Making it her own

SHS welcomes new librarian who is creating her own environment


Josiah Veen

Librarian Shelly Smith talks on the phone during iPass on Mar. 10 in the LMC. The space is open to students at this time.

For 20 years, Shelly Smith has been a teacher and librarian in many different schools in Indiana. Her journey started at Indiana State University where she received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education. From there, she worked as a first and second grade teacher, as well as working as a reading specialist, in Greencastle for three years and then in Anderson for two years. 

While working in Anderson, the library position opened up in Greencastle and she decided that she wanted to fill it. So, she worked on her Library Science masters at IUPUI while working in Greencastle as a librarian on an emergency permit. 

After she finished her masters, she had kids and took a year to work at home with them. A friend came to her with a job at an elementary school in Pike Township and encouraged her to apply for it. There, she worked as a librarian for five years. 

Most recently, she worked at Pike High School as a librarian. But when she saw a Facebook post from former media specialist Tara Foor about the open position at SHS, she knew she wanted to apply. 

As a part of the Elliot Rosewater committee, of which Foor was the President of, Smith came to SHS for a meeting last fall. 

“I saw the space then,” Smith said. “(And) I really liked it.”

Principal Brian Knight said that Smith stood out immediately from most of the other applicants because of her library experience. He says that there are a lot of good things going on in the Media Center, and he wanted to hire someone who could keep those things going and continue to make them better.  

“I felt like the fit was good,” Knight said. “Her personality was good for things we had already going on, but then she also had some different ideas, maybe some different structures to bring to the table (and) a little bit of a different background.”

Smith took over as SHS’s Library Media Specialist on Jan. 17. And while she has long-term goals for improving the Library Media Center, which is the new name she has put in place, right now she is focusing on the first task that Knight gave her: familiarizing herself with the staff. 

“A big part of the media center is it can kind of become a hub of the school and you can get lots of teachers and lots of students in there … ,” Knight said. “But to do that, people have to know you and trust you enough to bring their kids to you.”

In getting to know the staff, Smith has mostly worked with the English department. Both Smith and Knight believe that this specific connection is important because English classes are who most frequently use the space. 

Along with meeting the staff, Smith has used her first few weeks at SHS to make the LMC more personalized to her. She has created programming spaces like community coloring pages, building puzzles and board game stations. She says that these are meant to serve as brain breaks for students to regulate how they are feeling.

“It’s a great set up,” Smith said. “I’ve just done a little bit of clean up to make it my own.”

In the future, Smith hopes to bring in more permanent displays for the LMC, including things like a “Books to Movies” display. She also plans to do some work in better organizing the graphic novel section.

One student, sophomore Shaniya Pimpton, says that Smith is also bringing a great atmosphere to the LMC. 

“She’s really, really, really sweet (and) very generous … ,” Pimpton said. “(The library is) very peaceful.”

Smith says that she wants to know what students want to see in the future in the library to make the space better for them. 

Smith works at her computer during the iPass session. photo by Josiah Veen

“If students want to come and tell me that or let me know, I would like to know what kids want in here,” Smith said.

While Knight says that it is a much harder transition to start in the middle of a school year, he says that he appreciates the patience that Smith has shown in these first few weeks. 

While some would come in and immediately start making changes, he says, she has moved slowly and understands that there is an adjustment period. 

“It’s not like it was a system that was broken or there’s anything wrong with it … ,” Knight said. “And that’s what we told her. The Media Center is in a good place.”