Kindra Lee: revamping our library


By Anika Kapan, Features Editor, Graphics Editor

The Tamalpais High School library has been a wonderful resource for Tam students since its opening. However, many Tam students seem somewhat indifferent to its existence, stopping by only when they need a place to hide during their free period, or when forced to go for required class reading. Tamalpais High School’s new library specialist Kindra Lee said that indifference seems to be incredibly common.

  “My vision is to make [our library] into a useful and comfortable place for students,” Lee said. “I think it’s very common, especially for freshmen, but I think that even other students don’t see the library as a comfortable place.” 

Lee started at her position in the Tam library on Jan. 4, replacing previous specialist Manny Mier. Upon starting, she was tasked with organizing and re-configuring the space into a more welcoming environment for students. 

“When I first came in, I had a lot to do, and I still have a lot to do, to make it into what I want to see,” Lee said. “And what I want to see is a space that students and staff find comfortable and useful.” 

Lee has a number of ideas and projects she and afternoon library specialist, Hajra Yacoobal, are implementing in order to revamp Tam’s library. One of these is the Wellness Corner, an area with comfortable couches, mental health resources, and helpful bulletins located next to the printer area. 

“A lot of people think of libraries as books, which they are, clearly, but it’s also a place where I want people to feel seen, but also where they can just kinda connect with themselves,” Lee said. 

The Wellness Corner, Lee hopes, will help students feel safe and comfortable in the library, whether they want to study, work on collaborative projects, or just relax with a book. 

“It’s always a balance between the stereotypical quiet library, and a place where people can come in and collaborate.” 

Beyond the Wellness Corner, Lee has other ideas for restructuring and utilizing Tam’s library space, including more comfortable furniture and a better re-organization of books alphabetically, instead of by genre — which, in her opinion, is haphazard work. Lee and Yacoobal have also applied for a grant to purchase more comfortable furniture in order to make reading and relaxing in the library easier for students. 

“Are you looking for something?” Lee broke off during our interview, addressing a student that had requested white-out, and wasn’t able to find it in the provided shelf. “Here,” Lee said, pulling out one from her desk. “Why don’t you just use this one?” 

This understanding spirit is something that Lee has used to transform the library in the two months she’s worked here. “Point in case,” she laughed, gesturing at the white out. “One of the things we’ve created since I started here was this little corner for supplies and stuff. That’s the functional part. But I’m finding other things that people can just use, y’know, to make their days easier — like these sensory strips.” 

Beyond school supplies, books, and helpful fidget tools, Lee is trying to provide as much support for students as she can. 

“It’s hard being a teenager,” she said. “And if I can do something to help you guys, whatever it is, I want to know.” 

Lee has also put out book request forms, for students hoping to see books, fiction or nonfiction, added to the registry. She wants to emphasize that just because it’s inside of a school, doesn’t mean that the Tam library is solely for academic purposes. 

The essential part of Lee’s job, to her, is the social work aspects of librarianship. Coming from a background in social work — with two masters degrees in education and librarianship and experience working at the Mill Valley, Tiburon, and Redwood High School libraries — Lee believes that Librarianship is inseparably tied to community and social service. 

“Public libraries have a little bit of a social work aspect, where you’d be presented with a circumstance you’d kinda have to figure out on the spot,” Lee said, recalling a time where she’d helped a woman read her tax documents. “[At Tam], it’s more typical high school library stuff — people are coming to study, or to check out a book.” 

Lee also has experience working in a corporate environment, and was a cookie-decorator and bakery business owner for five years. These very different positions have given her both creativity and immense social skills, which she applies to her job daily. 

Lee, Yacoobal, and Assistant Principal Karen Hatton have also been working to make the library more involved in campus life, hoping to better promote the space for club meetings and after-school use. Lee hopes to create a second “student-center,” that can be both academic and social. 

“I would appreciate that students would use the sign-in more often, and I would also ask that my ‘regulars’ always bring a pass, whether it’s a teacher or whoever they are supposed to be with,” Lee said. “There’s a lot of students on this campus, and knowing that everyone is safe is a big help.” 

Although many students don’t realize, the Tam library is open from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. On Friday, it closes at 4:30 p.m. Many students seem to be unaware of that fact, choosing instead to study at the Mill Valley Library or a local cafe. 

Because Lee joined the Tam community during a contentious time, with student behavior scandals a popular NextDoor topic, teacher burnout stories blasted across national headlines, and Principal J.C. Farr’s, Ed.D., abrupt departure, she said her main concern is how to connect with and support students. 

“Bottom line,” Lee said. “This is your library. I’m not here to tell you what books to read, what to check out. I want you to tell me what you need, so we can try to get it.”