Joanna Donovan has been a stalwart of the Paraparaumu College library for many years. Photo / David Haxton
When Joanna Donovan was asked to be a temporary teacher aide at Raumati Beach School, she had no idea it would turn into a career that would span more than two decades.
At first, it was in primary schools – Raumati Beach School for three months and then Kāpiti Primary School – but eventually, after an 18-month break to look after her terminally ill mother, she applied for a job at Paraparaumu College in 1998.
She wasn’t sure what it would be like working with teenagers, but she loved it.
“I love [working with] the young people, that’s where my passion is.”
For the next eight years, she worked in various roles around the college, including relieving in the canteen and working in the technology department, but once she tried working in the school library, she realised she loved it.
So, in 2006, she started studying for a diploma in library and information studies, which took two years and became a library assistant. Two years later, she applied for the library manager position.
After almost 10 years of managing the library, she decided to step down to spend more time with her family and Kate Cormack took over the role, which was rebranded to information and library leader.
Since 2018, Donovan has continued as a librarian.
Over her time working in the library, she said the technical aspects of the job had changed a lot.
Almost everything was digital now, but while e-books and audiobooks were gaining popularity, physical books were still important.
But one thing that had not changed was the use of the library as a social space.
“It’s not just a place where students come to read books – it’s a community space.
“It’s a place where they feel safe and accepted.”
The library is open from 8am to 5pm. Donovan said students were often waiting for it to open in the mornings and were still there in the evenings.
She said she had been lucky to be able to continue her work with the Special Olympics, a cause close to her heart.
She was grateful to the college for allowing her to take time off to go to camps and international games with her son Jason.
“I’ve been very lucky to have such support to do the things I am passionate about.”
Donovan’s last day is on Tuesday, and she’s looking forward to kicking off her retirement with a trip to Canada in March and Cairns in May.