School Administrators Conference Session at TLA

by April Stone, Librarian at Four Points Middle School in Leander ISD, TxASL Talks member

In March 2020, Steve Crawford (the principal of my middle school) and I were invited to TLA’s School Administrators session at the annual conference. Travel plans were set and we eagerly anticipated using our learning to create new goals for our school’s library program. I was especially looking forward to visiting my hometown of Houston for TLA that year. As you may already know, the conference moved to a virtual setting last year and the Administrators session was postponed. Fortunately, TLA extended the invitation to us for a second time in 2021. 

The School Administrators session is a unique opportunity for school administrators to learn about issues and trends impacting school library services, and how to leverage the expertise of their school librarians to impact student achievement. It is free for those who register for the TLA Conference. Librarians recommend their administrators for this session.

Perhaps the most valuable part of the experience was that my principal carved out an entire afternoon to focus on our library program. So often administrators are incredibly busy and interruptions are the norm. We were able to collaborate during and after the sessions. I took some time to ask him about his impressions of the experience. 

Stone: What were your thoughts going into the conference?

Crawford: I wanted to learn about how to include the library into the epicenter and culture in everything we do. I wanted to learn how our library can reflect the needs of our current kids by updating the space to reflect spots for the curation of books, MakerSpace, etc. I wonder what a modern library looks like that still includes traditional things.

Stone: What did you learn?

Crawford: I am well equipped to reinforce and I am reassured that I can handle a diverse library. It has renewed my interest in what we can do to update the library to serve the needs of a new generation. The library is the hub of all things. How can the librarian enhance instruction beyond that?

Stone: What surprised you?

Crawford: The challenge of books is not only here. A lot of people are trying to diversify their libraries, not only culturally, but also in content. It is throughout the entire state and nation. 

After 13 years as a librarian, this was the first time that I had considered inviting my administrator to this conference session. I feel our working relationship and our vision for the library allow us to collaborate effectively and imagine a world of possibilities. Please consider recommending your administration for next year’s TLA School Administrators Conference Session.

TLA 2021: Celebrate Differences, Empower Voices

by Kristi Starr, TASL chair 2020-2021, librarian at Coronado High School, Lubbock ISD

The 2021 Texas Library Association conference is rapidly approaching, and I hope you’ve decided to attend. Though things look different from our usual beloved conference, we still have many opportunities to connect and interact. Thanks to an early decision on the part of the Programming Committee co-chairs, TLA executive board, and TLA staff, we've had ample time to plan a wonderful online conference. I can’t give enough props to ProCo co-chairs Valerie Prilop and Melanie Scales, TLA president Christina Gola, ProCo/TASL liaison Ann Vyoral, and of course the amazing staff at TLA for all their work. 

I’m excited about what you’re going to experience next week. We have a variety of sessions: live, simulive with live chat, simulive with live Q&A after, and on-demand. Live sessions offer exactly what their name implies. The simulive sessions are pre-recorded but provide either a live chat with the presenter(s) during the session or a live Q&A with the presenter(s) immediately following the recording. On-demand sessions may be viewed at any time. ALL sessions will be available to watch through June 22. 

If you’ve registered for the conference, look for an email on Monday, April 19, that contains your log-in credentials and provides more information about the conference and platform. If you have more questions, check out the conference FAQ page at any time. We invite you to follow along and contribute to online conversations using the Twitter hashtag #txla21 Also be sure to check out the conference schedule in the winter edition of the Texas Library Journal

TASL is featuring two speakers who are new to TLA - Michelle Easley and Julie Stivers.

Michelle is the founder of Positive Push Press, a publishing and consulting company. She is an experienced librarian and accomplished library leader both in Georgia and at the national level. I first heard Michelle when she served as a powerful voice on AASL past president Mary Keeling’s Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. We are fortunate to have her join us this year for two sessions - “Open Your Virtual Doors” (Friday, 1:45) and “Disrupt Inequity With Your School Library Program” (Friday, 4:00). Michelle is also the author of Increase Diversity in School Library Collections and Programs. Find out more about Michelle at

Julie Stivers is the librarian at Mount Vernon Middle School in Raleigh, NC, part of the Wake County Public School System. Attending Julie's presentation at the 2019 AASL conference in Louisville, KY, was one of my highlights. Julie is a champion of inclusion and student voice and authored Include, one of six volumes in AASL’s Shared Foundation Series. She was named one of Library Journal’s 2019 Movers and Shakers. Julie’s TLA sessions are “Auditing Our School Library Space & Program With an Equity Lens” (Saturday, 10:15) and “Equity: Moving Beyond Intention to Inclusive Practice” (Thursday, 3:00). You can find Julie and her campus library program at

