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Q&A with campus librarian on importance of collaborative hub on campus

Photo credit: Vivianne Arnold
Librarian Denise Hernandez works at her desk during a quieter afternoon in the library. The library is often packed with students coming to study and work. Hernandez said she loves that the library is a safe place for students on campus.

Whether it serves as a warm study spot, the treasure map to a new favorite book or a place to relax from the stresses of school, the Tia Palermo library is a popular space with many Archer students. However, none of the library’s programming or resources would be available without librarian Denise Hernandez.

Hernandez began working at Archer in 2021. As the librarian, she oversees the rotating displays, after school programs and system management of the library. Students are able to check out books and DVDs, as well as use the library’s various newspaper and internet archive subscriptions.

The Oracle sat down with Hernandez to learn more about her experience as librarian.

How did you first come to work at Archer’s library?

Denise Hernandez [DH]: I had initially applied when I first graduated from college for my undergrad as a history teacher because I thought I wanted to teach, and because I studied history in school … Well, first they didn’t get back to me. But then I realized I wanted to go to grad school, and that I wanted to be a librarian, and it was really funny because this popped up as a position for the assistant librarian, and I was like, “Hey, I remember them.” So I reapplied, but I didn’t get the call for Archer until I was in San Francisco, in the middle of an interview for a librarian position there. And they literally called me and were like, “Would you be interested in coming through?” and I was like, it feels like a sign to stay in LA. So, that’s how I wound up here.

I realized that I really enjoyed working with kids and students, but not in the capacity where I’m teaching them or grading them — where there’s that dynamic. Here I get to have a little bit more fun with [the students] and get to have a much more casual relationship with you where [students] don’t feel the pressure of “She’s gonna be grading our papers.” More of a “What do you want to read? Come through for a movie, but also be quiet. This is a library,” right?

What’s the process of putting the library displays together?

[DH]: I usually rotate them based on heritage months. Because we have so much Jewish American Heritage programming here at Archer, this time I chose to do the Asian American Pacific Islander display heritage month, but there is going to be smaller Jewish American Heritage displays spread out. “Blind Date with a Book“— that was a student suggestion that I had always wanted to do because it’s normally a program where students come, and they pick a book, and we all do it together. I had never done it as a display, but it got so much traction [that] I only have four books left. I need to wrap some more books, but the school year is about to end … Sometimes  I just pick some based on what I’m feeling. Maybe what is of interest to students like the Taylor Swift board display. That’s for [the students], for sure.

What is your favorite part of Archer’s library?

[DH]: I really love the students in the library. I think I love how homey the library can feel at times, or at least I hope that that’s what it feels like to everybody. It’s a library, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like a library.

What do you wish more people knew about the library?

[DH]: That I will, for the most part, get any book that you want —within reason.

What hopes do you have for the library?

[DH]: I hope we get a paint job. That would be fun. I hope that this continues to become this productive, collaborative hub on campus. Upper schoolers really know how to take advantage of the space. Case in point, when [upper schoolers] come, and especially when I lifted the food policy — for upper schoolers only — it stopped pushing away certain kids and now they feel like they can come they can eat, do their work and everyone’s been really, really receptive to the updated food policy.

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About the Contributor
Vivianne Arnold
Vivianne Arnold, Staff Reporter
Vivianne Arnold joined the Oracle as a staff reporter in 2023. She is a board member of Archer's GSA and is involved in theater. In her free time, she enjoys reading, playing D&D with friends and listening to music.

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