Get to know: Rebecca Brooks

This post is part of the new blog series “Get to know AISL librarians.” We’d love to start a conversation about the similarities and differences between each of our libraries.

What is your job title?

Director of Information & Innovation, Library Division

What school do you work at?

The Madeira School in McLean, VA.

Is your school day or boarding? What grades do you serve?

Day & Boarding School; 9th-12th grades

How many other people are on the library staff at your school? What are their titles?

In addition to me (a 12 month employee in charge of the archives and library), I have another school year librarian and a part time (mostly weekend) library assistant.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Madeira follows a module system with classes changing every five weeks so depending on the mod, I may be teaching a class one block a day or it may be a mod where we only assist with our student life classes. We usually have classes in for library instruction about twice per week over the course of a mod. Of course these could be clustered at the beginning or the end of the mod depending on when the teacher releases an assignment. Additionally, I attend calendar meetings as I’m in charge of our school-wide room booking software (a technology portion of my job), department head meetings, dorm adult meetings (I’m a campus resident and work in a dormitory) plus other committee meetings as needed. The other librarian and I attempt to touch base once a day to coordinate what we’re working on and with what teachers we’re collaborating. Because I’m also in charge of the archives, I’m usually attending to research requests (internal and external) at least once a week. I tend to cluster that work into a few hours once a week (when our other librarian is in the library) since it entails time in the archives space and makes me less accessible to the community. And then there’s the email ;-). It is a constant throughout the day.

What is the biggest challenge you face as a school librarian?

Collaboration with teachers is my biggest challenge. I have buy in from one or sometimes two teachers in an academic department and working with those folks is a pleasure. Often one of us will approach the other with an idea about how to teach something and we’ll work together on how to bring the students on board and what resources we can use from the library perspective. But other than those handful of teachers, many teachers book the space in the library, but don’t ask the librarians for any instruction. And there are the teachers who just don’t utilize the library or the librarians at all. Honestly, the middle group is the most frustrating because they are in our space and blindly ignoring how we could help their students. We end up having to help students, but some are unsure if they can ask for help because the teacher hasn’t brought us into the process. But we’re always trying new approaches with those folks to make sure they know that we would like to partner with them to make the learning as enriched as possible.

What is the last book you read? Would you recommend it?

I’m in the middle of many books, but right now I’m actively reading My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor. Biographies are one of my favorites and this is not disappointing.

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