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And now back to the present...
The posts in this series came to mind first after a School Library Journal article
last year reported that overall school/public library collaboration was very poor. I wrote a post
about tag-team librarianship to share thoughts when that came out. The recent article in SLJ referenced in Part 1 of this series focused on some fairly large libraries and systems with big staff infrastructures - a sure recipe for the vast majority of libraries that serve far smaller populations to feel, "Well, jeez, we can't do that - we so lack those resources/staff/time."
I.do.not.believe.that. No matter size, staff, budget or time, we all can be great partners.
Here and there, over the years, I've heard a few librarians say they "couldn't get in at the schools". Then a story is shared about how that librarian purchased "useful" teacher books - without consulting school colleagues - and these materials were never checked out. Or I hear that a colleague refuses to collaborate or look for ways to do outreach in the schools because if the public library starts, it will be an excuse to remove school librarians.Or a homework center isn't well-used but in further conversation, I find out that the library has not mentioned a word of it's existence except through in-house PR. The link in all these "fails" is that the public librarian has not talked and listened to, explored or partnered with their school colleagues. Building a service in a vacuum is never a good idea.
If we want to create those links, we truly have to forge a partnership of mutual respect and listening. School colleagues are under alot of pressure. We need to think in ways that address those pressures and make the case that partnerships will benefit kids and staff and make a positive difference. It's good to be low-maintenance in terms of what we propose or ask of school colleagues. It's worth it to be a good listener and investigator - what is needed; what would help them or what suggestions do they have for us. And I find that flexibility on our part always makes the partnership better.
A first small step can open doors. Jen the Youth Services Librarian
, who started a new job in August, was out in the schools promoting Teen Read Week programs in October. Colleagues I know invite their school partners to breakfast, for cocktails; initiate youth book discussion groups; invite them along to conferences and workshops or to visit the Cooperative Children's Book Center in Madison; give short, snappy presentations at in-services.They set up an occasional meeting with school media colleagues and see what ideas and conversations result.
With Common Core state standards coming into play, there are even more opportunities to chat, talk, plan and collaborate with school colleagues. Many public libraries have strong collections of narrative non-fiction that can be explored and celebrated.
The possibilities are exciting and endless.We can keep the fires burning and do amazing outreach with our school colleagues. Partnerships work - no matter what size library you work at. Image: 'Tiki torch' http://www.flickr.com/photos/83261600@N00/8189871269 Found on flickrcc.net
This is the fourth post in a series I did in 2009 on school and public library cooperation. Any effort we make to partner with schools is a great effort and the simplest thing can reap rich rewards for all the kids in our community!
"But Marge", you say, "we just are so overwhelmed. We want to do great partnerships but time, money, staff and energy are hard to come by. What can we do?" Lots! There are plenty of laid-back partnerships and efforts that even a part-time, one person library staffer can do.Email Newsletters to School
Periodically mail out a brief, colorful newsletter to school staff (through each school's office - with permission of the principal of course) with children's lit or book news; services you offer; invites to take field trips to the library; suggestions of great new book read-alouds and maybe an announcement or two of perfect programs for school-agers. This kind of communication breaks down barriers and let's your colleagues know about the library and your services and collections.Invite Classes to Visit
Field trips are fun and you can make them more inviting by using a stuffed book character as tour host for younger kids (Clifford; Very Hungry Caterpillar; Maisy) or jazzing up field trips for older kids by exploring non-fiction and making origami or cataloging and shelving the kids
or playing Book Character Bingo in the fiction. Make the library fun and they will come!Outreach Visits to the Schools
These are absolute bread-and-butter! Outreach gets you out of the library and into the schools where kids are. Offer to come to Literacy Nights and Parent Nights, do storytelling at schools, present book talks - and leave the books in the classroom for a month for kids to devour - and never forget - summer reading promotional visits are some of the best times to reach out to kids and entice them into good reading fun in the summer. Art Displays
Offer to transform the library into an art gallery for student art and host a reception for the young artists and their families. Art teachers are often looking for end-of-the-year venues to display their students' creativity and the library makes a great gallery!Book Lists
We often develop these to help staff and patrons find goodies in the collection. But consider developing graded booklists before summer and distributing to the schools. By recommending books that are age appropriate and in the collection, you make kids successful searchers during the summer for reads. Many teachers support these efforts and would love a list like this.
No matter where you are in partnerships with your schools, these ideas can really sparkle and help you create closer relationships with your school colleagues. A big tip of the hat to all my peeps on PUBYAC
for sharing ideas and making me think about the vitality of school and library partnerships!Part 1Part 2Part 3
This is the third in a series of blog posts I wrote in 2009 sharing ideas that worked for us when I worked in a library in a smallish (15k) community. I believe no matter what size the library, staff or budget, amazing collaborations can make a win-win situation happen for kids. Into the wayback machine, my friends!
