Seattle Public Schools

Celebrating School Librarians

Summary: April is School Library Month! The annual celebration highlights the role libraries, librarians, and library workers play in transforming lives!

More to the Story: SPS celebrates School Library Month 

April is School Library Month. The annual celebration highlights the valuable role media specialists, school libraries, and library workers play in transforming lives and strengthening our communities. Join us as we celebrate our amazing school librarians like Marjorie Dowd, the librarian at Coe Elementary (pictured above).

The role of a school librarian is an integral part of the instructional programming of the school. They teach all users the skill of locating, evaluating, using, and citing information through various resources. Libraries are often called media centers, and librarians are called media and technology specialists. But that doesn’t change the fact that the school library is where students learn to be effective users of ideas and information. 

Seattle Public Schools recognizes the importance of our librarians/media specialists. Here’s what many students, colleagues, and parents had to say about their school librarian. 

Paula Wittman, West Woodland Elementary 

“Our librarian can suggest the best books for our students because she knows them (the students and books) so well! She is a master!” – Heidi Nielson, colleague 

Logan Reichert, Cleveland STEM High School 

“One thing I’ve learned from our librarian is how to apply to colleges and get financial aid.” – Andre Bacon, student 

Logan Reichert smiles for a photo in a school library
Logan Reichert, Cleveland STEM High School 

Sarah Johnson, Seattle World School 

“I learn so much from our librarian! I appreciate how she can find resources for our students in their home languages and supports them with their technology skills.” – Leung Eva, colleague  

Kelsey Klug, McClure Middle School 

“I learned how to figure out if a source is trustworthy, how to think critically, and lots of amazing book recommendations!” – Maggie Elias, student 

Mary Bannister, Louisa Boren STEM K-8 

“One thing I’ve learned from our librarian is about mystery novels and red herrings.” – Rosie Selle, student 

“So many things, but here’s one that may not always be connected with library service: To ensure that ALL our students have access to library materials that reflect themselves and the world we live are acts of kindness and love on an incomparable level that sets a high, compassionate bar for the entire community. We are so lucky at STEM to have Ms. Bannister, who works relentlessly towards those principles.” –Deborah Giza, colleague 

“If I can only list one of the things I’ve learned from Mrs. B, then I’d like to give a shout out to her dedication to making sure all of students see themselves in our school’s book collection!” – Shawna Murphy, parent 

“One thing I’ve learned from our librarian is the power to organize books by categories and interest area so that kids can more easily find books; and the power of library book titles that represent various identities.” – Mary Ann Lambert, parent   

Mary Bannister smiles for a photo in a school library
Mary Bannister, Louisa Boren STEM K-8 

Audra Gallegos, Lawton Elementary 

“Ms. Gallegos does a great job getting kids excited about library day each week! She has made a great system for keeping the books in bags to make it easy to keep them safe and easy to identify at home. She invites students to bring a friend to a group lunch in the library for a special opportunity. She has helped us as parents know what our kids may be interested in for the next steps in reading. Thank you for this and much more!” – Kelsey Leighton, parent 

“She strives for inclusive books and lessons, is so thoughtful when she engages with kids, and shows true compassion and love for her job guiding these tiny, emerging readers.” – Kamila Kilayko, parent 

Deborah Gallagher, Roosevelt High School 

“My librarian has helped me learn that there is so much more to a librarian than just working with books but with students. She is the kindest faculty member I know and is willing to [get to] know a student on a personal level. She is super enthusiastic to hear about my sports and is someone I can go talk to about probably anything. She also does work outside of my school by working with the Skills Center. I believe Deborah is super underappreciated for the work she does and the impact she makes on students.” – Nora Wilson, student 

TuesD Chambers, Ballard High School 

“Ms. Chambers shows each and every day that her energy and commitment to the reading lives of students at Ballard is boundless. She is an ardent advocate for forward-thinking library services that center around the lives of her students.” – Rebecca Wynkoop, parent 

Chris Robert, Roxhill Elementary 

“Mr. Robert is an inspiring storyteller. I learned how to engage students better when reading aloud. I learned how to reengage students when they lost focus. Mr. Robert goes above and beyond; he creates songs that relate to the students of Roxhill and uses the songs to greet the students each time they visit the library. He even takes learning outside the walls of the library. I remember once we were going to read a story about a dragon that got his feeling hurt. Before we started, he played a video of him going around Seattle searching for dragons. He is the next Mr. Rogers for sure. No one has more enthusiasm for reading and learning.” – Jade Selle, colleague 

