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Between the Lines: May Member Spotlight

Between the Lines: Member Spotlight, TLA News

Betsy Mangalath

School Library Media Specialist
North Mesquite High School, Mesquite

What inspired you to become a librarian?
While working as a classroom teacher, I partnered closely with the school’s librarian, Brenda Allen. She did such an amazing job making the library a welcoming center for students and faculty alike, and her impact on the school was so important that I began to realize I would love to do the same. The best thing about my role as a teacher librarian is being able to incorporate my teaching passions into a safe and inviting center for my school community.

What is an innovative practice at your library that you’d like to share with others?
I am blessed to work in Mesquite ISD, because they allow for partner librarians at the high school level. My partner, Sherry Doran, and I are huge proponents of inspiring creativity and project-centered learning in the library. We have tons of interactive activities and events going on during a normal school year but due to COVID regulations, this year we are focusing on designing a fully functioning Creator Space. Although COVID has slowed us down and we have had to proceed in (much) smaller stages, we are excited to begin providing a dedicated project space for students to craft and create with technology, art and robotics.

If you could have dinner with three authors (living or dead), who would they be and why?
I went straight down the rabbit hole for this question! Can we make it a party instead?!?! But, if I have to follow the rules, Jason Reynolds would be my first invite. He is one of my absolute favorite voices in YA lit and I love listening to him share his experiences and thoughts on social media. I would also have to have Sarojini Naidu, the Nightingale of India, join us. This was a lady on fire! She was a poet and freedom fighter who empowered women to come out of their homes and fight alongside her. Last but not least, I would love to have Mac Barnett round out the table. I absolutely adore children’s books and Mac’s books always have a place in my heart and on my shelves.

What are you reading right now?
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, the 2018 memoir by Austin Channing Brown.

What is your most memorable Texas Library Association Experience?
Author panels; I have always idolized authors and getting to meet some of my favorites in real life and listening to their stories and perspectives makes my bookish heart so happy.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, how have you had to adjust the way you provide library services? How is your library operating now?
Mary Woodard, the director of our library services program, does a phenomenal job at keeping us current and on top of our game. Emma McDonald, our Library Systems Manager keeps us at the cutting edge of technology and innovation. So when the pandemic hit and we were forced to move virtual learning, we transitioned fairly well. With our digital library and resources already open online with 24/7 access, we were free to help our teachers with technology suggestions and lesson ideas. We were also able to assist students and parents in our community with technology and support. One of my favorite parts of staying home was hosting a daily children’s read aloud via Google Meets. I loved getting a chance to spread some book love to the littles who were stuck at home. Now that we are back on campus, we have reopened almost all our services with a cap on numbers and a strict sanitization schedule provided by our district.

“I am a TLA member because…” It gives me an opportunity to be part of a great group of innovative librarians who are consistently growing and care deeply for the communities they serve.