Business Background Prepares Student Tina Johnson to Manage a School Library

Cristina “Tina” Johnson, recipient of the 2009 SLIS Alumni & Friends Scholarship, has worked in management positions at one of the nation’s biggest life insurers and trained employees at a mutual funds company. It’s not the typical route to becoming a school librarian, but it’s one that gives her a unique perspective on the demands and opportunities of the job.

According to Johnson, a school librarian needs to know how to “run her own business, handling marketing, budgeting, and management decisions.” And as a middle school teacher, she knows that a good school librarian can “help make lessons come alive and find materials that inspire students.”

Johnson became intrigued with a career in school librarianship while working as a permanent substitute English teacher at Riverhead Middle School in Long Island, NY. She was often assigned library duty, and she discovered that working in the library allowed her to “work one on one with students” in a way that classroom instructors rarely can. “You can delve a lot deeper working with students as a librarian than when you have a class of 30 kids,” she said.

Johnson majored in English as an undergraduate at Georgetown University, then worked in life insurer Transamerica’s management training program before taking a job educating employees at American Funds about the mutual fund company’s products.

She later returned to school to earn her Masters in Education at Old Dominion University through the Troops to Teachers program. At the time, she was travelling around the country with her husband, who was serving in the U.S. Navy. Now Johnson juggles her SLIS coursework with raising four children under age six, including four-year-old twin boys.

One of her favorite classes so far was LIBR 233 School Library Media Centers with Prof. Loertscher, which focused on the role school librarians can play as “information bridges to the future through Web 2.0 tools that can engage students, teachers and parents,” Johnson said. “What was once a one-way information delivery system over the Internet is now a two-way conversation that completely lends itself to collaboration.”

The SLIS Alumni & Friends Scholarship is awarded each year, funded through an endowment established by the SLIS Alumni Association. For more information regarding scholarships awarded by SLIS, including application forms and deadlines, visit Scholarships and Awards.