PCPS Celebrates National School Library Month: Meet Dena Sullivan

PCPS Celebrates National School Library Month: Meet Dena Sullivan

Photo of Dena Sullivan

It’s National School Library Month!

Every year, the American Association of School Librarians sets aside the month of April to celebrate the contributions of school librarians and the role of school libraries in students’ education. PCPS has been spotlighting members of our Library Media Services staff throughout the month.

Today we meet Dena Sullivan, a media specialist at Lake Gibson Middle. She joined PCPS in 1995 and has been a media specialist since 2018.

Why did you become a school librarian?

Reading has always been my “happy place!” For me, being a school librarian is the absolute best job in the world, hands down! I get to “talk books” with kids and watch as they get excited about reading. Instead of just being able to interact with 150 students as their classroom teacher, I get to interact with 1,200 students!

What do you like most about your job?

There are so many things that I love about my job. If I had to choose one, my favorite thing would have to be the excitement that the kids express once they find a book that they love, or are reading a book that they are into, completely. When they come running into the library and are so excited to share what they read, or to ask “What should I read next?” Their excitement — that’s the best!

What do you try most to instill in students, and why?

At this age (middle school), they have learned that they either love or hate reading. For those who love to read, it’s keeping that excitement going and teaching them how to branch out and find books that they love, based on their ever-changing likes and dislikes. For those who do not love to read, it’s helping them figure out what they like and how to find books that will keep them engaged and wanting to read more.

Describe the experience of visiting your library. What is the atmosphere you try to create?

My ultimate goal is for the students to feel that welcoming sense of home when they visit the library. Soft, cheerful music greets them as they browse the shelves, comfy seats await them when it is time to settle in and read, soft lighting replaces harsh fluorescent lights to create a relaxing glow — all in the hopes that the students will enjoy their time while they are here.

What is your favorite book, and why?

Oh, there are so many good ones, so many great ones. “The Wizard of Oz” is probably my all-time favorite. I remember reading it when I was small, the details were so vivid. I mean, wasn’t it everyone’s wish to own a pair of sparkly shoes?

What is the biggest contribution you think you make to your students’ lives?

I hope that when a student looks back on their time in the library, for a short time during their busy day they were able to relax, be themselves, talk about things they love, discover and explore unknown topics, and develop or deepen their love for reading.