Meet Team AISD

This job is more than just a 'job' to me. It has been my passion, my love, and motivation for 46 years!

Elizabeth Polk

Position: 
Assistant Director
Department/School: 
Library Media Services
Previous Occupations at AISD: 
Administrative Supervisor of Library Media Services, Elementary Library Coordinator, Librarian (for 6th Grade) at Read School, Librarian at Read Elementary School, Librarian at Maplewood Elementary School
Years at AISD: 
46, including the current year

WHAT I DO:

Provide leadership for the District’s library program in meeting best practices standards. I also try to instill in every school librarian the mission to nurture in students a life-long appreciation of reading and learning. Through our school libraries, I provide students and staff with equitable opportunities for access, evaluation, and use of appropriate resources-both print and digital-to support a challenging curriculum, facilitate and extend learning, and meet student’s individual reading needs.

I also am in charge of supervising the district’s central library services, including library technology and technical services, AISD’s media lab, and a professional library and archives.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT WORKING AT AISD:

The incredible people throughout the district-students, parents, teachers, administrators, and library colleagues. We have talented and dedicated librarians whose goals include helping students discover the pleasure and power of reading and life-long learning. These librarians are like family to me.

THE MOST REWARDING THING ABOUT THE WORK I DO:

Seeing students as well as adults grow and learn; to see the difference a challenging education can make in lives. There’s always something new to learn. As librarians, when we help students with their learning, we can learn something new, too.

WHAT I’D SAY TO A POTENTIAL CANDIDATE:

Life is too short to do something you really don’t love to do. Working with young people is one of the most important activities you’ll ever do. If you are intelligent, self-motivated, like to learn new things, are caring and nurturing, and have a sense of humor and wonder, you have a good chance of being successful as a teacher/librarian.

LITTLE KNOWN FACTS ABOUT ME:

As a child I had little access to books, because I grew up in a community with no library in the school or town. My family owned few books, but my brothers and I had parents who regularly told us stories and shared a passion for learning. I have also played the piano since I was 3 years old. (not by ear – I use both hands!). I have an irreverent sense of humor (according to my family), and I enjoy watching The Simpsons and South Park.

WORDS I LIVE BY:

My father had a saying: “The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions.” We have to keep growing. We may be on the right track, but if we are not moving, we might be run over or left behind.

MY GREATEST MEMORY IN AISD:

I have many marvelous memories of working in AISD. One experience that was life-changing occurred early in my career and involved a second grader who came daily to the library and asked me to help her find a good book. I would work so hard to find just the right book that she would like, only to find that she had returned it within the hour and was asking for my help once again. I was getting a little annoyed that she was so clingy to me and never even tried reading the books I suggested to her. One day at lunch her teacher was talking about how this little girl’s mother had recently died, and the father was taking care of her and her brother. I felt so bad that even though I had not displayed my impatience with her, I had felt it. The next day when she came to the library, I showed her a new book in the library called My First Cook Book. She excitedly checked it out, and this time took it home. The next day, she proudly presented me with a chocolate chip cookie she had made herself and returned the book, complete with flour and chocolate stains. Did I care about the stains on the new book? Not at all, but this experience and memory changed the way I think about personal connections with people. People don’t care about what you know until they know that you care.

MY WORDS OF WISDOM TO AISD NEW HIRES:

Be nice to everybody you work with, because you never know who your boss might be tomorrow! Remember that people don’t care what you know until they know that you care, so make personal connections with those you teach and those with whom you work.

THE BIGGEST CHANGE I HAVE SEEN DURING MY TIME WITH AISD:

When I started in education, I used a mimeograph machine and a manual typewriter.  I was so happy when we got self-correcting typewriters, and now we have iPhones, iPads, and iPods – which goes to show that this old dog CAN learn new tricks before iRetire, although not as quickly as kids can! In libraries, the card catalog dinosaur is extinct, and we have online resources available 24/7/365. I have also experienced what I call “the educational wave”, with trends coming and going, disappearing for a number of years but coming back with a new name.

MY FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT AUSTIN:

  • The diversity of the people
  • The variety of activities available
  • The value people of Austin place on reading and libraries
  • Austin’s vibrancy