On the day of the Fall Spectacular, I went to Papillion LaVista South High School ready to learn alongside my fellow school librarians. My warrior strength cup of coffee was in my hand and I was ready to go. It was a blast! To be honest, it was difficult to present because there were quite a few other sessions I was interested in attending! The first break out session of the morning, I presented on makerspaces. It's fun to share some of the things I've learned about makerspaces over the last couple years. Part of the time was devoted to discussion and collaboration. There's a collaborative PowerPoint I set up where everyone was able to share their makerspace goals and accomplishments. It's so great to learn alongside fellow librarians. Setting up and maintaining makerspaces without pulling your hair out is a big ordeal. It's a lot easier when you've got awesome colleagues to work alongside.
Next, I attended McKenzie White's session on trauma and culturally-invested libraries. The conversations we had were very honest about the climate of teaching these days. And as supporters of all learners in the school, us librarians have heavy responsibilities. We have more and more to tackle every day. Research has come out concerning the negative effects that teaching in a trauma-infested environment can have on our roles as educators. McKenzie shared practical tips and tools for librarians to implement to combat tough teaching conditions. Students crave and deserve predictability, adaptability, and connectedness. To provide this to every learner in our busy libraries is often an daunting task. But with the tools shared by McKenzie, I feel more prepared to tackle anything life throws at me and the kids at my school.
My second presentation that day was the panel of school librarians: Cindy Jackson, Kelly Kenny, Jen Prasch, Liz von Nagy, and myself. It has been an honor to work close to these amazing and spectacular ladies. Getting to know them better, I can attest to you that they are as kind and funny as they are brilliant! Although I like to share cool stuff going on in my library, I also enjoy listening to these rockstar librarians. Every time I talk to them, I learn something new. I go away with a thought--something I might like to try out or improve. That's what days like the NSLA Fall Spectacular are all about!
For the last session that day, I attended Jenna Reeh's technology life hacks. She always has something new to share! And she is so tech-savvy. Any time I've attended any of her sessions at previous events like NETA, I always feel engaged, heard, and like I've learned. She is a great example to anyone who wants to try presenting to adult learners. I've stolen a couple of her ideas for my own presentations, to be honest. Some cool tools I've bookmarked to check out from her session include: Insert Learning, Go Synth, Brush Ninja, and Yell key. I'd definitely recommend anybody check those out!
And, oh my goodness--that was the end of the NSLA Fall Spectacular. I wish I had Hermione's time turner so I could go back and attend more sessions. And I am not ashamed to let my nerdery show. As much effort as it takes to get something like this prepared, it felt like such a short day! I wished it could've lasted all weekend long! I had a great time. I am very grateful to those on the NSLA board who've put so much work into getting the event all organized and put together.
The environment surrounding learning and libraries is changing. Education is on the brink of a revolution. Improving school libraries is more than a method of job insurance. Every librarian I have met through NSLA is resolved to trying new things for the betterment of all library users. We see that the traditional librarian role is enough--it's more than enough. Be we aren't willing to settle. We are willing to go the extra mile, make every moment count, and revolutionize this profession to help every library user build a better future.
See you all soon, you rebel librarians.
Library & Technology Teacher
Walnut Hill Elementary
Microsoft Innovative Educator
Minecraft Certified Educator
Common Sense Media Certified Educator
Thank you to all who shared in our Fall Spectacular adventure on October 5th! We had over eighty five attendees and twenty presenters including a baby kangaroo and tween alligator! Not quite what I had in mind when I offered to host it at my building, but it was a pretty epic day all around. Also, my sincere gratitude to those of you who shared your feedback on this endeavor. Your comments and thoughts will guide us as we consider conference planning for 2020!
It was an honor to award Dr. Sherry Crow with the Distinguished Service Award for her dedication and commitment to the school library community in Nebraska. I’m also extremely happy to report that we were able to keep it a secret for as long as we did.
