by Jessica Caterson
Last year, the East Greenwich school district was forced to make some tough decisions surrounding the school’s budget, and unfortunately, a librarian for the high school did not make the final cut. East Greenwich High School finished the school year this past June with the library being closed for the entirety of it. Luckily, however, this year the library is open and bustling with activity. How? Because of the new librarian, Mrs. Steever.
Mrs. Steever comes from an extensive background in education. She has a masters degree in higher education administration, and worked as an assistant director at new student programs at the University of Rhode Island. After that, she had the incredible opportunity to live and work in Dubai at a newly founded university for Arab women. “It was really amazing. Dubai is amazing. If you want to go to the middle east to visit, that’s the best place to go,” she gushed. She then came back to Rhode Island two years later and decided to become a librarian. Mrs. Steever then got her masters degree in library and information science, and has been a working librarian since 2002. Her career has taken her all over Rhode Island and Massachusetts. She’s worked at Chariho Middle School, an elementary school in Sharon, MA, Frenchtown Elementary in East Greenwich, Exeter West Greenwich, and now, here at EGHS.
For Mrs. Steever, making personal connections with students and faculty is the most important part of being a librarian. “It’s all about relationship building in my mind,” she shared. “It’s about making students and teachers feel welcome when they come into the library.” Her goal this year is to make the library more accessible and helpful to the entire EGHS community. She’s already made lots of changes, such as rearranging the furniture to make it a more open space, putting up interesting displays that catch students’ attention, and “weeding” through the hundreds of reference books to make sure all information is current. She hopes that through these small adjustments, the library will become more inviting, and therefore, more helpful to all students. “If I can get classes in, then while you’re here, maybe you’ll look around, see something that’s interesting to you, pick up a book, or just realize that maybe I can help with more than just a reading selection,” she said. Not only is she working on the physical library, but Mrs. Steever is also actively working on the library website. In the age of technology, she knows that most students see the first result on google and take it as fact, when in reality, it may not be a reliable source. “You can sit at your computer, and you can get a lot of information,” she said. “Some of it good, but some of it not so good. It’s just about sifting through it.” By updating the website, Mrs. Steever is hoping to support teachers and students in finding reliable information more easily.
One of Mrs. Steever’s goals this year is to make the library a meeting space where people can come together and work on anything from homework to club activities. She hopes to change the way people view the library. “It’s not a quiet space,” she emphasized. “People think that a lot. A library is different now. It’s a place where people can collaborate and talk, and yes, it is a place where you can have a quiet space if you need it, but not all the time… I think it needs to be everything… At different times in the day, it is quiet, and can be that nice place where people can sit and really concentrate, and then, sometimes it’s not.” Even with the school year only having just started, the library has already achieved this goal. Before school and during lunches, the library acts as a quiet and serene place to read and study. On the flip side, during advisories and after school, the library is bustling with activity, with students completing group projects, meeting for their clubs, and peer tutoring.
On a personal note, Mrs. Steever’s favorite season is fall, but her favorite date is January 1st because “it’s all about new beginnings.” The best advice she had ever been given was from her dad, who said, “When you realize you’re not happy, make a change,” which she’s applied to her own life as much as she can. If she had to live in a book universe, Mrs. Steever would pick The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien because of its beauty, and she doesn’t know what fictional book character would be her best friend because “there are too many good ones!” She prefers her potatoes as fries, and shares the popular opinion that Mondays are the worst days of the week. As for what actress would play her in a movie of her life, she would choose Amy Adams, and her favorite book genre right now is suspense.
Mrs. Steever is very enthusiastic about this school year at EGHS. “I’m really excited because there’s a lot of opportunity here for change. This library, because it was closed and now reopening, I think you can give people a whole new idea of what a library can be,” she shared. Make sure to stop by the library and pay Mrs. Steever a visit. You’ll be glad you did!