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Between the Lines: June Member Spotlight

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

Kristi Starr
School Librarian
Former chair, Texas Association of School Librarians (TASL)

What inspired you to become a librarian?
Just like most educators can point back to a pivotal teacher, I can very clearly recall Mrs. Darlene Allen (Pflugerville Elementary) and Mrs. Marsha Saucier (Pflugerville HS). Mrs. Saucier requested me to be her library aide for a very brief period, and when I returned to PHS as a teacher, she was a dream to know and work with. After a hiatus from teaching while my kids were young, I knew I wanted to pursue a graduate degree, and that I wanted to remain in K-12 education. The library was the perfect place for me, the heart of the school, the middle of the action.

What is an innovative practice at your library/organization (current or former) that you’d like to share with others?
I love the concept of passive programming. It’s a fun way to engage students who don’t necessarily embrace the “traditional” library. Whether it’s a puzzle available for anyone to work on (including the after-hours custodial staff), a board game, a coloring page, or the question of the week (using posterboard and colored dot stickers), the library is a space for any- and everyone.

If you could have dinner with three authors (living or dead), who would they be and why?
Fredrik Backman – Seriously. How does he write this stuff? Funny and poignant, he masterfully captures multiple perspectives. He has an amazing voice and style. Even when you see the twists coming, you still end up blindsided. I mean, how can you write a book about hockey that, at its heart, isn’t about hockey? Then follow it up with two more books? Genius.

Who else? Mary Roach? She’s hilarious, and she writes for kids and adults. Love me some science, love me some cringe, love me some Mary. Bono? What a storyteller. Between the songs and the memoir Surrender, I’m an even bigger fangirl. Steve Sheinkin? Ruta Sepetys? I’ll read anything they write, I’m a nerd for nonfiction and historical fiction, and they’ve always come across as very engaging. I think I just managed to squeeze 6 of us at the table for 4, so I’ll leave it at that.

What are you reading right now?
His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope by John Meacham, listening to The Hard Parts: A Memoir of Courage and Triumph by Oksana Masters.

What is your most memorable Texas Library Association Experience?
Beavers! (If you know, you know.) Serving on the Topaz reading list committee is such a joy, and every time I see Esther Garcia and Carol Hafer, it’s an automatic “Beavers!” thanks to Rachel Poliquin’s Superpower Field Guide to Beavers. Serving as Texas Association of School Librarians (TASL) chair and selecting programming for the 2021 (virtual) conference was a great honor. Plus, the 2018 TALL Texans Institute introduced me to colleagues with whom I now share a wonderful connection.

Anything else you would like to share?
I’m grateful for all the people that I’ve encountered through TASL and TLA. They work hard and are passionate about their patrons. The people come first, then the materials and programming, and they get that.

“I am a TLA member because…” y’all are my people. And TLA, through its members, staff, and learning opportunities, has better equipped me to serve and lead.