February 16, 2018

Lisa Von Drasek | Movers & Shakers 2007

Split Personality


As a media specialist, academic librarian, and adjunct faculty member at the Bank Street College of Education’s elementary school, Lisa Von Drasek daily demonstrates the importance of media specialists to aspiring teachers and principals and the faculty who train them. ‘Librarians are essential academic staff,’ she says. ‘Providing a grounding in information literacy is not a luxury for today’s students and tomorrow’s citizens.’

The elementary school teachers she works with understand that, because she has a handle on how each child learns and what works and doesn’t with every one of the 450 children in the school. Teachers also know Von Drasek as the ‘book fairy’ who delivers collections of historical novels to the class that’s studying the Revolutionary War, audiobooks to the teacher with the long commute, and galleys of new fantasy novels to avid fans. Everywhere teachers look, they see Von Drasek.

Whenever teachers would thank Von Drasek for something she’d done, she would ask them if they knew that librarians weren’t paid on the faculty schedule. When librarians received spectacularly high marks on a customer service survey, she publicized the results widely and said, ‘Can you believe we’re not being paid fairly?’ Though union leaders did not support her campaign, she wore them down, raising her point at every weekly meeting. Her efforts resulted in pay equity for librarians.

Because she cherishes her own mentors, Von Drasek is committed to mentoring others, as a thesis advisor for teachers, an instructor for two children’s literature courses, and an internship supervisor for LIS students. She is also a mentor to the librarians and support staff she so admires at her library. ‘I wouldn’t last a week at my job without our team!’ she says.

Von Drasek describes her personality as ‘extremely terrier-like.’ Her colleagues prefer to call her ‘exuberant, energetic, and unstoppable.’ However you describe her persistence and dedication, you can’t deny they pay off – for kids, teachers, and future librarians.




CURRENT POSITION Children’s Librarian, Academic Librarian, and Adjunct Instructor, School for Children, Bank Street College of Education, New York

DEGREES MLIS, Pratt Institute, 1995

COLUMNIST Teaching PreK-8 and Nick Jr. Family Magazine; wrote New York State’s summer reading manual, Discover 2000 Read

HOME IS WHERE… She lives in a 150-year-old schoolhouse