Meet the School Librarian: Cocopah Middle School’s Diana Campbell

Name: Diana Campbell

School I work at: Cocopah Middle School

Years as librarian: Three

Cocopah Middle School librarian Diana Campbell. (Submitted Photo)

Why did you decide to become a librarian? I have always been a reading teacher/specialist throughout my 24-year teaching career. I started off teaching kindergarten and first grade for many, many years. I love when a child connects their letters to sounds and that sounds make meaningful words. Being a librarian is much the same way. It’s that magical moment when a book comes to life. It’s fitting the right book in a student’s hand that continues to spark that interest in reading.

What is the most rewarding part of working with children? I love to see the sense of accomplishment and success of mastering a difficult task. I love when students learn something new and exciting — it’s so contagious. I love to see the look on a student’s face when they “get it.” It’s when a student is so immersed in their book that they don’t hear the bell or they literally run into the library for the next book in the series.

What’s one thing someone may not know about being a school librarian? Being a librarian is complicated and you need extremely good multi-tasking and organizational skills. You are often pulled in five different directions at once, from assisting students on the computer, pulling resources for teachers, helping a student find a book, researching and ordering resources, taking inventory, testing, working with volunteers — the list goes on. Everyone’s time is limited and they all need your help now!

What makes a school librarian successful to you? Knowledge and understanding are powerful. For me, it’s helping everyone who walks into the library with whatever their needs are to accomplish their goal. And they are all different. It’s also essential to continuously promote literacy in all forms at school and the surrounding community.

Describe the moment when you decided being an educator/librarian was what you wanted to do for a living: I’ve never wanted to be anything else but a teacher, starting in fourth grade when I used to tell stories and read to the neighborhood kids. As a substitute teacher, I would always carry books with me to share because everyone loves a good book, no matter what age they are. Read a story to a class and they all want to check that book out.

To you, how do school libraries empower students? The school library is one of the main gathering places on campus. Students need a welcoming environment where they can meet, collaborate, and get assistance from peers or a friendly, knowledgeable teacher who is always available. Research shows that a full-time school librarian makes a critical difference in boosting student achievement.

If a student were to come in right now asking for a book recommendation, what would you recommend? Why? I would first ask the student what their favorite book is or what their interests are. I would give them a choice of books that are similar in genre, with a quick synopsis of each story. Then the student could make their choice, thereby empowering that child as a reader.

What book can you read over and over again and it’s enjoyable each time you read it? Why? I love Harry Potter books — all of them. The detailed, magical, fantasy world J.K. Rowling has created is incredible. The humor, the adventures, the creatures and the struggle between good and evil, and right and wrong. The excitement society went through and the reading that soared with each release says it all.

What was the first book you read and it really gripped you? The special book series that resonated with me was the Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene. Followed by Agatha Christie. A true mystery lover at first.

Why was it so enthralling? Nancy Drew was the coolest. She was young, so smart and she was a girl! I could relate to her and wanted to grow up to be just like her. I was living the case, side by side, with her! I loved the challenge of trying to figure out the mystery before the ending. I’m still that way today, especially at the movies.

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