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You Can Go Home Again

Liz Gray, Interim Library Director

Seven years ago, after 22 years as Library Director at Dana Hall, I walked away to a new life with many proverbial irons in the occupational fire: writing, library space planning consulting, Airbnb hosting, and quilting. Leaving was bittersweet: I knew I was ready for new challenges, but it was hard to leave my friends and colleagues of many years, and an institution that I loved.

When my successor had a baby this past June, I was fortunate enough to be able to return to Dana as Interim Library Director. Coming back was an adjustment (no more reading past midnight or spontaneous midweek trips to museums), but for the most part it has been a pleasant reminder of why I worked in school libraries for most of my career, and what I have missed since I left.

One of the most satisfying aspects of being a librarian, particularly for a person who enjoys research, is the daily challenge of answering questions, problem solving, and helping people find what they need, whether it be information or resources or a lost iPhone. It’s also impossible to be bored as a librarian—not only does every day bring a new set of experiences, but there are also always dozens of books to share, exciting events in which to participate, and a wide range of decisions to make.

Being part of a supportive community is another benefit I have missed. My daughter got married this fall, and both preparing for that event and reliving it afterwards were more meaningful experiences than they would otherwise have been. I have also enjoyed renewing old friendships and making new ones, having lunch made for me every day by the talented Dining Hall staff, and working with a group of department members that are creative, smart, and fun to be around.

Finally, it is wonderful to see the world through the eyes of students again. From the fifth graders’ thoughtful questions about Banned Books Week to the seniors’ excitement at discovering a new author, my interactions with students remind me that school librarians and teachers work with the future every day, and it is a bright one.