What is your full name and title?
My name is Anthony Carnovale. I’m the teacher-librarian at St. Michael Secondary School in Bolton, Ont.
What exactly do you do?
As teacher-librarian it is my job to ensure that students are well versed in all areas of literacy – specifically reading, writing and information literacy.
I make sure that students have equal and fair access to both private and public forms of information.
I work in collaboration with teachers to ensure that students have the necessary research and information management skills to help meet their curriculum needs. I also want to show students that learning is a lifelong endeavour; one of my goals is to make learning fun and inviting.
I also want to make the library a safe and inviting place for all students.
I want the library to play an integral part in their academic careers and personal lives. I want them to see the importance of a library; so that one day they will visit the library on their own time, and perhaps even advocate for it.
Describe what you do on any given day.
The library is my classroom. I teach, I learn, I listen.
What’s your background and education?
I graduated from Carleton University with a BA in English. I obtained my Teaching Certificate from Canberra University in Australia. After 10 years of teaching English, I completed my teacher-librarian qualifications.
How did you get to your position?
When my current school was being staffed, a colleague suggested that I should consider the position of teacher-librarian. As soon as she suggested it, I saw the next 10 years of my life flash before me.
I was surprised that I had never even considered it before. It was perfect timing. I was getting tired of teaching the same works year after year. I was beginning to feel like I needed a change.
I have come to see the library as a bigger classroom, with more students and plenty more resources at hand.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is having the opportunity to work with teachers in different subject areas, different levels and different grades. Nothing is static. I get to use all of the resources that I find and apply them in new and exciting ways. And when things are slow, I get to work with students on an individual basis. They see the library as a safe place, and they come to it when they need some advice, or when they’re simply looking for someone to listen to them.
What’s the worst part of your job?
The most difficult part of my job initially was trying to get people to take my role as teacher-librarian seriously; there are very few males in this role. When I told a colleague that I had accepted the teacher-librarian position, he laughed and quipped: “You just ruined every fantasy I ever had about a librarian.”
What are your strengths in this role?
You have to see the library as an integral part of the students’, and by extension, the school’s, success. You have to be active, and do all that you can to engage students, to show them that the library is relevant, useful, and just as important as any formal class they are taking.
What are your weaknesses?
I’m stubborn. I get annoyed when I see students being assigned essay topics that I was assigned over 20 years ago.
What has been your best career move?
My best career move was taking a drama course as part of my qualifications. I make drama an integral part of everything that I teach.
What has been your worst career move?
The worst thing I have done in my career was not to speak up when I knew something wasn’t right. It’s difficult to demand change and to ask for accountability in the education system; sometimes it can beat you into submission.
What’s your next big job goal?
My next goal is to turn another student into a reader. In my eyes, there is nothing bigger than this.
What’s your best advice to others who might want to follow in your footsteps?
Don’t teach unless you really mean it.
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