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Between the Lines: March Member Spotlight

Between the Lines: Member Spotlight, TLA News

Shannon Adams, Library Manager

Paul Laurence Dunbar Lancaster-Kiest Branch, Dallas Public Library System


What inspired you to become a librarian?

It was not a book that inspired me to become a librarian, but rather a series of events. One is the summer after I graduated from high school, I assisted with clearing inventory for a friend’s mother who was an elementary school librarian. I was fascinated by all the materials she had to handle. Her inventory did not only consist of books, that I of course remember from my early years, but much more. The main things that caught my attention were American Girl dolls, handheld video games, and other non-book items. These things in a school library were not common to me even as a high school graduate who frequented the library during school.

Her dedication to finding new ways to inspire students to find adventures in stories read using tangible items is what really made me view librarians in a different light. This was an eye-opening moment about librarians and is the first memory I have about the prospect of becoming a librarian.

What is an innovative practice at your library that you’d like to share with others?

One innovative practice I’d like to share is our Young Black Readers Newsletter.

This newsletter was initially created by myself and two other coworkers who worked in an area of the library where the collection is only children’s materials. Parents of color would constantly come in inquiring about or looking for reader’s advisory for books that had characters that were reflective of their children and families. At the time most of the inquiries came from African/Black American customers so we decided to create a newsletter that would not only recommend books but provide visuals for the books as well as feature authors/illustrators of color. The team has expanded and we coordinate culturally and ethnically inclusive literary community programs.

A second innovative practice would be providing brave spaces for opportunities for community-led programs to accommodate community needs. As a member of a task force dedicated to social awareness for diversity and inclusion at the library, I have always been an advocate for the community by way of encouraging patrons to have access to resources, including the need for relationship-building within the community. An example of this is partnering with organizations that facilitate community conversations between community and local educational institutions, law enforcement and more to address safety at school bus stops as well as on the school bus. We also wanted to provide easier access to leaders of the educational institutions. This was done in a series of conversations where the result was the community and the institutions involved were able to at least start to have open lines of communication and positive interactions for parents and children in the community.

If you could have dinner with three authors (living or dead), who would they be and why?

Three authors I’d like to have dinner with are: Shel Silverstein, to ask him his true meaning of The Giving Tree. James Baldwin (Notes of a Native Son, If Beale Street Could Talk) because his words inspire in ways that make one think and actually take action. Finally Cassandra Clare (pen name of Judith Lewis; author of The Mortal Instruments series) to know how in the world does she find it within herself to create so many characters with detailed stories and actually keep up with them!

What are you reading right now? Almost Adulting by Arden Rose

What is your most memorable Texas Library Association Experience? When I attended one of the Storytelling Round Table’s sessions that had authors offering advice on how to write and being very candid about their process. This has really helped me with my new journey to offer even more to my peers and communities.