Looking forward: School libraries in the new year

The inclusion of school libraries in the ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) of 1965 authorization as ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) in late 2015 was a victory, especially for districts reliant on federal funding, but it is technology that is altering what is going on in so many schools.

1:1 technology push
States switching to the computer-based standardized testing required by Common Core State Standards — independent of the CCSS backlash, major assessments are still and will likely remain CCSS aligned — will require supplying hardware accommodating increasingly resource-intensive testing with interactive charts and graphs and locked-down browsers. In many schools, the librarian will be the point-person for maintaining that technology.

1:1 technologies require new metrics
At the AASL conference in November, Michelle Luhtala shared a picture of charging blocks and cables. That’s what she “circulates” at 1:1 New Canaan High School, and it’s a brilliant idea for quantifying student use. Door count had potential as well to show the vibrant, active aspects of our school library spaces independent of checking out books.
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Being a Connected Educator

As I work with students and teachers, I keep close tabs on my email and RSS feeds throughout the day. It’s not killing time, it’s keeping up, and it’s essential to my work as a school librarian. And I’m just as quick to respond to a request from a colleague thousands of miles away as to help those in my building. And when I have a question, I throw it out to my PLN, educators and librarians across the country and around the world using a vast variety of networks, automation systems, and applications in a diverse range of settings. And the response is always useful, and often thought-provoking.

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It’s what’s called being a Connected Educator, and this is how it’s described ‘ by the’ eponymous organization:’ “Online communities and learning networks are helping hundreds of thousands of educators learn, reducing isolation and providing “just in time” access to knowledge and opportunities for collaboration. However, many educators are not yet participating and others aren’t realizing the full benefits. In many cases, schools, districts, and states also are not recognizing and rewarding this essential professional learning.”

I’d venture to say that many school librarians were connected educators before connected educators were a thing.If you’ve worked in this field for more than a decade, I’m sure you can remember earlier incarnations of burning up the bush telegraph, via listservs, gopher-esque discussion boards, or text-based email between buildings or across the state. Then blogs and RSS started cropping up, making it even easier to pull the information you want, rather than just the information you need, or to push your own information to others.

So many youth services librarians work alone — as either the only information professional, or the only teen specialist, in a larger institution. And I hope that our professional preparation armed us for combating this this isolation. I remember signing up for two listservs as a requirement in an introductory class in library school in the late 1990s. I chose one for art librarians (I had majored in art as an undergraduate) and one for newspaper librarians. And I now know ridiculous amounts about working in those type of special libraries, just because of that passive exposure years ago.

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Rethinking What We Do: Professional Development for School Librarians

At the beginning of every school year, some school librarians inevitably grouse about sitting through whole-faculty professional development because they have to get the library — both patron records and the collection — ready to circulate. They often say their needs differ from those of classroom teachers, and their professional learning should reflect that.

I would argue that school librarians need that learning and more. School librarians actually need more ongoing professional development than anyone else in the building. Why? It’s not because we’re bad at our jobs. It’s because, in this critical, school-spanning role, we have to stay ahead of the curve to support the needs of students and teachers. This means we need to know the school things and also the library things, and maybe the technology things as well… Continue reading

Coming to AASL in Charlotte? Network at YALSA’s Happy Hour!

AASL’s National Conference in Charlotte is Nov. 5-8 in Charlotte, N.C., and YALSA will be there! You can visit the ALA booth in the exhibits hall and see Nichole Gilbert, YALSA’s program office for events, and you can network with your colleagues at the official YALSA Happy Hour.

Join YALSA upstairs at Cosmo’s Cafe Uptown, 300 N. College St., Charlotte, on Friday, Nov. 6, from 5-7 p.m. YALSA’s reserved a space upstairs. Connect with your colleagues over a full food menu and half-price wine in a relaxed atmosphere.

Teach a Man to Google

I’ve been working at my new job for less than a month, but already I’m raising some eyebrows. And for once, it’s not the piercings or tattoos.

And, no, it’s not even the shelf of new books (wildly popular new books, I might add) that maybe kinda sorta definitely have some risque content.

I’m not even talking about wiping out the library reservation system our teachers knew and loved with one fell swoop.

So what am I doing that’s so controversial?

Instruction.

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ALA Town Hall Discussion-School Librarians Speak Out

I briefly attended the ALA town hall discussion where topics of concern were brought up by ALA members and will be passed on to the Barack Obama Administration.’  ALA President Jim Rettig, the Chair of the Legislation Committee, and representatives from the ALA Washington Office staff were there. According to the wiki about the discussion, there were about 259 ALA members and 45 that took to the mics.’  Having qualified librarians in school libraries was a frequently raised issue.

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