Every April, schools celebrate the essential role that libraries play in transforming learning. As part of School Library Month, we are highlighting Johnson Middle School Librarian, Donald Cummings. Follow along and discover what it means to be a librarian.

As a child, Johnson Middle School Librarian Donald Cummings loved to read books and would spend every summer at the public library. He took his love of reading and turned it into a career. Cummings taught reading for 12 years before becoming a librarian. Cummings, like all Irving ISD librarians, is a multi-degreed educator with a master’s degree in library science.

“I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been asked if I learned the Dewey Decimal System while studying to become a librarian,” says Cummings, as he chuckles.

As part of their master’s degree studies, aspiring librarians learn about collection development and cataloging, among other topics.

 “We learn how to choose books that are age appropriate and how to co-teach so we can work with teachers efficiently,” says Cummings. “We also learn to develop our skill sets to bring more to the table and to our school.”

As librarian, Cummings is responsible for figuring out what kind of books students like to read, what the student population looks like to ensure everybody is represented, what materials teachers need that would help support ongoing lessons and so much more. Additionally, even though Cummings is no longer in the classroom, he continues to teach on a daily basis.

“Classes come through every day, and I provide them with lessons that cover a variety of different topics,” says Cummings. “Students learn effective research strategies, how to determine if online information is reliable or not, how to be critical of things you see on social media, etc. “

Although libraries have had to evolve over time to keep up with technological advancements, Cummings believes that reading is still alive and well.

“These days, there is so much content available online, and there are kids who would rather just read something on their iPad,” says Cummings. “That has certainly been a big change, but it came in handy during remote learning. We were so thankful to have that option available as it was a way to offer kids an opportunity to keep reading, even when they were at home.”

Cummings loves to see children reading books, regardless of how they do it.

“There are still a lot of kids who like to read books the old-fashioned way, but reading has definitely changed over the years,” says Cummings. “Graphic novels are a prime example. I have an after-school book club, and every time we read a graphic novel, it goes over great; everybody reads it! They love those graphic novels, and the thing is, it is still reading. At the end of the day, I want kids to read, and I want them to enjoy reading.”