JLG’s November 2020 Librarian of the Month honor goes to Winthrop High School and their double-duty librarian + English teacher Kristel Anuszewski. A JLG member for 7+ years, Kristel caught our eye because of her dedication to teamwork, advocacy for literacy and her love of research. Here’s Kristel’s story...
Poem Tree in the Winthrop High School Library
Students' can post their poetry on this tree for everyone to enjoy!
A Love for Education and a Budding Appreciation for Libraries
Kristel’s “aha” moment that made her realize pursuing library sciences was her calling came a little late. So late in fact, that she had that moment after she started her MA program at the University of South Carolina. Funnily enough, she knew she was ready to start her MA and wanted to continue working with students (as she had already been teaching several years by that point) and decided studying library sciences was the best way to do that. As a passionate lover of research and all the skills that go into successful research and analysis, Kristel realized how conducive libraries were for so much more than books.
Once she had that “aha” moment, though, nothing was the same again. She saw libraries in a new light entirely. She found herself drawn into them wherever she visited. She laughed while recalling how college visits with her son were exciting because she got to see so many different libraries! Kristel joked when she mentioned that she has become a self-guided library tour guide! She lamented that she almost felt like she had taken the magic that is libraries for granted before her “aha” moment but was happy to note that her love and appreciation of them grows each time she helps a student pick out the right book.
Students enjoying the cozy, library space
A One-Woman Library Team and Dealing with 2020
In addition to being the librarian at Winthrop High School, Kristel also teaches two different English classes! She absolutely loves research and uses her position in the library to foster a better discussion with students about resources available to them through their library for anything they might need. On top of that, Kristel’s principal and English department colleagues work closely to make sure that students engage with the library – whether having class in-person or online! Kristel even began generifying her library and adding book blurbs onto their covers, so that students can peruse selections based on the genres they like and read about the books without having to touch them – how ingenious!
Kristel’s found that – like other librarians have learned – students still prefer print titles over digital ones. Although she subscribes to JLG Digital and our print categories, her print titles always circulate best. “Students want to feel a book in their hands – and I can’t blame them for it. I love that they do!” she said. So, she’s worked extra hard to make sure her students still have a fully-functioning library where they can go to check out print books. She even works with her local public libraries and other library links throughout the state so that she can get anything and everything her students might request!
Some of the ingenious ideas Kristel has had for COVID-19: JLG books with attached blurbs and dated return bins!
A Little Love for Kristel’s Professional Philosophy and Projects
Kristel loves being a librarian, even though it wasn’t necessarily the position she saw herself in as a young professional. “Bringing books to kids is what’s most important. We all have those books in our world that are favored and treasured, and every time I help a student find a book they’ll love, I wonder: is this the one? The one that will stay with them their entire lives?” Kristel smiled as she recalled one of the books to make that kind of impression on her: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
On top of all that she does, Kristel works hard to bring joy and happiness into her students’ lives outside of the classroom and the library. She mentioned one of her favorites: FUN-ky Fridays. On Fridays, Kristel sets up a speaker and music in the hallways to play during class changes. With all the new sanitation procedures for classrooms, students are oftentimes left standing in the hallways waiting for the class to be cleaned before they can enter. So, this way, students can listen to some music while they wait, bringing a little joy to their funky Fridays!
We at JLG are impressed with the amount of work Kristel puts into connecting with her students and school community! We can’t wait to hear all about the new things she’ll come up with in the future.