Interview with the newest Dia Dynamo, Pat Smith

Pat SmithIn January we celebrated Pat Smith, the Executive Director of the Texas Library Association, as the newest Día Dynamo. With over 7,000 members, TLA is the largest state library association in the country. Pat has been an enthusiastic and loyal Día supporter for many years.

When and how did you become interested in sharing bookjoy?
Oh my, I’ve been passionate about literacy and multi-cultural, multi-generational programming since I first became a librarian. Through Día, libraries have a huge opportunity to promote family literacy and to build meaningful partnerships with community leaders and organizations.

How did you first learn about Día and what has been your experience with Día?
The credit goes to creative Texas librarians who immediately realized the potential of Día programming in 1996 and have regularly shared their experiences in TLA and TSLAC-sponsored webinars and conference programs. One of my most exciting lifetime experiences occurred in 2003 when I met with Elizabeth Martinez, Malore Brown, Pat Mora, and a few others in Santa Fe to brainstorm Día’s future. This was the very meeting where ALSC first agreed to become Día’s permanent home and where I fell in love with the term, “bookjoy.”

What are your hopes for Día’s future in Texas and nationally?
We should never rest until Día becomes a household name just like Halloween and Thanksgiving. We need to think big and be adventuresome in reaching out to the highest levels of elected leaders, cultural and educational organizations, multi-cultural groups, foundations, media and communications outlets, and libraries of all types and sizes.

What helpful tip(s) do you have for those organizing a Día event for the first time?
Talk with helpful colleagues with Día programming experience (no individuals share more than librarians!) and read the detailed toolkits and guides that are online. Don’t be bashful about reaching out to community groups and businesses for their support, and be sure to pass along wonderful stories about your impact on people’s lives to your state library agency and state library association. In our advocacy roles, we’re hungry to hear your stories!

What is your favorite example of Bookjoy either as a child or adult?
I’ve had so many joyful experiences, but I want to share three. A couple of years ago, I loved seeing a young boy eagerly read a new book while sitting on the curb during the Texas Book Festival. Another time while attending the Texas Library Association’s Texas Bluebonnet Award luncheon, I was impressed by a very bright 4th grader from El Paso who spoke as one of our student representatives. This articulate young boy, whom I’m convinced will be a U.S. President one of these years, hurriedly left the luncheon to gather books for his siblings from supportive exhibitors. He was so proud to be able to share his good fortune with his family and carefully selected which book he would give to each sister and brother. One other story has to be the teen who proudly showed me his bag of exhibitor-donated books at the end of our Teen Day and proclaimed, “This is the best day of my life!”

What are you reading now?
As a brand-new grandmother of a 3-month old grandson, I’m reading stacks of children’s books for his library. Children’s literature is the best!

Thank you, Pat, for your support of Día through the years!

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