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Between the Lines: February Member Spotlight

Between the Lines: Member Spotlight, TLA News

Brandi Grant, Teacher-Librarian,

Pearson Middle School Library, Frisco ISD

What inspired you to become a librarian?
My students inspired me to become a librarian when I was teaching 8th grade TAKS (yes, I’m really old) reading recovery. They loved that I always tried to incorporate diverse stories into the curriculum and to find books with characters who looked like them and reflected their lives. They suggested that I become a librarian. Being a librarian was never in my plans until those students gave me a purpose that I’m grateful for every single day.

What is an innovative practice at your library that you’d like to share with others?
Now more than ever, I’m giving students the space and place-whether in person or virtually-to be seen, heard, valued and celebrated by being more intentional with a culturally responsive library program. My focus has been on evaluating my collection through a diversity audit to ensure that I’m provisioning titles that reflect the learning community. I’m also providing resources for staff members to use in their classrooms and developing professional development opportunities on topics of diversity, equity and inclusivity.

If you could have dinner with three authors (living or dead), who would they be and why?
Laurie Halse Anderson: Speak is one of those books that I suggest to every 8th-grade girl to read before they go to high school, and that book has opened the door to so many conversations. I love her as a writer, and anytime that I have the opportunity to be in her presence, I relish it.

Jason Reynolds: Every single time that I hear him speak, he is inspiring and encouraging students. His books never stay on the shelves in my library, and not only is he an author but an educational leader and an activist. I’d love to talk to him about engaging reluctant readers and ideas for diversity, equity and inclusivity for a culturally responsive library and world.

Walter Dean Myers: His books were the first to resonate with my students. They saw themselves in the characters and the situations. His books told urban stories, and many of my students became dedicated readers after reading his books. All I could ever say to him is “thank you, thank you” for allowing readers to see themselves in books.

What are you reading right now?
Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

What is your most memorable Texas Library Association Experience?
I’ve been a librarian for nine years and prior to 2016, I’d never attended TLA. My first conference, I was like a kid in a candy store, the energy of all of these people who loved all things literature and libraries was what my librarian soul had been missing. The most memorable part of my first TLA experience was when a friend and I got lost and ended up in a secret hallway for authors and we ran into LeVar Burton! We got the opportunity to talk to him and take a photo. He was so gracious and kind, even with two crazy librarians fangirling out over him.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, how have you had to adjust the way you provide library services? How is your library operating now?
The library is open for limited checkout and services, and many of the Makerspace activities that provide enrichment and engagement are virtual. The Library to Go service, in which students can request books virtually from the library and pick them up, helps those students remain connected  to the library. I’ve had to adjust to including the virtual aspect of library services and trying to find new and interesting ways to engage all students. It has been challenging, but I’ve learned so much and that only helps my library program.

“I am a TLA member because…” 
I am a TLA member because of the many opportunities that the organization provides to educate, connect and support librarians all over the state of Texas.