Catherine Sergeant, district librarian for the 509-J School District, has a different approach.The 509-J District librarian, Catherine Sergeant, has been selected as the Librarian of the Year by the Oregon Association of School Libraries.

The association includes certified librarians, and library assistants at the elementary, high school and college levels.

Sergeant is based at the Madras High School Library, but has educational assistants, who she prefers to call “paraprofessionals” at each of the district’s other schools.

“I mentor them, but they run their own libraries. We are in constant contact,” she said, noting she does all the ordering and budgeting for the school libraries.

Sergeant has a wide range of experience which led to her developing a different approach to being a librarian. “I’m in my 41st year of teaching. I have a Master in Music Education and taught music for 25 years,” she noted.

Her bachelor’s degree is in elementary education K-8, and she completed a media specialist certification to be a librarian. In the past, she also worked for Sylvan Learning Centers. She began as the elementary library coordinator in 2006, and is now the district librarian.

Sergeant received the award for a number of changes she has made at libraries in the 509-J District over the years.

She helped establish a checkout and accountability system for books, and besides her librarian duties, is the teacher for 90 students doing online credit recovery work in the library’s computer lab.

“A compassion and passion for learning is what I try to impart to my kiddos,” she said, indicating her affection for the students.

But the main change is that Sergeant has turned the library into the hub of the school.

“We have 150 kids here before school, at lunch time and after school. We’ve made the library very accessible and a safe place to be. Some work on computers, some eat lunch here, some play games, some study. It’s just a comfortable place,” she said.

Sergeant does make the students be responsible when they eat at long tables in the room. When some scattered sunflower seeds around, the consequence was to close the library during the extra hours for a few days.

“A lot of librarians roll their eyes when they hear about allowing food in the library,” she admitted. But that’s one reason students are attracted to the MHS library.

“It’s a good, busy, very positive place,” Sergeant said.

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