For the Love of Books

Behind the scenes with Dallastown’s head librarian, Mrs. Dressel: what she does, and why she loves it.


Brooke Jordan

Dallastown High School head librarian Mrs. Karen Dressel sits behind the circulation desk ready to help students research or find books they love. Dressel says that is her favorite part of her job.

We have all gone to the library for some reason. May it be to borrow a book, eat lunch, or turn in that late fee. It’s just another place in the school for most. However, the person behind it all appreciates the books more than most know.

The head librarian for the Dallastown Middle and High School is Mrs. Dressel. She has been working for the district for 31 years. She grew up in Allentown, PA, just a bit northeast of York.

She went to Kutztown University for a bachelor of science degree in Elementary Education. However, after not finding a job with her degree, she went back to get graduate work in Library Science. 

She didn’t start in the high school. In the beginning, she worked at one of the elementary schools in the district. She worked at Ore Valley and Leaders Heights. Then, she and the then high school librarian Miss Palma Riner switched positions. Dressel has been in the high school ever since 1993.

At her job, she will work on the library’s budget, work with the new library assistant, and keep track of students in the library or who are eating in the cafe. She also has a homeroom during Wildcat period.

She also helps students with technical issues with their computers. The main library desk is the “front line” for repairing computers before they go to the Help Desk.

One of the biggest things she does is update the library’s collection.

“I update the collection which means I’m retiring old books of ours and getting new books to keep the collection fresh and relevant,” Dressel says. 

Dallastown is an old high school. If you look deep enough, some books were written in the 60s and 70s. Now, when those books are about geography and politics, some of those facts are a little dated. So, Dressel goes in to take out those books and put in newer, more accurate books.

There are drawers and drawers of files, keeping track of all the books in the library. It’s a mountainous and detailed job to do such a thing. It takes an organized mind to make sure it doesn’t go astray.

Working alongside Dressel is Mrs. Gibson, who agrees that Dressel is a hard, skilled worker. Gibson says Dressel “is very detail oriented about keeping the library collection up to date.”

Dressel doesn’t just retire old books and fix laptop problems, she also takes up hobbies outside of the middle and high school. 

She loves nature, so much so that when she was younger she wanted to be a forest ranger. She grew up enjoying her summers at Lake Wallenpaupack in the Poconos.

“I have always had an appreciation and love for wildlife and meteorology,” Dressel says. 

To Dressel, the best thing about working in the library is being able to help students research and learn.”

Dressel thinks that the most important thing about libraries is physical books. Everyone is focused on reading through their screens, but she still loves the real thing.

To Dressel, the best thing about working in the library is being able to help students research and learn. To help a student find a book, may they be someone who has never read before or someone who is an avid reader, is what she loves. 

It’s a great moment when she finds a book that fits a student so well and she knows they’ll enjoy reading it. Even if they’ve never read a novel before or even thought about researching that topic.

“I like to work with the books,” Dressel says. “It’s one of my favorite jobs.”

Libraries are rich with resources. There are so many things online that sometimes we forget how much information is in a book. 

When walking into the library, maybe take a look around. You’d be surprised how much information Mrs. Dressel takes care of. 

From books about ancient history to modern fiction novels, she shelves them, documents them, and loves them.