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On National School Librarian Day, a look at their importance in Maine schools

Monday, April 4, is National School Librarian Day. At Windham High School, librarians do a lot more than just checking books out for students.

WINDHAM, Maine — Kristin Chavonelle and Amy Denecker are the librarians at Windham High School. Both do a lot more than just checking books out for students. They teach and collaborate with professors in classes; they help students with assignments; they give advice to those who need it, and they are always there for students.

"We are definitely more active than librarians of the past. We do a lot of activities; we do a lot of collaborating with teachers," Chavonelle said.

"We collaborate with teachers, so we will do a lot of project planning with them for various things, and then we will go in and teach with them," Denecker said. "We want to really help students become information literate, too, especially since we are in high school. We want students to head off to college or any post-secondary place knowing how to get information."

Both women have created a library where students feel they have not just a place to find books but also a safe space to be. 

"We try to infuse literacy and reading and the joys of reading in everything we do," Denecker said.

"She is always so busy, but she always finds time to do something for any of us at the library," one of Denecker's students told NEWS CENTER Maine.

Chavonelle said many see the library as the hub of the school.

"We have a lot of kids that come in here, and it's sort of their safe space. They like to sit behind a desk with us. Some come here during lunch because they don't have to sit. We provide access to books of all different types of content," Chavonelle said.

Denecker said students spend a lot of time at libraries. She noted that libraries are not considered essential in some communities around the state.

"Research has proven time and again what the benefits are to students to have fully-certified librarians in schools," Denecker said of the importance of full-time librarians.

"We, of course, try to get books in kids' hands, but we want to be out and active in the school community to make sure people have what they need," she added.

Both librarians said they have a list of activities planned out for this week's School Library Week.

"Here, we have the ability to be imaginative and creative and really think about what the school needs and what the teachers and kids need at any point in time, so we can customize programming and our resources to meet those needs," Denecker said.

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