The Library Is a Living Thing

The Library Is a Living Thing
School Events

Since this is my 20-year Bay-nniversary, I have been thinking a lot about the library and how much has changed since its early years. When we moved into 35 Keyes in August 2005, the library had only 250 books. I remember feverishly buying books and arranging them on the shelves using book easels so they didn’t look empty. 

The books I chose then were based on the collection development guidelines I learned in library school: award-winning books, well-reviewed books, books related to the curriculum, and books that my patron demographic—in this case, teachers and teens—would like to read. I didn’t consider diversity and representation in those early days.  

About 10 years ago, I found that the guidelines I learned in library school in 2000 had led to a collection that reflected the dominant demographics of our society—white, heterosexual, and male. This was eye-opening, but it makes sense: Who wins the most awards? Whose books are more likely to be reviewed? Who has access to decision-makers in publishing? While there are, of course, many books written by white male authors that are indispensable pieces of literature, I want to make sure our students have access to the many different kinds of voices and ways of storytelling that exist out there in the world. I am now much more thoughtful and aware of the demographics of the authors as I curate the collection. 

On the academic front, I regularly collaborate with teachers to support research projects using both print and online resources. This collaboration can include in-class presentations on utilizing Google search tools in 10th-grade Civics or searching academic databases like Proquest and JSTOR in 11th-grade American Studies. A recent Advanced Composition research assignment entailed a “field trip” to the library to check books out and get one-on-one assistance in formatting MLA citations. 
Bay School librarian Rachel Shaw

One thing that has not changed since the first year of Bay is how much I enjoy being around our students. Every day, I am entertained and/or enlightened. Just last year, a junior filled me in on #booktok, a community on TikTok where readers film impassioned book reviews. With the student’s help, our library’s #booktok display in the new book section (just past the door to my office) was created. Rom-coms, tragic and depressing tales, and mysteries are flying.

Each day I come to work, I focus on the things that are really important: fostering a welcoming library space, being present with students, and providing resources to the Bay community. Most of all, I feel grateful to be Bay’s founding librarian.

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The Library Is a Living Thing