“Anytime you get a group of like-minded individuals behind a cause, there’s an excitement to it. That’s what I love.” Those are the wise words of the recipient of the 2016 Mango Languages / NMRT Professional Development Grant, Denise Tabscott. In partnership with ALA’s New Member Round Table (NMRT), Mango wants to make sure that bright, committed new librarians have the opportunity to further their cause and their careers by attending ALA. The grant provides funding to assist with airfare, lodging, and conference registration fees, and ensures that awesome new librarians like Denise have the opportunity to shine bright at ALA. Let’s learn a little more about Denise — and if you see her at ALAAC this week, strike up a conversation! With passion, purpose, and smarts to spare, you’ll be glad you did.
Denise is a middle school librarian for the Metro Nashville Public Schools. She earned her MLS in 2014 from Middle Tennessee State University. Denise comes to the world of librarianship from a first career as an elementary school teacher and time spent raising her young children. Now, Denise spends her days soaking up new knowledge from the library community every chance she gets. She’s only two years in, and already she was the recipient for the 2016 National Library Legislative Day Award, sending her to D.C to lobby for library resources and support. She also received a stipend for YALSA and was the Limitless Libraries Librarian of the Year by student choice. Translation: her peers love her and so do her students — and we can see why. Fun fact: Denise has a passion for traveling the world, which makes her a Mango at heart. Her next dream destination? New Zealand and Australia.
Denise at work.
At Marshall Middle School, Denise is something of a superhero. Along with her co-librarian, Denise is committed to keeping her students excited about reading by organizing creative, engaging activities all year long. Her school library supports the TASL Volunteer State Book Award by getting the kids involved — when a student reads three or more books from the nominated list, they get to cast their vote for Book of the Year. They’re also involved in the Battle of the Books, a district-wide reading competition that gets kids reading for comprehension. Teams answer trivia questions to rise from school champions to the district winner. As if that weren’t fun enough, the school library also regularly hosts authors throughout the year. As Denise explains it, many of her students come from low-income backgrounds, so exposure to authors and creating excitement around reading is extra important. This year, the school will be welcoming Marc Tyler Nobleman, author of Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman. Coolest. Librarian. Ever.
Denise at ALA.
If you bump into Denise at ALAAC, you’ll have plenty to talk about. Just like you, she has a conference bucket list this year. Most of all, she can’t wait to hear Margaret Atwood and AVI speak. Also on her can’t-miss list for the week: the Printz Award Reception, “Can't I Just Google It” Conversation Starter, The Changing Face of YA, the Class of 2016 Kiss and Tell, and — of course — the NMRT Annual Reception. Added bonus: Denise is actually from Orlando, so this trip back to her hometown will be especially meaningful.
Beyond ALAAC16, this active library advocate is not only a member of the New Member Round Table, she is also a member of the YALSA Summer Reading and Learning Task Force as well as the Tennessee Library Association’s state conference committee. Denise recently joined an AASL committee, working to plan for School Library Month in April.
How does Denise love ALA, TASL, and other librarian networks? She can hardly count the ways. As a fairly new librarian, Denise is hungry to learn more from her peers. She is a self-proclaimed professional development junkie, which makes her the perfect fit for not only ALA, but also for our grant. Already, she’s attended countless workshops, tapped ALA’s online resources on everything from Common Core to library advocacy, and she’s given a few presentations of her own. On any given day, you’ll find Denise plugged into the expansive ALA network chatting in discussion groups, asking questions, and signing up for classes — all in the name of strengthening her skills to better serve her students. Three cheers for Denise.
We’ll be celebrating Denise and all of the other inspiring librarians like her at this year’s NMRT annual reception. Share your Sunday evening with the librarian leaders of tomorrow and let’s raise a glass to the bright future of librarianship and ALA. See you there!