I was a college and university librarian for nine years before shifting my professional focus to the independent school world in 1984. As the Assistant Director for Technical Services at The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville CT, I participated in the full range of boarding school life, serving in the dormitory with my husband, coaching, and teaching English. I spent a term in 2004-2005 at St. Andrews University in Scotland, having been awarded their Schoolteacher Fellowship—the only librarian to receive the award during its existence. I began working at The Wheeler School, a Nursery-12 day school in Providence, Rhode Island, on the day of the school’s groundbreaking ceremony for its new library building in 1988. I am the Upper School Librarian and Program Head and have also taught English, served as Department Head, and briefly been the librarian for the middle school.
The amazing variety of setting and approach represented by the independent school world means that no two of its libraries look, feel and work the same. A boarding school, a military academy, a progressive urban elementary school, a religious or overseas school—all have distinctive libraries reflecting the mission and culture of their schools.
At the same time, all school libraries share the traditional mission of supporting curriculum, connecting learners with resources, and promoting the love and appreciation of reading by creating collections and services. This chapter explores the impact the school’s clientele and mission has on its physical library it services, introducing the topics addressed throughout the rest of the book.