Now you are cooking - teachers use your services, you have some great partner mojo working....what else can you do to make your school partnerships smoke?School-Created Programs
Talk to school staffers who have cool hobbies, skills, passions and see if they would like to be part of a program or present a program for kids - or be open to them suggesting programs. It is amazing what colleagues who are knowledgable in how to talk to and reach kids can do. I have had teachers present Japanese and German culture programs for kids, a National Adoption Day program, as well as spearheading a monthly bi-lingual Spanish program series. Shared Book Collections
If you and your school library media colleagues identify a mutual area of both of your collections that need beefing up, consider sharing a collection. We wrote a small grant for easy readers (90 at each school) housed at the schools Sept-May and then at the public library during the summer rush. It was a wonderful project and when we no longer needed to share the collection, simply divided it up between the public library and schools. It took a little oversight but really worked well to make more materials available to kids.Kids as Book Buyers
What's better than getting a kids-eye-view of what books your collection should have. Book buying with kids for the library is a treat. We worked with our schools to identify at-risk third grade readers to join a public library club and visit a bookstore to select a non-fiction book for the public library. The kids picked carefully, we let them keep the books in their classroom for the first month and then had a party at the public library where the books were housed in a special display. It made a huge difference to the kids and us!Early Literacy Projects
Gaining school support for library efforts to prepare kids for success in school is golden. If we can make the sale and help staffers see how we are helping them by working with preschoolers to increase literacy, school staffers can become our strongest advocates. It's worth the effort to bring them on board in initial efforts - or ask for a place at the table as they are planning literacy activities so you can let them know how many preschoolers and their families that you see!!
We'll tamp our fire down to embers for our final post and look at some simple ways to be a great partner even if you have no time, money or staff.Part 1Part 2
By: Linda Strachan
Blog: An Awfully Big Blog Adventure
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School Librarian of the Year
, Duncan Wright
, Iain Gray MSP
, Linda Strachan
, 1st Birthday
, school libraries
, picture books
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Exactly one year ago today little Ruaridh FIndlay Thompson's birth was heralded on the front page of the Scotsman
as 'Edinburgh's one in 7 billion'
It had been calculated that it was the day the 7 billionth child was born on planet Earth.
Today, on his first birthday, Ruaridh will be getting lots of lovely presents and among the toys will be books. He already has a good library,(shared with his 3yr old sister) of board books and flap books, audio books and beautifully illustrated picture books.
Ruaridh likes to make Brrrumh! noises to the cars in his books, he loves the tactile 'This is not my...' series of books where each page has shiny, soft or bumpy aspects to each page, soft ears on a monkey or bumpy ridges on a tractor's engine. In fact he likes these so much that he touches the images on other picture books to see if they will feel different to the smooth surface of the printed book.
One of the great things about writing for children is that we have a new audience being born every day. That means favourite books have another chance to delight a new audience, and for the children there are also so many wonderful books to discover. If you are interested in Picture Books have a look at Picturebook Den
another collaborative blog by members of the SAS (Scattered Authors Society).
Another place Ruaridh likes to go with his little sister is their local library, to listen to stories and borrow books. When he goes to school it would be great to think that this encouragement to read a wide variety of books, that he is getting from home, will be reinforced in school by the school having a good and well stocked library and a librarian.
Particularly when he gets to senior school, when a lot of children are no longer going to the library with their parents and reading can sometimes be thought of as something you HAVE to do at school, rather than a pleasure.
This is where school librarians come into their own.
|Lobby for School Libraries - Scotland|
Last weekend I attended the Lobby for School Libraries- Scotland, at the Scottish Parliament.
I blogged about this a few weeks ago on ABBA
Scottish authors Julie Bertagna, Jonathan Meres, Keith Gray, Debi Gliori, Anne Marie Allan and Sally J Collins were there to support the lobby, many others including Theresa Breslin (who sent a message from Russia) sent messages of support for libraries and librarians. In England there was great support from authors and librarians for the lobby in London on Monday.
In discussions about schools and librarians someone said they felt that English teachers in high schools do not read much or any young adult or teenage books, themselves. Obviously some teachers do and are great champions of books, but in my experience it is usually the school librarian, the person with all that enthusiasm, knowledge and willingness and time to engage with the children outside the classroom and exam pressures, who will manage to find the right book for the right child.
|Linda Strachan, Iain Gray MSP and Duncan Wright -School Librarian of the Year 2010 |
But that is not possible if they have no budget to buy new books or organise author visits or pupil participation in book related events. If school budgets are cut or the money for books, libraries and librarians is not ring-fenced - in some schools libraries and librarians will not be considered a priority-
which eems strange in a time when literacy problems seem to abound and engagement with books for sheer enjoyment is a sure way to encourage reluctant readers.
Hopefully by the time little Ruaridh gets to senior school this will not be a problem! For today he is blissfully unaware of all this and will no doubt have a lovely time with his little sister, enjoying his 1st birthday and his pumpkin birthday cake!
I have no teaching qualifications. I'm not an educational expert. But simply through being a children’s writer (and in addition, a parent) I’ve been drawn into taking an interest in the latest raft of proposals about our children’s education.
It started with a phone call from my local radio station, BBC Radio Leeds. What did I think about children learning poetry by heart, they asked. Huh? Was my highly articulate reply. The truth was I didn’t have a worked out opinion, but learning poetry by heart is one of the proposals in the new Gove paper on primary education, and so (the radio station reckoned, not unreasonably) as a children’s writer, and one who regularly goes into schools, I really ought to have a view.
So, I read the proposals. I went on air. And I’ve been stunned by the conviction – almost vitriol – that seems to characterise the debate. Learning poetry was an essential art, inducting children into the rhythm of the language, giving them discipline and the lasting gift of verse that their grandparents enjoyed, one side thundered. Drilling kids in poetry was a regressive step, designed to humiliate them, and destroy their love of learning, thundered the other. The trouble is, as with most educational debates, it never seems to me as cut and dried as the opposing camps suggest. It could be a good idea. But a lot depends on the way it’s done.
