April 12, 2017

Joanna Freeman
Ridgecrest Elementary School, Shoreline

Joanna FreemanWhere do you work?

Ridgecrest Elementary School, Shoreline School District, Full-time K-6 Teacher-Librarian

What is the most important work that you do to benefit your community?

School libraries are often a child's first experience with a library.  Hopefully they have attended a story time and checked out books from a public library, but that is not a guarantee, due to time or distance or lack of awareness.  Students have the opportunity to visit their school library regularly, in our school they visit for 45 minutes a week with their class, and the library is open to everyone throughout the school day. They learn about stories and how to choose a book that is appealing to them. Since technology has become a large part of many school library programs, students learn how to search online effectively, how to use databases for research, and how to stay safe and private online.  We hope to be the center of the school, providing support and information to students, teachers and families.

How long have you been a WLA member?

Since about 2000. I joined as an MLIS student while I was at the University of Washington, and have been a member of WLA and WLMA (aka WLA’s School Library Division) since then.

What is your most memorable WLA experience?

I attended the 2002 Joint WLA/OLA Conference in Portland, Oregon, as an MLIS student and had my first experience networking with librarians and attending a wide range of conference sessions. I also was pulled into volunteering unexpectedly, which was another great way to meet other attendees. I found out that conference experiences are often enriched by the unexpected encounters and interactions that you have, and I have attended as many as I can over the years.

In what other ways have you gotten involved with WLA?

I helped out with the last WLMA conference in the fall, 2016.  Since WLMA became a part of WLA, I'm hoping to have other opportunities to meet and work with other WLA members. I have always focused my attention mainly on WLMA, so I can't wait to get to know more librarians and library staff who work outside of schools and share in their enthusiasm and knowledge.

What would you tell someone new to libraries about joining WLA?

Joining a professional organization like WLA is one of the best ways to connect with other librarians and library staff around the state. We are often isolated in our jobs, either through the job itself or the location, and having others outside of our situation to learn from and talk to is invaluable.

If someone were writing your biography, what would the title be?