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ODUOnline Grad Named AASL Emerging Leader

Headshot of Laurel Taylor, Old Dominion University graduate

It's sad to imagine a child reluctant to visit the library, but Laurel Taylor, MLIS '20, sees it all the time.

"Not all students are comfortable," she says. "I meet students who have had a negative encounter at a library, have a negative view of themselves as students, or are part of a group who has traditionally been excluded from libraries." These encounters and her work to change perceptions for these kids are part of why Taylor was selected as a 2022 American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Emerging Leader.

According to their website, the AASL Emerging Leader program gathers library workers to participate in problem-solving work groups, network with peers, and have an opportunity to serve the profession in a leadership capacity. Taylor is looking forward to putting her passion to work with other Emerging Leaders, building relationships, and together tearing down the "shushing librarian" stereotype.

After earning her bachelor's degree from Middle Tennessee University, Taylor started her career teaching high school English. She soon decided her passion was in the library instead. She wanted a Master of Library and Information Studies, but wanted it done as quickly as possible, without it costing a fortune, and online. That's where ODUOnline came in. "Everyone was so helpful, so accessible," Taylor said. "Even after I graduated they were helpful with projects. I learned a whole lot, but I also felt like I was supported."

Now Taylor works in the library at Alexandria City High School in Virginia. She serves what she calls a "great cross-section of students, with a lot of different needs and interests." As a librarian, she engages with those students through a variety of means, such as bringing popular books to them with a "bookmobile cart" or chatting about their favorite TikToks to find out their interests and recommending a book. Taylor is passionate about sharing library resources with students, and hopefully sparking a lifelong passion for not only reading, but information.

Her AASL Emerging Leader cohort is hard at work, and we can't wait to see what they come up with!

If you are interested in following in Laurel Taylor's footsteps and earning your MLIS degree, visit online.odu.edu/mlis for more information.