The resource Padlet is still available, and is packed with many of the great presentations we saw during our day of learning. The day was truly a whirlwind for me, so this has been a great way to catch up on the bits of greatness I glimpsed throughout the day.
It was also a thrill to take over the AASL Instagram for the day with our Executive Secretary, Mandy Peterson. Jump over to Instagram and scroll back a bit to see some of the amazing moments including breakfast sponsored by Mackin, book talks, connections and loads of laughter. We have also posted some of the comments from our feedback survey on our social media outlets. Your words were so meaningful and humbling as we wrapped up the final details after the conference.
With the crazy, busy days of the beginning of the school year behind us, it was nice to take a breath of crisp Autumn air and connect with our community. These amazing professionals know our story and walk our walk each day serving students and bring school libraries to life in so many great ways.
If you have a story to share, please submit it in our Library Spotlight!
Enjoy the rest of the Autumn and best wishes for a great school year.
Hey all! I am Angie Blankenship, School Librarian at Pershing Elementary in Lexington, Nebraska. I wanted to share a quick video with you for my blog post on how to use Facebook Collections and Groups for professional development! Please feel free to email me with any questions after watching the video!
I have also listed a few of my favorite groups to follow. Please share with us if you have any you LOVE.
Future Ready Librarians
School Librarian Connection
By Angie Blankenship
Back in August, I shared the app Goose Chase with my faculty. Goose Chase is a scavenger hunt app where you can create a game with missions online and share it out to students through their devices (cell phones or iPads work the best, not so much laptop computers). Students can turn in missions via text answers or photo answers. Each mission is worth points and teams or individual students compete to be the top on the leaderboard. As a teacher, you see the submission feed on your device and can add or subtract points or even delete a submission if students don’t complete it according to your specifications.
After presenting, I had a tremendous increase in teachers wanting to work with me using this app for their classes. I have now worked with Math classes, Guidance Counselors, and English classes. In a school where collaboration doesn’t usually happen, I am super happy that I have found something to share with my colleagues that they want to use for their students. This positive turn helps promote the library and my services to other teachers who haven’t wanted to collaborate in the past.
As I took a step back to think about what would be most important to Nebraska school librarians at this time of year, I eventually landed on the topic of equity. Equity is at the forefront of the work of the Nebraska State Department of Education (https://www.education.ne.gov/ndeday/). Take a look at the Nebraska Department of Education’s definition of educational equity:
Educational equity means all students have meaningful access to the educational resources they need at the right moment, at the right level, and with the right intensity...Educational equity allows students to discover and explore their passions and make meaningful connections within the context of their postsecondary interests. (https://www.education.ne.gov/ndeday/)
Isn’t this what we do as librarians? I bet you’ll run out of fingers counting all the ways you create equity through instruction and library programming. We are all about equity and we always have been, but that doesn’t mean we can’t grow and get better at it.
With that said, let’s think about how we as librarians can create equitable opportunities for our students.
Equitable access to resources at the right moment, at the right level, and with the right Intensity
Of course, diverse collections come to mind when we think about equity in the library. We want our libraries to be full of books and resources representing the diversity of experiences in our world. As you start a book order list for the coming school year, make a commitment to take a look at diverse book lists from sources such as We Need Diverse Books and the Lincoln Public School’s MOSAIC. In fact, on the We Need Diverse Books website you’ll find a list of sites you can explore to discover even more diverse books.
We all know that access to books alone will not improve students’ experiences. We need to pair our diverse collections with qualified school librarians who can recommend titles to our students. What can you do this year to promote diverse literature? It can be as easy as creating displays and book talking diverse titles. Perhaps you could select a diverse book and start a One Book One School program.
Allowing students to discover and explore their passions and make meaningful connections within the context of postsecondary interests
When you teach a student to code or engage them in a makerspace activity, you are allowing them to explore their passions and make connections within the context of postsecondary interests. The young student building elaborate structures with K’nex may be exploring an interest that could lead to a career in architecture or engineering. A student who spends his time in the library using your virtual reality set, may be preparing to work in the movie or video game industry. Let’s make sure we tie our makerspaces to real world applications and promote them that way with our administrators.
