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The City Journals

More than a Library: Celebrating Albion Middle School Librarian Marianne Bates

Jun 08, 2016 10:24AM ● By Stephanie Lauritzen

By Stephanie Lauritzen  /  [email protected]

Cottonwood Heights - For Marianne Bates, running the Library Media Center at Albion Middle School is a dream come true. 

“I have always loved to read — my parents were both educators and they encouraged a love of reading and learning in our home. I studied English and library science in college, so I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a teacher librarian.” 

Bates began working at Albion as an assistant librarian in 2000, and became the teacher librarian in 2006. “I’ve always loved books, but in the past few years, I have also learned to love technology, as it has become a more important part of the library world,” Bates said. 

As it turns out, students and teachers love Bates and think she’s an important part of the library world as well. In March, the Utah Educational Library Media Association named her Teacher Librarian of the Year, with the Canyons Board of Education recognizing her efforts in their May board meeting: “Marianne Bates’ influence is felt in every grade, by every teacher and by every student. Not only does she teach students the art of research and compiling data, she also curates a collection of books they find fascinating. And this year, she created a space within the library where students can come and spend time making things — from Lego kingdoms to robots.”

Running a successful library requires a wide range of skills and a willingness to constantly learn new things. According to Bates, “one of the most challenging aspects of my job is the wide variety of things we do here in the library. Besides taking care of the library collection and circulating the books and finding resources for teachers and students, we oversee the library computer lab and help with technology. I find that there are constant interruptions, but that is good because then there are more opportunities to help.”

Fortunately, Bates feels supported by her team of assistants and colleagues. “I am lucky because I have two great assistants, Julie Frandsen and Margaret Redding — the library would not be the place it is without their help! Another challenge is keeping up with the constant changes in technology — there are always new resources and programs to learn to help students and teachers. I am always learning new things through collaborating with the great secondary teacher librarians in Canyons School District and from my school ed tech, Michelle Zey.”

Despite the many challenges, Bates appreciates the opportunity to work with everyone in the school. “The best part of my job is getting to work with everyone in the school, and the students, parents, teachers and administration at Albion are the best! I work with the teachers by teaching classes, finding books and online resources and by creating pathfinders and booklists. I work with students — helping them find resources, talking to them about books and helping them find just the right book.” 

An added bonus? “I ‘have’ to read a lot of books to stay up on the current young adult and middle school book titles, and that is very enjoyable,” Bates said. For students looking for a great new read, Bates recommends “The War That Saved My Life” by Kimberly Bradley, which focuses on a handicapped girl overcoming adversity during World War II, and “Lost in the Sun” by Lisa Graff, a contemporary fiction novel about a boy who feels responsible for the death of his friend.  Furthermore, Bates makes sure to pre-order the latest popular fiction books so students can read their anticipated favorites the same day they are released. 

 Beyond adding Legos to the library, Bates works hard to make her library unique and accessible to all of Albion’s students. “We have tried to keep our library up to date by following the new trends for libraries. Thanks to some wonderful grants from Donors Choose, 100% for Kids, the Albion Middle PTA and the Library Services and Technology Act, we have added a new “maker space” to our library, and now provide Kindles and downloadable audio and e-books for students to access from home. We have also added over 100 multiaccess e-books for teachers to use in their classrooms. A Utah Humanities grant allowed us to host a special community book club with Eileen Hallet Stone from ‘The Salt Lake Tribune’ as a guest speaker. I feel like our library shines because the administration at Albion is so supportive of the library and library programs.”