Olsen Spent Entire Career Working in School Libraries


(Ralston Public Schools)
By 
Molly Ashford
The Daily Record

For 21 years, library media specialist Maureen Olsen made it her mission to create a welcoming space for the young people in the Ralston Public Schools.

Olsen, who worked for the past nine years at Ralston High School, retired this May.

“I love my job,” she told The Daily Record. “But it felt like it was a good time to say goodbye. I felt so close to this class of 2021, and COVID kind of took the wind out of my sails.”

In years prior, the high school library was a place of movement and chatter with students coming and going at all hours. Olsen said that, during the pandemic, she missed the loudness and sense of community that was always present in the space.

An Omaha native, Olsen attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha and completed her degree with the intent of being a teacher. She had always known that she wanted to go into education, but an adviser pushed her towards library media.

It was a push that paid off — she spent her entire professional career in the library, and she loved every element of the job.

“It’s a good gig,” Olsen said. “You get to be a reader’s adviser for everybody — students and staff.”

Olsen began at the high school in 1992, leaving five years later to care for her adopted sons as they grew up. Once her youngest started kindergarten, she took a position as the library media specialist at Ralston Middle School. By 2013, she made her way back to Ralston High School.

“It ended up being such a great move for me,” she said of the transition back to high school. “I knew those students already, so there were six years where I had the advantage of knowing all of their names and the kinds of books they like to read.”

Olsen said being able to watch students grow from seventh through 12th grade was a privilege.

“They grow up so much,” she said.

To celebrate her retirement and the loosening of travel restrictions, Olsen plans on taking a few well-deserved vacations with her family. She also intends to continue to work with the League of Women Voters to register high school students to vote, which she facilitated for years at Ralston High School.

“It kind of lit a fire in my belly,” she said. “I plan on volunteering with that group when we can go back in high schools to get younger people interested in the political process by registering to vote.”

Olsen is confident in her successor, Carrie Mason, a former fifth-grade teacher from Wildwood Elementary. She looks forward to new endeavors, but she says that the connections she made with students and faculty at Ralston Public Schools will stick with her throughout. 

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