Three important questions
What else can we do? I think we can ask ourselves some really important questions, research the answers to these questions, and make programming changes that further promote equity. Let’s start with just a few really good questions:
I know we as librarians are champions of equity, and I am so grateful that our spaces are welcoming to all. Let’s keep doing this great work and find even more ways to advance the NDE’s equity goals.
By Joy Harvey
Tonight I was driving home from school and realized this school year is my tenth year as a school librarian. I started thinking about those first few months on the job, ten years ago. How would I know all the kids? Where were the light switches? (The light switch issue seems to be a recurring theme in my career). How many things did I not know that I needed to know? How would I wrap my brain around this massive task which I suddenly had no idea how to do? One student at a time, one light switch at a time, and one task at a time. Eventually, I moved to a place of gratitude. Grateful for all the faces I could put names to, and for those who showed me where things were, and held me up as I learned my profession. As my third year in Papillion La Vista South High School started, I am excited for familiar faces, smiles, and high fives as we open our amazing library to the students.
A few things come to mind as I reflect on my journey. I give great advice, but seldom take my own. Take care of you. As school librarians, we problem solve, share our energy, and take on many tasks in support of our students and learning. Over time, it’s easy to become frustrated and overwhelmed. Find ways to renew your energy and love for what we do. This summer I started each morning with yoga, usually with a cat or dog as a companion. Curl up with an anticipated title and read the whole thing. Stop and grab a favorite coffee or treat, just because. It’s the little things that make a big difference, and they will keep you going.
Do not travel this journey alone. A network of professionals who speak your language and walk in your shoes is key. One of the most meaningful conversations I had as new school librarian was with another librarian during my practicum. I learned so much from watching another professional. I also learned that the things I worried about were shared by someone else. If you are new to the library profession, seek out a mentor to guide and support you. One of the action items for NSLA is to support our membership with a mentor network. Contact us if you would like to be paired with a mentor as you transition into a new position or profession. We have a few different opportunities available to fit your individual needs.
Connect with other librarians and take care of yourself by participating in professional learning. For the first time, NSLA will be holding a Fall Spectacular on Saturday, October 5th at Papillion La Vista South High School. It will be a day packed with great learning, amazing presenters, and wonderful people. Registration is open! We know from membership feedback, conference attendance is difficult to negotiate so we’ve put together a great Saturday of fun and networking.
Finally, advocating for what you are passionate about is another great way to re-new your enthusiasm. Currently, two bills have been introduced as federal legislation regarding K-12 education. The two bills, HR.3667 (Morelle) and S.2070 (Merkley) were introduced in July. Both would create federal grants to keep school libraries open during the summer in conjunction with free lunch programs. What a great way to keep students engaged with the library while receiving a healthy meal during the summer months. Keep an eye on these two bills. Also, Nebraska Rule 10 is under revision. Keep an eye out for updates!
Best wishes for a super school year, and reach out to us for support! We are here for you!
By Cynthia Stogdill
Happy Summer Librarians! As we get ready to begin the school year I wanted to share some ideas I use to tie in research to our sections of the library. As we meet each week it’s also important to build a connection with students and build relationships.
1st Grade - Each week we learn a letter in sign language. I use that letter to choose my books to read to the students while also teaching Fiction and Non-Fiction choices. Using the Non-Fiction book, we then do some research about the topic. We use maps and websites to find our more information. Sometimes the students have a template to fill out or other times they do an art project related to the topic. Some of the websites we love to use are: National Geographic for kids, Pebblego, and San Diego Zoo Kids. These websites have terrific facts and videos to go with our topics. At the end of all the letters we then learn a few songs in sign language to help the students see how sign language helps people communicate if they can’t hear or talk.
