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Member & Activist Spotlight

Gwyneth Jones: School Librarians Serve a Vital Role

Gwyneth Jones is a Teacher-Librarian in Laurel, Maryland.
Gwyneth Jones

I’ve been a teacher-librarian for 29 years, but who’s counting? We have many names in the profession for what I do, but I like to use teacher-librarian to emphasize the fact that I teach and am certified. But the name doesn’t matter—what matters is the calling.

My mom was a teacher in the Prince George’s County Public Schools for 40 years. This is my second career—I was in public relations and advertising before I became a teacher—and one of the first things she told me when I became an educator was that I needed to join the union. She said it’s the best investment in my career because they will have my back. While I haven’t needed their help in the time I’ve been a member, I always knew they were there. And being in the union has provided other resources and opportunities that I’ve been able to take advantage of as well. I even got to go to our state conferences every year with my mom!

As an educator, I’m glad that I went the teacher-librarian route because I’ve been an avid reader since a kid, and I’ve also been into technology since the early days of the internet. Every day is different, and I love being able to teach different subjects all the time. One day I could teach about the War of 1812 and then the next biodiversity and then the day after that I’ll share resources about Romeo and Juliet.

As an early adopter of technology, I started our school library blog in 2006. I believe we were the first middle school in Maryland to have a blog. It was a way to reach out to the community to share and celebrate the great things our students were doing in our school. I also have my own award-winning EdTech blog, “The Daring Librarian,” that I launched over 10 years ago.

I remember someone once asked me: “Who needs a librarian when you have Google?” To which I said, “Who needs a doctor when you have WebMD?” There’s a forest of information out there for students, and the librarian is the one who can guide them through it. I try to help the students find information in all its forms and formats—whether that’s digital books, hardcopy books, audio books, or Manga and anime. If a student is passionate about something, then I want to provide them with that.

There’s a lot of censorship going on right now in schools, especially when it comes to taking books out of circulation. I’m strongly anti-censorship. Some of the books being targeted have been on library shelves for 20 years or more. When I heard that one school district banned the graphic novel Maus, I came in the next day and put the book up on a big display saying it was banned everywhere, but not here. I want to embrace diversity and the idea that we’re an information hub for the school, and that we stand for the freedom of choice and the freedom of learning.

National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.