By Sarah Simpkin
In this column we’ll be featuring interviews with local library, archives and museum staff and students. Our sixth interviewee is Priyanka Sabnani.
Who are you?
Two schools! How do you manage that?
I’m at Chapman for two and a half days and at Grant for two days a week. They’re both elementary schools, and the students are between JK and grade six.
That must be busy!
It’s been amazing working at both my schools. At Grant, I inherited the library from a long line of predecessors, and I’ve worked over the past few years to revitalize the collection. Chapman, on the other hand, is my baby. It was a brand new school, and I got to build the collection from the ground up.
I can’t imagine building a collection from scratch! How did that process go? Where did you even start?
I had an idea of what the collection should look like, based on my previous experience volunteering and working in school libraries. I knew my target audience and had an idea of how I wanted to set it up. I was fortunate enough to be able to design the layout of the library space, and had a fun challenge setting things up in the space that we were allocated. School libraries aren’t only for the children, but also for the teachers that will use the books in their teaching.
Sounds like you’re running a one-man army!
I kind of am! I’m responsible for circulation, cataloguing, book purchasing, fundraising, and general library admin duties.
How did you get into libraries?
I’ve had a love for reading and books since I was a child. When my children started elementary school, I started to volunteer at their school in their classrooms as well as the library. I really liked being in that environment, and encouraging the joy of reading and seeing the smiles on the children’s faces. The library technician at that school became a mentor for me, and encouraged me to pursue library work as a career. I enrolled in an online library technician course, and continued to volunteer while I studied. Once I finished the program, I applied to the school board and was hired. After working as a casual library technician for a couple of years and gaining more knowledge, I was successful at procuring the position at Grant.
You must have so many stories!
My favourite one is when a boy in grade four, at the beginning of the year, refused to borrow books from the school library. With a little reassurance and guidance, he was reading Harry Potter by the end of the year! For him, graphic novels were the gateway to enjoying books.
What’s your dream for the libraries where you work?
As you know, I’m currently building and revitalizing the libraries. It’s my dream to reach out to organizations that can help with monetary and/or book donations. Donations of gently used books help keep our collections fresh, and allow us to stretch our dollars that much further.