2nd - 5th Grade - The Golden Sower book choices give many opportunities to find out facts share information about the authors and the topics of the stories. This last year with “The Water Princess” and the “Boston Marathon” we were able to research about villages that don’t have fresh water and how women couldn’t participate in running races. Students then either do some writing, create posters, word collages, slide shows, or an art project to share what they learned.
3rd Grade - As we learned about the different genres and sections of the Dewey Decimal System, the students researched states and practiced taking notes from a website. We research planets, animal groups, and body systems also when I teach those Non-Fiction sections. Pinterest has great graphic organizers for students to fill in as they use books or the internet to find out more.
4th Grade - Our favorite research unit was about the weather. We tied it into the Non-Fiction section reading about different kinds of storms that affect our country. Students were able to use books and the internet to make a poster about their storm. They also had to include safety tips.
5th Grade - We use our Google accounts each week, so we have had fun doing many projects this year! Our favorite right now is finding out about inventions and inventors. They are researching an important invention they use in their home or at school that they couldn’t live without. The students are being very creative as they prepare their Google Slide and it gives them the opportunity to share their creation with whoever they want.
During all these activities it’s important to build relationships with the students. Students need to feel welcome in the library anytime. I have students coming in already at 7:30 to find books or just to visit. Students come in during their lunch recess to volunteer to help or see what I’m teaching the other grades. Then after school is a great time to send students off with books for the night or weekend. Even though we get busy and have lots to do, it’s important to take time to listen and give students the message that the library is a safe place they can come when they need to talk, get a hug, or find more books!
Have a great school year! Thanks for all you do to help our students love books, collaborate with others, and problem solve for our future!
By Laurie Schlautman
On March 29 and 30, I attended the Nebraska Educational Technology Association conference for the first time. The opening session of NETA was with Kayla Delzer, 2019 North Dakota Teacher of the Year. Ms. Delzer gave an inspiring and motivational presentation that was just what I needed. Motivational talks for teachers are often heard at the beginning of the school year. However, at this time of the school year when testing mode is in high gear, my teaching excitement and enthusiasm run a little low! Ms. Delzer talked about building relationships with the students from the moment they walk in the door on the first day of school. A quote from Ms. Delzer is one to remember, “Relationships between students and passionate teachers will always be the foundation for successful classrooms!” What a great reminder for this time of year when patience is running thin and stress is high!
As a first time attendee of NETA, I was a little overwhelmed with all of the session choices. Since I am planning for a school librarian position, I looked for sessions that would be relevant to a school librarian. Makerspaces are a hot topic now in the education field and one that interests me. After attending some sessions on this topic, I learned a few starter tips: 1. Start small and simple; 2. Ask for donations through school newsletter and social media; 3. Get organized; 4. Establish routines and expectations.
In other sessions, I was able to take away various ideas for both the classroom and the library. I learned about free websites and applications that I could use to teach the National School Library Standards: Inquire, Collaborate, Explore, Include, Curate, Engage. One document that has an incredible listing of tech tools and resources is: bit.ly/AASLTechTools. Last but not least, it was encouraging to know that school librarians like to collaborate and share. In the near future, I may need all the resources I can find for assistance in the school librarian position.
By Susan Becker
July 1 is always a big day for the NSLA. We say goodbye to some of our distinguished board members, officers, and liaisons and the incoming replacements officially begin their duties. It's a beginning of our fiscal year: a new budget determined by the NSLA's action plan that the board examines annually at the July retreat.
As of today, these are the amazing people representing you and our profession throughout the state. Thank you to each and every one of them for the time, effort, and dedication they are committing to as they serve NSLA's membership and all Nebraska school librarians for the next year.
If you're interested in serving, keep an eye out on our blog, website, listserv, and social media for announcements of upcoming elections and open positions. We'd love to have you aboard!
