Member of the Month

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Garrette E. Smith

Garrette E. Smith
Deputy Director, Harris County Public Library

Professional experience
I have worked in libraries for 25 years, 16 of which have been as a librarian. After receiving my MLIS in 2001, I joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as a public access computer trainer. This opportunity exposed me to cutting-edge technology and provided insight on how public libraries would transform because of technology. After traveling throughout the United States for the Gates Foundation, I returned to my library roots at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (PLCH). There, I held several positions throughout the organization, which gave me a broader perspective concerning how public libraries function. During my tenure at PLCH, I was an active member of the Ohio Library Council and the SouthWest Ohio and Neighboring Libraries. In 2016, I joined Harris County Public Library as deputy director.

Innovative library practices
When people hear the terms “innovation” and “library” in the same sentence, some automatically think of technology. This is understandable because technology has altered how libraries serve and function. However, when I think of innovative library practices, I think of how libraries continuously transform to meet the needs of our customers and tap into their curiosity. Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts, and Math (S.T.R.E.A.M.) programs in libraries is an innovative library practice that I have witnessed nationally.  With the financial assistance of a TSLAC grant, Harris County Public Library is excited about offering our #ProjectPeep program. Four host branches will raise chickens from egg to chick. Kids will have the opportunity to build a coop and nesting box. They will learn about egg incubation, life cycles, and hatching. Families will have the chance to participate in learning how to care for chicks with the option of taking home a Foster Chick for two weeks. This program is one way Harris County Public Library is bringing S.T.R.E.A.M. to life. 

Favorite book or literary character 
This is like asking a parent “who’s your favorite child?” or an artist “what’s your favorite color?” Books and their stories, whether fiction or nonfiction, have always been a part of my life and have shaped me into the person I am today.  Therefore, in lieu of sharing my favorite literary character or book, I will share the title of the book that sparked my interest in reading as a child. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig. It is a magical book. As a child, I played the Wishing Game, and after reading Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, it taught me to be careful of what I wished.

Most memorable TLA experience
My most memorable TLA experience occurred last year, while attending the TLA Annual Conference for the first time. It was mind-blowing. The sheer size of the conference was intimidating. Nevertheless, I was amazed at how well organized the conference was, the thought-provoking the sessions it offered, and the fun and lively atmosphere. By the end of the conference, I made the decision to become an active member of the largest state library association in the United States. 

Created on May 31, 2016 | Last updated March 31, 2017