February 10, 2023
Librarian of the Year innovates in the classroom
Lessie Bernshouse was named the Pee Dee School Librarian of the Year by the South Carolina Association of School Librarians as a recognition of her work with students at Wilder Elementary School. Bernshouse is an alumna of the School of Library and Information Science in the College of Information and Communications, receiving her Master of Library and Information Science degree in 2011.
Her path to the school library opened through volunteer work. “There was a little article in the newspaper that my mom found,” Bernshouse recalled, “and they were looking for volunteers to go into the school system to work with younger students on reading.” Eventually her title changed from Volunteer to Elementary Library Media Specialist.
With this new role came the ability to create learning experiences for students that extended beyond the page. Activities she has led have covered topics like understanding the effects of advertising and media literacy. “It’s kind of falling more on the librarian to do more of the technology training with the students,” Bernshouse explains. She describes one activity meant to introduce students to the concepts of mis- and dis- information and how to spot it.
Students will face a complicated media landscape in the coming years, and Bernshouse is aware of that fact. “There are bills in the house right now that could, if go through, would definitely affect how books are purchased going forward from teachers and for school libraries,” she says, “It’s definitely something that’s going on in this state slowly, but it’s here.”
Bernshouse challenges those who seek to limit access to books to examine their perspectives through reflection, saying “Reading these books… It’s a way for you to internalize how you feel — What are your thoughts? What do you believe in?”
As for the future? She says that education is still a valuable aspect of her life. “I always enjoy being able to take more classes. I’m a nerd and I like learning still — hopefully I’ll get to go to my Ph.D. at some point in the near future,” she says.
You can read more about the Pee Dee School Librarian of the Year and watch a video interview on WLTX.com.