Mr. Anthony - Tot Ziens from an ASH Retiree
Each year, our ASH community says “tot ziens” to staff, students and parents as they leave our community to embark upon new life adventures. We also celebrate and honor our retirees for all they have done during their time at ASH. Anthony, a 2023 retiree, reflects on his ASH experience during his 8 years at ASH as our High School Librarian.
How long have you been at ASH, and at what capacity?
I've been working at ASH for the last 8 years, since 2015, as the High School Librarian. But before I came to ASH I pinged back and forth between Asia, the Netherlands and the UK.
How has your final year at ASH been?
It's been interesting, and gone by very quickly (just as every year does!). At the beginning of this year I hadn’t realized I was retiring, so that was a bit of a surprise! Obviously now that I have 5 days left, it's not a surprise any more. :) What will you miss the most about ASH? Well, it’s always the people isn't it? The community feeling at ASH, what we do in the library and how we make it feel like a community here too. The challenges with COVID made it hard but it's great this year that parents are coming back to use the library again too. Definitely it's the people that I'll miss. Also in a weird way, I will miss getting up at 5 am in the morning to catch my 6 am train! Hopefully I will adjust, but I am a morning person so it does make sense. It's a really nice time to travel as few people are up, and I often have an entire train carriage to myself!
Are there any students or colleagues that have a lasting impact on your time at ASH?
I've worked with quite a few faculty over the years, for instance IB coordinators, I've worked with three since I started at ASH and that's always a very valuable working relationship. I've also worked with lots of history teachers over the years, theater, art, social sciences, English and other languages, not least the host language, Dutch - and even ‘upstairs’ subjects (i.e. sciences) - all focusing on how the library can support what is going on in their classrooms. Also working with the older high school students in particular - for example on extended essays or IAs, where I typically support individual students one-to-one, as this creates a really meaningful relationship. Overall it's been wonderful to work with quite a lot of people in different ways in the library. The library has an impact in a subtle, sometimes hidden, way. It definitely creates variety as I can’t anticipate what people will ask for when they come through the door or email.
What are some stand-out memories during your time at ASH?
I really do enjoy working with the extended essay students. Each year is different, has its own challenges and interests and each year it's done a slightly different way. The balance of support in terms of the physical collection and space and digital resources has also changed. I’ve definitely spent more time on digital curation tools in this job than in the six international schools in which I’ve been librarian. It has also been fun with other roles, such as an adviser, seeing two groups of students over the 8 years through to graduation - and occasional activities, such as conducting mock interviews with Oxbridge hopefuls.
And working with the theater students and teacher Anthony on a play last year, that was fun. I had a cameo role and needed to learn how to fall backwards (in the script, someone careers into me and knocks me out) - there was a special coach for that. You learn to think about it in slow motion, even though the action only takes a few seconds. That was an interesting creative experience.
What are some stand-out moments for you during your career?
When I started to think back about my 45-year career as a qualified librarian, there are some moments that came to mind. One is the first time I did a big library building project, it was a school library at a boarding school in the UK. The old library resembled something from a scene at Hogwarts, but the new build was a two-story 12,000 square foot modern space. It was fantastic to work with the architect on the planning, setting up, etc. It was a 2 million pound project and back then in the 1990’s 2M could buy a lot more than it does today. Another clear memory from my career was going to 10 Downing Street for a meeting with the education policy advisor, now the Lord Adonis, to the then Prime Minister (Tony Blair). I was working at the time for the UK Library Association as their School Library Advisor. We were making lots of recommendations to the new government about their plans so eventually they said, ‘why don't you come in to talk to us?’ Security had beefed up a bit but in those days it was still possible to walk up Downing St. and say “Hello, I have a meeting”, and then that famous door opened and you could walk in. It was fascinating being in the No. 10 building, it's not as big as you might think! Another big moment from my career was when my first book came out. I've published 4 books about school librarianship, three in the UK and one for a major academic publisher in California, USA. One of my books has even been translated into Japanese. The first time you get your published book in your hand really is a special moment.
What do you plan to do once you retire?
Oh, well, have fun! That is the most obvious one :) And travel, locally obviously in Europe but in Australia too - Sydney is a favorite city (I’ve been 12 times). I plan to do a Masters in Music in either Amsterdam or Cambridge. It would be nice to have that whole live / work /study experience in one place, especially in Amsterdam, as I already live there!
We have a diverse community of students, staff, and families from around the world. Each member of our community brings their own story that enriches the #ASHexperience.