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Between the Lines: August Member Spotlight

Between the Lines: Member Spotlight, TLA Membership, TLA News

Emma McDonald

Director of Library Services, Mesquite Independent School District

What inspired you to become a librarian?
Libraries have always been an integral part of my life. Although I didn’t start my career as a librarian, I was a student worker in my college library, served as a research assistant, and ran the summer children’s public library program as a young teacher. As a mother I volunteered in my son’s library while he was in elementary and middle school. It was actually his elementary librarian who inspired me to become a school librarian. She showed me the influence and impact a librarian could have on instruction and on the school culture.

What is an innovative practice at your library/organization (current or former) that you’d like to share with others?
In Mesquite ISD we are providing instructional coaching training to librarians and encouraging them to use coaching practices in their work with teachers and students. Although librarians frequently ask questions when working with teachers and students, the coaching process helps them be more intentional in their conversations. The expectation is not for librarians to be instructional coaches per se, but to improve their collaborations with teachers as well as increase the instructional impact of lessons through the library.

If you could have dinner with three authors (living or dead), who would they be and why?
Madeleine L’Engle comes to mind immediately. Her work greatly influenced my love for both the fantasy and science fiction genres. I would also love to have dinner with William Faulkner. He lived next door to my great aunt & uncle, and I’d love to hear him tell stories about their adventures, because they definitely had them. Finally, I’d love to sit down to dinner with Sarah J. Maas to pick her brain about character development. She has such a beautiful way of making you feel like her characters are real people.

What are you reading right now?
I’ve just finished Alone, by Megan E. Freeman, which is on the current Lone Star book list, and am starting Mr. Malcolm’s List by Suzanne Allain.

What is your most memorable Texas Library Association Experience?
My most memorable TLA experience was the first time I realized that everywhere I went I knew other librarians from all over the state. The first couple of years I was a member I only knew the other librarians in my small district, but as I became more involved in TLA I gained more friends and colleagues. It is always a true pleasure to reconnect, and seeing everyone at the annual conference gives me a sense of belonging.

Anything else you would like to share?
My original career goal was to be a school administrator in order to influence and impact campus culture. I wanted to create a place where students wanted to learn and teachers wanted to teach. When I became a school librarian I found that I was able to reach that same goal in a different way. As school librarians we are in a unique position to both influence and impact the entire campus in terms of culture and instruction.

 “I am a TLA member because…”
I am a TLA member because the organization provides an opportunity to meet other librarians of all types, regularly gather with my librarian friends and colleagues, and learn new skills and information. The more involved I become in TLA, the more blessed I feel to be surrounded by such an amazing group of people.