The Women Behind the Book Counter: Librarian Spotlight


Kathleen Toblesky

Mrs. Phillips and Mrs. Yoshinaga in their natural habitat: the forest of books!

Kathleen Toblesky, Photojournalist

Pink and purple, blue and green, whatever color it is, you can always expect to find Mrs. Phillips (Staff) with an interesting color on her head tucked behind the counter of the YLHS library.


Ever since the start of the 2014-2015 school year, she has been a wonderful presence on campus, always making students’ lives easier in the library. After all, how else would we find that very special book we wanted to read? Or get the exact information we need for one of Mr. Cadra’s infamous research papers? Heck, we wouldn’t even be able to finish and turn in our assignments if she hadn’t provided the paper, posters, or Chromebooks to do it!


But there’s more to this librarian than meets the eye.


Her career as a librarian actually began, like many of the staff here at YL, at Esperanza. She stayed there for five years before moving to Arizona to work as a school librarian once again. After another five years, she moved back home to SoCal “just in time” to apply for the job opening at YL.


“I didn’t choose the library life,” stated Mrs. Phillips in regard to her long-standing career in school libraries. “The library life chose me.”


How does one even become a librarian in the first place? While not every librarian has the same path, for Mrs. Phillips, she took a career exploration class in college with a huge interest in three careers: Librarian, Teacher, and, surprisingly, Landscape Architect. Because the market for public libraries didn’t appeal to her, she decided to pursue teaching. This leads her to be a Language Arts teacher for a few years at Esperanza. The librarian of the time had asked her to cover for her part-time for the following year. Having agreed, she went through more courses to get an MLIS as well as the necessary credentials for library services.  


“My first year full-time,” she began, “I was not sure it was for me because I didn’t have my own students.  But then I realized, every student is mine. After my 2nd year, I loved it and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”


Unlike many adults, she loves working with teenagers. That is absolutely necessary for a job that requires almost complete interaction with hormonal teens. Every day is an adventure to her, always different, giving her a chance to create a place that her students want to be.


But working with students and helping them check out books isn’t the only part of her job. Behind the scenes, she’s completely in charge of developing the collection of books housed by the library. In order to find the right books for students, she collaborates with the teachers on what resources they need for their curriculum. She does the same with the librarians from other schools as well to make sure that all the students in the district have access to the same reading material.


As for the non-academics, she also plans other activities to attract students to the library. Students are constantly on their phones, so she provides them with battery chargers. No place to sit at lunch or it’s too cold outside? Don’t worry, she had the comfortable seating covered, just be sure not to bring food in.


However, it can get really busy doing all that work by herself. With so much work to do and so many students to supervise, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Luckily for her, she’s no alone.


Mrs. Yoshinaga is at her service!


Her start at YLHS was just three years before Mrs. Phillips, working at Valencia High School as their library assistant as well.


While Mrs. Phillips handles the obtaining of books and textbooks, Mrs. Yoshinaga is in charge of repairing any damaged books and cataloging any new books or equipment.


She is often found parading around the library, searching for any student in need of help, making sure everyone signs in when they enter, or hoping to watch others put together the latest puzzle.


“Mrs. Phillips is great,” she said. “I love working with her.”


Students at YLHS have a lot to owe these two beloved staffers. Despite the two of them working together, maintaining the library is no easy job. But students can help out to make their jobs easier. They just have to do one simple thing: follow the rules. I know, that may sound a bit drab, but throwing away your trash so they don’t have to, making sure the books remain undamaged, and not overfilling the tables goes a long way in making life more simple for them.