The other live TASL sessions are
  • “Advocate This, Not That” with Stacy Cameron, Brandi Dawson, and Emma McDonald (Thursday, 10:15)
  • “Letters About Literature: Student Engagement and Inclusion” with Rebekah Manley and Abby Harrison (Friday, 1:45)
Simulive sessions with live Q&A at the end of the presentations are
  • “LGBTQ+ Advocacy in the Library and in The Classroom” with Heather Hornor, Mahoganie Gaston, and Camille Stafford (Thursday, 1:45)
  • “Windows and Mirrors: Mexican American Literature for Youth with the Rivera Book Award” with David Bowles, Xelena Gonzalez, Dr. Sandra Murillo-Sutterby, and Priscilla Delgado (Thursday, 4:15)
  • Digital Playgrounds for MS and HS: Using Choice” with Claire Hogg and Angie Pidgeon (Friday, 10:15)
  • “Library 24/7/365: How to Promote Your Program to Families at Home” with Brooke Corso, Keris Christie-Law, Tracy Frey, Paige Miller (Saturday, 10:15)
  • “Science and Library Collaboration for a Curriculum-Aligned Makerspace” with D’Anne Mosby and Rhia Johnson (Saturday, 1:45)
We have many more familiar names and faces as well as some Texas school librarians presenting for the first time at TLA. Whether new or familiar, I’m quite confident you’re going to find amazing content. Additionally, you’ll have access to ALL conference content until June 22, so you won’t be limited in the number of sessions you can attend. Be sure to check out the TASL sessions, but don’t forget the Young Adult Round Table (YART) and Children’s Round Table (CRT) programming, Programming Committee sessions, and so many more.

I look forward to “seeing” you at #txla21 and face-to-face in 2022 in Fort Worth where we will embrace the aptly-worded theme “Recover, Rebalance, Reconnect.”

It's Not Just Books and Bonbons

 by Deborah Zeman, Coppell High School 

Clubhouse logo
Lizenz: CC-BY 2.0  Marco Verch

The last year of Covid has thrown a wrench into everything: everyday life, connecting, collaborating, you name it. As an edtech librarian, I’ve been searching for ways to collaborate more with librarians in the same boat as me: trying to build a collaborative partnership with teachers while in a remote setting. It hasn't been easy, until now. Over the past few months, I have been playing around with the Clubhouse app.

You might be thinking to yourself, “Oh great, another app to add to my already overloaded plate. What IS this thing called Clubhouse?" It is an audio-only social media platform where users can listen in to discussions or panels, start conversations, and network with other like-minded professionals.

At first when I joined, I was skeptical. Clubhouse reminded me of another audio platform that I wasn’t super set on. However, I decided to give Clubhouse a shot. After a couple of weeks of maneuvering around, making connections, listening in to panels, I discovered it was definitely a place to create a space for librarians, whether academic, public and school. For myself, I joined clubs that are all about books, such as What Are You Reading?, Diverse Shelves, Entrepreneurs on Etsy, and Education Innovation to name a few. I’ve joined chats over edtech, diverse books, young adult fiction, and even chats with Elon Musk and Ashton Kutcher. In some I have jumped up on stage and joined the discussion; during most, however, I just listen and learn. The sky is truly the limit on Clubhouse.

I made a lot of connections with other professionals in the edtech world, however, my search for fellow librarians was coming up empty. My original search came up with maybe fifteen other librarians but no librarian groups. As I became more frustrated I thought to myself, “Wait, why can’t I build a Librarians’ Clubhouse, one where librarians can discuss topics from advocacy to connecting with patrons, to favorite tech tools and books genres?” From there, with a little help from Twitter & Facebook, It’s Not Just Books & Bonbons librarians’ Clubhouse was born. (The idea for the name will come in a later post.)

First stop - Monica Burns’ blog. This helped a lot. Here are some of her best tips to get started on the app:
  • First, download the Clubhouse app to get on the waitlist or reach out to a friend for an invite. (NEED to have an iPhone. Android app is coming soon!)
  • Next, follow educators on the platform by searching for keywords related to your area of interest.
  • Then, listen in to rooms on different subjects to get a feel for how the app works.
  • Finally, check your notifications and set an intention for using the app.

These tips helped me find my way around the app and guided me with starting up a librarians’ Clubhouse. Monica started a clubhouse specifically for edtech tips. She offers weekly edtech tip chats on Mondays, 7pm EST & Thursdays, 7pm EST. I always discover some new tips that help with getting around on Clubhouse.

Tisha Poncio, my best friend and design guru, created some very helpful infographics to get started!

From there, as invites were added to my account, I started posting on Twitter & Future Ready Librarians’ group on Facebook. I invited fellow librarians who I knew would want to be a part of this growing community. My friends Amanda Hunt, Amy Hermon, & Heather Lamb moderate the rooms with me. The actual clubhouse was not yet approved, so to build momentum, we scheduled weekly chats on Wednesdays at 7:15 pm CST.

The first chat started out small, which was OK. We were new, not everyone was able to join. We were just getting our feet wet. We just got together to chat. Some people jumped in and stayed, some moved on, which is OK. There are no expectations. If people like what they hear, they will stay!

As the weeks have rolled on, and the It’s Not Just Books & Bonbons Clubhouse was approved, the group has grown. We have made connections with librarians from all over the world, including academic and public librarians. Each week we discuss collaboration, connecting with patrons and stakeholders, successes, and failures. And like Vegas, what happens in Clubhouse, stays in Clubhouse. If you want to learn more about the It’s Not Just Books & Bonbons Clubhouse, reach out to me on Twitter & I’ll send you an invite!