Interview by Tad Andracki, CCB Outreach Coordinator
“You have to love kids. You have to. In order to be a school librarian, you have to also love instilling a love of reading in kids, to really work toward building a culture of reading in the community you’re in. It’s hard work, but so valuable.”
To continue our spotlight on youth services adjuncts at GSLIS, the CCB reached out to Peggy Burton and Anieta Trame, school librarians in the Mattoon School District, who also teach the school library media course via LEEP. The CCB thanks Burton and Trame for their graciousness in allowing us to share their wisdom and experience with you.
Left: Peggy Burton; Right: Anieta Trame
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Can you tell me a little bit more about the classes you teach at GSLIS?
How did you end up at GSLIS? What were you doing before?
Can you tell me a bit about what you do outside your work as adjuncts? How does that enrich your teaching?
How have you seen librarianship change since you started teaching?
What advice or parting thoughts do you have for students going through the youth services or K-12 school librarianship program?
Peggy: 516LE School Library Media Center is a look at school librarianship K-12 as it is today. We cover topics that school librarians deal with in the real world on a daily basis and try to prepare students to deal with them in their career.
Anieta: We share the teaching role for this class, and it’s required for aspiring school librarians at GSLIS. It really is the practical side of being a school librarian, covering what students will actually be doing in the field
Peggy: I was a student at GSLIS from 2001-2003 getting my MLS. There I met many people who have remained good friends. One of them is Georgeann Burch, who called and asked if I would teach this course when the opening occurred.
Anieta: About fifteen years ago, my school district asked me to go back to school to get the certification requirements to become a school librarian; before this, I had been a home economics teacher. I became fast friends with other people who were pretty much doing the same thing: Georgeann and Peggy. (In fact, that’s part of the way Peggy ended up at Mattoon). Georgeann remembered the two of us when GSLIS needed instructors for this course and gave us a call.
“We really want our students to embrace that active role.”
Anieta: I’m one of four full-time librarians in the Mattoon School District, and I’m primarily at the middle school. I manage and teach in the library, but a big part of my job is building a reading culture in the school. I help form student reading committees and encourage programs for literacy across the community. On of the things these committees do is called Ready to Read Across Mattoon: the students select a book, and we send out thousands of copies into the community, challenging them to read along with us. As a practicing school librarian, I think the day-to-day aspects of my job help me teach current topics and what students really need to know. Peggy and I are very active as school librarians, and we really want our students to embrace that active role.
Peggy: My day job is as the K-5 school librarian at Williams Elementary School in Mattoon, Illinois. This is my 24th year as a school librarian and I have loved every year! In the class, we spend 3-4 class sessions talking about the new Common Core State Standards, PARRC test, teacher evaluations and teaching standards. This does not leave a lot of time to cover the library end of being a school librarian but it must be done to prepare our now school librarians for what they will face. We use guest speakers who are experts on these topics and do much research to prepare ourselves to give our students the most up-to-date information we can.
“So much of what we do revolves around technology that you have to embrace it or find a new career.”
Peggy: Technology has changed librarianship more than anything. Being able to teach this course from home and have students attending classes from Italy, Japan, Afghanistan, and other places is mind-blowing and very satisfying. Even in my elementary school so much of what we do revolves around technology that you have to embrace it or find a new career.
Anieta: I also think the role of the librarian in place with the curriculum has changed, especially with Common Core. When I started, my job was to check books in and out and get kids to read. My job still involves those things—especially getting kids to read—but I have a much more active role in helping to shape the curriculum.
Peggy: Being a school librarian is the best job in the world. I would not drive an hour each day to get to my job if I did not think so. It has many rewards and many opportunities for work in the school system and in the professional organizations. However, students must be aware that the reality is that in Illinois school librarians are usually the first to be cut when money is short. So, have a back-up plan but go after what you want.
Anieta: You have to love kids. You have to. In order to be a school librarian, you have to also love instilling a love of reading in kids, to really work toward building a culture of reading in the community you’re in. It’s hard work, but so valuable. Collaborating with your peers is extremely important, as well, and we try to make that known. Listening to ideas that other people in the field, exchanging programs: all of this is so critical to being a school librarian, and it’s a good skill to develop now.