Alum Marina Hatfield, a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teacher-librarian, attained grant funds for her library and published about STEM libraries.
Hatfield works at Young Oak Kim Academy, a STEM middle school located in the Los Angeles area. Over the last year, through Hatfield’s grant seeking efforts, the library has received two grants to expand the library’s collection – both while Hatfield was still earning her graduate degree.
In fall 2013, the library received a $5,000 grant to purchase nonfiction STEM books for the school’s “Accelerated Reader” program. The grant is funded by the Barona Band of Mission Indians. Earlier in 2013, the school received a $500 Reading Is the Way Up grant, which funded books for the library’s “Rocket Reads” section.
Hatfield, who earned her Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree in December 2013, credits the success of her grant applications largely to the writing skills she honed while earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English at California State University-Los Angeles.
In addition to Hatfield’s success garnering grant funding for the STEM school library where she works, she is sharing her knowledge regarding STEM libraries through professional publications. An article she wrote titled “10 Steps to Creating a Cutting-Edge STEM School Library” was published in the Winter 2012 edition of Young Adult Library Services, the journal of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), and Hatfield intends to write more articles about STEM libraries for professional journals.
Hatfield started her current job in July 2009, shortly before beginning the MLIS program. As she recently described in a SLIS Alumni Career Spotlight, her job entails not only providing materials and programming to support the academy’s students and teachers in STEM education, but also serving as the school’s webmaster and calendar coordinator.
Hatfield earned her teaching credential through the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Intern Program while working. After teaching high school English for five years and completing her first master’s, Hatfield was ready for a career change.
“Though I sought a new work experience, I knew I wanted to remain in the education field,” she said. “I’m super organized, I enjoy working with students, and I have a passion for literacy, so it was the perfect next step to become a school librarian.”
As an MLIS student, Hatfield found that the more she learned in her classes, the more she knew this career choice was a great fit with her strengths. Not surprisingly, Hatfield followed the MLIS program’s teacher librarianship Career Pathway.
“I was an effective and progressive teacher, but I felt there was a career out there that would further utilize my literacy and technology skill sets, and that was being a librarian,” she said.
She values working with teachers, and because of her own teaching experience, knows what to provide in the library program to support teachers.
“Whenever I order library materials, I ask the teachers what units they’re teaching and what topics they’re covering,” she said. “This approach ensures that the library shelves get stocked with plenty of useful print and digital materials that are closely aligned to what teachers are instructing and what students are learning.”
Asked about her professional development plans, Hatfield said she would like to mentor MLIS students who need to complete fieldwork in a Los Angeles middle school library environment.
“When I first became a school librarian, visiting other school libraries and public libraries was the most beneficial experience for me, because I would gather ideas from other library programs that I wanted to implement at my own site. I also ask students and their families what kinds of materials they would like the library to have available. Surveying your population about what they want is essential in creating a library that meets the community’s needs.”
“Definitely embrace technology in every way possible in your library, always be available to help people with their tech needs, and utilize social media to promote your program.”