Dr. Melissa Gardner
What librarian mentor has played a role in your professional life? How?
I have been blessed with several excellent library mentors throughout my library career. Jackie White was my professor at UK and challenged me in my coursework. She is someone I still count on for advice and support. She was instrumental in my decision to pursue a doctorate and in teaching for the School of Library and Information Science at UK. Emmalee Hoover invited me to my very first Northern District meeting and encouraged me to become active in KASL (then KSMA). I have always admired Terri Grief and her service to KASL, KLA, AASL, and ALA. It is because of her example that I volunteer to serve on state and national committees when I am able. Kathy Mansfield consistently challenges me to be a better librarian. She is not only a supportive friend, but also the person I love to present sessions with, bounce ideas off of, attend conferences with, and talk about all things library.
What is the best conference you’ve ever attended that helped you in your role as a library media specialist? What made it so amazing?
I attended my first ALA National Conference in Chicago when I was KSMA President-Elect. I had attended a mid-winter conference, but there is something special about the National Conference. I had the opportunity to speak to so many authors (and got a box full of signed books). I even had my picture taken with Judy Blume! The sessions I attended were inspiring and were presented by librarians I had been following in journals, blogs, and websites. As I worked with the AASL Affiliate Assembly, I realized that even thought we were from diverse geographical areas, we faced the same issues. It was eye opening and a great learning experience.
Describe how you stay passionate about your job in the library.
Every time I attend a conference, professional development, or meeting with other school librarians, I get a feeling of renewal. I love having the opportunity to talk to other librarians and share ideas, strategies, successes, and frustrations. Sometimes, we feel so isolated in our own schools. The networking with other librarians always picks me up. I also love reading blogs, journals, newsletters, Twitter chats, etc. about all the new things other librarians are doing with their curriculums and library programs. I get inspiration from them and they challenge me.
I pursued a Rank I other than National Board Certification because…
I mentioned earlier that Jackie White was one of my library mentors who challenged me. One of those challenges came when I finished my master’s degree and she asked me what I was going to study for my doctorate so I could teach at the graduate level. I had often thought of going on to pursue a doctorate, but it was that extra encouragement that really helped me make up my mind. In working toward my Ed.D in Instruction and Administration with a focus on Instructional Systems Design, I was not only able to earn the doctorate, but I also earned my Rank I and an endorsement in computer science and in instructional technology. The curriculum for those endorsements have proven to be very valuable in my work as a school librarian. With my doctorate degree, I have had the opportunity to teach library science courses for both UK and WKU. I absolutely love teaching those classes and working with students pursuing their library degrees. I am always learning something new from them.