Between the Lines: January Member Spotlight
Mary Jo Humphreys
Retired Elementary Librarian
Round Rock ISD
What inspired you to become a librarian?
When I was 16 years old, I applied for a job at the Fort Bend County Richmond Library because I loved books and order. I did not get the job and went on to become a high school teacher. Seventeen years later, I finally achieved a coveted elementary library position. I am grateful to my mentors and wise friends who redirected me from my goal to be a high school librarian to become a children’s librarian. I realized this was where I belonged.
What is an innovative practice at your (current or former) library/organization that you’d like to share with others?
I’m proud that I was one of the first librarians to use and promote technology to bring access to secondary and primary sources for research to the students and staff in my schools. I also implemented morning news broadcasts and begin the practice of organizing the shelves by genre. Just like the librarians today, my goal was to make information come to life and access to books and information easy and enjoyable.
If you could have dinner with three authors (living or dead), who would they be and why?
To my dinner table I would invite Mark Twain, Kristin Hannah, and Sharon Draper. Our evening would include humor, historical perspective, and sensitivity. This would be an unending conversation.
What are you reading right now?
With diminished sleep requirements in retirement, I spend my nights with books. I’m reading All Adults Here by Emma Straub and anticipating The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz. My phone has no songs but tons of audiobooks. I’m currently listening to Lisa Brennan-Jobs’ memoir, Small Fry, and waiting in line is Three Sisters by Heather Morris. I look forward to reading Sharon Draper’s Out of My Heart, the sequel to Out of My Mind.
What is your most memorable Texas Library Association Experience?
At one of my first conferences I heard the late Gary Paulsen. I knew at that moment that I would never miss a TLA conference and the opportunity to hear the authors that I was promoting to my students. As the (former) Texas Bluebonnet Award Coordinator, I had the opportunity to work with publishers, editors, and authors. The 2013 winning author/illustrator, Simms Taback, died prior to accepting the award. For the Bluebonnet Luncheon his publisher produced a compelling video with vignettes from many colleagues. The final product was profound, sincere and portrayed the mutual respect and love that exists in this group of talented writers and illustrators. My colleagues in the audience were equally moved by this exceptional luncheon tribute to Simms Taback.
Each year offers a unique array of diverse programs meeting the needs of every library professional. I wouldn’t miss a single conference.
“I am a TLA member because…”
As a first-year librarian I joined TLA in 1991 because my library colleagues told me it was mandatory. Little did I know how much I would benefit from the breadth and depth of knowledge and experience of this broad community of librarians. Learning best practices in a supportive environment while making lifelong friendships changed my professional and personal life. It is now my turn to give back to the organization and all the librarians who will take us into the future.