a grant in 2002/03 that gave each teacher a new computer for their classrooms.

2004/05 was Robson’s first year working in Ames as the technology teacher librarian. When she began in Ames, there was one computer lab and one cart of laptops (that held 30 laptops) for around 750 students in seventh and eighth grade. This spring, when Robson retired, each student had a computer in their hands, part of a program the school has used for the past four years.

“Things have changed a lot,” Robson pointed out. Technology changed too, to the point where Robson loved to be able to “go home, sit on my couch, log into a website and be able to order the books that the students wanted, and then the books would show up at school.” That was an advancement when Robson started in the Jefferson-Scranton library, she never thought she’d see.

Even though retirement is something many adults look forward to, it can still be rather bittersweet. Robson said that she’s really going to miss going to the school and getting to know the students.

“I’m going to be missing the students and a lot of great teachers I’ve worked with along the way. I’ll miss seeing them and talking with them. I’ve had a lot of great experiences working in all three of the schools. Come August, it will be a lot different,” Robson reminisced.

So, what will Robson be up to now that she doesn’t have to go to school every day? “A lot of cleaning at home,” she said. “Getting things in order that have been put on hold.” Someday, she may do some part-time work, but that is to be determined.

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