Interview with Media Specialist Sara Swenson and Media Assistant Andrea McElligott

Liliana Hanson, staff writer

Zephyrus: What do people mainly use the library for: studying and printing or checking out books?  

Andrea McElligott: Studying and printing, [but] it is a mix of all three.

Z.: What are some of the most popular books and authors in the EHS library? 

Sara Swenson: I think the fantasy genre is always a big hit. Realistic fiction, like Becky Albertelli and Adam Silvera books are pretty popular. Ms McElligott and I work really hard to make sure that we have the popular releases here the day of or the next day from when they get published. If there’s a book that’s going to be super popular, we get copies here so students can come and get those right away; they don’t have to get on the waiting list at the Public Library.

A.M.: The new releases are on the front shelf, and those are always popular, I think just because they’re out there and people see them.  

Z.: What sections/genres are the most popular? 

A.M.: For the fiction books, it’s realistic, and then fantasy. For the nonfiction, the memoir section is always pretty popular, and then the graphic novels. 

Z.: What books would you recommend for fantasy or realistic fiction lovers?

S.S.: Right now I’m reading American Street because that’s what the book club is reading. That one’s an interesting realistic book. Some of the adults in the building are reading This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger.

Z.: What are the benefits of extracurricular reading for high school students? 

S.S.:  You get to learn about other places and other kinds of people. I think the benefit is you just get to learn about different cultures, you can step into their shoes. It just helps you grow as a person and gives a broader awareness of the world. 

A.M.: I’m going to leave it at that. That’s perfect. 

Z.: What is your favorite part of working in the library?

A.M.: I just love seeing people choose a good book and finding something they like, and coming back and getting another one

S.S.: I would say the same thing: working with students and staff, helping them find books, helping them with their research needs.

Z.: How long have you worked in the library, and what inspired you to do so?

S.S.: This is my 21st year. My high school job was at the Public Library, so I knew I liked being in libraries, but I also knew I wanted to be a teacher. So this job is perfect for me, it can combine my love of libraries, and my desire to be a teacher, all in one job

A.M.: I’ve been here about three and a half years or so, and I was just looking for a job that I would love, and I love books, and it just seemed like a great fit. I volunteered in the elementary school for about five years at Concord before I came here and I thought, if there was ever an opening in the [EHS] library I would want to take it. 

Z.: What are some of your personal favorite books?

A.M.: I like realistic and historical fiction…My favorite one that we have in the library is Educated, and that one has been checked out pretty consistently. It’s a great memoir by Tara Westover. 

S.S.: I read kind of broadly, so if you’re going to ask me, I love Vince Flynn thrillers, and he’s a former Edina guy. The Latin kids love this book called Circe, that’s another one. I think that’s what’s kind of fun about the school’s library, you never know what sort of gems you’re going to find here. 

Z.: What is Teen Lit Con?

S.S.: Teen Lit Con is a celebration of young adult literature that happens every spring, and we take a busload of kids to go there. Tomi Adeyemi [we] met last year. And so it’s a neat opportunity for young adult readers to come together with other young adult readers and meet world famous authors. 

Z.: Any final thoughts? 

A.M.: We like to have puzzles out, and sometimes we do art projects, and we like to just have kids come up here and feel comfortable. 

S.S.: We love when kids come to visit, and they should always feel free to ask for help for a book recommendation.