LIS alumna accepts Indiana Library Federation “Everyone Counts” Award
April 20, 2021
Tara Foor, MLS 2015, recently accepted the Indiana Library Federation “Everyone Counts” Award on behalf of the Southport High School Media Center (IMC), where she works as the Media Specialist. The award focuses on the efforts of promoting diversity and inclusion in an Indiana library.
“I’m proud to accept the award on behalf of the Southport High School IMC because it is our mission to provide a safe haven for students and staff from our diverse community to pursue their independent learning goals as they discover their role in their ever-changing world,” Foor said. “I think it’s important to note that school libraries are spaces that can also be welcoming to individuals from all walks of life and I am grateful that our state association recognized our IMC as a space that is open to all in the Southport High School community.”
One of the programs at Southport High School IMC that Foor is most passionate about is the Cultures of Southport festival program that focuses on the stories of their refugee students on Giant Maps from National Geographic. The collaboration between the library and different departments involves activities during school hours but is also open to the community to attend. English, English Learners and Social Studies departments helped students document their stories that could be told through a Giant Map tour. Art classes created art projects based on different featured cultures and math students calculated distances traveled by their peers. Exodus Refugee Immigration and other community members set up booths with information and games and activities. This event has even traveled to the Indiana State Museum.
Foor, who says she had wanted to teach for as long as she could remember, originally found herself in the classroom after earning a degree in English Education. Once there, she felt there was so much more she could connect her curriculum to, beyond her content area. “I felt like becoming a school librarian would be better suited to my desires to teach cross-curricularly, as well as emphasize my belief that reading is a great way to pursue our learning goals,” Foor said. She took the advice of other library science alumni and enrolled at the School of Informatics and Computing to pursue a career in school librarianship.
“The MLS program prepares you for all facets of librarianship.”
The Master of Library Science (MLS) coursework is the foundation for becoming a successful school librarian, Foor said. Her grant writing class led her to receive multiple grants for collection development and programming and the Materials for Youth course reinforced her knowledge of locating and promoting materials among readers of different ages. Foor also did an independent research project in Iceland, which allowed her to research different strategies in the field of international school librarianship.
Andrea Copeland, chair of the Department of Library and Information Science at the School of Informatics and Computing, said of Foor, “I am not surprised that Tara has inspired this level of creativity in her community. As a student she certainly marched to her own drum—always surprising me with her interpretation of assignments. That kind of thinking changes the world.”
Foor’s advice to those considering the MLS program is to talk to alumni and see if they will let you job shadow for a day. “I recommend doing this so you understand the scope of the profession beyond the stereotype of librarians sitting and reading all day,” she said. Every day serves up its own challenges and there is never a dull moment, she added. “Be prepared for chaos, creativity, spontaneity, stress, laughter, and even tears, because you are entering a profession that will be serving people from all walks of life. Utilize your skills and training to make the world a better place.”