Janet Wells

Janet Wells

February 3, 2018 Meet the KASL Board 0

Janet WellsWhat librarian mentor, if any, has played a role in your professional life?

I didn’t really have library mentors as much as I had strong friendships with my fellow library science classmates.  Jennifer Lake, Amy Noland (Hughes), and Barbara Nugent and I had most of our classes together at EKU and formed a strong bond to share ideas, occasionally commiserate, and encourage each other.  I like the fact we had on campus, face-to-face classes that enabled us to form these life-long friendships.  Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to Dr. MaryAnn Kolloff of the EKU Library Science Department.  She has been a dear friend and encouragement for all of us, even when she gave us these very open-ended assignments and took us to a lab to learn how to send an email.  (That was back in 1990, for those of you who are much younger.)

Knowing we can’t serve on everything, what school improvement committee(s), do you feel, are best impacted with a librarian serving on and why?

I served on my school’s SBDM Council for many years.  It was the best way for me to be involved in all phases of school life.  I could bring a “big-picture” perspective as we discussed curriculum changes, school finance, etc.  I would highly recommend that librarians serve on their school councils!

If you teach an elective Library Science class, where students earn credits toward graduation, please describe the steps you took to put it on the master schedule, promote it, and what activities and assessments you have students complete.

My Library Practicum class is one way for me to empathize with teachers when it comes to curriculum, grading deadlines, and working with a class of students.  I’ve had that class as part of my library for 23 years.  The counselors worked with getting the appropriate codes and my principal is very supportive.  My students have assigned shelves, complete book reviews and research papers, create bulletin boards and displays, and handle circulation.  I seem to say each year’s class is the best ever, and it is true almost every year.

What is the best conference you’ve ever attended that helped you in your role as a library media specialist? What made it so amazing?

My best advice for new librarians is to find your tribe by attending regional and state library conferences.  I have met so many wonderful friends who share great ideas I could come back and implement in my own library.  It is reassuring to have a network of people who understand your situation, deal with similar issues, and offer a safety net when you feel alone.  I can’t emphasize enough the importance of going to those meetings!  As you gain experience, you can even serve on committees and present sessions to pay it forward to the next group of librarians.  A world of opportunity awaits you.

In my 23 years in the library, I have seen lots of changes.  I came into a library with a card catalog, and we stamped the checkout cards and filed them.  I had two desktop workstations and the only program on them was Microsoft Works.  We recorded lots of programs from the one KET station for use in classrooms, and nobody had thought about having graphic novels.  One of my interview questions was to explain what WWW stood for and what it was.  Now I can’t imagine not having all kinds of technology at my fingertips and seeing the ways it can be used for instruction and creativity.

Janet Wells

Describe how you stay passionate about your job in the library.

As far as keeping a passion for your job, I always try to do one new thing each year.  Some years, it has been something as simple as new signage or a new floor plan for the furniture.  Other years have been huge undertakings, such as genre-fying the fiction section and rearranging the books on the shelves.  Others are somewhere in between, with an arts and crafts makerspace area, adding games and puzzles to the library area, and planning strategic displays for the year.  This year my project is to wrap up my library to prep it for the next librarian.  I have been gathering materials to make a flash drive to leave on the desk so that the new person has a good start.  I’ve tried to think of things I wish I had known when I first walked in, and how much things have changed along the way.   I have intentionally not done a “big” project this year in order to leave him/her a “big” project to innovate with as they begin their library career.

Janet Johnson Wells
KASL Kentucky Bluegrass Award Coordinator
School Librarian, Grades 9-12
Rockcastle County High School

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