Emily Wood

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School Libraries Embrace Inquiry, Ideas and Community

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In the Richmond Elementary School library, students ask questions and share ideas.

Those interactions are exactly why Emily Wood decided to become a librarian.

“I’m helping to develop my students love of reading and exposing them to books, ideas, and cultures around the world,” she says. “I’m also teaching students inquiry skills, helping them develop critical thinking, and how to be responsible citizens.”

Wood completed the UVM School Library Media Specialist sequence in 2009 and is now pursuing her graduate degree in curriculum and instruction at UVM. After completing the series of school librarian courses at UVM, she worked at Newport City Elementary School and Moretown Elementary School before starting at Richmond this year.

Becoming a School Librarian

Wood didn’t always plan on working as a school librarian. After graduating from Syracuse University in 2004 with a dual degree in American studies and television, radio and film, she worked in radio but experienced a change of heart about her career.

“I remember thinking at that time about what drives my passion, and I knew I enjoyed reading and researching. When I reflected on my educational experiences at Syracuse, I realized that I was always at that library. And the skills that I used in college that were the most helpful were taught by my school librarian.”

Those skills included knowing how to use keywords effectively, how to take notes, and how to drill down and find information.

“I did an independent research study for my final project in American studies at Syracuse,” she says. “All the things I did for that project—note taking, staying organized, citing my sources—were things I learned from the librarian.”

At Richmond Elementary School, where 300 students between Pre-K to grade 4 attend, Wood teaches between four to five library classes and also organizes informal book clubs for students.

“My students are the best part of my job. My job involves teaching classes, but it’s also about informal interactions,” she says. “My job is also very flexible in that I can change what I’m doing based on the needs of the school or my students.”

A Changing Profession

While librarians often work alone without other colleagues, Wood says UVM’s library courses helped her connect her with other librarians and build a strong foundation.

“The professors in UVM’s library sequence work in the library profession and they have a deep knowledge and are passionate about their work,” she says. “I learned what best practices are for being a librarian and UVM helped expand my learning network and connected me with other librarians around the state.”

Wood, who grew up outside of Rochester, New York, describes herself as curious, tenacious and creative. As a librarian, she hopes more people will enter the field and embrace it for what it really is—which is not what people might think.

“There’s an old fashioned view of libraries, but librarians are trying to open people’s eyes,” she says. “A school library is a learning space and anything can happen at the library. My job is to support every person in the building in their learning goals—it can be personalized to the goals of each person. Ultimately, it’s a place where we can be a community and discuss ideas.”

Registration is now open for UVM School Library Media Specialist Sequence