5 Questions with 2017 School Librarian of the Year Tamiko Brown

Brittany Sullivan  //  May 9, 2018

5 Questions with 2017 School Librarian of the Year Tamiko Brown

Since 2014, Scholastic has teamed up with School Library Journal to identify and celebrate exceptional library professionals through the School Librarian of the Year Award. Each year, librarians across the country are nominated for this honor and a panel of qualified industry professionals carefully reads every single entry, ultimately selecting one outstanding individual to be named School Librarian of the Year, in addition to several finalists.

We recently caught up with 2017 School Librarian of the Year, Tamiko Brown (@booksforkiddos), librarian at Ed White E-STEM Magnet School in El Lago, TX, to ask her about her experience winning this award and her advice for other educators. “This is been a great opportunity to advocate for students, libraries, and literacy,” she explains.

Check out the Q&A with Tamiko, below, and don’t wait! Nominations for the 2018 School Librarian of the Year Award are now open and close May 21. Applicants can nominate themselves or supporters (i.e. administrators, peers, institutions) can also nominate a librarian. To learn more, visit: https://www.slj.com/awards/school-librarian-of-the-year

1. Do you have a favorite moment you’d like to share from this year?

Recently I was invited to the White House to see the National Teacher of the Year receive her award. It was an incredible moment to walk into the White House as a guest after being a tourist. As a tourist, I could see that the White House is a museum filled with national treasures. As a guest, I was inspired and motivated by the people in the room and the people who have been in the room to maximize the time that we have to serve others. 

2. What is one thing you wish people knew about school libraries and librarians?

Running a school library is like owning a small bookstore, being a classroom teacher, and being the activities director on a cruise ship all at the same time. 

3. How has being selected as 2017 School Librarian of the Year changed your life?

This is been a great opportunity to advocate for students, libraries, and literacy. If anything I've become more passionate about the library profession and offering a robust library program for my students. In the past I completely shut down my library in the summer. This is the first summer that I'm checking out books to students and making plans to have a community book club with our local public library and other local campuses. We are also planning literacy events this summer so we can talk to students about books and give them a chance to checkout more books. 

4. What advice do you have for other educators who are looking for new, creative ways to engage their students?

Follow the same advice we offer students. It's okay to make mistakes and fail. Success is found when we take time to reflect on mistakes and failures and redesign.

5. What are you reading right now?

AASL National Standards as I make plans for the upcoming school year. I'm always on the quest to build the best library program for my campus. Right now we are looking at creating a schedule that would allow the library to be a learning commons. I want to offer library classes “point of need” instruction, not isolated lessons. I want teachers to view the library as an extension of the classroom and organically collaborate with me as we plan ways the library can support their classrooms. 

Photo by Felix Sanchez