Community Gardens Build Community: with Arnulfo (AJ) Talamantes

The Librarian Influencer of the Week is librarian Arnulfo (AJ) Talamantes! He works at a middle school in San Antonio, Texas where he uses the campus garden to connect with his students, colleagues, and community. Click here to listen now!

Here are some librarian influencer tips AJ shared:

  • Find your footing on campus and in the district as you’re getting started. You’ll learn their needs and discover ways you can help meet those needs.

  • Feel free to experiment with your vision of the library.

  • He unplugs in the summer and pursues his own hobbies and interests. It helps him stay curious and be a lifelong learner. It can help broaden your perspective.

  • The pandemic showed that a library is a significant part of an ecosystem. If you remove the library, the ecosystem suffers. He learned how much people love libraries and how libraries often serve as a role of comfort for people.

  • The pandemic helped AJ see the library more from a patron’s eyes. He focused on making things easier for his patrons, similar to an online shopping experience.

  • He focused on how to actively get books into students’ hands through popup libraries, book giveaways, and classroom deliveries. He also helped create classroom libraries for each English teacher on his campus. Each library included over 100 award-winning books.

AJ started a community garden for his school library.

  • AJ refers to his gardens as a “grower space” to build and engage his community.

  • He started with 4 vegetable beds and now has 32 beds and plans to add a small orchard.

  • He’s now adding culinary events to his programming. Events include cooking demonstrations, nutrition lessons and gardening lessons.

  • The garden student club will work in the gardens during lunch and after school.

  • He started the gardens with book fair funds and now works with district grants and community support.

You can connect with AJ Talamantes at:

You can connect with Arnulfo Talamantes at:

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Checkout the School Library Program Planner as you get ready to start planning for the 2021-2022 school year. These pre-filled calendars are filled to the brim with ideas you can use for your library program! Use this document to help you plan:


~ Social media posts

~ Library programming

~ Book Displays

~ Bulletin Boards and more!


Click here for a free sample to play with.