Ms. Mexis-Lumsden is a librarian at MGCI.

Ms. Mexis-Lumsden. Photo: Valiant Chan

Ms. Mexis-Lumsden. Photo: Valiant Chan

Q: If you could recommend students to read any book, what would it be?

A: Shakespeare, the stories are universal and underpin a lot of other things. Or mythology.

Q: If you were to write an autobiography, what would the title be?

A: “Had I but world enough and time…”

Q: You are playing hide and seek in the school. Where would you hide?

A: The greenhouse. I’d get a free spa treatment at the same time!

Q: What is your favourite word?

A: Lackadaisical, I suppose.

Q: What’s one of your pet peeves?

A: Rudeness.

Q: Tell us something quirky about you that students might be surprised to find out about.

A: I have a very weird sense of humour and find strange and inappropriate things funny. Also, I like to tease people!

Q: I feel like a lot of students have a misconstrued view of school librarians. Can you describe a typical day in the school library?

A: I’m speaking for all the librarians here, not just me. From the moment we open our doors, we are busy. We often teach a class – either a library related skill or we have collaborated with another teacher to plan and deliver lessons for a particular assignment. Co-teaching involves planning, creating or finding resources and creating or finding materials (databases, books, video, websites). I often do book talks. All three of us often work in our “off” periods because the library is so busy. Plus, we volunteer our time to open the library at lunch and after school.

Because every student has a spare, we have 99 students in the library almost every period. This does NOT include the computer labs. So, that entails a lot of supervision. If you see a sign that the library is full – we are full! Please don’t make an issue of it.

We spend a lot of time with students at the computers – helping them print, formatting work, pointing out electronic resources. We also spend time with students working on their assignments away from the computers. We all teach other subjects besides library and could help you if we were asked.

We try to weed books as often as possible. I’m always ordering new, current and (hopefully Canadian!) books – so I need to make space. I also put books in my order basket almost every day and try to find materials that I need to purchase sooner rather than later because of the assignments I am working on with other teachers. This also involves to and from other libraries.

There’s an awful lot of maintenance so that everything works as it should: computers, photocopier, printer, books, magazines.

Phone calls from: teachers in the school, outside agencies, publishers, the general public.

Library booking from: teachers in the school, outside agencies, student clubs, the general public.

Email: I get more than you think. All teacher librarians work collaboratively, so there is a lot of that. Also, with the new system there’s a lot of questions being asked and answered. We tap each other first before we go elsewhere.

Policing: our least favourite part of the job! Please, when you’re in the library behave nicely. Don’t eat (we’ve seen roaches and mice), don’t get too loud (see 99 students above), don’t be rude if we ask you to go or quiet down. Clean up after yourselves.

Q: Have you taught or worked at any other schools before? How did the experience differ from the experience here?

A: I was previously at Winston Churchill C.I. (I’ve also been here a couple of times). While I was there I taught English, Economics and was in the library. I find the schools are very similar although this school is much bigger!

Q: What makes MGCI’s library so unique?

A: Because every student has a spare (at least one) this makes the library unique. How? It’s always full! Physically, we have the lovely wall of windows. We have materials that are unique to our school (online databases) that are expensive but that are used by students. We are open every period! Including at lunch and after school.

Q: What is one library resource that you think is valuable, but you find that students are unaware of?

A: The teacher librarians. Seriously.

Q: When you were in high school, what was your dream job? Did you always plan to continue working in the school system?

A: It varied. At one time I wanted to be a neurosurgeon, then an accountant. I didn’t plan to be working in the school system although I always was teaching: ESL, citizenship, music.

Q: What is one thing you have learned from your job that you weren’t expecting to learn?

A: Patience. I am very impatient myself.

Q: If you could give any advice to a high school student, what would it be?

A: Go to class and do your work. I know it’s cliché, but you have only yourself to blame if you fall behind. I also know that teens often want to “fight the man”, but school is not the fight you should fight.