I follow the amazing blog of The Unquiet Librarian, who posted her story yesterday for the Library Routes Project. This project collects the stories of librarians and the path that they have taken into this wonderful profession. I really enjoyed reading Buffy’s story, and I hope that you will enjoy reading mine!
I have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember – in fact, my mom just found a picture of me standing over the crib of my infant brother, reading a book. I always took my learning seriously and growing up I wanted to do it all – astronomer, artist, meteorologist, actress, and of course a teacher.
In third grade, I moved from the urban school I was attending (due to the long-standing desegregation plan) to my community elementary school in the small town in the suburbs of Baton Rouge where my family lived. In fourth grade my love for reading became obsessive and I devoured any book I could get my hands on. That year, I also became a Library Aide at my elementary school library. My school had a wonderful librarian who was an incredible storyteller. Her reading of The Cajun Night Before Christmas is something I will never forget. I remember being in awe of that library, with its wonderful books and beautiful wall murals of the Milky Way galaxy. The library and it’s sights, sounds, and smells has always made me feel safe. I spent many recesses in 4th and 5th grade helping out in that library.
As they were for many, middle school brought on a series of awkward years. I fully embraced my nerdy persona as I settled into my group of friends in the same gifted/honors classes as me. And then in 7th and 8th grades, something great happened – my P.E. teacher noticed my non-athletic plight and let me spend half of the school year helping in the library during my assigned P.E. time. I did it all – checked books in and out, shelved and straightened, and fell in love with the Dewey Decimal System. During summers, I spent a lot of time at the public library, living and experiencing through what I read. In those difficult pre-teen years, I remember my mom punishing me by not bringing me to the library!
The library at my high school was not a welcoming place, as it was run by two very traditional, stern-faced librarians. As a junior, I went out in search of an after school job, and I was lucky to snag a position as a page with the East Baton Rouge Parish Public Library System, which is one of the best in the nation. At the time, I didn’t realize how fortunate I was to have such a great system in my area. I learned the ropes of the library and gained some amazing mentors. As began to send off my college applications, I decided that I would get my degree in Education. I loved the public library, but knew that I did not want to spend the next 30 years working nights and weekends.
I was given a full scholarship to Southeastern Louisiana University, which has one of the best Education departments in the state. I commuted the 45 minutes to school so I could keep my job at the public library. I also learned that SLU had an add-on program for School Library Certification, and I began taking the graduate level classes my sophomore year. In January of 2007 I had to leave the public library after over 5 years because my school schedule wouldn’t allow me to work my required 20 hours/week. I spent that summer before my student teaching doing my Library Practicum at the Lab School Library, and it was a great experience for me to really experience the differences in a public and school library. After 4.5 years, I graduated (Fall 2007)with a 4.0 GPA and received the President’s Medal along with my degree in Elementary Education: Grades 4-8 ELA/Social Studies certified and my School Library Certification.
A job as a School Librarian was my dream, but I thought that opportunity would come many years down the road – after I had the chance to go back for my MLIS. I accepted my first teaching position at my community’s middle school – the same one that I had attended years ago. The schools in my community had broken off from a larger district to form our own community school system. Still in its first year, I was excited to get on board. I finished off the school year with them, teaching 6th and 7th grade ELA. Our district was growing at such a rapid pace, that the schools had to be restructured for the next school year, adding another elementary school (going from having PreK-2 and 3-5 schools to having three: PreK-1, 2-3, and 4-5). You know what that meant…they needed another librarian! I put in my application but refused to get my hopes up. I was called in for an interview, and my youth and enthusiasm got me the position over the more experienced candidates! I could not believe I had come into my dream job so quickly.
I’m now in my second year as the librarian at my school. I am so proud of the things that I’ve accomplished and how far our library has come. That first summer, we had to the materials from our two original libraries to serve three – this was quite a task that produced three inadequate collections. Our community came through for us and a fund-raiser provided us with the money to develop our collections. I have a wonderful administration that supports my ideas for library programs. I’m truly blessed to be part of such an amazing school in a great district – all of that and my dream job as a librarian!
That’s my story, and I know there are many great years to come in my library career!