I’m beyond excited to finally announce that I’m a 2016 Library Journal Mover and Shaker. This has been a very hard secret to keep for so long. I’m extremely honored to represent the power of libraries in our world along with the many other talented individuals on this year’s list. I have so much respect for the other librarians who have been on this prestigious list through the years, and it’s surreal to see my name alongside people who are my mentors and friends along with new inspiring people to discover. I’m taking time to read each person’s profile and be inspired with each and every story.
To look at the map of movers, and see the number in Georgia bump up to 17 movers and shakers was a special moment. I’m honored to be one of the 17 Georgians across the 15 years of this award and 1 of about 750 movers and shakers around the globe. Out of the 17 Georgians, only 3 of those are school librarians. This year’s list of 54 movers and shakers included only 5 school librarians. Theses 5 librarians include the amazing Colleen Graves, whose makerspace leadership always inspire me to try something new. Also included is Sue Kowalski, who empowers her students to take charge in the library and is always thinking about how to grow the library program in the community.
When I found out that I made the 2016 list, I immediately started wondering which category I would be placed in. That is one detail that you don’t find out until the very end. Now that I know I’m in the “community builder” category, I couldn’t be happier.
When I really look at the heart of what I do, it’s about creating communities of learners, dreamers, innovators, creators, and leaders. The library has never been just mine. I’m always looking for opportunities to increase access to resources and experiences for all of the members of our library. Whether it’s collaborating with Gretchen Thomas at the University of Georgia, Charlie Miller and Brad Hosack at Fliprgrid, Lindsey Hill at Evanced, Janet Geddis and the bookseller team at Avid Bookshop, Jim Boon and Amy Cox at Capstone Press, authors and illustrators, or my librarian colleagues around the country, miraculous things happen for the students, educators, and collaborators involved. We realize that we are never alone. Every time we connect in person or virtually, we realize that we are part of one big community and the words of Jenny Sue Kostecki Shaw’s Same, Same but Different ring true for us all. I feel like I have so much more to learn about building community within the walls of our school and beyond, and I can’t wait to see where we go in the coming years.
I do want to pull back the curtain just a bit on what it was like to go through the process of being on the Movers and Shakers list. First, you are nominated. I am fortunate to know several people who nominated me, but I know that’s not always the case. I want to thank Charlie Miller, Lindsey Hill, Gretchen Thomas, Sherry Gick, and Ellen Sabatini for their nominations along with anyone else who may have submitted my name.
In December, I got the email with an invitation to come to ALA Midwinter in Boston for the photo shoot and first time meeting several of the 2016 Movers and Shakers. I was so excited to attend my first Midwinter and get to tour the massive exhibit hall. I arrived a little before registration started, so I had a chance to tour a little of Boston.
One of my favorite spots was the public library. I loved touring the old and new spaces and thinking about what libraries have done for communities throughout the years and how the spaces are always evolving to meet the needs of the library members.
I of course also had to visit the Make Way for Ducklings ducks in the Public Garden.
As soon as I went to registration, I saw several librarians I knew, and it was so hard not to talk about why I was really at midwinter. Luckily, I did have a meeting to talk about transforming libraries with Miguel Figueroa, so I had that to talk about. I got to meet some superstar authors and illustrators like Jeff Kinney, Herve Tullet, Mac Barnett, and Jory John.
The night before the photo shoot, I went to the Candlewick party at Fenway Park. Being in this historic stadium at night and completely empty was unbelievable. We dined on ballpark food along with about 20 authors and illustrators including Peter & Paul Reynolds and Gregory Maguire.
On the morning of the photo shoot, I made my way to the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. I wore my red shirt, Dr Seuss Converse shoes, “expect the miraculous” bracelet, and carried my copy of Flora and Ulysses. The lobby was breathtaking and I was extremely nervous, so I took a few moments to look around before heading up to the suite.
When I finally decided to go to the room, I was relieved to see other movers in the room so it made the shoot less intimidating. There were two rooms setup with backdrops, and the photographer and other staff were very helpful in making the shoot fun and special. We took many different group shots along with our individual pictures. While we waited, we got to learn a bit about one another and make some connections. I got to chat with fellow teacher librarian Sue Kowalski and snap a quick selfie too.
I also met Stephanie Anderson, and after chatting, we realized we had a mutual connection with Janet Geddis and Avid Bookshop.
The rest of the conference was filled with great conversations about libraries and celebrating up and coming books. I was glad that I flew Southwest just so I could pack books into my two checked bags.
Also, within this same time frame, I had a long phone interview with Carly Okyle, the writer for my profile. It was fun to chat with her again since she also wrote the article for my SLJ School Librarian of the Year finalist profile. She’s a big fan of our library program, Check out how the final article turned out.
The print copies have arrived!
Waiting on announcement day was really hard, and it was a huge relief to finally have the secret out and celebrate with people who care about my work. I can’t even begin to list all of the social media posts that I received from friends in my PLN and people who have found some inspiration I’ve done.
My wife brought me red flowers to school and snuck up behind me playing 100% by Mariah Carey. It was my own singing telegram. The work we do is hard, and it is rare that we get thanked or celebrated. However, anything someone did for me or said on release day was special to me, and reminded me how we really need to stop and celebrate educators more often. On March 28th, my school is having an “Andy Plemmons Day” where all are encouraged to wear red! I look forward to that special day of celebrating with you Barrow community.
In June, I will travel to my first ALA annual in Orlando. There will be a Movers and Shakers luncheon that will reunite Movers and Shakers from previous years along with the 2016 winners.
As always, it is incredible to be recognized for your work, but these awards are really a celebration of libraries and the members who make up each of these libraries represented. There are many more school and public librarians out there that need to be on this list, and I hope we see even more of those people on this list in years to come. Thank you for following along with me in this journey. Now, forward we go to the next adventure expecting the miraculous the whole way.