Sara Siepker, new to West as a librarian secretary.
Sara Siepker, new to West as a librarian secretary.
Tessa Gibson

Sara Siepker: journey to West

The halls of West High may be relatively new for Librarian Secretary Sara Siepker, but her passion for literature and her job certainly isn’t.

Sara Siepker, one of the valued members of the library staff has had quite the journey. She didn’t originally plan to work in a library, and in fact, she went to school for English and creative writing at the University of Iowa. Eventually, once the pandemic hit, Siepker came to the realization that she wasn’t keen on an English major. Her reasoning was that even though she liked to read, it didn’t necessarily mean she enjoyed analyzing medieval literature.

Thus, the library secretary job came into view. “I do really enjoy reading, and I love talking about books, and I think the library world just always seemed like this natural segue from the things that I enjoyed,” Siepker said. Siepker places emphasis on the importance of the balance of amusement and work. “You want to do something that doesn’t necessarily exploit what you enjoy doing for money.”

Siepker finds joy in the little things at her job. “My favorite part is just getting to work with the books themselves and getting to see all the different things that you guys [West] have, and getting to put them out for you guys. It’s a very dumb and nerdy thrill that I get seeing a bunch of books in one area,” Siepker said.

…the library world just always seemed like this natural segue from the things that I enjoyed.

— Sara Siepker

Siepker makes comparisons to the vast size of the West High Library. She grew up in Iowa, and while the high school she attended wasn’t extremely small, the West High Library’s book selection is far more expensive than what she saw there.

Before considering the library position, Siepker’s path to West began with working in service positions when she was as young as 14, and from restaurants to an art studio, and working at a hospital to lifeguarding at a pool, Siepker has certainly built working experience. However, her current position stands out. “Coming from jobs where [working] was very stressful, and especially like restaurant jobs can be extremely difficult and doesn’t really always care about the people that are working in its environments.” She adds, “Do work at a school district, and you know, people remember me, and they know my name, and I have a desk,” Siepker said. Her smile beams at the mention of her own desk and name place card.

It’s a very dumb and nerdy thrill that I get seeing a bunch of books in one area.

— Sara Siepker

From the time she arrives to when she leaves at 1:30, Siepker is here to help and guide students in the right direction. Siepker’s work day starts at nine when she comes in during first period. A large part of her job is processing books, which involves putting volumes into the catalog, covering them or placing mylar over the hardcover books. When she’s not doing that, Siepker likes to read. “I like to read a lot while I’m working, and the wonderful thing about this job is that I can say that I’m reading because I’m curating selections for people and it’s a part of my job.”

Her gratitude for the West environment and the students who pass through the library was evident. Siepker certainly finds that representation matters. With tooth earrings standing out in contrast with her pink hair, she says, “I would have loved to have seen a librarian that looked like me, that would have been really awesome.”

Not only is her enthusiasm for her job obvious to the students but also to her colleagues who admire her youthful energy. Jill Hofmockel, the main librarian comments, “Sara is so kind and so welcoming to kids, which is important for me.” Hofmockel adds, “as the librarian, I totally trust that if Sara’s at the desk, or at the door, anybody who comes to her for help is going to feel like she’s helping them out and is a friendly face.” Tina Hart, the other librarian secretary, additionally thinks of Siepker fondly. “Sarah is young and brings a fresh flavor to life. She’s artistic and very caring to students.”

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About the Contributors
Vera Tanas, Copy Editor
(she/her) Vera Tanas is a junior, and this is her second year on staff. She is the copy editor and art editor for the West Side Story website. Outside of journalism, Vera enjoys playing soccer, listening to music, working on art projects and spending time outdoors.
Tessa Gibson, Profiles Editor
(she/her) Tessa is a senior this year and this is her 3rd year on staff. She is the profiles editor and one of the social media editors. She loves reality tv shows and ice cream. 
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