By Claudia Waldman
Ahna Ramirez considers her job description to be pretty simple. “If it involves books, I do it!” she says with a smile. As Alameda High’s newest textbook coordinator, Ramirez, who has been working at the school’s book room since last year, is an expert in all things literary.
Much of her job consists of keeping track of inventory, supplying textbooks to students each August and compiling class sets of books for English teachers. She is also responsible for processing new books and filing reports on those that are lost—what she describes as “a lot of little things that become one big thing.”
The foundations for Ramirez’s career choice were laid early on. She grew up in Alameda and graduated from Alameda Community Learning Center, where she says her favorite subjects were English and art. Ramirez went on to attend Sonoma State University, where she majored in English literature but didn’t develop any concrete plans for a career—“I never got that far ahead,” she explains.
While still a college student, Ramirez returned to her hometown to work. “I started temping for the school district,” she says, “and that got me involved in this career after graduating.”
Before coming to AHS, Ramirez worked at the media center at Lincoln Middle School for a year and a half. However, after Chipman Middle School closed in 2010, the Chipman librarian replaced Ramirez, and Ramirez moved on to the high school.
“I did a year subbing for a couple different people,” Ramirez says. “While I was here, I just heard that this job was going to be available the next year. I was itching to get back into library work again.”
Ramirez started the job in the fall of 2011, and since then has enjoyed getting to know the AHS students whom she serves.
“I adore the students here,” she says. “They’re great; they’re always so high-energy. Even when they’re stressed out, they’re always willing to bear with me.”
English teachers such as Janice Carroll are among those in the AHS community who have the most frequent contact with Ramirez. “She’s very cooperative and highly efficient,” Carroll said of Ramirez. “She’s up-to-date with technology and a pleasure to work with.”
AHS vice principal Michael Lee, who is Ramirez’s supervisor, concurred, saying, “[Ramirez] is pretty amazing. She’s had experience in the book room, and she’s able to work independently and work closely with both me and the district. Teachers have given a lot of compliments about her; she can get a lot of books ready in a short period of time.”
“And she’s a really big A’s fan,” he added with a smile.
When she’s not at work, Ramirez enjoys spending time with her dogs, cooking and playing the fantasy game ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ with her friends. She is a sci-fi aficionado who read 102 books in 2012 and whose favorite authors include Neil Gaiman and Ray Bradbury, and she recently finished the popular “Hunger Games” series.
“I definitely thought it was an improvement over ‘Twilight,’ which I read at Lincoln,” she says. “Usually if it’s in pop culture, it’s been done to bits, but I liked it. It reminded me of ‘Battle Royale,’ which is in the same genre but a little more intense.”
Though the job comes with its fair share of tedium—Ramirez is the person responsible for barcoding each and every book in the shipments that come to the book room—she says that “once you get into it, it’s fine” and that the job’s benefits outweigh its repetitive nature. To her, being around books again is enough.
“I’m a huge book nerd. I like the excitement of knowing a class is going to get an awesome book,” she says.
Photo courtesy of Kelly Gregor