Around the same time, the Children’s Laureate, Michael Rosen, was circulating a petition for children’s writers to sign, condemning the provisions on phonics in the same government document. (Read the petition here.) Once more, I felt uncomfortable. Rosen is one of the most articulate critics of Gove’s approach to education in general.
But...my own impression is that phonics can be helpful. I doubt that - as Rosen sometimes seems to imply – exposure to storytelling and being surrounded by books is enough to get kids reading. Not at first. I’ve watched my own child learn to read. I’ve talked to other parents. And I’ve talked to dyslexia tutors, who often advocate a structured approach.
Above all, as a writer, I’ve visited plenty of primary schools, and met the children who are struggling to read at a level appropriate to their age. That’s desperately sad.
It’s left me feeling that, as a children’s writer, I’m not confident to weigh in on reading methodologies. The important thing is not ideology, but what works. I’d like others to make that decision, based on the very best evidence out there. (Not an easy task I know.)
Where I DO have a strong conviction, and where I strongly agree with Michael Rosen’s petition, is on the importance of reading for pleasure. Once children have mastered the basics of reading – by whatever methodology – they need to enjoy it. Otherwise they won’t read. And they must, if they are to become truly literate, educated people, capable of understanding the world around them – the world that lies beyond their own narrow experience.
As many people, including Michael Rosen and the Society of Authors, have pointed out, it is scandalous that the government, which is so ready to impose targets and objectives generally, is prepared to give no more than lip-service to the idea of “reading for pleasure”. The government acknowledges the vast body of research supporting its importance. Every school should be encouraging it, they say. Yet none of the concrete measures needed to encourage it are in place.
What is needed? It’s simple really.
It would make such a huge difference. It really would. So, I say forget about the ideology. The arguments about whether six year olds should be reciting Longfellow, or following whichever brand of phonics.
- Every school should have a library. Schools make space for computers – but books are far cheaper, and what children need if they are going to read is books.
- Every school should have a librarian.Somebody on the staff of every school should have the job of understanding which children’s books are out there, choosing the stock, and guiding the children to the books that might interest them. That also means they need the budget and the training. It shouldn’t depend on luck – that there is somebody on the teaching team that has that special interest – as it does at the moment.
GET THE BOOKS TO THE CHILDREN
It’s not rocket science. It’s something surely on which we can all agree.
Emma's web-siteEmma's latest book is Wolfie.
What are your thoughts on the Accelerated Reader program? Are you familiar with this system many schools use to promote reading? Stop by Project Middle Grade Mayhem today, and join the discussion.
For those of you participating in the free, at-home writing conference WriteOnCon, be sure to stop by tomorrow at 5:30 EDT to see a video on publishing put together by The Class of 2k12!
So glad you asked that question. Click on this link and find out 100 Things Kids Will Miss If They Don't Have a School Librarian.
As a former school librarian, I know how important school libraries are--and the people who run them. Studies continue to show that students score better on achievement tests in schools with professionally staffed librarians. Across the curriculum, librarians aid students at their individual levels and needs.
Don't shortchange your students. At a time of budget cuts in many school districts, fight to keep the libraries well-stocked and well-staffed. Every school needs a great library and a great librarian!
The U.S. Department of Education is currently seeking peer reviewers for the 2011 Improving Literacy Through School Libraries grant program. The Department has set February 4, 2011 as the deadline for receiving resumes of potential reviewers. The announcement is available here:
The DOE is interested in broadening their pool of reviewers to include individuals with experience in tying new media to effective instruction. For questions, please contact:
David Moore Miller
Education Program Specialist
US Department of Education
The other day, as I was talking about my new work as a high school yearbook advisor–or maybe it was about taking on some union duties–no, I think it was a discussion about me volunteering to chaperon a bus heading to a football game–a friend turned to me and asked, “Is there anything you don’t do at that school?!”
I’m pretty open about one of my career (and life) goals: to never have a “That’s Not My Job” moment. In other words, never to balk at those odd little (and big) things that come up in the course of my school library day, never to pass the buck or leave a student out in the cold.
So what’s my job?
First, I should be clear on a few things that, in fact, aren’t my job:
Being the school nurse (we have a school nurse for that!)
Being an assistant principal (we have assistant principals for that!)
Being the school police officer (are you sensing a theme yet?)
While there are certainly legal and professional consequences that can come with overstepping your bounds within (and without) a school or library building, there are also the more fuzzy consequences: are you stepping on someone’s toes? Are you alienating a colleague, or a student? Are you spreading yourself too thin?
And depending on the structure of your school or library, you might have very clear Not My Jobs that aren’t the same as my Not My Jobs. If you work as part of a team or have volunteers, interns or assistants, for instance, job descriptions may clearly prevent you from doing certain tasks. And if you’re in a public library, you may be thinking less about other employees in your building and more about outside agencies and professionals, like social workers, doctors and counselors.
Let’s be clear: taking on new tasks, or wearing new hats, can be fantastic. Your teens may see you in a new light, your colleagues may begin to view you as a leader in your building, and you may discover a brand new passion. …Then again, you might also get really burnt out, find yourself frustrated with parts of your “regular” job, or establish once and for all that you’re terrible at Dance Dance Revolution.
