Interview With a Librarian: Nicole Ellis

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This blog post is a part of my Interview With a Librarian series.   I interview librarians who share their career stories and the books they love.  You can see all my other interviews here!

This week I’m chatting with Nicole Ellis.  She’s the librarian at La Vernia High School and the lead librarian for her district.  Enjoy her interview!

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Q. Tell us a little about yourself.

This is my 7th year in education and 3rd year as a librarian. I have two children – ages 4 and 2, and my husband and I run a hobby farm in our spare time.

Q. How long have you been working in libraries and how did you get your start?

This is my 3rd year as a high school and lead librarian. I made the switch to librarianship after 4 1/2 years of teaching. I was always a “library kid” when growing up.   I spent my school year hanging out in my school library and my summers begging for a ride to the nearest public library. I grew up out in the country before satellite television and cell phones, and books were an escape for me then and they remain so now.

Q. What is your favorite thing about working in libraries?

I love the types of relationships I get to build with students. It is so different from teaching. I am one of the few people on campus who has time to really sit and talk to students, to hear them out, listen to their problems and struggles and pair them with a book that will help them through whatever they are going through. I love the expression on kids’ faces when they come back after reading a book that has helped them deal with something they are going through – the realization that they are not alone, it does get better, and there is a solution. That validation can often not be provided by adults.

Q. What is the most challenging thing about working in libraries?

The constant attacks (yes, I said attacks) from other entities in our institution for space, money, staff, etc. I feel I am constantly having to defend all of those resources – and in turn, it affects my ability to serve the students in my school.

Q. What are some of your favorite books?

Where the Red Fern Grows, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Throne of Glass series and I am going to have to stop myself there, because I could go on forever!

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Q. What are you currently reading?

Winter by Marissa Meyer and I am rereading LOTR.

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Q. Tell us about something you’ve done in or for your library of which you’re very proud.

I have established a MakerSpace that my teenage boys LOVE in my library. It is incredible to watch them come racing in every Monday to see what the new MakerSpace Challenge is.

Q. If money was no object, what one thing would you do to improve your library now?

I would purchase teen-friendly furniture. All of the furniture in my library is heavy, wooden and dated. It is NOT comfortable at all. I want my library to become more of a learning commons and I feel like our atmosphere is migrating that way, but our furniture is not.

Q. What are your favorite professional development resources?

Twitter (I know I should not admit to this, but I learn SO MUCH from other librarians who are on Twitter). I also love the list-servs and annual conferences. I learn so much from other librarians, so any resource that connects me to them is a favorite.

Q. Any words of wisdom you’d like to share with new librarians?

A mentor librarian of mine once told me that being a librarian is like being on an island by yourself in the sea of educators around you. I did not believe her at the time, but now that I have done this for a few years, that is a very accurate metaphor! As the librarian, I am neither a teacher nor administrator, yet I often fulfill the roles of both – however, neither groups see me as being part of them! It can be easy to get lost on your campus with so unique an identity, so you need to own that unique identity! You are the LIBRARIAN on your campus – make sure everyone knows it and knows that you are there to help them with whatever it is they struggle with. Be positive and welcoming to all and your position won’t be so isolating.

Many thanks to Nicole for sharing her story with us.  Please leave her a comment below to let her know you appreciate her.  If you’d like to be featured in an upcoming interview, please fill out this form.

Title image courtesy of Aleksi Tappura via UnSplash.  Head shot courtesy of Nicole Ellis.  

One thought on “Interview With a Librarian: Nicole Ellis

  1. I am a new librarian in a great school in Alabama. It has been eight years since I finished my MLIS, so I am having to re-learn everything that my mentor teacher taught me. I was glad to hear your thoughts on PD. I will definitely check out Twitter.

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