Why a High School Librarian is Still Excited to Return for Her 41st First Day of School

This interview is over 1 year old and may no longer be up to date or reflect the interviewee/interviewees’ positions

By Ruth Lincoln, Head Editor, INALJ Washington, DC

previously published 8/30/13

Why a High School Librarian is Still Excited to Return for Her 41st First Day of School

ruthgigilincolnIt’s back-to-school time! As many of you head back to class, our school librarian friends, colleagues, and mentors are heading back, too.

Margaret “Gigi” Lincoln has served as a school librarian with the Lakeview School District in Battle Creek, Michigan since 1973. She now has responsibility for both the high school and middle school libraries.  I caught up with her as she gears up for her 41st first day of school. Gigi was a recipient of the 2008 Carnegie Corporation/New York Times I Love My Librarian Award, and she happens to be my mom.

A condensed version of our interview appears below.

Why did you become a school librarian? 

School librarianship allowed me to be in a unique position to support students, teachers, and administrators and further the academic program. It allowed me to stay in the school setting. I recognized early on that I was a lifelong learner and this particular job fosters ongoing pursuit of knowledge.

What do you like most about your job? What keeps you motivated?

I like the variety. I like the interaction with young adults and my colleagues. I’m grateful for the opportunity to provide resources related to schoolwork and personal pursuits. I find the technology exciting, and it’s added a dimension that could not have been envisioned when I began 40 years ago.

I’ve enjoyed keeping abreast of all the changes over the last 40 years, and I’m inspired by ALA President Barbara Stripling’s initiative that libraries change lives with respect to literacy, community engagement, and innovation.

Favorite library? 

My favorite library would have to be facility in which I’ve been privileged to work since 1973 – The Lakeview High School Library.

Physically, our location has changed, with the construction of a new high school in 2006. But I have been responsible for developing the collection since the start of my career with Lakeview Schools.

Another thing about my longevity is I see children and grandchildren of former students and colleagues. That’s very special. I’ve seen generations of families come through the doors, and I’ve helped grow a library program that’s spanned those generations.

What do you remember about your first day on the job? 

One of my first projects was weeding the teen fiction at Lakeview High School library with a library assistant who worked with me. Over the years, he has stayed in the community, become a parent, and now even works as a substitute teacher. We’ll often share a laugh about how we weeded the fiction in 1973.

Favorite book?

Marek Halter’s The Book of Abraham. This multi-generational historical saga combines history and fiction, and it relates to my heritage.

Advice for job seekers?

If you want to go into this profession, do it. You will make a difference.  You will carry on an important service, tradition of librarianship. You will have opportunities to support students, teachers, administrators, other staff, and it puts you in a very positive role. You’re bringing knowledge and resources and really functioning as a teacher and helping other people enrich their lives.

Favorite library websites/blogs? 

In other words, what was in my Google Reader?

Never Ending Search by Joyce Valenza

Tame the Web by Michael Stephens

Teaching with the Library of Congress

Margaret “Gigi” Lincoln is district librarian for Lakeview Schools in Battle Creek, Michigan and a 2008 recipient of the Carnegie Corporation/New York Times I Love My Librarian Award. She has been an American Memory Fellow with the Library of Congress and a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Teacher Fellow. A true lifelong learner, she earned a PhD in library and information sciences from the University of North Texas in 2006.