So, what’s my job?
Advising the yearbook
Volunteering at sporting events
Letting kids eat in the library during lunch
Listening to impromptu jam sessions
Advising the Gay Straight Alliance
Answering tattoo questions
Watching (and recommending) YouTube videos
Offering sound bites for video yearbook
Exchanging tweets with nerdfighters
Talking about how great Mike Birbiglia is
…And, you know, books and databases and stuff. That too.
What’s your job?
I’m a doctor, not a… from Memory Alpha
My New YA Job by Erin Daly on the YALSA Blog
Risky Business & More by Linda Braun on the YALSA Blog
mercedsunstar.com :: Library jobs get the ax. I can’t understand a school culture that doesn’t value the librarian. Essentially, this is the message sent by this decision. I would like to understand more about where the librarian fits in and why the librarian is considered expendable in education.
The June 2007 Issue of School Library Journal had a letter to the editor, Proud to Be a School Librarian.
Katherine Koenig has an eloquent article on what school librarians do; but in the middle there was a part that made me cringe. Here it is: So when I get phone calls from public librarians offering to do booktalks for me or to teach my students how to use electronic databases, I have to wonder, when will the rest of the profession get a clue as to what school librarians do?
Uh oh. Booktalks and databases are definitely part of my standard pitch, a pitch that was taught to me by other public librarians. "This is what we can offer schools," I was told, and sure enough, schools do take me up on it and I visit and booktalk. As for databases, that offer usually is only accepted by those schools who don't have a school librarian.
Why are these two things public libraries offer? Here is what I've been told, which may or may not be accurate. Booktalks because public libraries have more recreational reading than school libraries, due to funding, so with booktalks we can tell kids about books not in the school library. Databases because our databases always seem under used, with parents and students surprised at what is available. After the tenth kid comes in and acts as if they have never heard of Ebsco & don't know how to use it, we assume that a school visit on searching in Ebsco would be welcome.
So I cringed not because of what Koenig said, but rather, she nailed what it is I offer. But I wonder: what does Koenig, and other school librarians, want when I call? After all, we both serve the same students so I do believe that there are things we can do together. The question is, what? Yes, I know school librarians are busy; but so are public librarians. So please, if we call and offer something you don't want or need, let us know what you do want or need!
Thanks to Biblio File for starting this conversation and reminding me about this letter.
It seems inevitable. Each spring the swallows return to Capistrano, baseball season begins, azaleas bloom, and book-banners stumble out of their caves and narrow their eyes in the direction of the school library.
I believe book challenges occur in greater numbers in the spring because parents have built up a store of unhappiness, resentment, and/or feelings of powerlessness earlier in the year and tend to lash out during the second semester. In junior high and high school the books get edgier just as parents are feeling less in control. If you are dealing with full-blown-book-banner-nutter-dom (as opposed to an interested parent who talks to the librarian about their concerns) you just have to ride the wave and hope your principal and district follow policy. Realize that it has very little to do with THE BOOK and everything to do with the parent's neediness.
In the interest of forestalling book challenges, as this new school year begins, ask yourself these questions:
1. Do your students look forward to their time in the library?
2. Do you interact with your students while they look for books? This means you have to leave the check-out desk. I know, this is hard if you do not have an aide or volunteers.
3. Do you get to know the kids' interests and reading strengths? They love it when someone takes a personal interest.
4. Do your students recognize you in the hall? Do they know your name? (added: Do you recognize them in the hall and do you know their names?)
5. Do parents hear about the "very cool" things you are doing in the library from their kids?
6. Do you take the opportunity to speak to the PTA or other parent groups at your campus about your program? They always need speakers. Volunteer! If they have paid for you to attend a workshop or conference, give them a report and send a thank you note.
7. Does the library have a presence on the school website? Do you contribute to the school newsletter regularly? These are PR opportunities made in Heaven.
8. Do you read the books so you can book talk at the drop of a hat with passion and enthusiasm to students, parents and teachers?
9. Do your teachers rely on you for recommendations and support in the classroom?
If you answer yes to these questions, you are an "A Plus" librarian and you probably enjoy the support and affection of your students, parents and teachers. You still may end up with a book challenge but lots of folks are going to think the complainer doesn't have enough to do with their time and lots of them will be in your corner.
1. Are you an "in-the-office" librarian, only focusing on the administrative aspects of the job behind a closed door?
2. Do you try to have as little personal contact with the kids as possible?
3. Does your reading aloud performance (this applies to secondary school too) communicate a desire to be anywhere else, maybe in the dentist chair having a root canal?
4. Have you ever put a teacher to sleep during a lesson?
5. Are your faculty members afraid of you? If the answer is yes, does that make you happy?
6. Are the kids afraid of you? If the answer is yes, does that make you happy?
7. Do you black out the "bad" words in the books on your shelves?
If you answer yes to these questions you might want to re-evaluate your mission. I could warn you about book challenges but you probably already a stack of "problem" books on your desk.
I salute the librarians who work so hard to teach important research skills, stoke young people's imaginations and instill a love of books and reading in their students.
Your joy and passion for your job is contagious.
Have a wonderful school year.
