Letters from the Road - Day 5

To the left the HoldingSpace logo with a large pin in Lubbock, TX. To the right, the text: Learning in Many Dimensions with Texas School Librarians. July 31, 2020, Lubbock, TX. Then the ALA logo.

Hello from Lubbock, Texas.

Today I met with a group of dynamic school library professionals and discussed the indispensable contributions of school librarians in Lubbock, Texas and throughout the state.

As one of the largest states by size and population, Texas school libraries are at the heart of a vast and diverse network of schools. They are providing an invaluable service during these challenging times. I appreciate what the librarians of Texas are doing for their communities.

During our conversation, entitled “Learning in Many Dimensions with Texas School Librarians,” school librarians and administrators spoke about summer learning, STEM, building a culture of inquiry, professional development, advocacy, and serving diverse student needs, particularly in this moment of uncertainty and societal shift.

By nature, school librarians are innovative and creative! It was clear to see that in Texas. It was great to hear about how Castleberry Independent School District’s Grab & Go library provided families with activity packs so they could create and learn at home.

Dr. Rosenid Hernandez-Badia, of Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Dallas, shared how her district switched to laptop distribution for the entire campus during the pandemic. I was impressed by how she stayed in contact with her community of learners by providing virtual services, especially during what would normally be lunchtime for the children.

An outstanding example of the creativity of school librarians is Tamiko Brown, formerly of the Ed White Elementary School south of Houston and now the library coordinator of the Fort Bend Independent School District. She told an inspirational story about how her elementary school opened its first makerspace in 2014. Students later were able to take home makerspace kits, and teachers also took mobile makerspace kits into their classrooms.

It was great to see the admiration and appreciation for school librarians in Texas. Several district administrators and local leaders who joined today’s call shared stories regarding the significant role school librarians and libraries play within the community.

Traditionally, school libraries offer a safe and nurturing space during the day, as well as before and after school. They are often the only place open to all students, where a school librarian can support them across grade levels and subject matter.

Students will most likely encounter a new school library of sorts, as school librarians are developing and leading efforts to establish digital welcoming spaces and learning opportunities. Like other educators, school librarians are diligently working to address the needs of and their parents in Pandemic times.

Regardless of how the year begins, school librarians will serve as instructional partners, teachers, leaders, information specialists, and program administrators. All of which highlight the profession’s skill at building relationships and creating an inclusive school culture.

This was my fifth stop on an exciting 12-stop virtual tour, Holding Space: A national conversation series with libraries. My goal is to spotlight how libraries of all kinds across the country are addressing the needs of their diverse communities and engaging stakeholders to advocate for libraries.

To learn more about school library trends and the invaluable work of our nation’s school librarians please visit ala.org/AASL .

Also, it is not too late to join us for future dynamic discussions. Visit the Holding Space website at http://www.ala.org/advocacy/holding-space to register or follow #ALAHoldingSpace for tour updates.