Alumna Shannon Harris Selected for ALA Emerging Leaders Program

March 12, 2015

Shannon Harris (MSLS ’12) has been selected by the American Library Association (ALA) to participate in its 2015 Class of Emerging Leaders (EL).  The program is designed to enable library staff and information workers to participate in project planning workgroups, network with peers, gain an inside look into ALA structure and have an opportunity to serve the profession in a leadership capacity early in their careers.

Harris, whose participation in the EL program is being sponsored by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), is part of the team with four other school librarians from across the United States. Their collaborative project is to author a chapter for an AASL publication. So far, Harris has found the experience rewarding.

“It is always nice to come together with colleagues from a wide variety of backgrounds to share experiences and ideas,” she said. “I also have a greater appreciation for, and understanding of, ALA and its structure. The program has given me the confidence to take on some leadership roles outside of my school community, and I've become a part of a few ALA committees as a result.”

Since graduating from SILS, Harris has been the Upper School Librarian at Durham Academy.

“I inherited a brand new library space after the former library had been completely shut down and remodeled, and the former librarian retired,” she said. “It has been a great experience to essentially bring a library back to life! I have a wonderfully supportive administration, so I have been able to implement creative programming and start a 9th grade Information Literacy course, and I hope to bring the AP Capstone course to our school in the next two years.”

Harris came to Durham Academy with previous education experience, having been a middle school math teacher for six years. After taking some time to be a full-time mother and then fives years working in instructional design and training for a pharmacy automation company, Harris wanted to return to the classroom, but a conversation with a “teacher-turned librarian” convinced her to take a different route.

“He was still teaching and designing curriculum, but was interacting with nearly every part of the school community, collaborating with teachers across all subjects and grade levels, and was having an impact on a greater number of students,” she said. “I realized the potential that a library held within a school setting and was excited to potentially have an opportunity to be a part of that energy.”

Harris lives in Carrboro with her husband, a middle-school teacher in Chapel Hill, and her son and daughter, who are in 6th and 4th grades respectively.