Libraries are getting a whole lot of love this month! April is School Library Month, this week (April 9th-15th) is Library Week, and April 11th is Library Workers Day… which basically means we are celebrating all things library all month long!
I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share a little bit about Deimosa Webber-Bey, one of Scholastic’s wonderful librarians. I learned a lot about Deimosa just from the few questions I had for her, and this could be a great time to reach out and learn a little bit about your local/school librarian too—check out our Q&A below!
NKO: Happy Library Workers Day, Deimosa! We are all so lucky to have you and appreciate all that you do for us on a daily basis; but I’m sure not everyone knows that Scholastic has its own in-house librarian (which is a pretty cool job if you ask me!) For those who don’t know, can you talk a little about what you do here at our library and how you started?
DWB: Hi Nicole! Thanks so much for the library love, and you are right. People are often surprised that I am a librarian at Scholastic – when in fact there are four of us! I started here as an intern while I was in library school, worked here part-time afterwards, and I got the opportunity to join the staff permanently in April 2014. In fact, my 3 year anniversary is this week. As the Senior Library Manager I work closely with Karen Van Rossem, the Senior Information Specialist (who has worked in The Scholastic Library & Archive for nineteen years) and our two library assistants, Tim and Marina. My favorite thing that I do in my job is facilitate our employee book club; last month Bill Konigsberg joined us to discuss his latest YA novel Honestly Ben. However, our dual purpose is to maintain and circulate items in the corporate archive, which contains everything we’ve published going back to 1920, and to do research, reference, and readers’ advisory for Scholastic employees.
NKO: Wow! What a journey. From a library school intern to Senior Library Manager, you’ve come such a long way! You and the rest of the library staff are such great resources for information on books and all things Scholastic in general. And from working with you personally, I know that you are a wealth of knowledge! What was it that made you interested in library education?
DWB: I love to read, I love libraries, and I love teenagers – taught them for years. So when I saw an advertisement for a teen librarian job I took a chance and applied. I didn’t have a library degree (yet), but I had a MSEd in English Language Arts, which was similar. The Rio Rancho Public Library took a chance on me, I fell in love with the job instantly, and my supervisor and coworkers taught me the basics: reference, readers’ advisory, collection development, and programming. However, what made me fall in love with the field of librarianship was attending the American Library Association’s annual conference. Tens of thousands of librarians, soooo many books, authors, sessions on graphic novels and zines, the Black Caucus, library school recruiters, the library book cart drill team championship… I wasn’t sure what kind of librarian I would ultimately be, but I knew that ALA annual was the type of professional conference I wanted in my life. A few years later I found myself at Pratt Institute School of Information, focusing on Digital Humanities and sewing together data visualizations about quilting during the era of slavery.
NKO: That sounds like so much fun! I’m sure attending a conference like ALA was an amazing opportunity for you. It seems like you have truly come to love what you do as a librarian. I’m curious… was there a librarian in your life that influenced you?
DWB: In my case it was my classroom teacher – Jackie Lichtenstein, who I had in 1st, 3rd, and 5th grade. She read aloud to us in the afternoon every day; Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, and The People Could Fly are among the books that I specifically remember her reading. Ms. Lichtenstein also used the Scholastic Reading Clubs flyers to facilitate book ownership for all of us and to build her classroom library. Each month I would mark up the entire order form, and then my father would tell me that I only had $20, I had to get a new flyer and make hard choices. I discovered some of my favorite books ever through Reading Clubs, particularly I Want to Go Home, The Girl with The Silver Eyes, and The Baby-Sitters Club series. Truth be told, Ms. Lichtenstein influenced me in hundreds of ways; when I was a teacher I was always striving to recreate the classroom that I thrived in, which was hers, integrating technology, making things, and fostering a love of reading. My former P.S. 106Q classmates can attest, you hear about teaching methods and library trends that are ‘new’ and realize – Ms. Lichtenstein used to do that. She set us up for success.
NKO: That’s the wonderful thing about educators; they have the power to leave an everlasting impression on the many students they teach. And fostering a love of reading is not always the easiest thing to do with children, but it is so important to find creative and fun ways to encourage it. Ms. Lichtenstein would most definitely be proud of you today! As a final note, what is one thing you’d like to share with our readers in honor of School Library Month?
DWB: The main thing that I would like to share is that my colleagues here at Scholastic have put together reports full of data that validate the school librarian/library’s existence. School Libraries Work! collates a range of studies showing a positive correlation between having a school librarian and improved reading scores. The Kids & Family Reading Report shows that 95% of parents agree that “every child deserves to have a school library.” ‘Because school libraries empower students’, this year’s theme from the American Association of School Librarians, is something we all know to be qualitatively true based on our own lived experience. However, having quantitative data that backs up all of our feels is important.
"The school library isn’t just a perk, it’s a necessity!"