Interview a Librarian

How do they keep up with YA books? How do they develop their collection? What kinds of reading or other programs do they do? How do the promote reading to teens? What have been some challenges and successes had they had developing programming for teens? What do they think are important knowledge and skills librarians should have to work with teens? What advice do they have for you when working with teens? 

I had the good pleasure of interviewing a local high school librarian. The interview started with a tour of the library, which is genrefied by fiction and organized with Dewey for nonfiction. The organization of the library encourages students to make their way throughout and allows for easy browsing. I was told that roughly 150 students are in the library daily for study, additional students visit for lunch, and others are in periodically throughout the day. One thing I learned, which was surprising to me, is that this particular librarian does book talks with students. Now, as a middle school librarian, I do a lot of book talks because I have grade-level visits to the library where students are expected to check out a book. That said, I assumed that because high school schedules are so different and classes do not typically visit the library, that students do not get to attend book talks. I was wrong.

Between the collection and the book talks, students are encouraged to read. Further, there are books on display within each genre section, on top of each nonfiction bookshelf, and then throughout the library on display tables. Books are purchased a number of different ways: School Library Journal, Booklist, student recommendations, teacher recommendations, and discussions with the public library’s YA librarian.

In terms of non-book related library projects, the librarian told me that the bulk of her teaching work centers on research. She provided me with IIM resources and lent me two books to read with research writing tips. While she developed her own curriculum for research based on elements of other curricula, she noted that getting teacher buy-in has not always been easy.

Overall, my biggest takeaway from this interview is maintaining consistency across the elementary, middle, and high school programs with the IIM research methodology. I also really liked seeing the collection. I have a lot of books to add to my TBR list thanks to the visit to this school library.

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