Stephanie earned her Master of Library & Information Science with a focus on youth librarianship from UCLA and has since worked as assistant librarian at Pacific Oaks College and as an apprentice librarian at Windward School. Before pursuing her passion for library science, she held diverse positions working in a veterinary clinic, photography studio, and as a costuming intern at Walt Disney World.
What do you do as a librarian?
I think of my job is having two big realms: recreational reading and research. For recreational reading, I hold a book club for the students, a book club for the employees, and I also do DEAR ("Drop Everything And Read") with the fourth graders where they come into the library every other day and have time to sit and read and find books. I help them read and suggest books, and make sure the collection has a variety of new books and classics that fit the cultural and identity needs of all the students.
The research part is teaching the students research and information literacy skills, as well as doing research for the teachers. I also want to teach the community about other resources like public libraries.
What's your favorite part about being a librarian?
Talking to the kids about books! I love it when kids get excited about a book and they come running in to tell me about it. I love recommending books and sharing the joy of reading with the kids and with my colleagues.
Research that looks at instilling a love of reading and motivation for reading says that the two big factors are choice and community. When children have a choice in what they read, it significantly increases their motivation to read. We don’t often talk about the social aspects of reading, but it can be so much fun and it can be empowering to talk about your favorite books and to recommend books to each other. I'm really trying to give them space to do that. I also try to make sure that the kids see the library as a place that has a lot of books that they want to read, so they have choices, and they know they will find something that they love.
What is your first impression of being at an all-girls school?
It's been great! I wasn't sure really what to expect because I had never been in all girls education before, but I think there is a real spirit of connection and helping people here. It's a very supportive community.
What is your favorite book?
I don’t have a good answer to this! It really depends on what kind of book is going to speak to me right now. I will say that in the past couple of years my favorite series has probably been the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik, which is a historical fantasy that is basically the Napoleonic wars, but with dragons.
What is your favorite genre?
Probably fantasy. It's definitely the one I reach for the most. I also like realistic fiction and sci-fi, but I’m not big into romance or mystery thrillers…
How do you choose recommendations for people with very different tastes?
Ask a lot of questions! I ask them what they like about a book, what they don't like, and even if they say “oh I read the first couple chapters and I wasn't interested,” finding out what they didn't like can be really helpful. Sometimes asking them about TV shows and movies they watch is also helpful because that's another way to find out what aspects of a story they're really interested in.
One girl recently asked for a book about unicorns. So I pulled a book about unicorns. And when I gave it to her she said, "No, that looks too scary." The cover was of a girl riding a unicorn in a white flowing dress, so I asked why it looked scary. She said, "She's riding the unicorn, so something must be wrong." The things that they pick up on and the way they interpret them is sometimes completely different than how I interpret something. So again, asking questions can give you a lot of insight.
If you weren't a librarian, what would you be?
There were actually two paths that I was considering. One was the archivist path (which turned into the librarian path), and the other path was nursing. Specifically, being a midwife. I have always had an interest in the sciences, especially medical sciences. I did a lot of veterinary work before I went to grad school and I really enjoyed it.
What do you do for fun?
I read a lot! And I started doing archery recently so I'm really excited about that.
Tell us about your background.
My undergraduate degree is in history, but I wasn't entirely sure what direction I wanted to go with that. I initially wanted to go into archiving, but I wasn't thrilled with the day-to-day life of an archivist sitting with the dusty books. I'm much more of a people person, so that led me to librarianship, and then young adult librarianship, and then eventually school librarianship.
After getting my Master’s in library science, I did a librarian apprenticeship at Windward School. I did a lot of the same things that I now do here at Westridge: collection development, instruction, recreational reading, and research, so it was great preparation. When I started there, I wasn’t completely sure if I wanted to work in school libraries. But after a week I absolutely knew that this is what I want to do. After I left the apprenticeship, I worked at Pacific Oaks College here in Pasadena. A lot of that job was supporting master’s students doing research in for their thesis. It was a great experience, but it wasn't the right fit for my sort of librarianship because it’s all research, all the time. You don't get that fun, recreational reading side. With youth librarianship the programming is a lot more fun.