Alumni Spotlight: iSchool Alumna Awarded Maryland School Librarian of the Year 2020 – Donna Mignardi MLS ’99

iSchool News - July 14, 2020

The UMD iSchool helped to instill in Donna that all information is valuable and one must continue to grow and learn.

photo of Donna Mignardi at a park

After completing her undergraduate degree in elementary education and psychology, Donna Mignardi, MLS ’99, considered a graduate degree in school counseling. One of Donna’s undergraduate professors took notice of her integration of outside resources and literature into her lessons and asked if she had contemplated a career in librarianship. Donna’s “AHA!” moment arrived when she read the description for a School Librarian in a graduate program catalogue and instinctively knew it was the perfect career choice for her.

Donna pursued her Master of Library Science (MLS) degree at the College of Information Studies (UMD iSchool), one of the only accredited school library programs in the area at the time. The University of Maryland (UMD) holds a lot of significance to Donna whose parents met while they were both studying at UMD and where her grandfather served as an advisor following his retirement. Originating from a family of proud Terps, there was no doubt that Donna would pursue an education at UMD and eventually carve a blazing path for herself and the industries of library science and education.

“I am very proud of my library and information science degree from UMD – some of the greats in the field of school libraries were my instructors and advisors,” says Donna when asked about being an alumnus of the iSchool. For her, working in the field of librarianship is “not all about books, it’s about so much more.”

After earning her MLS degree, Donna has enjoyed life as a high school librarian for over 20 years. She is currently the school librarian for Calvert High School serving on numerous committees for her school, district, and state, while also writing monthly blog posts for Programming Librarian, a website for library professionals to share, learn and be inspired to present excellent programming services for their communities. She is an advocate for professional development and an active member of many professional organizations including MDK12 Digital Library, Maryland Association of School Librarians (MASL), and, most recently, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Task Force where she will be revising the Position Statement on the Instructional Role of the School Librarian to align with the National School Library Standards.

“I am a teacher, administrator, information specialist, curation guru, leader, promoter of resources, instructional partner, makerspace innovator, literacy leader, and integration specialist,” she says when asked about her extensive career path over the last 20 years. The UMD iSchool helped to instill in Donna that all information is valuable and one must continue to grow and learn. She also emphasizes the importance of learning from current librarians, attending conferences, and getting involved with organizations to help aspiring and current professionals build flourishing careers in library science.

Donna was recently named 2020 Maryland School Librarian of the Year, presented by the MASL, honoring her exemplary service and outstanding achievements in the field of school library media, and demonstrating the American Association of School Librarians Six Shared Foundations: Inquire, Include, Collaborate, Curate, Explore, and Engage. Donna shares this year’s award with April Wathen of St. Mary’s County Public Schools.

When she is not working on something for her school community, blog post, or MASL newsletter, Donna enjoys spending time with her family, including her four children, and taking long walks around her home.