Clip art from School of Library Science, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX
This will be held at Hilton College (near Pietermaritzburg), Kwazulu Natal, South Africa from 8th - 11th April 2008. The official website will be launched on 20th August at the following address: www.isasamediameander.co.za. All details and online registration will be available from the site.
Librarians of the 21st century face many challenges as they encounter an ever changing world. Technological changes are taking place daily and librarians are burdened with an information overload. Changes in the South African education system are placing greater demands on teachers and learners. Everything seems so rushed, and reading often takes a back seat. Yet, never has the ability to read for relaxation, or for information and comprehension, been so important.
The Conference theme "Media Meander: Crafting Readers and Learners", is designed to offer an opportunity to reflect on current practice; share ideas on developing an ethos of reading amongst young people, and keeping ourselves up to date on technological progress. Our speakers include three Australian teacher librarians who are leaders in their field, as well as national and local authors, illustrators, teachers and digital fundis, amongst others. The Conference includes an optional tour to the Midlands Meander where local crafts, beautiful scenery and tasty food and wine can be enjoyed.
eSchoolNews reports on a new first-of-its-kind survey conducted by the American Association of School Librarians. Sara Kelly Johns, AASL president and library media specialist for New York's Lake Placid Middle/Senior High School is quoted as saying, "There is a growing body of research that documents the effect of a strong school library program on student achievement, and we need the data on staffing, size and age of collections, and budgets spent on resources to get a picture of a strong program that makes a difference for students."
It's amazing to me that anyone would be startled by this news. The more access kids have to quality reading materials and good information sources, the better they learn. No duh! as my kids would say. It is not just an issue of quality and quantity, it is about attitude - are children in school to learn a finite number of facts to graduate or are they in school to learn how to become lifelong learners?
Okay, you have to start somewhere and it turns out that there has been no entity operating as a storehouse of information about school libraries across the country so AASL is shouldering this responsibility and the survey is just the first of many. Hats off to AASL. Perhaps sharing some of these results will help people understand the value of school libraries.
It's interesting to hear stories from across the country about which positions are considered "optional" in a school when they have to cut budgets. Many times the school librarian or media specialist is the first head on the chopping block. Some forward thinking states such as my own state of NC mandate a media specialist in every public school so it's not considered optional in any way.
The survey finds that most school libraries are wired up with sufficient numbers of computers. Where things get interesting is the chasm of library staffing and expenditures per student between well-funded libraries and not so well funded.
During the critical learning-to-read years in elementary schools, it seems that the average elementary school library is open five fewer hours per week than a comparable middle- or high-school library. High school librarians spent twice as much time collaborating with teachers than do elementary librarians. Although there is not enough data to declare it conclusively, it seems that reading scores tend to be higher in schools with full time librarians who work collaboratively with teachers and students.
"The average school library spends about $11 per student, per year. But there is a wide gap between the average per-pupil expenditure of school libraries serving fewer than 300 students ($15) and those serving 2,000 students or more (less than $8). " eSchoolNews
And the school libraries in the top 25%? You know the ones...well staffed, well equipped, lots of new books, always crowded, happy faces? They're spending $30-$50 per student. If we are truly serious about increasing literacy in this country, we need to take our money out of our wallets and out of the federal and state coffers and invest in our country's future through support of our public and school libraries.
Unfortunately, I'm a bit behind on my blog reading and just discovered this September 19th post from Kelly Fineman tonight which relates to an earlier post of mine on funding school libraries.
Congress is considering proposed legislation that will increase financing for school libraries and in many cases, improve or restore library programming in school districts across the country. The SKILLS Act (short for Strengthening Kids' Interest in Learning and Libraries -- clearly the acronym came first here) was sponsored by Senators Jack Reed (RI) and Thad Cochran (MI) and by Representatives Raul Grijalva (AZ) and Vernon Ehlers (MI). According to the tracking organizations, the bills (one in the House, one in the Senate) have been referred to committees.
In less than two weeks Congress will be voting on legislation that will:
1. Get much needed funding to school libraries.
2. Requires that every school in every school district of every state employs at least one state certified, highly qualified school library media specialist.
3. Provides monies for training and professional development for school library media specialists.
What does this mean?
1. It means more monies for schools to buy books and educational materials.
2. It means that young people will have access to more and better books because informed, knowledgeable librarians will be making book selections for their schools and will have more input and influence on trade and educational publishing for young people because they will have more purchasing power. (Many schools' libraries are run by parent volunteers and/or a teacher or other educational professional who may or may not have the skills and knowledge of a certified school librarian.)
3. It means that young people will have a knowledgeable librarian to teach them how to be informed consumers of information and critical thinkers.
4. It means that those wonderful people who are running school libraries who are not trained as professional librarians, will have access to professional develop monies to help them to get the professional training they need to help our kids.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO?
1. Fax or email or call your congressional representatives in support of this legislation: the Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLs) Act. If you are uncertain who your Senators are, or who your representatives is, you can find out at this website.
2. Copy and paste this into an email and send it to everyone you know, especially: friends, family members, neighbors, colleagues, editors, publishers, authors, illustrators, teachers, librarians, parents---everyone and everyone you know. Add your own short personal note and ask them to please contact their congressional representatives today by fax or email to support the SKILLs legislation. Encourage them to write a very few short words in support of this legislation. If you use a formula message it will not be taken as seriously as a more personalized fax or email.
