Ask A High School Librarian!

In order to celebrate School Library Month we are reaching out to different school librarians to highlight the work they do! We will be posting our interviews with them through out the month. 

My name is Teresa Tartaglione and I am the campus librarian at the Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Campus in Manhattan. I serve six high schools and have been in this position for 7.5 years, a school librarian for 9 years.

This year has been a strange one–we just opened a brand new library space and I am out on maternity leave right now, so there was a lot of set up and getting new policies in place and not a lot of programming, just my book club, who read the most books contest and weekly literary trivia. When it’s a normal year, I have had a coding club, movie afternoons, book swaps, blind date with a book, author visits, and crafts and coloring.

Because my schedule is flexible, there really isn’t an average/not average day because things are different all the time!  I might have a day where the schedule is empty of classes and the library is full of students enjoying open access during their lunch periods. Students play chess, browse for books, read comics, do homework, use the computers for college research, and hang out with their friends. Other days, I’ll have teachers bring their classes in for lessons. I typically teach research based lessons, so things like evaluating websites and  accessing and navigating library databases. Lately, we’ve been having great conversations about the concept of real news vs. fake news and bias in the news.

Because I am on a campus and there are separate schools in one building, I write a monthly newsletter highlighting the goings on in the library so everyone knows what’s going on. I send emails to teachers advertising library services and soliciting book requests. I also often create bookmarks and pamphlets and leave them in teacher mailboxes. I typically rely on word of mouth because I couldn’t possibly reach the hundreds of teachers in my building, but if they tell each other about a good experience, I am likely to see new faces.

For students, I meet all of the freshmen at freshmen orientation in the fall and hope that being introduced to the library leads them to come back!  Once they are library users, I solicit their input for orders and programming suggestions so they have something to look forward to!

I decided I wanted to be a school librarian while taking a young adult literature class as an undergrad.  A classmate and I applied for and won a Read Across America grant. We used the money to put on a bunch of programming in the local public middle and high schools. I loved spending my days in the library and seeing the librarian interact with students. By my senior year, I had decided to become a librarian, had secured an internship in that same high school library and applied to library school.

In New York State, you must have a teaching license and a masters degree in library and information sciences, focusing on school librarianship, to work in a school. We take the same exams and must have the same licensing qualifications as classroom teachers, so we are just as much teachers as we are librarians. Many prefer the term teacher-librarian!

My favorite moment of being a school librarian was the first day of school this year!  We were just opening our brand new library and our students were seeing it for the first time. They were so amazing and excited to see their new space. I loved every second of watching their expressions and seeing how excited they were!

I think school librarian is the best job in the building!  We serve all students and all teachers and our job is to not only teach and provide materials, but to help people learn to love reading!