Librarian Deborah Novack Retires Following Three Decades at Laurier Macdonald High School
Ms. Novack credits her mother, a school librarian for telling her to take typing lessons in the 1970s in order to assume a summer job preparing the library for the fall term. Those were the days before personal computers, the Internet, social media and smart phones; therefore, touch typing proficiency was essential. When it came time for university, Novack applied for law and library science at McGill. She opted for library school because they accepted her first. “After a year of library studies, I was hooked,” recalls Novack. She attained a Master’s degree in Library Science from McGill University in 1981 and subsequently served as librarian in various elementary and high schools under La Commission Scolaire Jêrome Le-Royer (now part of the English Montreal School Board).
“The tools are different today and students have a lot more ways to access information but the challenge is to teach them to do more research than simply turn to Google or Wikipedia,” she said, alluding to the importance of seeking truth, referring to multiple texts and respecting Intellectual Property. “They must be knowledgeable because it takes a critical eye to evaluate the material, not just copy and paste. The catch phrase today is alternate truth and it’s so easy to fall into it.”
A high school library is special because it caters to a specific age group and the materials must support the curriculum and appeal to students, Novack observes. Laurier Macdonald is an IB (International Baccalaureate) senior high school, so it also supports the IB philosophy. Moreover, Ms. Novack is pleased with the increase in French texts that are related to the curriculum and suited to teenage interests. “For many children, the library serves as a safe haven to do their own thing without being judged.”
Ms. Novack praises the EMSB for providing employees with extra courses and keeping everyone au courant with technology and pedagogical trends. In addition to missing the daily camaraderie with staff, she will miss bonding with students, “I have become used to getting acquainted with them in grade 9 and witnessing them mature and graduate in grade 11.” After so many years, she recognizes things are about to change. “Right now, it’s not apparent because I’m used to taking off for summer holidays but I expect it to hit me in the fall.” An avid skier, jogger, and exercise buff, Ms. Novack looks at the positive side. “It will be fun to wake up a bit later and attend a Y gym class when it’s still bright out in the middle of a winter day.”