Rose Hill Middle School Librarian Roars!
Welcome to Library Lions interviews. We Raise a Roar for libraries and the outstanding librarians serving youth in schools and public libraries across the U.S. Please Roar our first guest for 2017 teacher-librarian Bethany Steirer!
Hi there! I am Bethany Steirer, and I am the librarian at Rose Hill Middle School in beautiful Redmond, Washington.
While this is my 6th year as a librarian, it is my 16th year in education! I am currently the district’s secondary lead librarian as well and have helped to coordinate a teacher-librarian summit over the summer with our local educational service district (Puget Sound ESD). Last year’s theme was “Build a Better Library.” Here is a pic from the conference.
I have always loved reading! It is always amazing how quickly I can get absorbed in a book. I will never forget when my middle school librarian gave me a copy of Homecoming by Cynthia Voight and I was hooked immediately. I wanted to be Dicey Tillerman and knew that she just had to make it! Books have a power to hook you in characters’ lives.
There are so many things that I love about my work! I strive to make the library a fun place for a kid to be at, with monthly events, changing displays, and lunchtime activities. My goal is to always offer events and books that will appeal to a wide variety of students. I also love book talks, collaborating with teachers and staff, our Makerspace, and research, are just a few of my favorite things.
What I think is best about what I do is that no day is ever the same. Working with over 900 students and 50 staff means that each day is an adventure. Whether it is helping a student create a perfect citation for their works cited page or putting an amazing book in a student’s hand, it is a joy to do what I do.
A Mighty Roar!
I believe that libraries are an integral part of our school. Students know that it is a place where they can find information both physically and electronically. With so much digital information available to students, it is key that they have a place to go to find reliable information. I believe one of my professional responsibilities is to make sure that I teach students how to find reliable information as well as giving them places they can go to find that information.
Not only are libraries critical for information literacy skills, but, I believe, that pleasure reading is a key to keeping students constantly learning. As a result, having a librarian to help students find the perfect book is critical. I spent an entire week in December holding book talks with our sixth and eighth graders, and it is amazing to watch a group of students who think there aren’t any good books anymore race to the cart to get a book before someone else does. Life-long reading helps to instill life-long learning.
A Lion’s Pride of Programs
There are so many programs that we have started that are so much fun! The first one is our Makerspace.
We have multiple aspects to our Makerspace that runs at lunches. We have our take-apart station, K’nex pieces, computers to create 3-D models we can print out on 3-D printers, a new Lego wall, and a monthly design challenge. Also, our public librarian comes in monthly and offers a one-day Makerspace event that is highly popular.
(Makerspace partnership with Public Library)
Another program that has been fun to offer for the students in our district is that three years ago all the middle school librarians decided that we would start a Battle of the Books competition for our schools. We are in our third year, and kids are loving the opportunity to show their reading skills.
The last “program” that I love about our library are all the different reading promotions throughout the year. This year we are doing “Bookopoly” where kids have a card (similar looking to Monopoly) and fill in the spaces when they read a book.
We also do monthly promotions like Blind Date With a Book (books wrapped in blank paper with only a few descriptors and a barcode).
And March Book Madness (where kids vote on their favorite book, bracket style), and more.
These fun activities in combination with lunch time activities promote the library as an exciting place for all students.
One of my favorite stories comes from when I had sixth graders in researching for a biology unit. Each student chose a different animal or organism to study. One 6th grade girl asked me where she could find information on a Mockingjay. With a smile on my face, I told her that a Mockingjay was a creature created by Suzanne Collins for her Hunger Games series, and was not a real bird. I pointed her to information on both the mockingbird and the blue jay. I love that students become so engrossed in fiction that they sometimes forget that what they are reading isn’t real.
Readers Roar: Let’s hear from the kids!
“The library is a place where I can relax with a good book, where people are so nice and love to help people find the right book. Where you feel comfy and cozy after talking with nice people with great hearts. Yes, the library is a place where you go to read, but you feel like you are with a family” Grace, 6th grade
“This library is almost like a safe haven. You come in, and there is a whole new atmosphere to work in. Mrs. Steirer is always happy to help you find a book, and that makes the library great.” Xavier, 6th grade
“I think this library feels like my very own HQ (headquarters)” Solomon, 7th grade
“Reading is like an open door into a whole new world.” Kyanna, 7th grade
We love having authors visit our building and try to have one every year! The perfect author visit would be one where every student had read the author’s books (this has yet to happen), and the author grips the students from the very beginning. Having technology to accompany the talk is always nice, and the ability to relate to middle school students is always a plus.
One Last Roar
I love the work that I get to do every day in my school’s library. While libraries are changing to meet with the digital age, I encourage everyone to make sure that they are still investing in libraries. They are a community meeting place and a fount of knowledge for all!
Thank you, Bethany, for the terrific and informative interview! The Rose Hill Middle School Library sounds like a hoppin’ place!
Note to Librarians: If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library, we’d love to hear about you and your library. Email Janet via the Contact page on this website to set up an interview.
Note to Authors: If you’re interested in Roaring for Libraries on this blog, contact Janet