A New Chapter for the Library ‘King’-dom
by Molly T.
With the recent retirement of Duxbury Middle/High School’s long-time librarian Mrs. Allen, a staple of the school’s library, students and faculty alike have been seeing a fresh face around the building. As of January 2021, Mrs. Kara King has officially become the new librarian for the DMS/DHS library. After a whirlwind experience, Mrs. King is at DHS to stay and she’s ready to make her mark not just on the library, but on the school as a whole.
Mrs. King earned her degree in art history and studio art, but after spending some time living in Atlanta, Georgia and running a community center where she had the opportunity to teach classes, rather than fulfilling an administrative role, she quickly realized that she missed education.
After spending time trying to find her niche, Mrs. King discovered that middle school to high school-aged students in public education were for her, and she settled into a teaching role in Texas.
But in December 2020, when her husband got a job in Easton MA, her plans for the future changed dramatically. Mrs. King anticipated remaining in Texas until her contract expired in June 2021, while her husband moved to fill his new position. King’s principal in Texas, however, caught wind of King’s plans and contacted DHS principal Mr. Donovan about the librarian position at DHS before Mrs. King knew it was available. While visiting her husband over Christmas break, Mrs. King received the DHS job offer and met with Mrs. Allen.
Although her path to Duxbury was unorthodox, she feels that not only has Duxbury been a “breath of fresh air coming from Texas” but also a “dream come true.”
Despite this being her first librarian position, Mrs. King has no shortage of ideas for running the library and engaging with all students. In Texas, librarians are required to teach classes four times a week, so they partner with various teachers from a variety of subjects to get kids involved in activities that are more engaging than typical reading and book work.
“I hated the fact that so much of the learning you guys [students] do is determined by ‘is it going to help them for the test’ and as a teacher I feel like you don’t learn the most if someone is teaching you for a test” said Mrs. King.
And although the structure in Texas is vastly different from Duxbury, Duxbury administrators are eager to support Mrs. King’s vision. She has met with Mr. Donovan, Ms. McGuire, both superintendents, and the director of financing, and is focused on “really changing the library and making it more for you guys.” Mrs. King has already begun partnering with a few teachers, including Ms. Sergi.
Mrs. King has always been an innovative thinker, and as a teacher that’s been no different. She is always trying to do things differently than other teachers so students don’t feel they are being tested every day. Her techniques include incorporating technology into lessons, taking and genuinely considering students’ opinions, and developing new creative ways to assess students.
“I felt like the best way to continue to justify it [her thinking and teaching style] in a world that is moving to standardized tests being so heavy on a national level was to become a librarian, so I can still teach but not have to give grades,” said Mrs. King.
Mrs. King is all about making the library a space for students, because she believes that if the students don’t want to be in the library, then she’s not doing her job, an attitude that her fellow faculty members have picked up on.
Mr. Pravia remarks “[Mrs. King] is trying to make the library a place where people who aren’t the traditional avid reader… folks that might not come [to the library] for the traditional book experience, she’s opening the doors to them and wants this to be a place for all students, and hopefully they will pick up a book or two,” said Mr. Pravia.
Despite not being in front of too many people this year, Mrs. King has had little problem adjusting and molding the library to fit her vision.
“I’m getting to shape the position here, which is really cool,” said Mrs. King.
Although forming relationships with students and faculty at DHS has proved slightly more challenging than adjusting to her new role, it’s nothing Mrs. King can’t handle. Despite being over 1,800 miles away, Mrs. King has maintained her relationships with her students in Texas, which she has said has given her the confidence to form new relationships with Duxbury staff and students.
“Certain younger teachers, not yet set in their ways, are more open to partnering,” she observed, but “it’s lots of trial and error feeling out the water when it comes to the teachers and I’m trying to be someone that other teachers trust and want to partner with.”
On the other hand, Mrs. King feels that she can relate to students more than to her fellow faculty members in some ways, because she is closer in age.
Mrs. King, only three months into her new role, has already made meaningful connections with students, including senior Nora B. who is in the library for her independent study on her in-school days.
“She is the exact opposite of the outdated librarian stereotype that plagues people’s minds” said Nora, “I can already tell she is going to be a positive influence to high schoolers and middle schoolers alike.”
Despite her busy schedule reshaping the library, Mrs. King is never too busy to stop and talk. In her free time she shamelessly binges Netflix and Hulu, but she also spends a significant amount of time outside. Mrs. King and her husband are avid hikers and she utilizes her art history background into her hikes by incorporating both photography and videography (her husband), as well as taking her two dogs along. In addition to hiking she enjoys trying new foods and working out (Mrs. King used to compete in bodybuilding and her husband powerlifts). She also enjoys watching/playing sports, being active, spending time with family and experiencing the world. As one might expect, Mrs. King also loves to read, usually gravitating towards dystopian and historical fiction books, but she could book talk about any genres for hours. She says she can’t possibly choose a favorite book, but will animatedly talk about past titles she’s read and others that she’s planning on reading. In fact, she just placed a $1300 book order for new books for the library. Mrs. King offers that, if you tell her what you are interested in reading she will curate a selection of books you might enjoy, even if she doesn’t like them.
Despite being loud and outgoing, as she claims, all the time, and having a myriad of subjects to speak about, one of the most important things to Mrs. King is forming long-lasting, invaluable relationships.
“Even if I don’t change someone’s education,” said Mrs. King, “if I can make an impact on their lives and make them…. have me as someone who meant something to them, then I’m in the right spot.”