[dropcap size=dropcap]I[/dropcap]n high school, Casey Brough hated reading. He was kicked out of the library four times his senior year and would refuse to read books for English class. It never crossed his mind that several years down the road he might end up as a high school librarian – and loving it.
Mr. Brough is the new librarian and boys’ dorm parent at the Ojai Valley School Upper Campus.
Born and raised in New Hampshire, Mr. Brough worked for a private school in his home state for two years before deciding he needed a change of scenery. He began applying for jobs outside of New Hampshire and came across an advertisement from OVS looking for a librarian on a website for independent schools
“It looked interesting to me,” Mr. Brough said. “It looked like a cool area, a kind of small town, which is what I’m used to, but still close enough to the city.”
During the interview process, Mr. Brough learned that OVS was looking for someone to bring the library into the 21st century. Some students and faculty members have long complained about the library’s outdated material and research system.
Mr. Brough has set out to change all that.
The renovation process has slowly but surely begun. Over the summer OVS maintenance staff installed new wooden beams, added a window between the computer lab and library, put in new drywall, and added a fresh coat of paint. There were also improvements made to existing library furnishings such as the sanding and staining of tables and chairs.
“It looks a lot nicer, and it’s more enjoyable to be in there,” said sophomore Ally Feiss. “There’s more sunlight, because there’s a cutout window now. The tables and chairs are nicer to work at. It’s just cleaner and nicer and newer.”
However, Mr. Brough isn’t done yet. He is currently going through all of the periodicals and setting aside for donation those that can now be found online. He also plans on going through all the books and donating the ones that are in disrepair or no longer useful.
He will then focus on talking to teachers about books that could be helpful in their classes, and restock the shelves with those. There will also be a new fiction section that Mr. Brough hopes will arouse student interest and get them to read for pleasure.
“I’m trying to get a nice mix of the classics that I think everyone should at least know about, and a lot of really engaging young adult books,” Mr. Brough said. “The young adult stuff because it’s written for them specifically and written from a point of view that I think will be familiar to them.”
Mr. Brough hopes that these new books will inspire interest in students to read, something he never enjoyed in high school.
Mr. Brough himself wasn’t a particularly strong student in high school. He struggled through college, then when he got to graduate school his interest was piqued. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from Concordia University and earned his masters degree in Library Information Science three years ago from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.
Throughout his academic career Mr. Brough had held a job at either a public or university library and has helped bring several libraries up to date. Now, with 16 years of experience under his belt, he is doing the same for OVS.
Mr. Brough plans on taking the library online, listing all the books, along with their location in the library, and his blog, “Oh, Hi!” focuses on the changes occurring in the library.
The blog sports pictures of students studying, shelves crammed with piles and piles of periodicals, and of course, Jack, the library cat. It also keeps students and faculty updated on the renovations and changes occurring in the library.
He plans on starting a book club at some point, and holding meetings where he will give brief twenty second summaries of new books for the students, in the hope that one of them will catch their interest and entice them to read.
OVS administrators are excited by the ideas that Mr. Brough brings to the table and are eager to see the library become more popular and more useful to the student body
“We all should be reading a variety of things,” said Carl Cooper, head of school for the Upper Campus. “Hopefully the library becomes a stimulus.”
Staff writer Kermitt Davis contributed to this story. Library photos courtesy of Mr. Brough’s library blog.