A library, to most, is a quiet and dust-filled place, meant only for the last-minute printing of assignments and the occasional research project. Just like their workplace, librarians are seen as ancient ladies that continuously “Sh!” teenagers and probably own a hundred cats. But the environment at the Arcadia High School (AHS) library is anything but—and it’s all due to one Mrs. Margo Butera, Arcadia’s very own “singing” librarian.
Raised in a vibrant Italian family filled with singers and workers in the film industry, Mrs. Butera had first decided to pursue a career in the arts industry as well, toying with the thought of becoming a director. She took a job as a substitute teacher shortly after college, and found herself in the library with the class, recommending book after book to the students. It was that one incident that redirected her life onto different path.
She recollects, “I thought, ‘This is really something I could see myself doing’.” Mrs. Butera found herself drifting away from her initial dreams of the film industry towards a career as a librarian.
Her main source of inspiration was one librarian’s touching story of being able to help families research how to get their homes back during a time of many foreclosures. While her passion for helping others through research is the driving force behind her career, she also finds comfort in going back to her singing roots. She creatively substitutes boring lessons into attention-grabbing ones by changing the lyrics to popular songs to fit the lesson. Instead of typical PowerPoints and lectures, she develops “augmented reality scavenger hunts” that help educate students through an interactive experience.
Fueled both by a personal desire to help people in need, a love for creating “treasure hunts”, and a musical upbringing, she has found a way to bring the two together to create a space at AHS that is uniquely and solely her own.
Though, to many, she is just the school librarian; her selfless services for the district and desire to inspire students have made all who frequent the Arcadia High School library leave with a greater appreciation of what a library really is.
–Interview conducted and written by Trinity Chhay, Ryan Fann, Reiko Inoue and Maggie Wong