By Kathy Mansfield
Renee Hale, library media specialist at Drakes Creek Middle School (Warren County), thinks school librarians need to be continually looking for better ways to support the students and teachers in their building.
“My vision for the role of a school librarian is to be all you can be for students and teachers,” said Hale, the 2016-17 president of the Kentucky Association of School Librarians (KASL). “Students need a librarian to help them be good digital natives. Teachers need a librarian to collaborate and share ideas with them.”
In her new role, Hale guides the work of the state’s professional organization for school librarians and leads alongside an executive board of directors. She is a longtime member of KASL and served as president-elect, secretary, membership chair and public relations chair, as well as president of the KASL Southern District. She was honored earlier this fall with the KASL 2016 Joint Technology Award for her collaborative efforts with fellow teacher, Matt Kresslein.
Hale has been a school librarian for 12 years and was a public librarian for three years. She also serves as a committee member for Western Kentucky University’s Evelyn Thurman Young Readers Book Award.
Kathy Mansfield, library media/textbooks consultant at the Kentucky Department of Education, asked Hale about KASL, library influencers and the future of school libraries.
Why should librarians be a member of KASL?
“When choosing membership in the Kentucky Association of School Librarians, you are joining much more than a state organization; you are becoming a part of a professional learning community of librarians across the state. KASL’s community of librarians wants to help each other learn and grow in all areas. KASL provides the opportunity to brainstorm with other library professionals about lesson ideas, book suggestions, current trends, technology support and much more. With KASL, a librarian has a built-in support group that strives to help each other run a more successful library.”
What are your goals as KASL president?
“My goal is to continue building a sense of community amongst Kentucky librarians. I enjoy going to conferences, meeting librarians, incorporating social media into the library, chatting on Twitter and sharing ideas through the KYLMS listserv. I hope to share the importance of being involved and building a network of support to other librarians.”
What trends do you see in the school library profession?
“Current trends in the school library include connecting school libraries through the use of social media. More and more librarians are interacting with students, authors and other libraries through Instagram. Instagram is a quick, easy way to share photos with followers.
“Gaming in the library also continues to grow in popularity. In September, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) hosted a gaming conference to promote critical thinking and problem-solving through the use of gaming. International Games Day is Nov. 19, and my school library plans to celebrate Nov. 18 with a Breakout game, puzzles and board games.”
Who has influenced you in your role as librarian?
“If it weren’t for Evelyn Thurman (a teacher, librarian and professor at Western Kentucky University), I would not be a librarian today! My students also inspire me to be a better librarian and to continually look for areas of growth. Before I begin a new project, I always ask myself if that is what is best for the students.
“I have had many wonderful mentors throughout the years including Dr. Robert Smith (retired, WKU), Dr. Marge Maxwell (professor at WKU), Ms. Lisa Rice (director of the Warren County Public Library), Ms. Ashley Fowlkes (branch manager of the Warren County Public Library), Mrs. Charlene Rabold (retired, Henry Ross Middle School, Warren County), and Mrs. Alecia Marcum (retired, Natcher Elementary School, Warren County). Each of these mentors has taken the time to help me grow both personally and professionally.”
What are you currently reading and why?
“I try to read what my students are reading so I can chat about books and authors, as well as recommend books to them. I’m currently reading ‘The Midnight Star’ by Marie Lu. I am a huge fan of dystopian literature and this book finishes her Rose Society series. Next on my list is Marissa Meyer’s new book ‘Heartless,’ which is a retelling about the Queen of Hearts.
For more information about the Kentucky Association of School Librarians, visit its website here.
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