Longwood and Libraries: A Conversation with Dr. Audrey Church

Dr. Audrey Church loves two things: libraries and Longwood University. The school librarianship graduate professor and most recent program director marked twenty years in the Fall of 2020 at Longwood University.

Her devotion to both the program and the school runs deep.

“I worked as a school librarian in a neighboring school division and earned my master’s degree from Longwood in 1993,” Dr. Church explains. “Following this I taught as an adjunct for the program, and when the full-time position to direct and teach in the program was advertised in 2000, I applied,” she adds. “This marks my 21st year at Longwood.”

Dr. Church, who lives on a farm in southside Virginia with her husband, says that watching the School Librarian program grow and thrive has been as exciting as it has been rewarding. 

“Our program is offered in a hybrid format in partnership with school divisions around the state, and it’s been wonderful to work with school division personnel to bring the program on-site for teachers. Over the past two decades, we have partnered with over twenty Virginia public school divisions to prepare teachers to be school librarians,” Dr. Church says.

Dr. Church has been recognized as a 2017-2018 Simpson Distinguished Professor as well as a past chair of the Library Research Round Table, American Library Association, and a former president of the American Association of School Librarians. 

The Simpson Distinguished Professor award recognized Dr. Church for her sustained commitment to pursuing outstanding scholarship resulting in publications, presentations, or creative work in the visual or performing arts.”

The other recognitions from the Library Research Round Table, American Library Association (ALA), and the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) all speak to Dr. Church’s passion for her work and the vast amount of respect that she commands within her field. Dr. Church simply refers to these items as an “honor and a privilege.”

What Dr. Church really loves to talk about is the program itself. How has it shifted during the COVID-19 pandemic? How have the program alumni shaped the program’s evolution over the years? 

“In response to the COVID-19 outbreak last spring, we moved our typical face-to-face Saturday sessions online,” Dr. Church explains. “We, and our students, miss the in-person learning that is the hallmark of our program. Meeting via Zoom is just not quite the same thing but our students have adapted well and are flexible and resilient,” Dr. Church says. 

“Our alumni make amazing contributions on a daily basis to the teaching and learning occurring in their schools,” Dr. Church adds.

Longwood’s SLIB program stands out from the pack, according to Dr. Church. Due to highly sought-after national recognition and courses taught by full-time professors, there’s a reason Dr. Church’s love for librarianship at Longwood is so long-standing.

“Longwood’s school librarianship graduate program is one of two graduate programs preparing school librarians in Virginia that is nationally recognized by ALA, AASL, and CAEP [Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation],” Dr. Church explains. “Our program is unique in that courses are offered in a hybrid format, meeting face-to-face from one to five Saturdays across the semester, depending on the course, with the remainder of work for the course completed online. Another characteristic that makes our program unique is that all SLIB courses are taught by full-time, tenure-track Longwood faculty,” she adds.

When Dr. Church isn’t hard at work on her beloved program she enjoys spending time with her two grown children and their families as well as cooking and baking.

“The only job better than being a school librarian is getting to teach future school librarians,” she says.