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College of Information and Communications

Building relationships to succeed: SLIS alumna Jennifer Thrift honored by Library Journal

Posted April 9, 2019
By Hannah Miller, communications intern

Each year, Library Journal spotlights about 50 librarians who are redefining what it means to be a librarian. This year, Library and Information Science alumna Jennifer Thrift (MLIS, 2002) was named one of LJ’s Movers & Shakers.

Thrift is a teacher librarian for third through fifth grade at Charles Pinckney Elementary School in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. We had the chance to catch up with Thrift and learn more about the impact she’s making on her community.

Editor’s note: Alumna Tamara King was also named to the 2019 Movers & Shakers list. Read our Q&A with her, too.

Walk us through a normal day on the job.
Our school day starts bright and early at 7 a.m. I work with a news crew each morning when I arrive to school while managing morning circulation (turning on computers and logging into the circulation system to get it ready for self-checkout). My schedule changes every day because our school library functions on a flexible schedule. Some days I will be participating in Room Transformations, integrating standards across grade levels, and other days I may be participating in a Breakout (an escape room concept). Each day is student-centered, and my schedule will change based on the needs of my students. This flexibility has allowed for a very busy library and a nonstop librarian. 

How did your degree from SLIS prepare you for your career, particularly for the work that earned your Movers & Shakers recognition?
During my time in the SLIS program at USC, I was required to collaborate with other librarians and teachers. Collaboration requires the teacher librarian to build relationships. These relationships are why I became a Mover & Shaker. I firmly believe that relationships with your students, parents, teachers, community members and other teacher librarians are the key to success. 

Were there any faculty members or staff at SLIS who influenced who you are as a librarian? Or were there specific lessons or advice that still resonate with you today?
Dr. Dan Barron was the most inspirational professor in SLIS. He made learning engaging and always stayed positive. Dr. Barron was always searching for new and innovative ways to engage students and make learning available for everyone. 

How does your work impact your community?
Our community is so involved in the events going on in our library. Each year we sponsor Read Like a Sports Star Week, where local athletes visit our school to read with our students. We also host our annual Dr. Seuss event, where local doctors join us to celebrate literacy. Our high school teacher cadets work with us to transform rooms and #SetTheStageToEngage. 

What’s your mantra as a librarian? 
FAIL stands for First Attempt in Learning — You haven't learned that YET! Never give up and don't take NO for an answer. 

Do you have advice for students and early-career librarians? What are some things you wish you would have known when you first started out
Remember that it is OK to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. Your students’ needs come first. Focus on what is best for them, and every decision you make will be right. The best way to get "buy in" from your faculty/staff is to build relationships. These relationships will allow you to get input and create a space that everyone has created. 

You can follow Thrift on social media:

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.