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Between the Lines: March Member Spotlight

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

Linda Stevens
Division Director – Programs, Partnerships & Outreach
Harris County Public Library  

Member Spotlight - Linda Stevens

What inspired you to become a librarian?
I always felt at home in the library, in school reading my way through the biographies, competing far too seriously in the summer reading program, in college reading film criticism when I was supposed to be studying or helping people research because I liked that much more than writing papers. When I met someone pursuing their MLS, it suddenly all made sense. I enrolled in graduate school and started work in the college library.

What is an innovative practice at your library/organization (current or former) that you’d like to share with others?
We have a very lively and successful online presence – our social media, website, blogs and videos. This is clearly due to the talents of an amazing team that stretches from the marketing core across the organization, but I think also to the practice of allowing people to be creative and embrace fun. They can share the message of the library, but also sometimes just be engaging and entertaining. Their success has been infectious, inspiring collaboration with other departments and agencies, even with former President Barack Obama.

If you could have dinner with three authors (living or dead), who would they be and why?
We’re having a dinner party, so I’m going to pick authors I admire and enjoy their work, but also who are brilliant conversationalists and seem like they know how to laugh and have fun: Neil Gaiman, James Baldwin, and Isabel Allende.

What are you reading right now?
Like most of us, I am never reading just one book. Current reads are Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones by Dolly Parton, The Fraud by Zadie Smith, Who Owns the Clouds? By Mario Brassard and Gerard Dubois, and listening to Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult by Maria Bamford.

What is your most memorable Texas Library Association Experience?
I’ve been thrilled by so many conference programs – being witness to a conversation with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, hearing a surprising call to action from Rick Steves, simply being close to Julie Andrews and singing “Butterfly in the Sky” with LeVar Burton, but I will say the most powerful experiences are doing the work. I’ve enjoyed serving in many different roles through the years, at the district level, the division level, executive board, and several committees. Most meaningful to me are the duties that are a bit outside of my normal day job and enhance my own learning, most memorably serving as chair of the Lariat Adult Fiction Reading List committee. It was just a wonderful experience – reading widely and sharing with so many great colleagues.

Advice to new librarians?
Always be open to learning and evolving as a professional, no matter your years of experience. I love to talk to people I don’t know at conferences and hear their perspectives. I had a conversation about inclusion with someone years ago walking from the hotel to the convention center that had an effect on my work and stays fresh in my memory. So, really, I challenge you to talk to library strangers.

Anything else you would like to share?
TLA is one of the most valuable resources we have in a time of challenges and uncertainty.

Please finish this sentence. “I am a TLA member because…”
We are stronger and smarter together.