Louisiana Women: Local librarian named 2021 National School Librarian of the Year

Local News

BATON ROUGE, LA (BRPROUD) – April is School Librarian Month and in this week’s Louisiana Women, Carly Laing introduces us to a local librarian who is leaving a lasting mark not only on her students, but the nation.

While the rest of us were in lockdown, Live Oak Middle School Librarian Amanda Jones and her students were traveling the world.

“We were in lockdown, and I knew the kids were probably going to get bored, so I decided if they couldn’t go out in the world, I was going to bring the world to them,” Jones said.

She embraced online learning and created virtual field trips called ‘Journey with Jones’.

“It takes about eight hours to put together,” Jones said.

Her students traveled to places like Paris and Italy and they were learning each click of the way.

“Then they started sending me emails asking for requests. They wanted to go Africa, they wanted to go to Australia,” Jones said.

They were having fun and learning about different cultures and backgrounds.

“I usually try to wear a hat, but it was a good time for me to talk about when we went to places like Jordan or the Middle East that it’s not appropriate for me to wear a burqa or a hijab,” Jones said.

Her tours became an instant hit with teachers, too.

“Students were emailing me, parents were emailing me. Other librarians heard about it from across the United States and they started emailing me,” Jones said. “So I did a free webinar on how they could start their own virtual field trips. So, all good feedback.”

It was clear she made an impression on her students, but what she didn’t know was that her peers were also noticing her hard work.

“She called me and I cried for the first five minutes.”

She was awarded the 2021 National School Librarian of the Year.

“It’s very humbling to receive this award because I know some really great librarians out there. But I’ll take it. I hope to use it as a platform to advocate for school libraries across the country,” Jones said.

She says anyone can make an impact with the simplest tools.

“We have two red lights in this town. I grew up in this town. I went to this middle school. You can create something out of anything if you just have the dedication and the handwork.”

Jones hopes her tours inspire students to pick up a book and explore a new world.

If you’d like to learn more about Jones you can follow along with her adventures on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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