The Librarian Trilogy: Interview with Jennifer Ball

This week, we heard from two librarians, including Betsy of Literaritea and Emily Cottrill of Livingbookslibrary.com.  I thought we would round out the week with one last librarian, Jennifer Ball of The Covenant School in Nashville, TN.  You can see her library page here, and find out about their online library for use by Covenant School students and staff.

1) How did you become a librarian at a Christian school?  What interested you in the job?  (And what did you do before that?)

Before I became a librarian at a Christian school, our family lived and worked in Peru as missionaries with PeruMission.  Our last project was an economic development project involving a co-op style woodshop making high end furniture using sustainable hardwoods sourced from native communities in Peru.  I, along with a couple of friends, designed the furniture.  It had great reviews at a couple of furniture shows in New York, was featured in a couple of showrooms in there for a while.  Feel free to look it up and support a great work of the church: Parish Woodshop.

After settling back in the United States, I began to seek out how to use what God had given me – talents, interests, experiences.  I have taught every grade except 9th grade and speak Spanish.  While helping at our school fundraiser, I mentioned to the Headmistress that I applied for a job and would also love to sub, if needed.  The librarian had just resigned, I interviewed and thank You, Lord, I was hired.

2) What kind of impact do you see the library having on your school and church community?  What is your vision for what that impact might be?

I see our school library as the physical place that represents and holds the stories we enjoy, share and create as we all learn to communicate with one another the love of Christ and all that God gives us in His creation.

My vision for our library is that it would inspire, comfort, challenge and enlighten.  It would make us better communicators.  We should strive to better communicate love, compassion, encouragement, questions, information, solutions…

3) Unlike a public library, you have the ability to set your own book selection policies and try to choose “good” books.  How do you try to do that?  What do you look for in books for your library?

With the incredible volume of books published, keeping up with them is often a daunting task.  My librarian friends and I often share good new releases with one another.  Book blogs and homeschool blogs are helpful for book reviews.  Blog like yours are incredibly helpful in providing insight and fostering discussion.  I homeschooled for many years and refer to favorite blogs and catalogs for book reviews and recommendations.  I believe that parents rely heavily on the content of our library to be safe and sound.  That is part of our responsibility.  Our selection policy is centered on purchasing books that are honoring to God and uphold Biblical principles.

Parents often read what their children are reading, but there comes a point when parents simply can’t keep up with the amount of books their children are reading.  Maybe they have a voracious reader or several children reading on their own.  That’s when parents usually begin to seek the input of friends, librarians, teachers, blogs.

4) What are some of the gray areas that Christian parents and administrators may have disagreements about?  Any particular type of book that is really difficult to deal with?

Disagreements on books sometimes pop up among parents and school administrators.  Have you ever found yourself questioning the morals of a good friend because of their choice of book or movie?  Books can hit us in different ways at different times.  Hot topics from sorcerers, sassy talk, curse words and teenage crushes provide us more than enough fodder for discussion.

5) If you could have input/ from other Christians about one or two aspects of your job, what would that be? 

I am so grateful for the parents who are involved in their children’s reading.   Parents know their children’s interests, strengths and weaknesses.  Read with your children and when you find that you simply can’t keep up with them, discuss with their books with them and read reviews about the books they are reading.

6) Any hard-won advice you would offer others in your situation?

My advice would be to seek advice from as many wise and knowledgeable people as you can! And savor the blessings. Some of my favorite times in the library are when I get to witness students recommending books to each other.  I love hearing why they enjoyed a book or a certain character or how they were surprised when something happened.  Or, when a student who didn’t particularly enjoy reading before, has found something that sparks their interests and they find themselves reading for fun.  Those are the best days!

Thanks again to Jennifer for sharing a glimpse into her life in a Christian school library.  Any questions you guys would like to ask her?

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Get the information you need to make wise choices about books for your children and teens.

Our weekly newsletter includes our latest reviews, related links from around the web, a featured book list, book trivia, and more. We never sell your information. You may unsubscribe at any time.

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