November 21, 2017

Amanda Smithfield | Movers & Shakers 2016 – Advocates

Amanda Smithfield

CURRENT POSITION

Librarian, Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet School, Nashville

DEGREE

MLIS, Trevecca Nazarene University, Nashville, 2002

FOLLOW

@asmithfield (Twitter); thelibrarianextraordinairedotcom.wordpress.com

Photo by Ardee Chua

Open for Business

Hume-Fogg is no ordinary place. A magnet school for ninth to 12th grade within the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, in 2015 it was the top-ranked high school in Tennessee and one of the top 50 U.S. schools. Academic pressure is high. That’s why Hume-Fogg librarian Amanda Smithfield has taken access and services at the school library to a new level.

When Smithfield opens the doors at 7 a.m., students flood inside the building. “We see about 100 students before first period starts at eight,” she says. “By the end of the day, we’ve seen about 340 individual students—that’s about 40 percent of our school! And that does not count classes a teacher might bring to the library.”

All day, Smithfield transitions between the library and classrooms, where she plans and launches projects with teachers. And all day, students tweet and text her, sometimes asking for help as late as 10 p.m.

The library wasn’t always so alluring. When Smithfield arrived in 2011, she scrapped 60 percent of the collection that had been purchased, on average, in 1977, according to Smithfield. Thanks to a partnership with the Nashville Public Library, she was able to add 1,500 new books.

She also started summer hours and checkout. “I know a lot of librarians are reluctant to checkout over the summer, but the population at my school is pretty stable, and many of my students have so much homework during the school year that they don’t have much time to read for fun,” she says. Now “about 15 percent of the library’s collection is checked out every summer.”

All these changes have paid off: checkouts increased by 300 percent in the first year and are 500 percent more than in 2010.

One of Smithfield’s most popular programs is a monthly panel, attended by about 100 students, that brings together students from different backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, and races, to discuss everything from being undocumented, to being politically conservative or liberal, to being transgender. It’s a way for students to engage with ideas (and people) different from their own. She also created a podcast platform for students to share their takes on social issues. As a district librarian coach, Smithfield is often a go-to person for advice and guidance for new librarians, says nominator Nicole Jimenez, a training development specialist for the Metro Nashville schools. Smithfield’s advice? “If you have a computer or a smartphone, you have access to social media. Use it! Tweet your school board members all the great things you do. Share your projects with your director of schools. Showcase the work in your library to the world.”

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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Comments

  1. Hope Hall says:

    Amanda is so deserving of this recognition. She is generous with her time and knowledge not only with her students but with colleagues and teachers. No matter when, where or what time…Amanda will answer e-mail, texts, or phone calls.(Full disclosure: I have been known to call her at both 6 a.m.) Her first year as the librarian at Hume-Fogg, the student body selected her for a very prestigious teacher award. She cares deeply for students and they recognize and appreciate her devotion. I know that I speak for all of her colleagues in Metro Nashville Public Schools when I say, “Go Girl! Keep on Movin’ and Shakin’!”