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Virginia Journal of Education

Name: Shelley Murray     
Position: librarian at Meadowbrook High School
Local Assn.: Chesterfield Education Association     
Years worked in education: 23

What is a typical school day like for you?
The day starts with a 100-yard sprint, as students come in to print their homework, teachers need help with equipment or materials, and students check out books and pick up passes for lunchtime or for our daily content-recovery period. And then it’s 7:25, the bell rings to start the day, and we get a quick breath. The rest of the day could include any of these: planning an assignment with a teacher; helping students find “just the right book”; troubleshooting–and often fixing–an issue with audio-visual delivery systems in one or eight classrooms; teaching research skills to classes who have come to the library to do a project; teaching teachers how to find what they need in the catalog or in unitedstreaming or the subscription databases; working one-on-one with a student who can’t remember how to cite sources or how to make software do what he wants it to do; and re-setting passwords. There’s also lunch–we do insist on taking 25 minutes for that! Our library is open after school, and there may be a Literacy Committee meeting, or PLC, or SLC (it doesn’t matter what those initials stand for–all teachers have them)  or an evening meeting that needs a projector set up…
What do you like about your job? 
I’ll quote Forrest Gump: “it’s like a box of chocolates.” Every day is different – and active and busy. I used to come to work with a list of things I hoped to accomplish; now I come with one or two ideas about the day – and those may or may not happen, but it’s still a good day.

What is hard about your job?
We see so many opportunities when we feel that we can offer training or suggestions that would help our fellow teachers, and there is so little time to actually do that. I miss the close personal connections I had with students when I was a classroom teacher (12 years of teaching English 11).

What are some of the most fun and unusual things that have happened on the job? 
We have the special days, like Read Across America, Teen Read Week and the African-American Read-in, which give us opportunities to share special student performances. These are always a huge treat. There is the fun of watching a teenager come in and grumble “you don’t have anything I want to read,” then finding something for him, and then having him come back to say “do you have any more like that?” I am the coordinator at our school for the International Baccalaureate’s Extended Essay; I really enjoy working with those students and teachers.

How has being an Association member been helpful to you? 
Libraries are, of course, hotbeds of intellectual freedom. There are people who challenge that. It’s helpful to know the Association is there to inform and support us if and when we need to address this kind of issue. It is also empowering to know that there are people trained by the Association to support us in the quest for fair salaries—people who attend school board and legislative meetings. Association people are well aware that an adequately staffed school library and trained librarians directly affect student achievement, and they work to make sure our lawmakers remember this and act accordingly.


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