Remember- Your voice and your vote do count---Your legislators keep actual tallies of fax, phone and email messages from their constituents on various issues, and it can influence the outcome of their vote!
By: Jenny Levine,
Blog: The Shifted Librarian
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, board games
, brian mayer
, gaming and libraries
, gaming in libraries
, school libraries
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I’ve been telling everyone who will listen about Paul Waelchli’s work mapping the ACRL Information Literacy Standards to skills used to play popular videogames. I’ve been waiting for someone to do the same thing for school libraries, and now we have our first step towards that goal because Brian Mayer has mapped New York State’s education standards to some modern board games.
Gaming, School Libraries and the Curriculum
“Games engage students with authentic leisure experiences while reinforcing a variety of social, literary and curricular skills. When an educational concept is introduced and reinforced during a game, it is internalized as part of an enjoyable experience and further utilized as one aspect of a strategy to attain success.
Games also carry other benefits. They help students connect and build social skills, working as part of a team or negotiating the most advantageous situation for themselves. It also provides an opportunity for students to to explore a host of life skills not inherent in the curriculum , but important for success. Some of these include: micro-managing resources and options; actively re-evaluating, re-prioritizing and re-adjusting goals based on uncertain and shifting situations; determining acceptable losses in an effort to obtain an end goal; and employing analytical and critical skills to more authentic social experiences.
Here is a list of NYS standards currently supported by a well established school game library:
NYS Social Studies Standards:
- Standard 3: Geography Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the geography of the interdependent world in which we live—local, national, and global—including the distribution of people, places, and environments over the Earth’s surface.
- Standard 4: Economics Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of how the United States and other societies develop economic systems and associated institutions to allocate scarce resources, how major decision-making units function in the U.S. and other national economies, and how an economy solves the scarcity problem through market and non-market mechanisms.
Several more are listed in the post, so please click through to see just how good a fit this can be.
If you still question whether there are literacies (especially information-related ones) involved in playing videogames, ask yourself if those same things happen around playing board games. If your answer is that yes, they do, what then is the difference between learning those skills through board games and learning them through videogames? Brian’s work helps illustrate the similarities but even more importantly, it shows how easily a school library could start out with the familiar world of board games as a way to implement gaming services and engage students more interactively in learning information literacy skills. Thanks, Brian!
Along with other essential personnel, school librarians start the school year early. The librarians started back to work, this week, in my neck of the woods.
The first day on contract is spent checking in with the other important folks who have turned up, the financial clerk, the school nurse, the attendance clerk and the principals. They all enjoy a sort of reunion, bringing each other up to date with family news, vacations enjoyed and health reports.
They fall into that fellowship that comes from experience, mutual goals and the camaraderie of soldiers in a foxhole. This solidarity and support is essential in order to get the job done each school year.
Back in the library, automation systems must be updated with the new school calendar, new faculty members must be added and of course the students' names must be imported. The library schedule must be devised and new district edicts must be incorporated into the routine.
Boxes of new books, which were delivered over the summer, must be checked against the packing slips. Glowing new covers must be caressed, new titles must be exclaimed over, marc records must be shined up. There are bulletin boards to cover, reading programs to prepare and lesson plans to write.
The teachers arrive early, long before their contracts start. Overhead projectors, cd players, globes and other life sustaining classroom equipment will be mustered in the library and moved into teachers' rooms. After the first or second day, the library staff is not working for itself anymore but for the teachers, so it should burn rubber those first few days.
Just as you start to get some things done, you realize that the building is still on summer hours so you will be booted out just as the work begins to flow. Frustration.
Before you know it, there will soon be new faces to meet, new reading interests to learn. There will be kindergarteners and first graders who cannot wait to learn to read. There will be fifth graders who do not care to touch a book.
They are waiting for you to make this the year they fell in love with books and reading.
The year ahead beckons and you can't wait.
Using Wordle in Schools
“The idea of creating Tag clouds is not new or unique but the Wordle application offers those in schools with a uniquely visual way to view and/or analyse some text. It is very simple to use and the results are created quickly. The style can be changed easily, if required, and easily saved….
We used this aspect in the library this week when we made a Wordle using a number of lists of banned books. The authors, the titles and types of books were entered into the text box. Overwhelmingly the word ‘novel’ stood out. A second Wordle on banned authors had William Shakespeare and George Orwell as the standouts. This could form part of a greater discussion about the reason for this and we intend to give the issues of banned books and censorship a wider focus at a later date, perhaps as part of Social Justice Week, run at our school each year.
We are also using Wordles as the basis for one of the competitions for Book Week. We created Wordles of synopses of various well known books (taking out any references too unique to the book) and printed out copies. One of the library staff members had fun playing with the colours and formats. We did one for ‘Bryan Strauchan: my story‘ and made it black and white. (Bryan Strauchan is a fictional character who plays for a football team that happens to have team colours of black and white.) Another book involving animals was done making the Wordle resemble tiger stripes. The Wordles look great laminated and I will also be putting up digital versions on the library website.” [Rhondda’s Reflections - Wandering around the Web]
, school libraries
Last week in class we were asked to think a little bit about our experiences of being a young adult using libraries. “Aha!” I thought. “Blog post!” So, following is a case study of one.
