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Between the Lines: May Member Spotlight

Between the Lines: Member Spotlight, TLA News

Jacqueline “Jacqui” Bridges-Sheppherd

Texas Bluebonnet Award Coordinator

Retired school librarian, Arlington ISD


What inspired you to become a librarian?
I was always a reader and a lifelong learner, which led to my beginning career move of becoming a teacher. Since I was the first of my large family to go to college, I did not have advice, guidance, or mentorship. I thought my only option was to become a teacher. As I progressed in my career as an educator, I met people who opened my eyes to additional options and what would become my career as an elementary librarian.

What is an innovative practice at your library/organization (current or former) that you’d like to share with others?
I do not feel that I have many innovative ideas. What I do have, however, is an ability to see the seed of an idea that someone has and turn it into something that is perfect for my clientele. With that in mind, two of the programs I offered to my students were a very successful Junior Scholar program and a Quality Reader program. In the Quality Reader program, students completed a reading list (varied by grade level) and completed a creative project. In the Junior Scholar program, students could pick the books they wanted to read, but had to select a set number of books in specified genres, throughout each hundred range of Dewey (100s, 200s, etc.), and from various award lists. Students also got to select a few books of their choice, and also participated in a community creative endeavor and voted in the current Texas Bluebonnet Award program.

If you could have dinner with three authors (living or dead), who would they be and why?
There are just too many authors that I would love to have dinner with, but I would like to limit it to Maya Angelou, Michelle Obama, and Jason Reynolds. I would like to listen to Maya’s resonant tone as she imparts her wisdom about “Phenomenal Woman” and other aspects of life. Michelle seems so down-to-earth, approachable, and just an everyday person. It would be interesting to hear her insights in a relaxed setting. The sound of Jason Reynolds’ voice is inviting and relaxing, and his philosophy of education and life strongly align with mine. His insight would empower my confidence.

What are you reading right now?
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

What is your most memorable Texas Library Association Experience?
There have been so many experiences I have had with my career at TLA. From running into some of my favorite authors like Seymour Simon or Don Tate on the exhibit floor, to giving Janet Wong her registration materials while volunteering in the registration booth, and working with Nikki Grimes at an event, TLA’s conferences have offered a myriad of memories. Not to mention exceptional dinners and conversations with the likes of Barry Wittgenstein, Chris Van Allsburg, Peter Sis, Frank Morrison, and many more. Similarly, I value the friendships I have developed working on different committees in TLA. The experiences I have had while at TLA have helped shape my professional and personal life. There are lifelong connections I’ve made through this organization that could never be replaced.

Anything else you would like to share?
Your professional life can only be enhanced if you commit yourself to all that your professional organization has to offer.

“I am a TLA member because…”
I realized how it could uplift my career. It has made my life much fuller with the friends I have made and the experiences I have had.