Meet TASLCon 2019 Keynote Tiffany Whitehead

Written by Tiffany Whitehead and Julie Caudle

Meet #TASLCon2019’s keynote speaker Tiffany Whitehead! Tiffany Whitehead, the Mighty Little Librarian, is currently the Director of Library at Episcopal High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Tiffany earned her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and School Library Certification from Southeastern Louisiana University and her graduate degree in Educational Technology Leadership from Northwestern State University. She has served as the President for ISTE’s Librarians Network and was recognized as one of ISTE’s 2014 Emerging Leaders. Tiffany is National Board Certified in Library Media and was named one of the 2014 Library Journal Movers & Shakers. She was the 2016 recipient of the Louisiana Library Media Specialist Award. She is currently serving as the President of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians.

I recently e-mailed Tiffany with some interview questions and she graciously took the time to answer my questions with insight and thoughtfulness.  Below are her answers.

What are you most looking forward to about attending and speaking at TASL?

I am most looking forward to the chance to connect with the amazing school librarians in Tennessee at TASL this year! When I spoke at TASL several years ago, I was blown away by the amazing librarians and the fabulous conference that TASL puts on each year, so I am VERY excited about the opportunity to return.

What do you enjoy most about speaking and presenting to librarians?

The thing I enjoy most about speaking is the energy that conferences bring to help us renew our passion and excitement about our profession. So many of us often feel isolated in our schools and libraries, so the chance to spend time sharing about our successes and struggles is incredibly meaningful. Sure, we can connect with our PLN all year long on Twitter, but those face to face interactions are irreplaceable!

What differences or similarities do you see among different librarian groups from other districts, states, public or private schools?

As Maya Angelou said in her poem “Human Family”,
                     We are all more alike, my friends,
                     than we are unalike.

Different states and regions, public and private schools, they all have struggles that they face. Lack of funding, understaffed libraries, pressures of standardized testing and mandated curriculums, and overwhelming responsibilities put on school librarians are issues that I hear about nearly everywhere. What makes me most proud to be part of this profession, though, is that at their core, school librarians are passionate, creative, hard-working, innovative, and have the best interests of their students at heart. We are constantly looking for ways to overcome the challenges we face so that we can best serve our communities, and that is what makes us more alike.

What are you most passionate about in school media librarianship?

The beauty of school librarianship is that it allows me to bring many of the things I’m passionate about together to build a strong library program — innovative uses of educational technology, developing lifelong readers, building meaningful relationships, effective professional development for teachers, research and information literacy. Each year, I try to focus on one or two of these passions to bring more depth and meaning to our library program. I absolutely love that I can constantly strive to grow in each of these areas, allowing me to best support my students and teachers.

What is the main thing you hope for Tennessee librarians to take away from your presentation?

I hope that my presentations will leave the Tennessee librarians feeling both affirmed and energized. My number one goal when I give a presentation is that attendees leave feeling confirmation that they are doing good and important work in their schools. I also hope that they will leave with some practical ideas they can take back to their schools and implement right away.

I’m looking forward to connecting with everyone next month in Murfreesboro!

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Tiffany Whitehead will be the keynote speaker at the TASL Business Luncheon and Keynote Address at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, September 30.  She will also present “Favorite Tech Tools & Other Inspiration” at 3:00 and “News Literacy: Teaching Students to be Discerning in a World of Fake News, Clickbait, and Extreme Bias” at 5:00, both on September 30.  For more information on Tiffany, you can read her blog at tiffanywhitehead.com, where she shares ideas, advice, and more on school library media.  You can also follow her on Twitter @librarian_tiff.

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Tiffany Whitehead is a school librarian and speaker with a passion for learning, reading, technology, and travel.

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