Vicky M. Biancolo '06MS Appointed to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners
I think there is something happening with our culture today — it does not treasure libraries or understand what libraries can do. Decision-makers and shareholders do not understand the power of libraries. Hopefully, that will be better understood and valued.
The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) recently welcomed Vicky Biancolo ‘06MS to serve on the nine-member board. She was appointed to the Board by Governor Charlie Baker in 2020. Biancolo served on the Massachusetts School Libraries Association and the Massachusetts Library System boards in the past and is currently the Director of Library Services at Miss Hall’s School in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
“School librarians tend to be underrepresented on state-wide committees,” says Biancolo. “We have far more school librarians in the state than we do any other type of librarian. In my experience, it is difficult to get educators involved in the decision-making because of scheduling. My position is to improve the services of all library types all across the Commonwealth, but I am glad that I have that school library perspective to bring to the commission.”
In addition to Biancolo’s position as Director of Library Services at Miss Hall’s School, she also serves on the school’s Academic Affairs Committee, as a student advisor, and as a resident dorm advisor. In 2017, she was presented with the Miss Hall’s School Unsung Hero award.
“We have a reading culture,” says Biancolo. “It’s my job to nurture that. When the kids are involved in the running of the library, it really helps nurture the reading culture. The space and collection are unequivocally theirs.”
Biancolo’s students have provided feedback on the collection, influenced book purchases, designed library signage, and created artwork for the library walls. She has even commissioned students to paint a mural in one of the study rooms. As a boarding and day school for students who identify as female, the school library functions differently than many other high school libraries.
“Our library runs more like a college. Kids are constantly floating in and out,” says Biancolo. “It’s not only the school library but also the student’s own personal library. Kids don't even have to get out of their slippers to leave their bedroom and come to the library.”
With her focus on nurturing readers, Biancolo is eager to put the focus on what libraries contribute to culture. “I think there is something happening with our culture today — it does not treasure libraries or understand what libraries can do. Decision-makers and shareholders do not understand the power of libraries. Hopefully, that will be better understood and valued.”
Biancolo still relies on lessons learned at the School of Library and Information Science, particularly adjunct faculty Jim Kelly’s cataloging course and a school library teacher course taught by Janis Wolkenbreit, which benefited from Wolkenbreit’s experience as a school librarian.
“Librarianship is a people service job. It’s not a job about books or reading. It’s about people,” says Biancolo. “Being a librarian is a constant advocacy job. I don’t think it matters what type of librarianship you do — you will constantly teach people what you do, why you do it, and why it is important. That never ends.”