What’s a School Librarian Doing at TLA Conference?

Photos are from the Children’s and Young Adult Roundtable Luncheon at this year’s TLA conference in Memphis, TN.      Photo 1: Lindsey Anderson was honored as the Louise Meredith Award recipient and pictured with TLA liaison Erika Long. Photo 2:  Erika poses with school librarian/author Alice Faye Duncan, who was the speaker.  Photo credit goes to Jennifer Sharp.

Written by: Erika Long

Whether you are a member of TLA, have considered membership, or simply haven’t decided its value yet, at some point, you have likely questioned: What does a school librarian get out of membership in TLA and/or attending the annual conference? The answer depends on the person. What are you looking for? What benefits would you like to receive from either? What can you bring to the organization?

This past week, I had the chance to attend my third TLA Conference. Aside from my obligation as a board member, conference is an opportunity to continue learning amongst other types of librarians. Memphis—my hometown and a MLK 50 Commemoration site—being the locale was icing on the cake.

Making Connections

Have you ever wanted to make a connection with a public or academic librarian? Wanted to include them or tie them into your work? What better place to make a connection than at the annual conference or through membership (listservs, social media, etc.). Sometimes key players in your community are more easily accessible through membership in TLA. Conference is small, so you have the opportunity to interact with library directors, deans, staff from the state library and archives, etc. These people may be able to help you and your students via partnerships, advocacy efforts, etc.

Learning From Counterparts

Even though we are in different contexts, there is some crossover in skills taught and services provided between school librarians and academic/public librarians. Consider, maybe you can revamp your elementary library lessons by attending a session on storytime at the public library. Perhaps you could use instructional strategies shared in a session about academic library instruction to ensure your high school students are prepared for college. Or you might be a middle school librarian who is stumped and looking for new, creative reading promotion/display ideas. An academic or public library might just have the perfect solution. What you take away from TLA’s annual conference really comes down to your programming/instructional needs and your open-mindedness. The key is taking the great thing you hear/learn and adapting/modifying it to best fit the population you serve, while using the resources you have at your disposal.      


A Few Conference Highlights

  • Self-censorship is a practice librarians strive to avoid, but it inevitable for more of us than one might think. Truly knowing your population and your needs will help you best select materials without self-censorship. If you’ve hosted Mix It Up! Before, you might be interested in National Week of Conversation, April 20-28. This is an opportunity to engage in conversation surrounding the sensitive topics that sometimes cause librarians to self-censor.
  • We are helping produce well-rounded citizens. Let’s make sure they are by preparing them to become “real adults” with a little #adulting101. Consider offering crash courses in adult interaction for teens—resume building and job hunting skills, financial, health and self-care, healthy eating, and moving out. Local agencies and even your staff can help lead this sessions.
  • Advocacy can sometimes seem intimidating and daunting. However, no one can speak to what you do and need as well as you. Get out of your building. Meet and present to those who fund your work. Be seen and involved; it will be easier to garner the support of funding bodies when you request it.
  • Tell your story. And your students’ stories. Politicians and stakeholders want to know they are making an investment, not spending money.

Check out #tnla18 on social media for more conference highlights.

Honoring Exemplary Work

Did you know that each year, TLA recognizes a school librarian in honor of Louise Meredith, former Tennessee State Department of Education School Library Supervisor? The award recognizes a school librarian who has made unique and worthy contributions to his/her school instructional program, community, and/or professional landscape through exemplary school library media services. Attending conference gives us the opportunity to celebrate what’s happening in school libraries across our state and the librarians at the helm of those spaces and programs.

This year, the Louise Meredith Award recipient is Lindsey Anderson. Lindsey serves on the board of SEYA, is advocacy chair for TASL, and provides professional development in her district and at TASL Conference. What makes Lindsey shine most is her heart, passion, and compassion for her Woodland Middle School community. She works tirelessly to ensure her programming reflects all the types of students her library serves. With programming like Project LIT, Language Lunch, Battle of the Books, and Best Buddies, Lindsey has created a school library where all students are included, engaged, and empowered. And if that isn’t enough, she works closely with her PTA and manages to successfully host at least one author visit each year. (Continue to help TLA celebrate Lindsey by congratulating her when you see her.)

TLA solicits nominations for the award each year and looks forward to your nominations. You can learn more about the award here.

Restructuring TLA

After a recent vote on association restructure in the bylaws, TLA will restructure its board starting this June. The school libraries section will no longer exist. However, we will be seeking a representative of school libraries to serve on the TLA board so that we maintain a presence and have a seat at the table for all future conversations on how TLA serves its members. The representative will be a Member-at-Large. This volunteer position is a one year commitment with its biggest task being attendance at quarterly board meetings (two online, two in-person) and communicating by e-mail with TLA’s school librarian membership and fellow board members.If you feel passionately about the presence of school librarians and how TLA can serve them, or would like more information, contact me at erikalong.lib@gmail.com.

Erika Long is a secondary school librarian in Nashville. She was named a 2017 AASL Social Media Superstar finalist in the Social Justice Defender Category. She currently serves as the School Libraries Section Chair on the TLA Board. She has previously blogged for The Horn Book and maintains a personal blog about children’s and YA lit—Blog, Don’t Judge.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: