“In every aspect of my educational life the Library has played an important role. In High School, I spent time in the library preparing – for projects, for classes, and trying to figure out my future plans. In college, we spent endless hours researching for papers, looking through micro phish, working on the computers (I did not have my own), and studying for major tests. As a teacher, I have spent hours researching projects for my students, as well as the history of different schools/ sports to prepare “the history of” parts of our athletics programs. For me the library has always been a great resource and a place to find what I needed.” – WHS Faculty Member
“I’m not a librarian but I have always liked to read. I grew up going to my neighborhood library and make sure all my grandchildren also understood how special the library is in the life of the community. So they all got their first library card as soon as they started to read. I support your effort!!!”– Delaware Community Member
On Wednesday, April 26th, the Woodbridge Library Media Center, the Woodbridge Library, or sometimes even referred to as the Raider’s Den, received an upgrade in title now known as the Walter P.J. Gilefski Media Center.
This sounds pretty sophisticated and formal, correct? Well, that is true but there is also much to reflect on based on this event, looking back on School Library Month in April.
Who was Walter P.J. Gilefski? I have to tell you, in the six years I have been to Woodbridge High, and from the details of April 26th’s ceremony, I wanted to connect what Mr. Gilefski believed in when it comes to all things library.
The above two quotes at the beginning of this post tie into the knowledge that often, Mr. Gilfeski would be hard to find as he often was working on a puzzle or lost in book that caught his attention, either at the Bridgeville Public Library or the Woodbridge High School Library. The coolest thing was he would just come in, peruse and sometimes just sit down and work on a puzzle, and sometimes never say a word. As a school librarian, there was never a better compliment than just knowing he would frequent our library and come in for no other reason but to just enjoy the area and take in what was there. We are lucky in that respect that board members visit and do take in the same facilities the school community takes in, it is AWESOME.
In hearing Mr. Gilefski’s son relay the fact that he was aware and hoped others were aware that librarian are more than manual book-shelvers, and despite “library” being the standard old-school term sometimes competing with title Media Specialist and Media Center, it was very comforting to know he was aware of the multitude of contributions a librarian, also knows as a Media Specialist, can offer anyone, ANYONE. The importance in remembering the place of such a center in any school, in any community, among any group of people is this – the value of offering choices to all patrons, whether they want to delve into a topic or avoid a topic, whether to seek out information or not to take in a certain topic, the freedom to decide, be involved, and freedom to have a choice is ever present.
In hearing Delaware Senator Davie Wilson, Superintendent Heath Chasanov, Assistant Superintendent Derek Prillaman, Board Member Steve MacCarron, and Principal Kelley Kirkland revisit the values Mr. Walter P.J. Gilefksi brought to so many people, it is a realization that all libraries have the potential and priority to value every patron that walks through their doors. It is a privilege to be able to exercise the diversity, values, and beliefs of so many people that make up a community. It is what defines a center, sets it apart from the general influx of everything that can be found on the internet, and is the one center that can personalize the beliefs, values, and points of view of hundreds of people in a single week when supported.
Additionally, it was comforting to realize the professionalism, and un-amateurism that school librarians bring to a school, to a student, to a faculty, to an administration, to a state. There is MUCH MORE to the profession than book shelving, there are at least 4-5 years of training involved with learning in how to represent a school population of diverse interests, values, and needs – creating Collection Development polices, creating guardrails to protect individuals of all ages, and to protect freedoms of all kinds. This is a much bigger sphere than people realize, but on the same caliber of a professional nurse, counselor, educator, any professional.
To realize this was to know Mr. Walter P.J. Gilefski. Isn’t is amazing to see how one person’s life can serve as a legacy for years to come, for ages and generation to come, and in one specific example through a library?
So you see, the dedication of the now Walter P.J. Gilefski Media Center is not something that belongs to Woodbridge High School alone, but to every single library, librarian, and individual recognizing the value that lies behind professionalism, freedom, diversity, respect, librarianship, and in our case, Delaware.
This is only one of many representations of what and how librarians have come to be something much larger than a physical space we learned in April, and I am excited to share more with you in the next few days- but in the meantime, supporting the very ideals that Mr. Walter P.J. Gilefksi believed in and lived, helps support the values that are contained within every single volume that every single patron can value differently.