My very first reliable memory is of the library. I haven’t been back to the Winnipeg public library since I was two, and in my head it is the biggest library in the world. In elementary school, school libraries were my havens. I read constantly, voraciously: mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, classics, even some non-fiction, books for kids and then books for adults. The school librarians were really good to me and would ILL things for me once I’d made my way through everything I was interested in locally. Things seemed to be shaping up for me to have a long and happy relationship with libraries.
Then, high school. I hated the high school library. I don’t know exactly why. I remember it being in a fairly inaccessible place in the school. I remember it being huge, and unwelcoming, and smelly, and full of books, but I cannot remember for the life of me a single book that was in that library. And I do remember that the librarian was terrifying, of the “cranky old white lady” variety, who did not deal with teenagers well at all, although I think she thought she did.
During that time, probably shortly after I started high school, I stopped using the public library too. And this was, in large part, because I stopped reading. Almost entirely. There was lots of stuff to read for classes, and I read that. I sometimes read books that people gave me (our family is big on the book gifting). After I started to drive, one of the places I would go to hang out with friends was Chapters, and I bought books there, although I bought more specialty coffee. I just really didn’t read like I had when I was younger.
I had other interests. Yes, boys and friends. I spent hours of my evenings on the telephone. I was heavily involved in the extracurricular drama club. We didn’t really have much in the way of tv, but when I was 15 we got a computer. With dial-up. And games. I spent a lot — a lot — of time playing computer games. I didn’t read for fun. Therefore, I didn’t go to the library.
As some of you know, I also didn’t willingly set foot in the university library for the first full year of my undergrad. My life would have been easier if I had, but there was something extremely intimidating about it, even though I went on the mandatory tours in a couple of my classes. It took an essay assignment in second year that required ten whole scholarly citations (oh, woe!) to get me to walk into the library of my own volition.
Once I had, I loved the library, and spent lots of time there. It took me getting up the courage to actually go in, use the catalogue, take the elevator, get the books, and sign them out. I remember being petrified, and my adult brain cannot possibly fathom why that would be. But it was a very real fear. Once I had accomplished it, I was so darn proud of myself.
And pleasure reading? I have started again, about two years ago, over a year after I was finished my undergrad. Slowly. Now I use the local public library regularly again, browsing the stacks, taking full advantage of holds and ILLs, and even recommending purchases I think the library should make. It feels like seeing an old friend again. We’re picking up where we left off.
There is, you see, a teenage-sized gap in my library patronage. At this stage, I have to wonder whether it is a chicken-and-egg sort of situation. Did I stop using the library because I wasn’t reading? Or did I stop reading because the library ceased being a place I wanted to go? The public library certainly wasn’t anathema in the same way the university library was, but it also wasn’t a destination for my teenage self. I don’t know the answer, and I have thought long and hard about this for years, wondering why I stopped going to a place where I felt safe, and where I always felt like I fit in. If I could go back and ask myself as a teenager what happened, I’m not sure I would have understood it even then.
I’m curious to know if my experience is similar to others’. I’ve always felt that it was kind of weird. But then, what teenager doesn’t think they’re a little bit weird compared to everyone else on the planet? The interesting thing about my own experience is, it suggests that public libraries might find attracting young people extremely difficult if we rely on pleasure reading as the staple draw, for example. It suggests that it’s a lot harder work to get teenagers to come in to the library than it appears, because before I hit high school I would have considered myself the ideal candidate for a teenager who would use a library. If I take my own experience, I would say that marketing library services to teenagers is probably futile… so, as a librarian-in-training, I have to say, I hope I was indeed weird.
Ah yes--the end of the school year is such an interesting time in a school library.
- Librarians run and run and print and print reports that present the grim statistics about the horrific number of books STILL checked out to students even though the end of school is just a few days away.
- Librarians send out MORE reminders and requests for the return of missing books.
- Librarians cheerfully call home phone numbers and leave messages requesting any kind of response or acknowledgment of the lost school library books.
- Librarians cheerfully walk to the shelves with students to look for the book that the student is positive he/she already returned or never checked-out in the first place, "no doubt about it, honest, they remember.
- Librarians cheerfully point out that the book is NOT on the shelf, therefore, it will be necessary for the student to look again.
- Librarians cheerfully suggest places the child can look for their library book.
- Librarians cheerfully invite book characters like, say, Viola Swamp, to go on the morning announcements to request the return of library books. Viola infers she will be roaming the hallways and looking into classrooms for library books
- The librarian's child, who is watching those morning announcements in horror, from her classroom, SWEARS her mother is NOT at school that day when her classmates suggest Viola bears a resemblance to her!
- Librarians cheerfully roll book carts down to 5th grade and request that everyone clean out their desks in the hope that lost library books will materialize.
- Librarians cheerfully roll book carts back to the library having netted at least twenty missing books that suddenly appeared in desks, on classroom counters and mixed in with classroom libraries.
- Librarians cheer and clap as the student, who was sure that he/she had already returned or had never checked out that book in the first place, "no doubt about it, honest, they remember." comes running in, beaming with joy announcing, "I found it, I found it!"
- Librarians cheerfully listen to teachers who explain they never checked out those materials for their classroom "no doubt about it, honest, they remember."
- Librarians gulp hard and hug children who present them with flowers, cookies, picture frames, and precious thank-you notes for a year that was full of reading and imagination.
School librarians, you've worked so hard all year.
Have a wonderful summer and try not to think about your library every
day this summer.
