JLG’s May Librarian of the Month honor goes to Louise Durham Elementary and Tiffany Williams. We could tell from seeing her social media posts that she was always willing to go the extra mile to get students to engage with books, whether through sensory mats to form a check-out line or loading up her cart to deliver books to classrooms. Read on to learn more about Tiffany...
Tiffany Williams, Library Media Specialist at Louise Durham Elementary
Life as a Librarian
Tiffany has been in grade schools for 18 years (and that’s not counting her time getting grades rather than giving them)! For the past 4 years, she has worked as the Library Media Specialist at Louise Durham Elementary in Mena, Arkansas. Before that she worked as a classroom teacher who always had “a passion for children’s literature.”
“Continuing education, learning and growing is a big part of who I am and what I want to model for my girls and my students. I have been married for 18 years and have two girls: Tessa who is 11 and Jenna Claire who is 8. We love snow skiing, going to the beach and traveling as a family,” said Tiffany.
Louise Durham Elementary supports about 550 pre-kindergarten to second grade students. With a library collection of roughly 16,000 books, they circulate an average of 10,000 books a month! How do they do that?
Tiffany’s goal for her school has been to “help support the creation of a culture of reading. When I say a culture of reading, I mean that you can tell that reading is a big priority of every single person in our building when you walk in our front door.”
Tiffany shared that, “Students have book choice and have the ability to check out multiple books if they want and they can come to the library EVERY SINGLE DAY!” Tiffany shares her passion for reading and knows the immense benefits. “Reading volume is an important key in creating lifelong readers,” she said.
Being the Heart of Your School
Tiffany strives to be the heart of her school. She wears her heart for her students on her sleeve saying, “I love my students, I love my teachers and I love books. I have worked the past four years in our library to not only show my students my love for books and learning but to show my teachers as well. I work daily to support them so in return they are better able to support their students. After spending many years as a classroom teacher, I truly understand their needs and the importance of working as a team to better reach our students.”
Her passion for reading is contagious and when she talks about her library you can really hear that! “In my library I believe just like Jen Jones (@helloliteracy) states, ‘Everyday is Library Day.’ I want my students coming to the library every single day, not just on their assigned ‘library class day.’ I want them dying to get back to the heart of the school the next day to check out the next book in the series they are loving. I want them to come in each morning and talk to me about what they are reading and what they want to read next. I want them checking out multiple books and falling in love with different authors and different genres and growing as readers who then grow into lifelong learners.”
Tiffany doesn’t keep her passion for reading hidden in the stacks though! She works in the school’s Professional Learning Community that sets common goals for teachers, discusses testing data, and more. Those meetings help Tiffany prepare to teach small-group intervention in reading for all reading levels!
She also is a big fan of collaboration. “I believe there is no better professional development than learning from one another. After becoming a Library Media Specialist, I had the desire to find other librarians at the elementary level to learn and collaborate with. I joined library groups on social media but continued to have a desire to do more. I then opened a Teachers Pay Teachers store, took online courses. In doing so, I have created friendships across the world, collaborated daily with librarians all over the United States, and joined forces with like-minded educators who work daily to be the change in their schools. When I got a message one night from a librarian across the world in India who wanted me to help her prepare for her evaluation, the saying that I am truly passionate about was more true than ever before: ‘We Are Better Together.’ My Teachers Pay Teachers store (Teachingwithtiff) and a new blog that is coming soon is based on all things books!”
Libraries of Laughter and Learning
“Libraries used to be quiet places where you could not talk. You walked in and picked out your one book and left and made sure it was not overdue. Today, libraries have evolved and are evolving so much. It's ok to talk. We must talk about books, laugh and love when we are learning. You can go to elementary libraries and have nonstop access, book choice and check out many books at one time. It is more than just a room called a library; it’s a central location to explore, learn, be creative and fall in love with a good book.”
Speaking of bringing laughing and learning to libraries, Tiffany loves engaging with students through read alouds! “Read alouds are my jam! I love how there is no age limit for read alouds. Read alouds create community, build friendships through connections and meet students where they are in their lives and make them feel like they are not alone. And wordless picture books are my love! I feel that they’re underutilized. Wordless picture books allow you to see how your students think as readers!” said Tiffany.
We really appreciate our passionate librarians who work both on and off the clock to create opportunities for students to read and grow! You can learn a lot about someone by learning their mottos. Tiffany’s is, “Students are one read aloud away from realizing they are not alone.” Tiffany’s passion and love for reaching children through reading is genuine and strong. Keep up the good work!
Are you a good candidate for our next JLG Librarian of the Month—or do you know someone who deserves some recognition?
Share the deets with us on social using #JLGLibrarian and tag us @juniorlibraryguild! Any librarian or library worker is qualified for this honor, so show us what you’re doing to advance literacy and the love of reading in your library! Recognized librarians receive a "Librarian of the Month" certificate, a tote bag of JLG goodies and a special offer for JLG categories and books!