Liz Porter

Elizabeth Porter photo


School Librarian


Carrboro Elementary School



Graduation year:

"I always tell SILS students to spend time in as many libraries as you possibly can. There is no 'right way' to run a library, there is only a beautiful abundance of possibilities!"

What was your educational and professional background before coming to SILS?

After receiving my BA in French from Oberlin College in 2011, I moved to North Carolina and began working as a Teacher Assistant in a first grade class at Glenwood Elementary School in Chapel Hill. I worked at Glenwood until 2013, when I enrolled in SILS.

How has your career progressed since you graduated SILS?

I had worked as an intern and volunteer at Carrboro Elementary School for a year and a half during my master's program. I was hired as their school librarian a month after graduating from SILS.  Since then, I have been working to create an inclusive and fun library environment every day for the Carrboro Elementary School community.

In your current employment, what are your job duties and responsibilities?

As the school librarian, my main responsibilities are information literacy instruction and the administration of the library, itself. I attend grade-level planning meetings with teachers and  literacy specialists to collaborate on instruction, both in their classrooms and in lessons held in the library. I work on collection development, maintaining my library's bilingual collection and finding ways to expand into new areas.  I curate resource lists and pull literature for teacher and classroom use. I promote literacy through a number of separate initiatives throughout the year. I participate in committees that help guide the school in Equity and Technology, as well as working with my district's elementary school librarians as part of our Professional Learning Community.

What projects have gotten you most excited and/or what accomplishments have made you the proudest?

I am extremely proud of the work I began last year in helping to plan social justice focused Socratic Seminars (a formal discussion, based on a text, in which the leader asks open-ended questions and encourages critical thinking), enriching existing curriculum for all students in third to fifth grades. We have continued our Socratic Seminars this year in the classroom and in evening workshops that include children and their parents.

STEM Corner was a project I worked on with my former Library Assistant, where we brought books and interactive Science, Technology, Engineering and Math displays together with great results!

Our district's elementary Battle of the Books program begins with creating our own book list which considers reading level, genre, format, and character diversity to create a balanced and exciting set of texts, expanding our participants reading horizons.  El Deafo, which was our graphic novel pick last year, continues to be one of our most circulated titles.

I continue to be proud of the diverse collection I have maintained in our library and the opportunities I have had to diversify the literature used in instruction in our school.

What were some of your best experiences at SILS?

The first things that come to mind are two of my favorite classes:

Brian Sturm's "Children's Literature and Related Materials" made a real impact on how I chose books in the library to share with teachers, how I read aloud with students, and my relationship to children's literature as a whole.

Sandra Hughes-Hassell's "Youth Services in a Diverse Society" built a great foundation for my work in serving diverse communities, as well as advocating for the needs of underserved students and reflecting on my own practices that could marginalize student populations.

Several other classes also allowed me the opportunity to go into schools and get some hands on (and minds-on) experience working in the school library setting, which I really loved.

What inspires or motivates you?

I am constantly inspired by the amazing work being done by the elementary school librarians who form my Professional Learning Community in my school district, as well as my informal community of librarians I met during my time at SILS. They are amazing people doing amazing work.

I am motivated by my students. I feel they deserve support, the opportunity to learn and explore, and the feeling that the library and the school are places where they will always belong. Bringing them those experiences is what I work towards.

Is there any other information you would like to share, or any advice you would like to offer current or future SILS students?

I always tell SILS students to spend time in as many libraries as you possibly can.  There is no "right way" to run a library, there is only a beautiful abundance of possibilities!