Creativity Drives Invention for Longwood Alum

Richmond native Judy Deichman kept finding herself in libraries. For years, the mother of five continued to wind up volunteering in the libraries at her children's schools. Finally, Judy explains, a page to a revelation fell open in her head.

“I realized the library was going to be my future career and was truly my passion,” Judy explains. “I talked to the librarians at these schools, and they all highly recommended Longwood University. After hearing their comments and gathering information on the program from Dr. Audrey Church, I knew that Longwood was the perfect place for me.”

At Longwood, Judy experienced a sense of camaraderie with other licensure candidates as well as a close bond with the faculty that confirmed her choice.

“Since I was the first initial licensure candidate, I pursued a Master of Education degree along with the school library endorsement,” Judy explains. “I enjoyed the sense of community within the program, with fellow students, and with the instructors,” she adds. 

As an instructional specialist with Richmond Public Schools, Judy continues to build on the rock-solid foundation of knowledge she received at Longwood. In fact, Judy says the idea that “librarians are lifelong learners” was a constant message from the staff at Longwood University.  

“I use elements of my study on a daily basis,” Judy says.

In the spirit of lifelong learning and innovation instilled in her by Longwood, Judy and her fellow librarians from Richmond Public Schools came up with a truly one-of-a-kind library.

“We started our bookmobile, the Lit Limo, this past summer as a way to combat summer slide and create a culture of reading in the community,” says Judy. “We want students to love to read. We let students choose books to take home and add to their home library.”

Homed in a converted school bus, the Lit Limo follows a route that hits every Richmond Public School district in the city. 

“We hand out books to every student who visits the bus,” Judy explains. “After the district announced that the first semester of school was definitely going to be virtual, we decided to extend the Lit Limo program into the fall,” she continues.

For Judy, the beauty of the Lit Limo drive-by book service is choice and, of course, accessibility. 

“The most important factor in creating a culture of reading is student choice,” Judy says. The Lit Limo provides choice and access to books and other essential needs while most or many libraries are closed due to COVID-19.

“The Lit Limo runs early mornings to distribute books as well as food and completes stops every afternoon from 3 to 7 p.m.,” Judy explains. “The students love seeing some of their librarians at these stops.”

Judy can relate all too well to those students.

“I have loved reading since I was a young child, and even now, reading is my favorite alone time activity,” she says.

Looking back, Judy is grateful that she didn’t let anything hold her back from pursuing her school library endorsement.

“It’s definitely a myth that you won’t have enough time or capacity to complete all the reading and assignments necessary for this program,” Judy says. “And I know that because I completed the degree and the endorsement in two years while raising five children, working part-time, and still volunteering in the schools,” she adds.

Thanks to Longwood’s school library endorsement, Judy and her Lit Limo are rolling forward full speed ahead to bring a love of reading wherever the wheels take them.

“I have the best job in the world,” Judy says. “Librarians get to teach all the students in the school. Libraries are a truly safe place where all students are loved and accepted. I’m thankful every day to be a part of that.”