School Libraries Are Magnificent Spaces of Opportunity: with Heather Lamb

The Librarian Influencer of the Week is Texas librarian, Heather Lamb. She has worked in an elementary and middle school library previously and now works in a high school library in Castleberry ISD. Heather received her Masters of Science in Library Science degree from the University of North Texas in addition to a Graduate Academic Certificate - Advanced Management in Libraries and Information Agencies from UNT. She is currently in the dissertation phase of a PhD in Learning Technologies from UNT with an expected graduation of May 2021. Click here to listen to her interview now.

Here are some Librarian Influencer strategies Heather shared for early-career librarians:

  • Your curriculum ideas are solid and can work at any level of school library. So don’t worry about working at a school level you are not familiar with.

  • Focus on building relationships.

  • Heather uses the analogy of a “dessert tray”. She would find out what a grade level is teaching and then add on a lesson idea, an activity, or a way to collaborate. She would “tempt” them with her “dessert tray” of library offerings. She would see that at times maybe one of the teachers wanted a bite of the dessert. Maybe the team would share. And sometimes everyone would pass and not take any dessert.

  • Her district’s team of librarians advocates by working hard to differentiate their role from the district Innovation Leaders and others. They build trust with their teachers by doing things like curating the very best digital tools to share with their campuses during COVID-19. Some of these things will continue when they return to face-to-face instruction including their Remote Learning Portal.

  • Heather’s library space has created some unique opportunities to serve students. Her library is named The CUBE library (Connect. Create. Collaborate.). http://chs.castleberryisd.net/library There are no doors to the CUBE, so they are always open. She has a full-service cafe run by the food nutrition department. Students love to hang out in the library. There is even an Xbox! Circulation statistics shows an increase of 125%.

  • Heather introduces the idea of the library as a student’s third place.

- This article by Hannah Byrd Little provides a good overview of the third space concept. The School Library as The Third Place

- Website: 6 Ways to Rethink Your Library Space and Make it Amazing

  • She attended this ISTE Online course: https://www.iste.org/learn/iste-u/library-practices. She highly encourages early year librarians or for someone like her who thinks she has learned or seen it all to attend. It was a great opportunity for reflection and a good way to reevaluate her practice. As the culminating activity of the self-paced course, Heather created an action plan focusing on the needs of the College, Career, and Military Readiness student. This included moving a current collection, purchasing new materials, and promoting Virtual Reality College Tours using Google Expeditions.

  • Heather’s library space has created some unique opportunities to serve students. Her library is named The CUBE library (Connect. Create. Collaborate.). http://chs.castleberryisd.net/library There are no doors to the CUBE, so they are always open. She has a full-service cafe run by the food nutrition department. Students love to hang out in the library. There is even an Xbox! Circulation statistics shows an increase of 125%.

  • Heather introduces the idea of the library as a student’s third place.

- This article by Hannah Byrd

Little provides a good

overview of the third

space concept. The School Library as The Third Place

- Website: 6 Ways to Rethink Your Library Space and Make it Amazing

  • She attended this ISTE Online course: https://www.iste.org/learn/iste-u/library-practices. She highly encourages early year librarians or for someone like her who thinks she has learned or seen it all to attend. It was a great opportunity for reflection and a good way to reevaluate her practice. As the culminating activity of the self-paced course, Heather created an action plan focusing on the needs of the College, Career, and Military Readiness student. This included moving a current collection, purchasing new materials, and promoting Virtual Reality College Tours using Google Expeditions.

You can follow Librarian Influencer Heather Lamb at:

  • Twitter: @heatherlamb08 / @thecubelibrary

  • Facebook: @thecubelibrary

  • Instagram: @thecubelibrary

  • Email: lambh@castleberryisd.net


COVID-19 Update from Heather:


What will the cafe and the CUBE library space look like for the upcoming year? We don’t know yet. Normally, our cafe serves students a meal (breakfast and lunch), but beyond the cafe, it’s still a library space and an opportunity. Under “normal” conditions, we allow food to be brought into our library cafe areas for students – to hang out, to chill, to do schoolwork if that is what they choose. When the cafe is open, we (I am lucky enough to have a full-time library assistant) manage the cafe by a pass system but when it is closed it seems to mostly self-manage. I wonder if it is because of the atmosphere we have created in our library space? One of choice and self-organization? We have adults in the library to help if a student can’t make the right choices, but we are trying to create a space where we respect a student’s need to do some “adulting” so to speak.


How will The CUBE library physical and virtual spaces evolve as we move into this uncharted territory? My plan this summer is to crowdsource some of my tried and true ideas while I wait, but I plan to listen, learn, change, and adapt in this coming year. I plan to listen with intent to my students and teachers more about what they want to see whether it is for the physical or virtual library space. We’ve just added a new ebook and audiobook vendor in our district. The student and teacher voice will be even more important to include when making purchasing decisions as well as promoting. We’ve tried various clubs, activities, and after school sessions in The CUBE, with some varied success. I’ve done a little organic asking, but I will want my decisions supported by stronger data. Will the cafe be open? Not sure, we might have to adapt. What I do know: the CUBE library space and its purposes, both physical and virtual will evolve; but one thing will remain constant… opportunity.

“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” Sun Tzu


If you would be interested in a free Twitter How-to Webinar, sign up here. I'll host a free webinar training Saturday, June 13th at 11:00 AM CST. We'll focus on using Twitter for your professional development. ~Dr. Laura


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Laura Sheneman, EdD, MLS

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