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… Read More →


It’s our sister division AASL’s Banned Website Awareness Day, reminding us that books aren’t the only information sources whose access can be challenged.

For the past ten years, by law, libraries must be CIPA-compliant. The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) stipulates that public and school libraries receiving federal e-rate funding must implement technology that prohibits Internet access to visual images of child pornography, obscenity, and material that is “harmful to minors.” As a recent YALSA blog post pointed out, this does not translate into blocking social media.

Over the past two years, I’ve worked in two different systems with radically different approaches to filtering, so I’ve seen first-hand how those policies affect students. Read More →

In our second week of school, we had our first 2013 graduate return from college to visit.

She had popped in on her way from work — she is working a morning shift at fast food and taking 15 semester hours at the community college — and as she looked around our temporary space, she wanted to know when the new school library would become open. “And will it be public?” she said, “I remember they said the library would be public…”

The construction is barely underway, so I told her it would be a while. While the planned space would be available for the community, I wasn’t certain if the library collection would be.

Photo, Tom Saint

Photo, Tom Saint

The problem with the library at the community college, she asserted, was there wasn’t anything good to read. “It’s all encyclopedias,” she said.

As I looked at this book-loving girl, a girl who dressed as Effie Trinket for costume day during homecoming week, who was thrilled to tell me that she has the sixth Mortal Instruments book preordered, and I realized I didn’t prepare her for the community college library. Read More →

All set for Annual? For this month’s Eureka Moments, I tried to tie some research and news to some of the sessions you might want to attend at the conference. And if you’re not able to attend, I hope these items will allow you to participate from afar and to still feel up to date on what’s happening.

  • A 2010 case study in The Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy concluded that “educators cannot expect students to separate their identities from literacy practices” through interviews and observations with two gay teens. The researcher noted how a multigenre research project, rather than the more traditional paper, allowed the teens to explore themselves more fully and integrate their academic study of history and literature with their sexual orientation. The article ends with the researcher imploring schools and educators to become more sensitive to LGBTQ issues and to explore ways to allow students identifying in the spectrum to feel included in traditional classroom topics and texts and to respectfully invite all students to participate together.
    Vetter, A.M. (2010). “‘Cause I’m a G”: Identity Work of a Lesbian Teen in Language Arts. The Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(2), 98-108.
    Related session: Stonewall Awards Presentation, Monday 10:30am’  Read More →

There has been ample buzz at Midwinter regarding signing an online petition initiated by Carl Harvey, 2011-2012, AASL president to “ensure that every child in America has access to an effective school library program.” As of this post, over 14,000 signatures are still needed by February 4 in order for the petition to be viewed by White House Staff.

The petition in its entirety can be read and signed here: Ensure that every child in American has access to an effective school library program. A blog post on AASL with comments about the petition can be viewed here.

Feel free to share your thoughts on the petition as well as how the word can be shared with colleagues and other library supporters. Note that anyone 13 or older can create or sign a petition. This is a great advocacy project for your teens to sign on to!

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?
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By now, you’ve probably seen the Librarians Do Gaga video from the University of Washington that went viral two weeks ago,’  and the Who Ya Gonna Call? video that featured Ghostbusters in the NYPL Reading Room in mid-May. Here’s one that may not be on your radar: “Bleeding Libraries,” a school library advocacy video that examines the plight of the school library when funding is lost and the doors are closed. I asked Laura K. Graff, the visionary behind the video, to share how it came about. Check out the video, then get her take after the jump.

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Spring is ordinarily one of my favorite seasons. After a New England winter, nothing improves my mood like flowers in bloom, warm afternoon breezes, and the scent of barbecues wafting through the neighborhood.

In a school, on the other hand, spring can make a person awful cranky. Students and teachers are all impatient for summer. Seniors in particular, having committed to colleges and their other post-high school plans, run the risk of catching a nasty case of Senioritis. Then there are all the events–even before we can get to graduation, there are field trips, advanced placement exams, standardized tests, awards ceremonies and banquets all disrupting the regular schedule. And lately it seems like they’re all taking over my library.

At first, the constant displacement and disruption was making me grumpy. I wanted my library back. I had plans for the end of the year, work to be finished, kids who wanted to check out books or eat lunch rather than tiptoe around the locked doors.

Then I did something radical.

I left the library.

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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 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: .’  Other good resources with information about the important role school libraries play is and AASL’s advocacy page on their web site:

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!