Reading into the Life of the Librarian

The Novel Career of Holly Hensley

Snigdha Shenoy

More stories from Snigdha Shenoy

Forever Chemicals
September 8, 2022

Every time a student walks into the library, they notice the smiling faces of students chatting quietly, the soft chairs and smooth tables inviting them to relax and the shelves upon shelves of meticulously organized novels. Immediately, they’ll feel a sudden desire to browse the curated collections available on the eye-catching displays, crack open a good book and sit down for a spell. 

All of this is possible because of librarian Holly Hensley. However, even students who frequent the library might not know that much about her.

Hensley has been a librarian for years, but she’s a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to education. She taught as an elementary education teacher for quite some time, before deciding to become a librarian. She has been an elementary school, middle school, and now high school librarian over the course of her career.

“For the last 10 years, I decided to try high school because it was just a little bit different,” Hensley said. “It’s just kind of a neat stage- y’all are such interesting people, and you’re starting to have your own thoughts and opinions. I enjoy being a part of that.”

Hensley originally heard about Rouse through a group for librarians in the Austin area.

“There were some really great things going on here,” Hensley said. “This job came open, and I wanted to work in that area and be part of the new things happening in Leander ISD. I actually drive 80 miles a day to be here- that’s how much I wanted to be here and enjoy this school. It really is a special place to be. We’re pretty lucky.”

Hensley loves working at Rouse for a multitude of reasons.

“Rouse is an amazing school,” Hensley said. “ I love the kids, y’all are just amazing; we have so many neat programs going on and great teachers that are really inspirational; a really great administrative team that is all about supporting kids and teachers; we really have a great climate here and the kids are going on to do amazing things.”

Hensley keeps the library organized and helps students find books to read, both in person and using Sora, an ebook and audiobook resource. She also has a strong passion for reading herself.

“[Reading] helps you travel to whole different worlds,” Hensley said. “If you read several books from a certain author, you feel like you know that person…You’re really inside that author’s mind, and they’ve built this whole world, and that’s amazing to me.”

Besides the entertainment aspect of it, Hensley also admires how beneficial reading can be in other areas of life, especially to your education as a whole.

“It’s so amazing, really,” Hensley said. “The research that has been done in the 30 years that I’ve been in education shows that reading impacts everything. Reading doesn’t just impact your writing and language and vocabulary skills…The more and more research that is done shows that the more you read, the better you are at reading, the better your vocabulary is, and it helps you be successful in all areas.”

In the library, there’s also other activities students can choose from, including a Makerspace activity every Monday. Students can attend such activities to have a break from the stress of high school. Hensley also teaches mini-lessons to help students with specific skills such as checking your credibility and getting organized.

“I just want people to feel like they’re welcome in the library,” Hensley said. “We have a lot going on in here…What I really want is for people to be able to come in here and do our Maker Mondays, access their creative side, and utilize the Makerspace area to have some downtime. I think it’s really important to be creative and kind of get away from [the Internet] for a minute; do some hands-on things and think.”

One of Hensley’s favorite things about education is being able to see how far former students go in life after having been in one of her classes over the years. Often, a student recognizes her around town and they end up reminiscing about when the student was younger. Hensley likes to hear about what they’re doing with their lives now.

“It just makes me really proud- I only have one child of my own,” Hensley said. “I don’t know what that’s about but I know all teachers feel that way, like “We’re so proud of you.” We get all choked up when we see you as adults- that’s the great part about being a teacher.”

Students that enter the library can always count on the kind, passionate lady at the front desk, always ready to help with a beaming smile and a few book recommendations.