Perspectives, an interview series that will highlight the work of librarians in different fields and professional specializations. Our series will focus on the experiences of our participants, what they do, what they have learned, and offer advice to those interested in librarianship and various fields. To our readers, our committee hopes this column will highlight the valuable labor these individuals perform on an everyday basis. Our interviews will provide perspective on what labor in these fields entails and current issues that affect librarianship, employment, etc. On behalf of the Communications Committee, we hope you find this new column illuminating, informative, and inspiring!
What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?
There are countless things that I enjoy about my job. Connecting kids to books that they will enjoy or assisting them with the use of any form of technology bring me joy. The celebration of reading is what keeps me fueled up to face each day working in this field that I love. Seeing that lightbulb appear over their heads or the spark in their eyes once they have enjoyed a book or gotten the hang of an app, for example, is a precious moment for me. It’s also obvious that I love being surrounded by books. Having access to a wealth of books that represent various views, opinions, experiences, and stories is also one of the things that make my job fun and has driven me in over 20 years of service.
Can you describe a memorable moment in your career?
The most memorable moment in my career was when I served on the 2020 Newbery Awards Selection Committee. It was a privilege to be on this prestigious committee, and I was so proud to have served with such a distinguished, insightful, experienced, and a professional group of librarians. Unfortunately, the committee will not be able to meet the authors face-to-face at ALA Annual in Chicago. My hope is that there will be an opportunity to celebrate all of the authors in person and the near future.
What kinds of professional development do you do?
Encouragement of leisure reading, enjoyment of literature, use of digital application and tools, digital literacy, digital citizenship, Makerspace activities, and of course advocating for the use of the school library program.
Library program administration, connecting digital literacy to the K-12 curriculum, advocacy/marketing/branding your library media center program, leadership, use of social media for the library program, digital Makerspace programming and ideas, and so much more!
Is there one piece of advice you have received in your career thus far that stands out the most (that you carry with you in your work)?
This bit of advice was given to me from my late father when I first began teaching.
- Have knowledge of your subject matter (school libraries)
- A sense of humor
This advice has sustained me for over 20 years while working in this wonderful field.
What are some things you know now about your job/librarianship, that you wish you had known before entering the field?
The main thing that I wish I would have known before entering the field is how much of an advocate I would have to be for my program with my peers. I automatically thought that educators would ‘understand’ libraries, and I learned quickly that some have a somewhat archaic view of the profession and the program. Because of this, I’ve learned quickly that how much of an advocate I had to become for my own program. This advocacy has had many benefits, I’ve learned how to become more strategic, plan my actions with purpose and has driven me out of an introverted/shy state to a more outspoken and vocal person.
What do you think some misconceptions about librarians/libraries/librarianship are?
In terms of school libraries, some educators/administrators mistakenly believe that we read not only the books in our collection but also policy and procedure that school districts are mandated to follow at the local, state, and national levels. When our rights are violated, school librarians are known for serving on the front line of fighting for justice for our programs and our positions within the school/district.
What are some current professional obstacles in this field that upcoming professionals should know about?
In some school districts, there is a disconnect from the Superintendent down to the classroom teacher about the importance, role, and skill base of the school librarian and the impact this literacy/technology specialist has on the learning community. In my opinion, as special education is emphasized during the training of our superintendents and principals, the school library program/librarians need to be inserted into that same instruction so that these new leaders will be knowledgeable and seek to hire the best-trained library media specialists for their districts/schools.
What professional advice would you give to graduate students who are about to enter this line of work?
Serving as a school library media specialist the best job on the planet! Remain positive, up to date on best practices and always keep service to students, teachers, and the community as the forefront for all decisions and actions that you perform day-to-day in your library media program. Lastly, just have fun….it’s exciting to engage in books and technology. Learn from your students as they will learn from you.