GLASGOW — Tara Griffith, district curriculum coordinator for Barren County Schools, recently received the Barby Hardy Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kentucky Association of School Librarians.
The KASL awards committee reviews many applications and presents this award to “an individual who has given continuous, sustained support to the school library profession throughout his/her lifetime,” according to the KASL website, and eligible applicants must have a minimum of 10 years served in the school library profession.
“Nominees should have exhibited leadership within the profession … should be examples of embracing change and growth … should have visionary characteristics that helped the school libraries they serve continually move forward,” the KASL website states. “Nominees should have served as advocates for the profession at the local and regional level. The ideal nominee would also have been an advocate for the profession at the state and national level.”
After completing her master’s degree in Library Science and Technology Integration at Western Kentucky University, Griffith spent three years as the library media specialist at Russellville Middle School and then five years at McNeill Elementary. For the past six years, she has served in a district-level curriculum and instruction role — first at Walton-Verona and then for Barren County Schools.
Through her various roles, Griffith has stayed involved with the library programs in all of the schools in her respective districts, including serving as the interim librarian at Austin Tracy Elementary during the the 2016-17 school year.
“It is such an honor to not only be nominated but also selected by my colleagues and peers as an individual who has exhibited outstanding leadership in this profession,” Griffith told the Glasgow Daily Times. “I'm very thankful to the Kentucky Association of School Librarians for providing a professional organization for school librarians to network and obtain quality professional learning.”
Griffith served as president of the KASL in 2012-13 and president of the Kentucky Library Association in 2017-18. She is currently serving as the local arrangements chair for the American Association of School Librarians National Conference Committee, which will be held in Louisville this November.
Scott Harper, BCS director of instruction and technology, told the Daily Times that Griffith “exemplifies a true professional with a passion for enhancing and growing the services of not only our library and media programs in Barren County, but those across the commonwealth.”
“She works as a tireless advocate for the profession,” Harper said. “Mrs. Griffith has shown her leadership at the school, district, state and national levels in various roles advocating for advancement and innovation within the library profession.
“I find that her drive and passion for rigorous library programs has enhanced all that she encounters. She is the type of person who works to develop relationships with staff and the larger community to promote and improve library services.”
Harper said Griffith “seeks innovations, new methods and products to enhance learning in our schools and libraries.”
“An additional quality that Mrs. Griffith possesses is a nurturing ability to grow our teachers and librarians in Barren County,” he said. “She is a strong support for the schools and their programs. She organizes many professional learning opportunities for them, including summer learning, ongoing PLC work and regional and state opportunities.
“I certainly respect Mrs. Griffith for her dedication to this challenging profession.”
Griffith said library media specialists have “the opportunity to provide resources, tools and training for both teachers and students — and that role is continually evolving due to our ever-changing society.”
“Libraries today still have numerous books and other resources available for check out,” she said. “However, many also contain MakerSpaces, STEM labs, 3D printers, offer coding and robotics classes, and so much more.
“Our school libraries offer digital subscriptions, eBooks and access to thousands of databases students can access from their mobile devices and at home when school isn't even in session.”
When asked what she sees as the future of libraries and library media specialists, Griffith said library media specialists “have always been an integral part of teaching information skills and integrating technology skills into the information problem-solving process.”
“As technology becomes more prevalent in learning and teaching, there will be an even greater need for information literacy and technology integration in schools,” she said. “But they will continue to be a literacy champion and pursue the ongoing mission of fostering a love for reading and books in students.”
Griffith said while she enjoys reading all books, she loves reading any book that is for young adults, “because I can then make recommendations and hold discussions with students.”
“For many, the library — and books — can open doors to a world of knowledge,” she said. “Students can utilize the numerous resources the library has to offer for free.
“The school library can, and should, be the center of activity within all schools and promote a knowledge-driven community for the future.”