Over the weekend, a conversation started on Twitter that led to the creation of the hashtag #whylib. Funny how a tweet has the power to become a hashtag and part of an ongoing conversation. Since April is School Library Month, librarians across the country are now sharing stories of the paths that have led them into the school library using #whylib. I must say, I’ve enjoyed learning a little bit more about the fabulous school librarians who are a part of my PLN, the majority of whom I have yet to meet in person. I think it’s so great how such a variety of experiences have drawn us together into the TL tribe.
Here is my story…
I’ve always associated positive memories with libraries. Going to our public library each week was always fun. I remember carrying stacks and bags of books home and devouring them each week. I started drawing tiny purple stars on the back pockets of the books to keep track of what I’d read. Soon every book in the children’s section had a purple star.
Not surprisingly, at 16 I started working after school as a page at that library and others in the township. I stayed on as a part-time staff member for the next 7 years, and still cover the occasional evening or weekend shifts. I quickly outgrew the task of just shelving those purple starred books. Over time, I became involved with children’s programming, collection development, and processing. I later added circulation, reference, and technology skills into the mix. Yet it didn’t occur to me that this “library thing” was something I might want to consider as a career.
At that same time, I was working on an undergraduate degree in education at Rosemont College. I started out as an elementary education major, adding history and psychology into the mix when all was said and done. Looking back, I think the choice to study education came from my love of learning, not necessarily school; a distinction I would soon realize. My student teaching experience helped me see that the endless worksheets, individual assessments, and bubble sheets weren’t my style. I wanted students engaging with each other as well as with content; to be able to create, collaborate, and discover. At this point that I decided I needed to explore these ideas of education policy and creativity/innovation. After I graduated, I immediately entered a master’s program in education policy at the University of Pennsylvania. The plan was to become a researcher or perhaps an education historian.
It wasn’t until I had immersed myself with literature on educational technology, federal policies, digital literacies, connected learning, and participatory cultures that the library came back into the picture. I realized that the space in the education landscape where policy and innovation collided was libraries.
I finished my program at Penn this past July and started in my current role as an elementary teacher/librarian in August. I absolutely love the physical, curricular, and digital spaces this role allows me to inhabit. Spending time creating a culture where we read, create, and connect in our library has been great. (The kiddos are also adorable). I am so grateful for this community of TLs who have shared so much with me this first year. I hope to be able to share more with you as my journey into the TL tribe continues.
If you are a librarian, or thinking about becoming one, please consider sharing your story with #whylib. I know that the rest of the TLs out there and I would love to learn along with you!