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SD Department of Education April 2015  
 

 

TEACHER FEATURE: LAURA ALLARD

Librarian wants students to be lifelong learners, readers and library lovers

This month, we feature Laura Allard, the librarian at Memorial Middle School in Sioux Falls. The South Dakota State Library recognizes this library as an Exemplary 21st Century School Library.

How long have you been a school librarian?
I’ve been a librarian since 1997 and have worked in school libraries for seven years.

Why did you decide to become a school librarian?
I’ve known I wanted to be a librarian since I was 16. I first thought of being a school librarian when I was getting my master’s in library science. I love young adult literature, and one of my favorite parts of working at a public library was helping kids and teens find books and helping them with research projects.

What makes your school’s library an Exemplary 21st Century School Library?
I think what is foundational to Memorial gaining the Exemplary status is that our library has a lot of support from teachers and administrators.

(Click here for more information on the 21st Century School Library program.)

What kind of programming do you offer?
On an ongoing basis, we have grade-level lunch book clubs. We have also hosted a special coding class for Teen Tech Week, author Skype sessions, a winter reading festival, a spring book swap and The Reading Olympics.

Do you have special programming over the summer?
Our library is open during the summer, which is a great way for our students to enjoy the library informally and have a familiar source for reading materials during the long summer months. We especially get a lot of incoming sixth graders, which is a great way for them to feel comfortable in the building, and it’s great for me because I get to meet them first!

How are today’s school libraries different from when you were in school?
I don’t even remember my junior high library. Free reading was not emphasized in school as much when I was in junior high. One thing I hope I accomplish with the students at Memorial is that they have positive memories of the library, which hopefully translates into their being lifelong learners, readers and library lovers!

What books are popular right now?
Right now it’s all about Minecraft! Our students also love reading the YARP (Young Adult Reading Program) Teen Choice Book Award-nominated books, and of course, series like Michael Vey, Divergent and Maze Runner.

What do you like most about being a librarian?
I love that the fundamental goal of libraries and librarians is to facilitate learning in their community. This is also the biggest challenge, because a librarian’s purpose is often misunderstood. Many still see us as only “the book people” when libraries and librarians are so much more. The challenge of being a librarian today is changing perceptions.

What do you like about being the librarian at Memorial Middle School?
I love our students, and I love our teachers!

How do you keep learning?
I read the School Library Journal, Teacher Librarian and Knowledge Quest. I follow a lot of Twitter feeds and have set up several Google alerts for topics I am particularly interested in. I am looking forward to summer to catch up on some of my professional reading. I also enjoy taking online classes from the American Library Association and other professional organizations.

 
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