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Mansfield University Home Page > School Library & Information Technologies Home Page > Graduates > Melissa Engel-Unruh

Booklovers beware!

As a high school Library Media Specialist (LMS), formerly known as a school librarian, I am involved in much more than just checking out books to students. In fact, I have four main responsibilities with my job, keeping me forever on my toes and never bored.

First and foremost, I am a teacher working closely with students to understand their information needs and to locate and use the information that they need at any particular time. I work with them one-on-one as they come into the library media center (LMC) to look up information for an assignment or as a group when they come into the LMC with a content-area teacher. This task alone takes up a great deal of my time as I work in a high school with approximately 1,800 students. Luckily I work with a second full-time SLMS.

Secondly, I am an instructional partner working closely with other teachers in my building to create assignments and projects and co-teach lessons that ask students to access, evaluate, and use the many resources the LMC provides. My high school operates on a flexible schedule when it comes to use of the LMC, which means that students are not scheduled for any formal instructional time in the LMC. Rather, they come in as needed, either individually or with a class. Thus, I spend a lot of time collaborating with content-area teachers when they come to the LMC with their students, often teaching and working alongside the classroom teacher. It is exciting to get to work so closely with my colleagues. Additionally, I try to stay current with educational and technological trends so that I can constantly improve my teaching. Right now I am venturing into the world of Web 2.0 so that in my instruction I can use the technology so many of my students are adept at using. Blogs, Podcasts, Wikis, oh my!

Third, I am an information specialist offering to students and teachers alike my skill in obtaining and evaluating information in all formats. This could take the form of a lesson about how to search a database effectively, how to analyze the quality of hits that one receives when completing a basic Internet search, or how to find the perfect book. With the glut of information available in today’s world, I find that most people need help in locating quality information strategically and efficiently, especially when it comes to searching online. A great deal of my time is spent working with students in this area.

Lastly, I am a program administrator running a small business that serves a population of about 1,800 customers. I have to create and follow policies and procedures that help the LMC run smoothly. I have to manage a support staff including a full-time aide and secretary as well as student volunteers. I have a budget to keep track of as well as about 15,000 books and magazines. I also dabble in writing grants, keeping the LMC’s Web page up to snuff, and advising the school’s Graphic Novel and Gaming Club.

On top of it all, I find that I must advocate for the library program to demonstrate how the role of the “librarian” has changed from many years ago. We are no longer just the keeper of books. We are that and oh, so much more!

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