A Knight in the Castle: Mr. Joseph Ramsey


North Penn High School librarian, Mr. Joseph Ramsey, enjoys more than just the literature aspect of being a librarian. His past experiences have motivated him to bring a positive learning experience to North Penn students for the past 18 years.

TOWAMENCIN- “I love the way subjects come together…the world itself is an interdisciplinary place,” said Mr. Joseph Ramsey, Librarian at North Penn High School. He sits at his desk speaking of the many interests that he has both in and outside of the IMC. 

Ramsey’s parents are much appreciated for sparking Ramsey’s interest in various subjects. His family vacations during the summer acted as true inspiration for exploration and adventure as they included travelling to the many beautiful natural landmarks across the United States.

“I was raised by microbiologists, which makes it sound like I was grown in a petri dish,” joked Ramsey. “[My parents] were also nature lovers and very into camping. All of our family vacations were camping in the woods or going to a national or state park. They were both big photographers, but my dad especially was a very accomplished amateur photographer, so I had some kind of a camera in my hands from the time I was a little kid.”

This lead to one of Mr. Ramsey’s earliest hobbies. His interest in photography carried through college, where he experimented with dark room photography and the complex methods to add effects to images, something that is now done digitally. Even today, his interest in photography is still eminent.

Photography is just one of the many interests of Ramsey. At the age of 14, he started to play the bagpipes, the first of many musical fascinations. In high school, he played bass in a band with his friends and his physics teacher.

“We had a band, me and my friends, and Steve [the physics teacher,]” explained Ramsey. “We chose a name before we really had a band and before we really knew what type of music we would play. We were Terminal Illness, and we had a cool logo…we thought we were going to play a lot of punk. In the end, we played more classic rock.”

After developing an interest in many types of folk music, Ramsey ultimately settled on the Hammered Dulcimer, a trapezoidal wooden box with strings that are struck by the player with small hammers. To this day, Ramsey still plays the Hammered Dulcimer as his primary instrument.

Although he has been a librarian for most of his career, Ramsey was a Psychology major in college. After his childhood in Atlanta, he moved to Minnesota to attend Macalester College. Taking an interest in the research side of psychology, Ramsey spent time at the school’s sleep laboratory. He researched about REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and the effect it had on a person’s ability to recall information.

After graduating college, Ramsey moved to London for six months on a work permit. Although his job there was only in the back office of a bank, he became enamored with the culture that London had to offer. He decided that to get the full British experience, he had to move in with British college students, so that is what he did.

“It was a good time, but they had their own ridiculous soap opera dynamics. I got my cultural experience of getting exposure to culture and subculture,” explained Ramsey.

Upon leaving London, Ramsey made a quick stop in Minnesota to pick up his things and then moved to Philadelphia with his girlfriend, who then broke up with him when they arrived. He did not have to worry, however, since he found two high school friends who now lived in the area. One of these friends was an elementary school teacher and helped Ramsey find his first job.

After working at a small private school as an assistant teacher, Ramsey found that he had a passion for teaching, and wanted to combine that passion with one of his other passions: literature.

“So I went off and got my library degree, and over the course of that education I became a certified teacher…but also I learned how much more there is to librarianship than just children’s literature. A lot of it is about teaching the research skills. The irony of the whole story is I went into it for my love for children’s literature, and came out of it all excited about the research,” stated Ramsey.

After teaching and inspiring students in North Penn’s IMC for 18 years, Ramsey has clearly settled on a job that he enjoys and excels in. The many twists and turns throughout his life have allowed him to better educate the young people that walk the halls of North Penn.

“It’s interesting the paths your life can take. When people ask ‘well what are you going to do with your life?’ It’s great to think about that, and it is great to have ideas, but I don’t think anybody should assume that they know for sure…life presents all these interesting twists and turns,” explained Ramsey.