In 75-100 words, tell us who you are
As a girl, Pat Middleswart (Dike) was my stellar teacher librarian. Thanks to her example, I knew I wanted to be a librarian. I forgot about that a bit when I went to the University of Iowa, where I studied journalism. I met my future husband there, dropped out, and soon was a stay-at-home with five children. I had many iterations as a college student until finally finding UNI's 2+2 program from which I graduated in 2009 with an elementary education degree. Right after that, I started at the University of Missouri, earning my MLIS. It took me 21 years to get my bachelor's degree and a year and a half to get my master's!
In one or two sentences, tell us what your current professional position.
I'm in my third year as K-12 Teacher Librarian/Technology Integrationist at Manson Northwest Webster Schools. I love working with preschoolers one day and high school seniors the next. The coolest things I've done this year are start the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program with our preschool teachers, and work with a sixth grade student group as they present a weekly video news program.
Your current job
What are your top three responsibilities or goals?
My top three responsibilities as a teacher librarian are to empower students to become lifelong learners, build the collection and program so people want to be in the library space or use library services, and to make classroom teachers' lives easier!
How do you set priorities, especially if assigned to multiple buildings?
I do work in two buildings, and mostly, while in a particular building, I try to focus on the work of that building. And I pretty much wear blinders, focusing on the next project, which does get me in trouble sometimes.
Who is your biggest supporter and why?
My daughter, Libby! She's been my biggest supporter as I went back to college as a nontraditional student (I graduated from UNI the semester she started there). Plus she almost always listens patiently as I tell her long, drawn-out stories of my escapades. (I hope she'll get her MLIS eventually but she's a great ESL teacher so maybe we just have different callings in life.)
How do you stay current (in technology, literature, instruction, pop culture, etc.)?
Twitter, RSS (yes! really!), Wired Magazine
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
Finding things in my office or worse, my email inbox
What’s the best (or worst) part about working with young people?
Best part are hugs (obviously!) and when a student says how I've positively impacted their lives. The worst part is when a student moves away.
What are you passionate about?
Makerspace, video production, MOOCs, 3D modeling and printing with elementary students
What are you most proud of as a teacher librarian and IASL president?
As a TL, I'm proud of the program I've built here. The collection has improved greatly thanks to weeding and moving to the bookstore model.
As IASL president, I'm really proud of what we accomplished this spring at the Capitol, getting TLs off of the operational function list.
I serve on the North Central regional advisory board of the Governor's STEM council, I am secretary of Iowa Student Learning Institute (ISLI), and I serve on the North Iowa Library Collaborating Board.
Advice and Inspiration
What advice do you have for current and future librarians?
Go for it! School librarianship is so much fun, and if you have good administrators like I do, you get to write your own job description and make this job one for which you never, ever bemoan getting out of bed.
Who is your mentor and why? How did you meet this person?
Tori Ross, Children's Librarian at Nashville Public Libraries in Tennessee. She was my public librarian when my children were young and was such an inspiration to watch as she worked with children. She is really who convinced me to go back to school at 32, just through her example. Since then, she's served as a mentor and sounding board, even from nearly 1,000 miles away.
How do you respond when someone says ”All you do is check in/out books and shelve them.”
I'd try not to laugh and I'd ask them to spend a day with me!
If you could have one visitor to your library for a day who would it be and why?
I'd love to have Kate DiCamillo come as an author visit. I heard her speak on a book tour for Because of Winn Dixie years ago, and I've been a fan ever since. I book-talk her books all the time - but The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, I only book talk to very special students who I know will appreciate it because it would break my heart if someone didn't love it like I do. (I know you aren't supposed to do that, but I have my reasons why that book is so special to me.) Plus I think she'd appreciate the things we do in the library, and would have great ideas about what we could do next.
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