Librarian K.C. Boyd an advocate for students, community, profession
When you think of a librarian, do you envision that old movie cliché of a timid woman putting a finger to her lips and “shushing” readers? If so, you’ve never met K.C. Boyd, a public-school librarian in Washington, D.C.
Last year, Boyd became one of NLP’s first News Literacy Ambassadors, educators who work in their communities to help bring news literacy education to their schools and create a generation of civically engaged news-literate adults. Boyd is a passionate advocate for her profession, her students and her community.
For example, earlier this month she and her fellow librarians worked to support an amendment to the District of Columbia’s public schools budget to provide $3.25 million for the restoration of full-time librarian positions in 36 schools, many in under-served neighborhoods. That amendment, introduced by District of Columbia Councilmember Janeese Lewis George, was unanimously approved by the District Council in early August. Boyd said the victory was the result of hard work by a coalition of educators, school district leaders and parents. “We’d been fighting for 18 months,” she said. “It was a big lift, and I’m thankful for the unanimity. Now we’re making an extra push to make the positions essential.”
Second generation educator
Boyd’s deep commitment to education runs in the family. Raised in Chicago, both of her parents were science teachers, and her mother later became a computer science teacher. But Boyd, who has been a librarian for 24 years, says she at first resisted her parents’ encouragement to become an educator. After college, she worked in corporate America as a recruiter for a Fortune 500 company. When she began to feel stalled in her position, her father again made his case. “He swooped back in and got me to go back to school for a master’s in library science,” said Boyd, who has been a librarian at the district’s Jefferson Middle School Academy for five years.
Previously, she served as the Area Library Coordinator for Chicago Public Schools and was a District Coordinator for the Mayor Daley Book Club for Middle School Students. She also was the lead librarian in East St. Louis, Illinois. She also holds master’s degrees in media communications and education leadership.
‘You’ve got to give them a platform to discover’
Boyd currently serves on the executive board for the District of Columbia Library Association and the Advisory Board for EveryLibrary. She is a member of the American Library Association Chapter Council representing Washington D.C., the American Association of School Librarians Digital Tools and the Washington Teachers’ Union Equity Collaborative.
Over the course of her career, she has seen how technology has changed libraries and the way people use them but says the essence of her role is largely the same. She continues to help students discover the joys of reading every day, improve their research skills, receive the preparation needed to succeed in high school and grow into upstanding digital citizens. That concept, practicing responsible digital citizenship, is embedded in the media studies course that she teaches.
“I incorporate many different programs in this course. I use current events from The Sift® [NLP’s free weekly newsletter for educators] and apply that to a lesson or activity,” she said. “It challenges their thinking and their place in the world. And they learn a lot. You’ve got to give them that platform to discover.”
Having seen students struggling to discern credible sources and information from a flood of misinformation, Boyd wants to make an impact outside her classroom as an NLP ambassador. After a school year disrupted by the pandemic, she is looking forward to developing a plan to involve educators in D.C., Maryland and Virginia in efforts to promote news literary education and hopes to get organizations that serve educators and librarians on board. When you visit Boyd’s website The Boss Librarian Blog, the passion that makes her an ideal ambassador is evident in the tagline at the top of the page: “Bringing the zeal back to school librarianship.”