I had the opportunity to hang out with Debbie in the beautiful Ingram Library at Ensworth in Nashville, Tennessee, a few years ago. The first thing I noticed is how many kids stopped by, just to say hello. She knew everyone by name and remembered exactly which book each student was reading. And, as if that wasn’t enough, she told them she’d have the next book they needed waiting for them! It’s easy to see that she values the relationships she has with her students and faculty. She’s not only created a warm, welcoming environment, but she’s established a high level of trust among her students. She’s a go-to person at her school, and there’s no doubt she makes the school library the heart of her school. She inspires me to be a librarian who is an asset to my school, to build positive relationships with students and faculty, to be a leader, to be kind, and to make the library central to the school community.
How long have you been a librarian?
This is my 22nd year as a librarian. I have been in my current position for 21 years.
What do you enjoy the most about being a librarian?
I love to work with the students and teachers. I like to discover and share new books, help students with research projects, and work with faculty to enrich their curriculum.
How do you partner with or collaborate with faculty?
Most of my collaboration is done informally. I am a middle school advisor as well as librarian, so I see the faculty a lot and we are able to discuss what they are doing and how I can help.
What challenges do you regularly face and how do you overcome them or handle them?
We have a fixed schedule, and while I mainly identify as middle school faculty, I also teach fourth and fifth grade classes. When a special schedule is being run by either division, my schedule is disrupted. I have learned to roll with it and sometimes have two classes in at one time.
How has your job changed over the years?
My job has become less centered on me and more centered on what the students need our time together to be.
What advice do you have to share with librarians?
You have the best job in the world, enjoy it. You will never completely finish most tasks, but just keep plugging away.
School libraries…should be the hub of the school. School libraries should be the place where everyone feels welcome.
What inspires you and helps challenge you to grow professionally?
The love of the students and the desire to help my colleagues helps me find ways to grow professionally.
Thank you, Debbie, for answering my questions!
Debbie Sandwith is the Librarian for grades 4-8 at The Ensworth School in Nashville, TN.