I just spent my Spring Break coercing my friends, neighbors, parents and colleagues to help me rip up books. Yes, I am the Upper School Librarian at Dana Hall School. You did read that right: I spent my vacation destroying books. I exaggerate. I completely decimated one copy of the 2016 Fiske College Guide. I used it to make art. I turned Fiske’s pages into roses, as taught to me by one of the student workers at the library. A year or so ago, when asked what she could do to improve the library she began to take old books intended for donation and turn them into book roses. This student inspired me with her power to make old things new; I began to take old technology and books and make something …else. Something that makes me smile: book art. Yes, maybe I should have gone to a beach or a museum, but I will say that making something new from a pile of trash brought me to remember why I became a librarian in the first place.
Libraries are forever reinventing their spaces and their offerings all in the service of learning and collaborating with the community. This means I DO NOT spend every moment of everyday checking out books or putting stickers on them. In fact the librarians of Dana Hall, — or the Varsity Library Squad, as we like to call ourselves — spend most days planning projects with other departments, classes with other teachers, events and workshops for students and the greater Dana community, and sometimes we even coordinate national library conferences. When I first began my post-college career in library science at the Croton Free Library I remember learning how to write html, build a beanstalk to adorn the children’s room entrance, tell stories, and make balloon animals. In the service of helping people and making them smile I have acquired some random but wonderful knowledge.
The Helen Temple Cooke Library has had some wonderful offerings in the seven years I’ve been here. I’ve seen librarians teach students to map areas of the world to help NGOs distribute goods and services. I’ve watched crafts of all shapes and dimensions be made by students and librarians from what seems to be scrap. I’ve seen and taught countless classes and had many discussions about reliable sources for research. Lately, we’ve been questing for better primary sources on North Korea. I’ve facilitated book and poetry discussions via Skype with schools in Turkey and South Africa. I’ve hosted alumnae and their children for storytime. I’ve definitely dressed up like Obi-Wan Kenobi, a synchronized swimmer, and a beauty queen.
If this doesn’t sound like a regular job to you it’s because there is no regular day for a librarian, or one of our amazing student workers. I think that may very well be the best part of being a librarian, especially at Dana Hall. Every day brings a new project or question to answer, new books or movies to devour, or a reinvention of the space to make the library new. All in the name of learning new skills, welcoming more people and having a great deal of fun. Who wouldn’t want this job?
I don’t blame you. We are a hoot and a holler and post a lot of our library shenanigans and escapades into learning on our Instagram account. I wrote this post because as I put the final touches on my latest VCR creation I couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of pride. I am a member of the Library Squad. We’ve got a regular column in the Hallmanac if you’d like to hear what the students have to say. Come out and support…us.