If you are going to be around on Monday afternoon, June 13, the ALA Committee on Literacy is sponsoring an off-site visit to the real and working school library at the Claremont Academy on Chicago’s Southside from 2:30 to 4:30 PM. This is a fabulous opportunity for YALSA members and other youth serving librarians to see what’s happening in Chicago.
Through a federal Improving Literacy through School Libraries grant, Claremont Academy and 11 other Chicago Public Schools are taking an A-B-Cs approach to addressing primary students’ literacy needs. During the visit, participants will:
- Learn more about the federal grant program from the U.S. Department of Education and Chicago Public School representatives.
- Learn more about Claremont and the community from school administrators, library media specialists, parents, and students.
- Observe Claremont’s library activities.
- Talk with school media specialists and literacy teachers about changes, challenges, and progress.
- Share your experiences with everyone!
Claremont Academy is located at 2300 West 64th Street, Chicago, IL 60636. Transportation is available from McCormick Place departing at 1:30 pm and returning at 5:30 pm. Space is limited and MUST be reserved in advance. Please contact Dale Lipschultz, OLOS Literacy Officer dlipschultz At ala DOT org with questions or to reserve space.
Event Flyer for ABCs of Library Literacy
Today Twitter has been abuzz with discussion of the Cushing School (MA) library going bookless. As I read the Twitter posts I find myself feeling a bit disconcerted by their lamenting nature. While yes, I understand that a school library moving to a no books model is a drastic thing to do. And, while I understand that a library needs to almost always provide a combination of print and digital resources, I wonder how can we respond on Twitter, blogs, editorials in newspapers, etc. to this topic thoughtfully without sounding like a group of whining traditionalists? (There, I said it.)
What I would love to read, and Twitter really isn’t the platform for this, but this blog is, is more of an analysis of the pros and cons of this story. Questions I have after reading the Boston Globe article include:
- What had been going on with the school library before this? Was there a history of administration undermining the library? Why this move now?
- How are librarians in the school involved in the change? A librarian quoted in the article talks about her sadness about the change, but did she get a chance to help make some of the decisions? Why? Why not?
- What about the students? The article makes it sound like they don’t read books at all, but what is the real story? Where are they getting their books, what are they reading in any format?
There are other questions I have but those are a few at the top of my head. What I would love to hear from blog readers are your questions and answers related to this story. What do you think might be a better approach for a school to take to support students and teachers through the library while integrating and acknowledging new technologies? What are the positives of going bookless? (Are there any?) How are you working proactively to guarantee that you have a say about what happens in your library? How might you respond in a way that will be heard and understood to this kind of action in your community? How can librarians respond to these situations in a positive and informative way?
It seems to me if we lament we don’t get anywhere. But, if we ask provocative questions and if we support new ideas and help to frame those ideas, then perhaps we have better opportunities to have an impact on what happens in our libraries and communities.
Go ahead, take a risk, and tell me and other readers what you think.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is seeking input from the educational community’s key stakeholders including parents, teachers, librarians, students & administrators on needed changes to the current federal education law, feedback on the Obama Administration’s “Blueprint for Reform” and any other education related ideas stakeholders may want to share. HELP is a bipartisan committee that has started the process of reauthorizing the federal education bill, known as Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The “Blueprint for Reform” can be accessed at
Individuals are invited to submit comments until Friday, May 7th by sending them to ESEAcomments@help.senate.gov. This is a key opportunity to let elected officials know about the essential role that school librarians and school libraries play in student achievement. Please take a few minutes to email your comments to the Senate committee and encourage library supporters to do the same.
For help with developing your comments, you may want to read the testimony of Jaime Greene, a school librarian who testified before the HELP Committee earlier today: http://tinyurl.com/34xahs2 . Other good resources with information about the important role school libraries play is www.ala.org/additup and AASL’s advocacy page on their web site: http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/aasl/aaslissues/advocacy/advocacy.cfm
One important issue to include in your comments is to let the Committee know how important the highly rated Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program is. In his FY2011 budget request, President Obama consolidated Improving Literacy Through School Libraries with five other literacy programs. This would mean that the only federal funding specifically earmarked for school libraries would disappear. Instead, school libraries will have to directly compete with dissimilar programs to receive federal dollars under the President’s plan. However, Congress is drafting their own budget for FY2011 right now, and there is no word yet if they will go along with President Obama’s recommendation of consolidation. Hearing from you could help save the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program.
Please pass this item on to friends, colleagues, etc. and encourage them to send their comments to the HELP Committee. Thanks for all that you do to ensure young people have access to excellent library staff and resources!
Observations and questions from a week in different junior high and elementary libraries.
Sign you are in a great junior high school library.
- Post it notes with the release dates of new books stuck to the window above the librarian's computer!
- ALL the books of a series are in the collection
- Note left for librarian: Dear (librarian), you have a GREAT collection. You have every book I looked for in the OPAC!
(wonders, does she read BookMoot.com?)
At the desk and in the stacks____________________
"Do you have any more books by this author?" (Gail Carson Levine
Ooooh is that Fairest
"You've read it? It is sooooo... good!"
(fan girl squeals)
Student: "Can you help me find something to read?
I'd like it to be a book with other books that follow it."
Me: (frustrated grumbling) So many Book "1"s of series checked-out.
Student: "I don't want to start with Book 2"
Me: I don't like that either. How about finding an author to follow, even if they don't write series books?