Q&A with Dave Barry, Librarian at the English High School and 2020 Shelf Help Winner
This year’s Shelf Help Program applications are now open for school librarians. We talked with one of last year’s winners, Dave Barry of the English High School, to learn more about what prompted him to apply for the grant program, how it benefitted the library, and what it was like to have author Jerry Craft visit the school (albeit virtually!).
What prompted you to apply for the Shelf Help grant?
Debbie Froggatt, the head of library services for Boston Public Schools, shared the grant application with the school librarians at the end of last year and encouraged us all to apply. Librarians can’t pass up an opportunity for free books!
How has receiving the ShelfHelp Grant helped you in your role as a librarian?
It has really done wonders, especially as someone still relatively new in this role. I have met some great people and had the opportunity to grow a lot through the process. Carlin Carr from the Boston Book Festival has been outstanding from start to finish in ushering us through the process. I learned about book ordering from the folks at Mackin and the Boston Public Library. Reaching out to my colleagues for book ideas and to recruit students for the Craft visit helped me to get to know the staff at English High School better. Pam Yosca from Wondermore was fantastic in co-planning the Jerry Craft visit and is a great resource for future author visits. And of course, we were able to meet Jerry Craft, which was exciting and a lot of fun.
Reaching out to my colleagues for book ideas and to recruit students for the Craft visit helped me to get to know the staff at English High School better.
How has the grant benefitted English H.S.’s library and the school more broadly?
We now have over $1,000 worth of new books for our library collection. Close to 80 of Jerry Craft’s graphic novels have been distributed to students for them to read and enjoy. As a school, we’ve seen how much fun an author visit can be. Hopefully students will now be that much more likely to get excited about the next author visit and about reading itself.
What were some of the highlights for you?
The Craft visit was a highlight of the year for sure. He was wise and funny and made great connections with the students. Also, collaborating with Carlin from the Boston Book Festival and Pam from Wondermore were great parts of a strange year.
As a school, we’ve seen how much fun an author visit can be.
Were there any challenges you had to face?
One challenge was getting the Craft books into the hands of students when most of them were not in school on a regular basis. Some students came to school for the books and many books were dropped off at students’ homes too.
Do you have any plans to build on the momentum from the new books and the Jerry Craft visit in the year to come?
Absolutely! We have all the new books on display right now. Students who are in the building have already begun to borrow them. Those will be a treasure for years to come. We look forward to working with Wondermore on more author visits for next year. Here’s a fun one: Jerry Craft drew a picture of Jordan (the protagonist from New Kid) saying hello to English High School. We are dropping that off at the framer’s and can’t wait to have that on the wall in the library.
Learn more about applying for this year’s Shelf Help School Partnership program and apply online by May 31, 2021.