OUSD Featured Library: Claremont Middle School


Claremont Middle School’s library, with its cozy reading nooks and thriving manga section, is a welcoming space where students love to hang out, read, play games, or chat about books with library technician Carmen Wood. Ms. Wood, as she’s known to Claremont students, has been in the role for just over a year and personifies a love of books and reading. She’s been working in or adjacent to the book world since college – in publishing, at indie bookstores (including the amazing Wild Rumpus in Minnesota, a kids’ bookstore with animals roaming the shop), assisting in an elementary school library, and now in her current role at Claremont Middle.

“Students having the power to choose books for themselves is an amazing freedom,” explains Carmen, “It supports kids becoming self-directed learners and engaging with the world on their own terms.”

School libraries serve a unique need in providing access to reading materials for kids, Ms. Wood notes, because “there are no barriers to entry – every kid has access to the school library daily in a way that even public libraries lack. Students don’t need additional transportation to get here, remember to carry a library card, or deal with financial barriers like in bookstores.” She emphasizes that connecting with books, reading, and discovering the wealth of resources in a library is an essential part of students’ education; becoming curious, independent, confident readers supports every aspect of their lives as learners.

About Carmen

Carmen stays connected to the collection by reading lots of kid lit (she is also a kid lit illustrator and aspires to create kids’ graphic novels)! She is a huge fan of the extremely popular manga/anime genres, and loves talking about the latest show releases with students or getting a new reader started on manga by recommending great starter series like My Hero Academia or Spy Family. Ms. Wood also loves to share slice-of-life contemporary stories about kids traveling or living in different countries like I Guess I Live Here Now by Claire Ahn or This Time It’s Real by Ann Liang.

“I am obsessed with getting the right read to the right kid at the right time,” says Carmen. She delights in watching a new student’s face light up when they spot their favorite comfort read on the shelf, or handing the highly anticipated next in the series to a voracious manga reader, or talking high fantasy shop with another hardcore dragon fan, “being the gateway to all these wonderful reads and brightening a kid’s day, even in a tiny way, just makes my world.”

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