Candidate for NYLA Councilor-at-Large for School Libraries (2022-25)
Campus School Librarian at the Murry Bergtraum Campus Library
I believe that a school library plays a key role in all students' education. Yes, we provide academic and digital skills that are necessary for our students to thrive and grow in today’s world, but we all know we do so much more. We provide that safe spot to read, play games, socialize, create projects, explore the world, and learn about themselves. My students know I will provide a space for them to decompress, scribble angrily, pace, or tell me their concerns. That last bit has honestly been more important this year as we return to a “new normal.”
Now all the teaching, non-academic supports, and opportunities my students and staff get from being in the library are being threatened. Politics is finding its way into my library more than it should. Every day we hear about new book bans, censorship, or privacy breaches, and there is nothing to suggest that these instances will be slowing - whether in a school or public library.
As school librarians, many of us work in a school(s) as the lone librarian. At times it is difficult to make our singular voice be heard over the clamor of the rest of the staff. No longer can we let that be the case. It’s time for us to get louder, speak to the right audience(s), and band together. We are stronger together, and we need to leverage our own outrage and anxiety to get our issues to the front of the queue.
I believe I can help in this endeavor. I have well over a decade of experience in a school library (and 2 extra years of experience as a research librarian). I have taught all grades from preschool through to adults, and I have taught in suburban, religious, and urban settings. Not to worry my rural friends, I grew up in a tiny, rural town where (I’m aging myself here) I spent four years teaching my own high school librarian how to automate our school library in the early 1990s. I develop programming for the Campus Librarian’s Network in New York City as well as curate The Immigrant Experience CCD for New York City public schools.
I was elected as the Treasurer of the New York City School Librarians’ Association for two terms. Working with the NYCSLA Board helped me learn important lessons about advocating for our libraries and making connections within our community. In addition to library experience, I have spent the past 13 years as the Director of Operations for a summer day camp on Long Island where I coordinate and facilitate camp experiences for over 1,000 people daily. The camp is a non-profit, so between my library position and my camp position, I have learned how to be heard, get the materials I need, spell out issues clearly, and problem solve on the go.
I would be honored to put my advocacy, programming, and communication skills to work for you as your Candidate-at-Large for School Libraries. Thank you!
Amber Fink grew up in a tiny, rural town in Oklahoma and moved to New York in 1998. She has a spouse, three teenagers, a dog, and a bearded dragon in her household. Amber has been a school librarian for well over a decade. She started her library journey in high school as a student school library aide in that tiny, rural school district where she grew up. After getting her MLIS certification, Amber spent time rounding out her school library experience by working as a school librarian in suburban, religious, and urban settings serving grades from Preschool to Grade 14.
Amber currently works as the campus librarian at the Murry Bergtraum Campus Library in Manhattan. The MBHS library was closed for many years. It was renovated in 2018, and Amber was hired to reopen the library and create a vibrant library program for the campus. She serves all four high schools on campus, one of which is a 9-14 school that helps students to graduate high school with an Associate degree. In addition to regular library programming, Amber is currently on a mission to create more social and emotional learning opportunities in the library.
Amber has written and received numerous grants worth over $50,000 for everything from library automation to specialized collection development, with the most recent being the YALSA Great Book Giveaway in February 2022. Amber is the curating librarian for the Immigrant Experience Cooperative Collection Development for New York City public schools. She develops programming for the Campus Librarians Network in New York City, and she has been the Treasurer of the New York City School Librarians’ Association for two terms. Additionally, she recently presented at a panel on advocacy at the 2021 American Association of School Librarians National Conference in Utah.