UCF’s Hidden Library
Teachers’ library at UCF has fake phlegm, skeletons, more
Yolanda Hood, the head librarian at the UCF Curriculum Materials Center, has a jar of fake phlegm that teachers sometimes borrow for anti-smoking lessons in their classroom. Or, it can be a way to measure volume, one student suggested. (Right) The Curriculum Materials Center is a tucked-away branch of the UCF main library that is full of books and worksheets for teachers to use as well as more quirky items, such as fake phlegm, skeletons and musical instruments.
(Gabrielle Russon, Orlando Sentinel)
By Gabrielle Russon
Sure, there are books, worksheets and the other items you typically find in a teacher’s classroom, but some things are far more quirky on the shelves of this hidden University of Central Florida library.
Yolanda Hood, the woman in charge, pulls out a jar of sickly green goo with the chunks floating on the surface: Fake mucus. She laughs.
Hood is the head librarian at UCF’s Curriculum Materials Center, a place for current teachers from anywhere in Florida and soon-to-be educators to check out materials for their lessons and classrooms. The center, which first opened in 1978, helps schools with tight budgets and teachers tired of purchasing things out of their own pockets.
Good luck finding a sign for the library, which was converted from an old locker room. There is none in the lobby at the Education Complex. Students buying coffee in the lobby don’t even know the library is here. A sign is coming in the future, Hood says.
“We have people who roam and say, ‘I’ve been looking for you for 10 minutes,’ ” Hood says.
But once you find the center, there are 40,000 items here from textbooks, games, molecular kits for chemistry class, math counters to, of course, the fake phlegm.
“It’s very popular,” Hood says about the jar, which she’s set aside for an event to promote the library. “It’s typically checked out at least once or twice a month.”
It could be part of an anti-smoking lesson in a health education class, or as one UCF student decided, a unique way to teach volume.
There’s a full skeleton that art and anatomy students can loan for four hours. Gym teachers have access to a parachute that students can line up and lift into the air as a game.
“We never got hula hoops,” Hood says, sounding a bit wistful, although the center just recently added LEGOs.
For music instructors or elementary teachers who use singing to tame their wiggling students, the UCF library shelves holds drums and other instruments.
“A ukulele is a ukulele,” Hood says. “But we have a bass ukulele.”
The library purchased one after fielding a few requests from students. The instrument was recently restrung, and now it was gone, regularly checked out.
“We’re like, ‘We’ll never see it again,’ ” Hood said jokingly.
The most expensive items for Hood’s $30,000 annual budget ends up being the complete set of textbooks — every grade, every subject — for Seminole and Orange County schools.
Within the next few months, the center will expand its technology, purchasing a set of 30 iPads and other items for teachers to borrow.
Hood thinks about her own daughter, a 12-year-old, and says her job is to help aspiring teachers and help them find ways to connect with their students and make education fun.
“I want her to have good teachers,” she says. “I feel very vested to make sure they’re the best they can be.”
This article was republished with permission from the author. It appeared in a Feb. 12, 2015, edition of the Orlando Sentinel online. See original article.