Monday, October 2, 2017


By Karen Grenke
The Town School

As the school year gets underway, I've been finding myself closely observing all the transitions around me. From the mundane (students transitioning between classes - oh, the noise, the fun!) to the sublime (the radiant fall leaves upstate), I feel surrounded by change. I suppose I'm paying special attention because this year I find myself in the midst of professional transition as I change jobs from one school library in Brooklyn to another on the Upper East Side.

As much as I loved my previous library it was indeed time for a (here's that word again) change. I was one of the first librarians at the school and I built over 80% of the collection. I moved the library twice and packed it up by hand both times. To say I was attached to that library is an understatement. So it was with some amount of trepidation that I packed up my own boxes and left. And boy howdy, has it been reinvigorating! Here are a few of the things I've noticed.

Collaboration matters: I was a solo librarian and now I'm part of a team. It's a delight. I love being able to bounce ideas off a colleague and I really enjoy how we can challenge each other. I've had to practice the fine art of listening because now it's not just my ideas that matter, it's our ideas. Good stuff. I'm used to collaborating with teachers and staff but working with someone who gets what a call number is and why it's so frustrating yet awesome that Follett catalogued the same book with two different call numbers... that's especially satisfying.

Students change, books stay the same: the students at my two schools are very different but everyone loves Raina Telgemeier. I mean, that's just fact. However, the bonus of switching schools is that I'm able to introduce a whole new crop of kids to a whole new crop of books. I've got stuff in my back pocket that they haven't seen yet! My usual recommendations aren't old hat here and it's really exciting to share new (old) books.

The library is always special: at both schools, parents can't stop saying "the library is my favorite place" or "the library is the best". This is one of the reasons why I love my job - people love libraries and it feels great to be a part of a beloved institution, no matter where you are.

Even if you're at a library that you've been a part of for a long time (and, hey, congratulations!), the fall is a wonderful time to look around and see what transitions are happening around you. Is there something new happening at your school? A new challenge? Has it changed the way you look at your job?

Here's hoping to see many of you at the HVLA Fall meeting. Let's continue this conversation!

Happy reading!


  1. Karen, you are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your story. You the hit the nail on the head.

    1. Thank you so much! I appreciate your kind words.

  2. Thank for your sharing Karen!

    I like the idea of taking time to reflect on transitions, even when not going through one yourself. And I definitely agree that everyone loves Raina!

    1. Raina Telgemeier, the new universal constant.