Audrey Rahmn, Olympic Hills Elementary  

“Ms. Rahmn is a really kind, fun, and patient librarian at Olympic Hills Elementary. She’s always finding fun and engaging books and activities for our students. This includes doing the Global Reading Challenge and bringing the fun Lake City librarian to us. She’s made all of our school appreciate books, and we appreciate Ms. Rahmn!” – Cindy Lara, colleague 

American Indian Resource Library

Seattle Public Schools has an American Indian Resource Library (AIRL) housed at Meany Middle School. The AIRL has thousands of books to loan: new and classic fiction; young adult, elementary, middle, and high school collections, teacher reference, and more organized by all sorts of related topics, including commemorative months, recorded webinars and book talks. The AIRL is on the SPS library list for Destiny Discover! 

2022 Celebration of SPS School Librarians

From Olympic Hills to Rainier View and every school in between, Seattle Public Schools librarians are taking on innovative roles in their schools.

Gone are the days when librarians simply checked out materials and hosted book fairs. Today, librarians play a pivotal part in supporting classroom teachers and helping students discover the joys of reading.

April is School Library Month. The annual celebration highlights the valuable role libraries, librarians, and library workers play in transforming lives and strengthening our communities.  

For the Love of Books: Chris Robert 

Chris Robert has divided his day between Roxhill and Highland Park elementary schools for six years.

Chris Roberts poses for a photo

He is one of 13 librarians who splits their time between two schools. Having spent 20 years in the classroom, Robert is in his 8th year as a teacher-librarian at Roxhill Elementary and his 6th at Highland Park.

His experience as a teacher has served him well in his role, as he is able to help his colleagues in several ways. 

“One important part of my job is collaborating or assisting teachers with units they may be doing in their classrooms,” he said. “It might be in the form of making teachers aware of hard copy and online materials that they might want to use, or it might be a teacher asking me to gather materials for an upcoming unit of study.”  

Robert spends several hours a week gathering resources to put together lessons about a variety of topics. From Black History Month to Earth Day, he has made it a point to find ways for students to see themselves reflected in the books the library offers. 

Robert sees seven to eight classes a day for 35 minutes each in the Highland Park and Roxhill libraries. He starts each session with the “library song.” He takes a one-minute snippet of a popular song and rewrites the lyrics to something that has to do with books, the library, or reading. He has a different tune every two months. 

“Our library song right now is to the tune of ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’ from the movie ‘Encanto,” he explained. “It’s called ‘We Go to the Library.’” 

Robert said he – like most librarians – wants his libraries to be a place where students feel joy around books. 

“Here, it’s about the love of books.” 

More Than Books: TuesD Chambers

At Ballard High School, TuesD Chambers can barely contain her excitement.

TuesD Chambers poses for a photo by a display of books

Her love for her role as teacher-librarian is evident throughout the library. She has made the room a place where students can connect. There is a room for arts and crafts, areas for clubs to gather, and spaces for classes to meet. 

“What I believe is with any library it has to be more than books,” she said. “Your library has to be the heart of the school for everyone.” 

When the pandemic forced schools to close for nearly a year, Chambers had to get creative to attract students to check out books.

She organized curbside book checkouts – but with a twist. Students with a green thumb could pick up plant starters. One check-out day had a pet parade, and another had a band playing. The excitement around the library continued once schools reopened.

With the help of students, she created a group called Library Leaders. The goal is to build a community where everyone can be included, even if they don’t like to read. 

“We’ve done everything from ‘Blind Date with Books’ to podcasts to playlists to decorating the library … I learned pretty quickly that a library can’t exist with just one person.” 

Like Robert, Chambers also spends the bulk of her day supporting classrooms. Her library opens early and is usually packed with students before she even arrives. Once school begins, Chambers will spend four or five periods a day co-teaching a class. 

“I’m constantly doing the things teachers don’t have time to do,” she said. “I’m supporting staff in a way that I hope makes their lives easier and makes it more seamless for students to get resources.” 

Chambers knows the value of her role as Ballard’s teacher-librarian and others throughout the district. She is proud of the way students have found their place and built a community in her library. 

“To me, this is the biggest classroom in the school.”  

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