Librarians support student interests, promote diversity through library’s book selections


Office Assistant Sarah Boehm and librarian Denise Hernandez work together at their desk. Lately, they have been working on planning new displays and developing collections to promote student representation.

By Ella Schwartz, Managing Editor

“Celebrate Love,” “Black History Month,” “Student and Faculty Picks” and a Martin Luther King Jr. book display were all featured collections in the library in February. 

Librarian Denise Hernandez and Office Assistant Sarah Boehm, who stepped in to cover the library after former librarian Jacque Giebel left unexpectedly in August, organize these book displays as well as manage the library inventory, host events and purchase literature based on student feedback. 

Hernandez said her goal is to make the library a space where all students feel comfortable and represented. 

“I would hope that the library is a safe space for everyone,” Hernandez said. “It doesn’t matter what your background is. It doesn’t matter what you’re interested in. I want everyone to feel like they’re represented in our [book] collection — that we see them, we hear them and that the space is for you guys.” 

Hernandez said receiving feedback from students is one way she makes sure every student is represented. Hernandez and Boehm have a book suggestion box where students can suggest books they would like to see shown in the library.

“We always ask students ‘Did you like that book? Would you recommend it to somebody else? Why would you recommend it? Are there any other books that you’re interested in?'” Hernandez said. “When somebody comes by, and we happen to not have a book that they want, we offer to buy it.”

This is Boehm’s first year as office assistant in the library. She is an Archer alumni and taught the Spanish 1 and 2 classes last year. In her first months in this new position, Boehm said she has been learning a lot about collection development, creating book displays and working with students and teachers on many different literature projects. 

It doesn’t matter what your background is. It doesn’t matter what you’re interested in. I want everyone to feel like they’re represented in our [book] collection — that we see them, we hear them and that the space is for you guys.

— Assistant Librarian Denise Hernandez


“A big component in what our collection development looks like is student feedback,” Boehm said. “We have a display that’s dedicated to student recommendations, and we’re constantly seeking out feedback from students about books that they’re reading at home but also books that they check out from here because, at the end of the day, students drive the library.”

Sophomore Siena Ferraro, with the help of Hernandez, hosted a used book fair  Feb 17. Ferraro frequents the library, and she said she appreciates its book displays and inclusivity. 

“It’s a very meaningful space to me,” Ferraro said. “It’s really valuable to have a library on any campus, and my wish is that every campus, no matter where you are, would be able to have a library as nice as ours one day.” 

Ferraro also said she admires Hernandez and Boehm’s efforts to make sure each student feels welcomed to the library.

“Those two are just a great team. They make the space fun and inclusive, and it feels like you’re talking to friends when you’re spending time with them,” Ferraro said. “I think having the library not be a nerve-wracking environment is so great. They make it feel very warm and very fun.”

Last year, Hernandez was assistant librarian to Head Librarian Jaquie Giebel. This school year, Hernandez took over Giebel’s role leading the library team. Hernandez said she feels like she was prepared to go into the role because Giebel was a mentor to her.

“It was an adjustment for sure, but not one I wasn’t prepared for,” Hernandez said. “It was one that I [got] more and more excited about because I love having so much autonomy in the space and interacting with the kids and figuring out what are they interested in.”

Both Boehm and Hernandez said it is important the library caters to both middle and upper school students. For this reason, have made adjustments to the library’s collection according to suggestions and observations on what books and genres are popular.

“What’s the point of having a library if there aren’t kids in it?” Hernandez said. “This year, we took on revamping the graphic novel section specifically because there was a big need for it in middle school. Now, we’re getting more upper school readers, and now we’re trying to balance how we can meet upper school wants, while also supporting middle school.” 

Boehm is connecting with students by taking book recommendations, offering to buy books students are interested in and being available to chat when students want to. She said she wants students to feel welcomed and safe in the library. 

“This is a student space. We always want it to feel that way,” Boehm said. “We never want it to feel like we’re imposing on what we think you should be reading. This is a very unique position to be in. We’re a very unique student body of primarily girls. So catering to that and catering to people’s different backgrounds through different stories is what we try to do.”