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Spotlight On Librarians
Gloria Chun '23 Associate Editor and Annabelle Brennan '23 Staff Writer
November 18, 2021

Founded in 1968, the Boyden Library continues to serve as a hub of resources and study spaces for students. Amidst the plethora of academic assets available on campus, librarians play a pivotal role in introducing and organizing these databases to make them more accessible for high school students. Among the librarians are the Director of the Library Marshall Carroll, Assistant Director of the Library Jennifer Needham, and Circulation & Admin. Assistant to Director of Boyden Library Christine Dubreuil.

Credit: Mandy Xiang

The librarians have various roles both in the classrooms and in the Boyden Library. For example, one of Mr. Carroll’s jobs is to visit classes and introduce the Boyden Library’s online database to students, especially in regards to research on historical, secondary and primary source documents. When class projects and essays are assigned, he often holds sessions to provide a step-by-step guide through LibGuides, which are research guides that organize and highlight certain library resources, Databases, Citation Tools, and other options offered on the Student Bulletin. 

He noted that this was his “favorite part of the job,” as the detailed walkthrough of the online resources “shifts the students’ perception or ideas about research into something that can be exciting and fun.” 

Moreover, during the pandemic, he added that many virtual students found these instructions especially helpful as they made use of the online library sources for class assignments.

Inside the Boyden Library itself, the librarians’ work ranges from introducing new books to rearranging and updating the print collection. Regarding the three floors-worth of books available, Ms. Needham noted that the library  “collects five to six hundred new books a year, most of which are related to the curriculum of that particular school year.” With such a huge influx of new resources, Mr. Carroll added that the challenging part is “having to decide what books to weed and remove from the collection.” For instance, a few summers ago, Mr. Carroll said that the librarians had to undergo a massive project, “shifting the entire collection of 50,000 columns to better match student use.” 

While both Mr. Carroll and Ms. Needham agreed that “making room for new acquisitions in the library” is one of the hardest parts of their job as commented by Mr. Carroll, they are proud of the diversity of resources available on campus. Ms. Dubreuil explained that over time, “the different types of people from different backgrounds and cultures that make up the Deerfield community” influenced the books collection in the library. She continued, “they have evolved in a way that expands student’s knowledge and perspective of the world to outside of the state, the county, and more.” 

Furthermore, the updated collections have not only influenced the students’ Deerfield experience, but also the librarians themselves. Ms. Needham explained that this specific task of collection development has taught her a valuable life lesson. Compared to her prior work experience in customer service and retail, where “thinking quickly and working quickly” are key to success, this “job has allowed [her] to  realize the value in considering and weighing options before reacting and making big decisions.” 

In addition to the lessons learned through the various tasks of librarians, they agree that books teach numerous life lessons as well. Ms. Needham reminds the students to visit the reading room, which displays all the new books the library received recently. Ms. Dubreuil also recommended “The Great Alone” by Kristin Hannah and “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens, while Mr. Carroll picked “Make it Stick” by Paul Brown for the students, as he believes the book “will help improve their study habits,” especially as they return back to an offline schedule after the pandemic.