Wednesday, April 14, 2010

National Library Week - Helen, the Teacher Librarian

Today I have with me an awesome High School Librarian who runs a really fun blog - Helen's Book Blog. She's answered some questions for me in interview form about her library and what she does there!

California Read-A-Thon

When and why did you decide to become a librarian?
I was a classroom teacher for 14 years and was ready for a bit of a change. I knew our school librarian was getting close to retirement so I earned my Library Media Studies credential while still teaching high school World History and American Government. So in Fall 2008 I became a Teacher Librarian and I am really enjoying it!

What type of library do you work at and what do you do there?
I work in a public high school library with 1800 students. We do everything from ordering books (I've been getting most of my recommendations from students and all the book blogs I subscribe to!), to shelving books, helping students do research, co-teaching lessons using web 2.0, and teaching information literacy. One of the most fun things I do (besides getting to read a whole lot of good YA literature) is put on programs for our students. These include displays or events for Banned Books Week, Teen Tech Week, Read Across America, Halloween (reader's theater of Poe's Tell Tale Heart), 6-word memoir contest, and a Poetry Slam.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a librarian?
I love to read and talk about books so I really enjoy working with students to help them choose books that are going to interest them. When they come back in to the library and tell me that they loved the book and can I recommend more, it's wonderful. I also like helping them to use the Internet and other research tools effectively so that they do well on their papers and projects. Again, feeling like I've truly helped the students is such a great feeling!

Are there any challenges at your library and how do you overcome them?
The challenges we face are twofold. With the declining economy there certainly isn't a lot of money around for education in general, but for books and "extras" there is hardly any. That being said, I am grateful to have my job since many of my colleagues throughout California have lost their library positions. The second challenge is bringing a school and a faculty into the 21st century in terms of web 2.0 tools. I love technology almost as much as I love books and I have tons of ideas (probably too many) that I want classroom teachers to try out. They are reluctant and I understand that; change is difficult. But, I keep pressuring and figure someone will eventually let me pull them over to my side. Actually, a few teachers have and I will say that the teachers at my school have been extremely accepting of my pushing them, some of them even going outside their comfort zones to let me try something new.

Would you do this forever if you could or is there a different area of the library that you would like to try and why?
I don't want to leave education and the high school setting so I guess that means I am here for good. Or for the foreseeable future. As I've said, I really enjoy the technology aspect of the job and I can see that increasing as schools move in that direction.

I too love the technology aspect of my job as well. We're not really the traditional "librarians" who just help you find books - we're in the center of Media! We have to know how to do some quick-fixes for computers, figure out a better way to use the technology available to us, and teach students and other teachers how to use this awesome technology.

Thank you Helen for joining us today and sharing more about what you do!

Make sure to leave a comment below for another entry into this week's giveaway!


  1. Helen you have so much passion it is inspiring! I love getting an 'inside look' on your job and how you are also a center of technology along with books.

  2. Great interview. I think most school librarians have taught in the classroom and moved to the library. Helen taks about many of the reasons I think becoming a school librarian is a great job change for teachers.

  3. I think that the integration of technology and an appreciation for the use of technology in our school libraries is essential for our students. Our school library has suffered a severe decline in student use because we have one-to-one computing. The bank of desktop computers are no longer in demand and the library is a sort of dead zone. We will have new library leadership next year, though, and this person has talked about incorporating technology into the library setting. There are great ideas in this post-Thanks!

  4. Great interview - I think this is a wonderful idea - learn what it is like in different areas of the library field - nice to see another who is passionate about their job
    jennifer DOT rayment AT humber DOT ca

  5. Great interview! I know it's hard in CA especially with budget cuts. There was even talk in our city about closing down the HS libraries (it was one of the budget cutting proposals that thankfully got shot down). I am a fan of Helen's--I love the diverse books she reviews on her blog.


  6. Thanks for running this Kristen! It's so great to get information about school libraries out.

  7. What a great interview! I got my MLIS a few years ago and now I wish I had taken more classes in the YA area because I would really love to work in a school library or as a teen librarian in a public library.

    I know now with all the budget cuts things must be really tough and I am glad you still have a job! A lot of people don't realize just how important libraries and librarians are.

  8. Okay, first, complete kudos for being a teacher. Both of my parents were teachers and it's not all summer breaks & recess time... in fact, I wouldn't even substitute if my health depended on it. Not my gift. ; )

    But (lest I sound like a grumpy old lady), I think it would be very rewarding to be a librarian at a public school. I would totally love the more one-on-one interaction available... and spending time surrounded by books all day? Yes, please! lol.

    Thanks so much for sharing your public school librarian thoughts. : ) Kudos to you for helping keep kids literate. lol.

  9. What an interesting interview, and what a wonderful way to celebrate librarians!

    Cheers to both of you!

    -Connie @

  10. I love hearing about other folks' librarian jobs! (Except sometimes it makes me envy them :) Your students are very luck to have you, Helen!

  11. I'm at where she was! I've been teaching for 15 years and this big part of me wants to get my media license! But the 2+ years it would take stops me :(

  12. It sounds like such a great job. To be surrounded by books all day would be the job for me.

  13. I envy this job-to be surrounded by books and to see books and its books!! lots of them!!!books!!! aha
    thanks for posting this, its a great job, and one that deserves special attention because books can change peoples lives, to inspire them, and librarians are the people who organise books and encourage people to read so thankyou, i envy your job and thank you for you passion for books. :) Great Interview!

  14. What a wonderful interview. Now we know a little more about the thoughts of a librarian from a librarian :)

    cindyc725 at gmail dot com

  15. I'm so glad to see that librarians are moving with the trends and getting involved in this fast-growing technology age. I don't ever want librarians to disappear in place of computers, so it really makes me happy to see they're moving with the future. Plus students are students gaining from the additional support from a knowledgeable librarian!


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