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State Library Invites Poetry Fans to Hangout on Google Plus

Broadcast: Thursday, April 17, 2014 | 1-2 pm CST

Watch: On YouTube, On Google+

In a first for the agency, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) hosted a live video chat via Google+ Hangouts with State Librarian Mark Smith and seven guests, including two middle school librarians, two academic librarians, a public librarian, a curator of TEDxAustin, and a nationally recognized high school poet.

As April is National Poetry Month, the theme of the Hangout was “Poetry Matters.” As Hangout participants webcammed from their homes or offices across Texas, they read and discussed a poem that mattered to them personally and why poetry matters in general. TSLAC publicly broadcast this video chat via Hangouts on Air and then posted the recording on the agency’s YouTube channel.

This event also fell during National Library Week, which was April 13-19, 2014. The public was invited to join the conversation about why poetry matters to them using the hashtag #PoetryMatters on Twitter.

Hangout Participants & Selected Poems

Photograph of Mark SmithMark Smith, Texas State Librarian, has worked for over 30 years in the library profession. Fourteen of those years were spent in Southern California working for Library Systems and Services, first as Regional Manager for the Riverside County Library System, then, starting in 2006, as Vice President for Public Library Operations, West Coast. On November 1, 2013, Mark returned to his native Texas to lead the Texas State Library and Archives Commission as Director and Librarian. He is the author of numerous articles and books on a variety of issues affecting libraries. Mark holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Masters in Library Science from the University of Texas at Austin. Follow Mark on Twitter: @TSLAC_Director. Click to download and share Mark Smith's poem!

Photograph of Louis LaFairLouis LaFair is a senior at St. Stephen’s High School in Austin, Texas. He’s been “playing with words” since second grade. Louis translates his love of writing, reading, speaking, connecting, and challenging preconceived notions into all aspects of his life. As founder and co-licensee for TEDxYouth @Austin, Louis leads a team of more than fifty students and adults, and has worked with a wide range of speakers and performers. He serves as editor-in-chief for Proteus, his school’s literary magazine. In 2013 Louis was selected as a National Student Poet, the country’s highest honor for youth poets. The National Student Poets Program is presented by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.Click to download and share Louis LaFair's poem!

Photograph of Shawna ButlerA word nerd and poetry junkie driven by endless curiosity (as noted by her first grade teacher), Shawna Butler is steadfast in her commitment to solving the world’s toughest problems. She sees the spoken word as a tool of empowerment and relies on daily poetry readings by Garrison Keillor, insightful tweets from @WordSpy, and attendance at the Dodge Poetry Festival to feed and nurture the soul while impatiently waiting for April and National Poetry Month to come around each year. A strategy advisor with a passion for quantum collaboration, Shawna brings her sharp wit, common sense, and deep caring to the projects and teams she leads as an associate at The IbexGroup and curator of TEDxAustin. Follow her on Twitter: @CleverThought.Click to download and share Shawna Butler's selected poem!

Photograph of Bobbi WilliamsBobbie Williams grew up on a farm in Gaines County, Texas. She attended Texas Tech University, Texas Woman’s University, and received her Masters in Library Science from North Texas State University (UNT today). She has worked in both rural and urban public libraries, a junior college library and academic library. Bobbie is currently Reference and Instruction Librarian at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa. Bobbie is very interested in computers, social media, and working with first generation college students.Click to download and share Bobbie Williams' selected poem!

Photograph of Michelle CooperMichelle Cooper is a librarian at Henderson Middle School in Henderson, Texas. She is passionate about helping young people succeed by promoting information literacy, creativity, research, and problem solving. She is an Outstanding Texas Educator, Co-founder of #TXLchat, TL News Night Anchor, Texas Accelerated Library Leader (TALL Texan) 2013, Nerdy Book Club Blogger, guest speaker at the School Library Journal online event “The Digital Shift: Reinventing Libraries,” and a frequent presenter for education associations. For more about Michelle (aka The Library Lady), visit her website www.michellejcooper.com and follow her on Twitter: @_MichelleCooper.Click to download and share Michele Cooper's selected poem!

Photograph of Robin StauberRobin Stauber is a fourth generation Texan, and a word lover since she was a baby and referred to as “Gabby” for all her incessant talking. Poetry first sparked her imagination in high school and was cultivated and nurtured while attending classes at UTSA in the mid-1980s, where she took as many electives as she could with Dr. Wendy Barker. While working as the Director of the Boerne Public Library Foundation in 2008, she started a poetry club, the Boerne Beat, which meets on the first Monday of each month at the library to share favorite poems from all eras, as well as original works. She is the Adult and Young Adult Services Librarian at the Patrick Heath Public Library in Boerne.Click to download and share Robin Stauber's selected poem!

Photograph of Sonja SchulzSonja Schulz is a librarian at Mike Moses Middle School in Nacogdoches, Texas. She is an avid reader, writer, and poetry lover. She is co-moderator of #TXLchat, a member of Texas Library Association’s Spirit of Texas middle school reading list committee, and has presented at several educational conferences and workshops on a variety of topics. Her passion is promoting literacy and a love of learning in her students through great books and technology. You can read her blog at The Sassy Bibliophile and follow her on Twitter: @SonjaSchulz.Click to download and share Sonja Shulz's selected poem!

Photograph of Howard MarksFrom Los Angeles, CA, Howard Marks was formerly a professional advertising copywriter at various ad agencies throughout the country. His last stint was in Dallas. Shortly thereafter, he attended the University of North Texas to pursue his Masters in Library Science. Howard was first employed at Ft. Worth Public Library as a Reference Librarian. In 2011, Howard moved to Snyder to become Director of Library Services at Western Texas College. Howard is actively involved in many professional committees and serves on a few advisory boards.Click to download and share Howard Marks' selected poem!

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Page last modified: September 10, 2014