Richard Hasenyager, the former director for library services at Texas’sNorth East Independent School District, was recently appointed director of library services for New York City’s department of education.
He replaces Barbara Stripling, who left the position at the end of 2011 to become a professor of practice at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool). Stripling held the position since 2005.
Hasenyager (right) assumes his new post on July 30 and will oversee the largest school library program in the nation, with more than 1,000 media specialists spread throughout the city’s five boroughs.
“This will be an experience of a lifetime, and it’s a huge responsibility that I will not take for granted,” says Hasenyager, adding that his biggest challenge will be the sheer size of the school district, which serves 1.1 million students in more than 1,700 schools. By comparison, Hasenyager oversaw 64 buildings, 82 librarians, and 82 support staff while at San Antonio’s North East Independent School District.
However, he sees the continuation of existing partnerships with the public library and others, as well as the creation of new relationships within and outside the district, as ways to “enable us to leverage our size to provide the best to our students.”
While Hasenyager admits that the current economic downturn makes it difficult to ensure that all students in the city have access to a quality school library program, he says he’ll remain “nimble and innovative” to find solutions.
“I will need to create relationships with other district administrators to communicate the importance of a quality school library program,” says Hasenyager, who was named a 2011 Mover and Shaker by our sister publication, Library Journal. “It is through conversations and action that will demonstrate these needs.”
Hasenyager also wants to build upon the Information Fluency Continuum,a framework that forms the basis for the skills and strategies that are essential for students to become independent readers and learners, which was created by Stripling and her team during her tenure. The next step, he says, is to ensure that the city’s school librarians-as well as its administrators and teachers-are offered adequate professional development to carry out the plan.
Recruiting classroom teachers as school librarians is also high on Hasenyager’s agenda. While in Texas, he successfully convinced teachers about the benefits of continuing their studies and becoming certified school librarians.
“I will work to partner with universities to provide them the education they need in order to help students become fully certified school librarians,” he says.”This will require the director of library services to apply for grants to allow us to reduce the cost of education for those pursing a Master’s degree, with an emphasis in school librarianship.”
Hasenyager says he’s qualified for the new position because he has a firm grasp on the big picture when it comes to how library programs fit into the overall classroom instruction-and he can successfully communicate that vision to others. In addition, he says, his leadership style unites-rather than divides groups-and he makes decisions based on what’s best for his students.