PHARR, Texas – A librarian at a middle school in Pharr was named one of two finalists for the 2023 School Librarian of the Year Award.

Karina Quilantan-Garza is the Library Media/Instructional Systems Design & Technology Specialist at Jaime Escalante Middle School in Pharr. The school is part of Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD.

School Librarian of the Year Award is given by Scholastic, a children’s publishing, education and media company, and School Library Journal.

Every year, these two entities recognize the outstanding work of K–12 library professionals from across the country, selecting one winner and two finalists to honor. 

“Karina stood out for finding creative ways to expand her library programming beyond the classroom and keep her students and staff engaged in learning,” Scholastic and School Library Journal said.

As a finalist, Karina will be awarded a $250 Scholastic Power of Story collection for her library and a full year Scholastic subscription to one digital program (valued up to $1,000).

Here is the story Scholastic and School Library Journal wrote about Quilantan-Garza:

Karina Quilantan-Garza

With almost eight years of experience as the Library Media/Instructional Systems Design & Technology Specialist at Jaime Escalante Middle School, Karina Quilantan-Garza has worked hard to expand her library programming beyond the classroom and find creative ways to keep her students and staff engaged in learning.

Her passion for providing students with easy access to technology and resources that boost their education is clear by the sheer amount of recognition she’s received through the years from various organizations. Karina has turned Jaime Escalante Middle School’s library into an award-winning site for digital presence, social media, library programming, and technology integration. additionally, over the years, Karina has earned a wide range of digital certifications and awards, including the Texas Library Association Media Virtual Presence Award, a TCEA Library Media Specialist Finalist in 2021 and the 2022 Texas Library Association Librarian of the Year. Karina uses these recognitions and platforms to share tech practices with other school communities across the country by serving as a presenter at various conferences in the industry.

Isaac Leal, assistant principal and campus teaching coordinator at Jamie Escalante Middle School, said: “Karina is our go-to person when it comes to training our staff members in instructional technology and literacy. She has worked diligently to provide the best learning environment for her students year after year. Because of her work ethic and foresight, her pupils thrive in both standardized tests as well as the social-emotional component of being a student.”

Quilantan-Garza is also an active social media maven, and maintains several channels under the username @cuethelibrarian which she uses to share reading lists, technology tips, and more. Follow her on Twitter at: @cuethelibrarian, and on Instagram at: @cuethelibrarian.

The winner of the award was Julie Stivers, the librarian at Mount Vernon Middle School, Raleigh, NC. The other finalist was Melissa Corey, a library media specialist at Robidoux Middle School, St. Joseph, MO

Editor’s Note: Click here to read a story about Karina Quilantan-Garza in School Library Journal.

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