Wake Ed

Wake County middle school librarian wins national award

A Wake County school librarian who has tried to make both her school’s books and teaching methods more diverse has been named one of the best school librarians in the nation.

Julie Stivers of Mt. Vernon Middle School in Raleigh was recently awarded the 2017 American Association of School Librarians’ Frances Henne Award. The award recognizes a school librarian with five years or less experience who demonstrates leadership qualities with students, teachers and administrators.

“In the school environment, I want my library to be an empowering space for students to learn, engage, read, create, write, and simply, be,” Stivers wrote in her application for the award. “I’m only midway through my second year as a school librarian, but I’m energized by what I’ve been able to accomplish so far.

“I believe inclusive libraries are created by using culturally relevant pedagogy, removing barriers, using a diverse collection and expanding the definition of the library as a safe space.”

Stivers was recognized for activities such as making Mt. Vernon’s school library collection more diverse and more student-interest driven. She expanded the library’s hours and created a library website to help with student learning.

Stivers has also worked with teachers at the alternative school to design lessons using culturally relevant teaching methods.

“We were impressed with her determination to change her students’ negative feelings about school, libraries and reading,” Stephanie Trzeciakiewicz, chariwoman of the award committee, said in a written statement. “Using limited funds and numerous grants, she built her collection to reflect her students’ life experiences and increased circulation by 150 percent in her first year at her small school!”

The award comes with a $1,250 prize that will allow Stivers to attend the association’s annual conference in June in Chicago.