January 2018

Get to Know a School Librarian - Kristin Sierra

What was your path to becoming a school librarian? 
I began my career as a classroom teacher overseas in Thailand. I worked very closely with our school librarian and loved seeing what she was doing in there. I’d often spend my planning periods in there helping because I wanted to be there more than I wanted my break! The Librarian and I were always talking about ideas for events, reading programs, fun parent involvement ideas and one day she said to me: YOU should be doing my job. I had an opportunity to do just that when she needed a long-term substitute. In that experience I realized that I wanted to go this route in my career. During my eighth year, my husband and I decided it was time to move back to the US. I “went for it” as they say and applied for School Librarian positions in the Puget Sound Area. Under the condition that I complete an endorsement program, I was hired. I am now endorsed and currently working on the latter half of my National Boards in Library Media while working at Baker Middle School Library in Tacoma, Washington. 

What motivates you to keep doing what you do?
I love the non-stop action. I love the challenge that each day brings. I love collaborating with teachers to enrich learning for our students. I love inviting students into the library every day for lunch time to enjoy the library, get books, spend time reading and/or participate in the "Baker’s Makers" Makerspace. The two programs that get me most excited are the the daily "Baker's Makers" Makerspace and the district-wide Battle of the Books reading competition, which runs for about 4 months each year January-April. 

Tell us about a favorite memory where you really made a difference in a kid’s life as a school librarian.
This year, one student shared with me that what wakes him up in the morning and makes him want to come to school is the library. He looks forward to coming to the library at lunch and choosing fun activities with no pressure. He is our 3D-printer expert and a huge help to his peers and to me. If I had to resign tomorrow, that one statement alone would make me feel as though I had succeeded as a school librarian. 

Who or what inspires you?
My co-workers at Baker inspire me. Teaching is absolutely exhausting. They keep coming back every day. They keep pouring into the students’ lives and on top of all that, every teacher in our building either has earned their National Boards or is currently working toward it. Working alongside them inspires me to continue as well, and I draw encouragement from them. My fellow Tacoma teacher-librarians inspire me as well. The position of School Librarian looks different at different schools, but as a team we manage to share our work with one another through collaboration and learn from one another constantly. 

Why do school libraries matter?
School libraries matter because students matter. School libraries are good for students. Having a knowledgeable, caring Teacher Librarian as a support for various academic, physical, and practical needs is crucial and central to student success. School libraries are many things to many people: a refuge, a valuable resource, a place for equitable access to knowledge, technology, and hands on learning experiences and a school community hub.  

Speed Round

Fiction or non-fiction?
I cannot choose. I say both! My favorite non-fiction book I read this year was Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and The Carlisle Indian Football Team by Steve Shienkin. It is a biography; a true story of an American hero but it feels like you are reading fiction as it is a page turner. It is absolutely fascinating! 

Smile or game face?
Smile. Make everyone who walks through your door feel welcome and important. They are the reason you are there. 

Kindle or paper?
Paper (but I LOVE a good audio book!) 

Favorite technology tool?
Microsoft SWAY. Part website, part presentation tool. Easy to learn, fast to make. Microsoft Education is killin’ it. 

How do you want students to remember your library?
I want them to remember it as their favorite place at school. A place they always felt welcomed and cared for, a place that opened them up to the world of books and information. A place where they learned, had fun, discovered new things, and stimulated new interests. 


Kristin Sierra is the teacher-librarian at Baker Middle School in the Tacoma School District. 

Connect with the Baker Library on social media by following the links below:
Instagram: bakerlibrary
Twitter: bakermslibrary