Librarian Valerie Blain keeps human connection relevant in this day and age


Elisabeth Skrenta

Valerie Blain, the new assistant librarian at The Masters School, converses with Masters students in the library. Blain’s focus this year has been on building community and relationships within the library.

Elisabeth Skrenta, Contributing Writer

Valerie Blain, the new assistant librarian at The Masters School crosses over from New Jersey daily to maintain the “great vibes” in the newly renovated library accompanied by head librarian Jillian McCoy. Born in Bronxville, and then completing her education throughout New York, Blain is going on her second year of being a librarian, but didn’t always expect this would be her profession. 

Blain originally got her bachelor’s degree in television production, but after the pandemic she became more interested in the history of filmmaking, rather than production and post-production. She then shifted her attention to librarianship, where she is now getting her degree in library and information studies with a specialization in archives. Last year Blain shadowed McCoy and loved the campus and community, leading her to apply for the job and ultimately getting it and fitting right in.

When one thinks of a librarian, one often thinks of someone with their nose in a book, but after talking to Blaine and McCoy it became clear that their focus is much more on people than pages.  The Masters library staff strives to build honest relationships with students through one-on-one discussions and meaningful interactions.

I absolutely believe McCoy and I have an impact, even if it’s a small one, on the kids that pass through the library

— Valerie Blain

“We both have a good sense of humor, and we’re both pretty easygoing, so that lets us sort of  take things in stride, we don’t get really worked up about things,”  McCoy said. 

Similar to McCoy, Blain has a relaxed approach to handling students daily. She said, “When you come into your library, I ask, ‘What do you want from us? How can we help you?’ And not so much, ‘Let’s push reading on kids,’ or anything like that.” In testament to her words one only has to walk into the library to experience the blend of quiet and relaxed conversation.

Blain said, “I absolutely believe McCoy and I have an impact, even if it’s a small one, on the kids that pass through the library and like to spend time with us because I can speak from experience, because that was my library.”

Their relationship started with Blain on the other side of the desk since McCoy was actually her librarian at the Academy of Mount St. Ursula in the Bronx. She was in my first freshman class, so that was the first grade I saw go all the way through ninth to twelfth grade,” McCoy recalls. 

Valerie Blain tagging a book at the library. (Jack Parsons)

Clearly McCoy had an impact on Blain because when trying to figure things out last year regarding her career change, Blain said McCoy was “on speed dial” and “really did help me get to the point where I am in my career.”

In a society that revolves around technology, there is a decline in face-to-face interaction. Student resources are now mostly online and with the pandemic’s repercussions, not many utilize public libraries anymore. Despite this transition to online resources, librarians still hold a key role in the education system.

Senior Ashleigh Woodruff said, “She [Blain] is so sweet, and since she is younger she can relate to the students while keeping boundaries… anyone can go up to her and have a conversation.”