I AM WLA 

July 24, 2017

Get to Know a School Librarian - Ralph Hayden

What was your path to becoming a school librarian? 
After becoming disillusioned in my second-year teaching English, I went off to The Evergreen State College to find myself. A semester there lead me to enroll at the UW Library from which I emerged with a MLS in 1987. While I entered library school not sure just what I wanted to do, it was quickly evident that I wanted to stay in the school system working with students. My first gig was as an AV guy at a high school. Since then I have served as a librarian K-20, a high school assistant principal, district-level director, and am now in my very favorite stretch as a K-5 teacher librarian. 

What motivates you to keep doing what you do?
Joy every day, constant change and challenge. I am probably more of a digital literacy teacher than an old-fashioned librarian these days, but I still love the basics of book talks and story time.

Tell us about a favorite memory where you really made a difference in a kid’s life as a school librarian.
While working at Bellingham High School we had a painfully shy ninth grader who would walk down the hall sideways, facing the wall, to avoid interacting with anyone. Guessing he is somewhere along the spectrum, though I don't recall any IEP or 504. I'd say "Hi, B..." repeatedly over the weeks and finally lured him into the library and got him talking. I put him in charge of our Star Wars collection and by the time he graduated we probably had the most complete collection of Star Wars series in the state. He went on to join the Coast Guard and has done quite well.

Who or what inspires you?
My parents have always been role models. My wife inspires me every day. And I am continually impressed and awed by the colleagues with whom I have the privilege to work. Teachers work really hard!

Why do school libraries matter?
Libraries count as the physical, treasured manifestation of the human condition. School libraries in particular provide something for every child at every step in her/his development and growth. School librarians have the opportunity to be involved in that growth over many years.

Speed Round

Fiction or non-fiction?
Fiction

Smile or game face?
Smile

Kindle or paper?
Paper

Favorite technology tool?
Video Projector

How do you want students to remember your library?
With confidence.

Ralph Hayden is the teacher-librarian at Parkview Elementary School in the Bellingham School District. He is the School Library rep to the WLA Member Services Committee