I met with Bonnie McBride at the Southwest Corridor Park by the Green Street station in Jamaica Plain. She dressed casually, but she still looked professional. At the park, we sat, and a brown puppy came by. McBride started playing with the dog by petting it and smiling.
McBride was born in Boston. She got her master’s in library information science at Simmons College. Currently she works at Fenway High School as a school librarian.
There are many different ways to describe the environment of the library on a busy day. Most of the time, McBride is obligated to close the library because of all of the work she does to provide students with what they need.
“I discovered that working with people is a lot more fun than working with papers,’’ she said. She probably learned the same amount during her first year as a librarian as she did at graduate school.
McBride is very open to others, and she’s always trying to get along with people. Being a public school librarian is not what people might expect. Sometimes people ask her what type of job she has, and she tells them she is a librarian at a school, and they get surprised by that.
A challenge she has faced—and is still facing is dealing with upset people and students—who are being too loud and not letting other students focus. When those students don’t let others focus she is forced to kick them out of the library. When it comes to this, she tries her best to help the other students no matter what.
“I want to work with people… and make this space available to everyone,” she said. “Students will come to the library for many different reasons.”
Even today, she always tries to make people feel comfortable with themselves, something that is not that common with other librarians. She is a special person because of how nice and friendly she is to others. McBride says her job is not as easy as just finding books, but is instead more managing student expectations. Whether it’s helping a particular student find a book that they find interesting (a murder mystery, a graphic novel or even manga), McBride makes it her priority to help others have a unique experience when visiting the library. “You’re actually working with people and talking and interacting with people all day long,” she said.
McBride is trying to make the library a place where students can feel comfortable with themselves and learn. At the moment, she is focusing on helping students with college applications. She provides them with many informational websites on all of the best colleges in the city of Boston. Just by doing this, it is easier for the rest of the students to do research on what college they’re interested in. She told me the mantra she lives by is "what do you want the library to do for you?"