Q&A with library media specialist Ashley Bennet

Bennet discusses her thoughts on her job and the media center’s renovations

Avery Gathright, JagWire editor-in-chief

Mill Valley News: What do you like most about your job?

Library media specialist Ashley Bennett: I like the change, every day is different, and I love interacting [with] and helping students, whether it’s helping them with tech problems, [helping them find what] to read or just offering a space where they can collaborate with friends or even just hang out.

MVN: What would you say are your least favorite parts about your job?

AB: My least favorite part would be when there’s ever a point where I feel like I haven’t been able to help a student. That would be my least favorite, or if I can’t fix a tech problem and [K-12 on-site support technician Garrison Ballam] isn’t here. If I feel like a student leaves the library and they didn’t get what they came for, I feel like that is probably my least favorite part.

MVN: With the renovations this year, what has changed in the media center?

AB: A lot of the upperclassmen will probably be more familiar with this than underclassmen, but a lot of the furniture has changed. When I first got here and Dr. Holder was the new principal, the first thing we kind of looked at was the shelving, and the seating offerings were a little outdated. They’d been the original shelves and tables and chairs from when Mill Valley was first built, so around 2000. So it was time for an upgrade. It’s still in process. We’ve replaced all of those wooden square tables and hard chairs with things that are a little bit more movable. We have the whiteboard tables where kids can use Expo markers and write things out, and those are all on wheels, as well as the chairs. [The media center is] a more collaborative space. The shelving, [which] looks a little bit more modern, is also going to be all movable. I moved the circulation desk out to the middle so that I could see people as they were walking into the library. 

MVN: Have you noticed any changes in how students use the media center since the renovations were made?

AB: Being in my second year, I can’t really speak 100% to what it was like before, but I feel like just in the couple years I’ve been here I’ve noticed more students come in, whether it’s before school or after school, just to kind of catch up with each other and hang out. I’ve noticed that more teachers are interested in bringing their classes down, not just the traditional English teachers. We’ve had science teachers bring their class down and we’ve had social studies teachers bring their classes down to collaborate. I’ve noticed and I think the students also notice when they walk in here, a lot of students comment on [the media center]. It’s so different and they really enjoy the charging stations and having access to those collaborative spaces. 

MVN: Is there anything you miss about the old media center setup?

AB: No, I don’t. Only because I feel like, for our students today, we’re now offering them more of what they would expect out of a media center. So I don’t really miss anything from the old [media center].

MVN: What is something you want students to know about the media center?

AB: I hope that students know that even though yes, I am a librarian and a media specialist, even though, yes, we have books and I love when students check out books, that the library offers that and more. [There is] the expectation you can come into the library without the intention of checking out a book, and you’re more than welcome to use the space. I’m hoping that they see that this is a space where they can come in and receive help if they need it, or just come in and enjoy the space. I hope all students realize that it’s here for everyone to use.

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