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Naomi House’s interview with success story Caitlin.
Naomi: How did you find your current job?
Caitlin: The job was posted to PAREAP.com — a site for Pennsylvania Teaching Jobs. Ironically, I had observed at the very school where I’ve been hired about a year and a half prior while completing the education courses for my degree. I had met the principal who explained that he had arranged for me to observe with a reading teacher for the day since they didn’t have a functional library. Looking back, I had no reason to believe I would ever step foot in the school again, but it ended up being my first fulltime librarian position. It’s funny how things work out sometimes and just goes to show that professionalism and courtesy always pays off. The principal, after hiring me, told me that he had consulted with the reading teacher I observed with before making his decision–how serendipitous! I’m very excited to be able to build this program from the ground up. It’s going to be a challenge, but when you love what you do and have a great support system, it’s really more like an adventure!
Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Caitlin: I have to say the Albright Memorial Library (http://www.lclshome.org/albright/) in Scranton, PA because it’s where I first fell in love with libraries–a beautiful early French renaissance building with oak, marble mosaic, and books for days. It’s the perfect spot to wander the shelves or curl up in a corner with a good book.
Naomi: Favorite book?
Caitlin: It’s nearly impossible to pick! I’m enjoying Game of Thrones at the moment; anything by Javier Marias; Siddhartha; The Passion Dream Book by Whitney Otto. Being in the K-12 sector means I’m all over the map. Lately, I’m crazy about the Olivia series by Ian Falconer. With children’s literature, I always think it’s really something to come across stories that can bring cross-generational delight. Olivia’s got spunk you just have to admire. Also, in the way of children’s lit, Pam Munoz Ryan’s “The Dreamer” is a beautiful fictional biography merging magical realism with the poetry of Pablo Neruda.
Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries/ library technology?
Caitlin: Teachable moments! I so enjoy being able to teach the aspects of our career that may seem overwhelming and intimidating to others. All patrons need is a tiny bit of your time and patience to become an expert themselves. It’s so nice seeing the transition from “I don’t know how” to “I can do it on my own.”
Naomi: Any websites or feeds or blogs we should be following?
Caitlin: For aspiring school librarians, PAREAP and School Spring are wonderful. Both allow you to upload your resume, certification, etc. and apply right through the site. School spring will also allow you to customize your job search and email you when new positions that meet your criteria come available.
Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Caitlin: Build a support system in your field. While I was in grad school, I pursued an opportunity to work on a grant partnership between Drexel and the Institute of Museum and Library Science, which recruited, trained, and placed 10 teachers in library positions in the district. I got to know many librarians and joined their local professional organization, APSL, the Association of Philadelphia School Librarians. I also completed my student teaching under two wonderfully inspiring librarians in the School District. When I was offered this position, I knew it would be a huge challenge to be spearheading this process–between weeding, purchasing new materials, designing a more modern and inviting space, and automating the collection for the first time, I was bound to have some stumbling points. However, the network I had built as a grad student working with experienced and passionate members of the School District made me feel so much more comfortable and confident about my ability to succeed in this endeavor. The amazing mentors I’ve grown to know over the past two years have already started contributing donations to my new library. Successful librarians cannot function in isolation! The most important thing I could recommend for anyone still in school or currently job searching is to reach out and make meaningful connections in your desired field.
Caitlin Gerrity is the Library Media Specialist at Penn Treaty Middle School in Philadelphia. In this role, Caitlin will be working to rebuild the school library, which has been closed for about 10 years. She is passionate about creating a library space that fosters lifelong learning, collaboration, and critical literacy skills while assisting teachers in their curriculum goals.
Caitlin’s professional interests include the school library’s role in bridging the technology gap, increasing student achievement, and integrating critical literacy across the curriculum. She has previously interned for libraries at The University of Pennsylvania, The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Drexel University, and Moore College of Art & Design.
Caitlin earned her MLIS at Drexel University and her BAs in English and Communication from Temple University. She has been recognized as a Pennsylvania School Librarian Association 2013 Outstanding Student Librarian of the year.