Thanks to Diane Brown for conducting this interview!
In 75-100 words, tell us who you are
I majored in English (UI 2002) and talked English for ten years because I’ve always been a story person, I became an English teacher because I love talking with people about reading and writing stories, and now I’m a librarian (UI 2011) because I’ve finally realized that stories are everywhere—and it’s a librarian’s job to help people uncover and connect all kinds of stories.
In one or two sentences, tell us what your current professional position.
As the teacher librarian at Northview Middle School in Ankeny, Iowa, I spend my days working with 8th and 9th grade students and teachers on research, information literacy, reading, and more.
Your current job
How do you know if you have made progress?
I know I’ve made progress with students when they start asking thoughtful questions or start talking about connections between skills and content in other subject areas. I know I’ve made progress with teachers when they come to me and say things like “Can we talk about authentic audiences for my students’ next inquiry project?” instead of “Can you pull all the books about rocks?”
Advice and Inspiration
What is a cause or issue that is important to you in librarianship?
The freedom to read is extremely important to me, but just as important is the need for open communication between librarians, teachers, students, and parents. As librarians we can’t just trumpet the freedom to read and create cute displays during Banned Books Week; we have a responsibility to use the library to create a safe space for conversations about both the questions books raise with us and the parts of ourselves that books reflect and illuminate. The freedom to read is nothing without the freedom to discuss the ideas we find in books.
Just for Fun
If you could have one visitor to your library for a day who would it be and why?
I’d bring John Green to my school because I think he’s basically the whole package—for teachers and for students. Through service work like the Project for Awesome and educational YouTube channels like VlogBrothers and CrashCourse, John Green and his brother Hank are reaching the best parts of young people in a vibrant, intelligent ways that makes me smile, cry, and strive to be more like them. If John Green came to our school, we would be reminded that thinking is cool, books are awesome, and helping people comes naturally from learning.
Print or digital materials?
Print. I love holding books in my hand.
If you would like me to link to your or your library’s website, please provide the link.
You can reach me out.