On Aug. 23, Melanie B. Gerard of Lewiston wrote an enthusiastic post on her Facebook page. “Breaking news!” the post began. “I am the new librarian at Geiger Elementary, grades pre-K-6th. I had better start taking my vitamins.”

Melanie Gerard in the Geiger Elementary School library. Submitted photo

About a week later, Gerard made another post, including photos, after taking a tour of her new school. “Some wonderful surprises at Geiger Elementary,” she wrote to her friends back in Oregon. “An art classroom, a book vending machine, and a book sanitizer. Who knew?”

On Sept. 1, after school officially got underway, Gerard made yet another post extolling the many great things she was discovering about the school. She was wowed by the kindness of the school community and of the diversity she found there.

“The wonderful miracle is, we are all kind to each other,” she wrote. “We all accept each other. We all help each other, because life is a hard struggle and we are all in this together.”

Gerard is a woman who is deeply grateful to be starting as the school librarian after a long career at schools in Oregon. So much for the image of the stern, fearsome librarian shushing children at every turn if they so much as whisper among the stacks.

We caught up with Melanie this week and asked a few questions about her new role

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How did you get into the library field? The library field is new. I worked in special education for 34 years in Oregon. All public schools are desperate for staffing — there are many jobs to choose from.

What does your new job entail? I pull books for teachers, I have six classes a day coming in for story time and library skills (K-6), I check books in/out, I organize materials, I order books and miscellaneous items, and much more!

Do you have memories of any of the librarians from your own school days? We didn’t really have school librarians in my day. I once worked for a school librarian in Hawaii (1988) who was so particular about her books, she did not let the children touch the books — much less check them out.

What are kids reading these days? Kids are really into graphic novels! “Dog Man” is a favorite. They also love series books, i.e. “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and “Captain Underpants.”

Do you get to say “shhhh!” a lot? I rarely say “shhhhh” because kids are noisy when they are learning and having fun.

Outside of your work, what’s going on in your life? After taking a year off, I am getting used to a full-time schedule. My weekends are glamorous: grocery shopping, laundry, and sleep. My (library) trainer, Michelle Chasse, has been in the biz since last January. We both answer to the head librarian of the district — therefore we are ‘library assistants.’


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