NSLA Committee Chairs
First, I would like to thank the NSLA for awarding me the National Conference First Time Attendee Scholarship this year. I attended ALA Midwinter Conference in Seattle, Washington this past January.
The opportunity to attend a national library conference is something I have been wanting to do these first years as a school librarian. I never thought I would be a school librarian so early in my teaching career, but the opportunity came in a good district so I took a chance. Being a school librarian has been such a rewarding experience in a K-12 building. I have been lucky to meet other school librarians and mentors who encouraged me to apply for conferences and grants to further my knowledge & experience as a librarian.
After I was accepted for this scholarship, I twisted my husband’s arm (not very hard) to take work off and join me on my journey to the Emerald City. I remember flying into Seattle (in January) and all I could say was, “Everything is so GREEN”! The Wizard of Oz kept popping into my mind with all the eclectic people we would see on the streets, in the restaurants, and of course the diverse librarians at the conference that had traveled from all over the United States.
The one thing I did not realize when I was researching this conference was that the Midwinter conference is more of a meetings & exhibits conference than filled with sessions that I typically am used to experiencing. I still very much enjoyed this conference.
There were three major things that I took from this conference. First, the exhibit hall was like nothing I have ever seen before. Two large ballrooms filled with vendors. I saw companies selling book vending machines! What I enjoyed most about this area was all the free books and the chance to look at different vendors. I have been in my position for two years and have been doing what the previous librarian did before me when it came to the media center budget. I was excited to talk with and see what was really out there in the world of library sales. I feel I have a better idea, this second year, of what we really need and how to get the best bang for my buck.
Secondly, although it was more of a meetings conference, I did find some useful sessions. DEMCO had a great session on sprucing up your library on a very small budget. I thought they might really push you to buy from them, but they encouraged you to brighten up your space with little to no money. My favorite session I attended was more of a round table discussion of how libraries are getting more girls in for the coding camps. It was great to share ideas with librarians from New York and Florida. I talked about Code Crush that is sponsored through UNO and ASWIT grants that one of my students received to host an all girls coding camp at our school. I learned some new unplugged activities that I could utilize with my media classes in the elementary and my coding class in the high school.
Finally, the best experience I had at the conference was listening to the Auditorium Speakers of Melinda Gates, Sylvia Acevedo, and Rick Steves. Each were promoting a recent book that they had published. Melinda Gates opened the conference and with her popularity I was stuck on the back wall. She was promoting her book, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World (Flatiron Books, 2019). What I took most from her was when she stated that librarians are the guardians of our stories. They protect, cherish and pass along our stories to others. Our stories are what bind us together, help us reach out and connect with others, and how we learn and grow. She stated that everyone’s dream is to have the very best for our children regardless of our race or culture. She promoted advocacy for women and people of color calling out the social injustices. One of my personal favorites was Sylvia Acevedo. She is the current CEO of Girl Scouts of American and has worked for NASA. Sylvia said that it was head start, Girl Scouts, and a love of the library that helped her get to where she is today. I stood in line to have her sign her book, Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018) for our Elementary Library. We have a lot of Girl Scouts at Logan View and the book flew off the shelf once I introduced it to my media classes. She stated that Girl Scouts created opportunity for her through cookie sales; she was taught never to leave the site of a sell until you have heard “No” three times. It is a very inspiring book about perseverance despite family loss and setbacks. Rick Steves was also a great presented and promoted his book, Travel as a Political Act (Hachette Book Group, 2018). He is overseas at least 4 months out of the year and has been doing this since his late teens. He stated, that as librarians we are travelers with each book we read. My husband and I do a lot of traveling and try to do it fairly cheaply and in ways that allow us to experience the culture. Rick stated that Americans are fearful of leaving the United States, but we should travel to gain a better understanding of the world around us and I couldn’t agree more.
As I returned home from the Emerald City it was a whirlwind of adventures. My husband and I found out we were pregnant with our first child, our elementary had planned another successful spring book fair, and then the flood waters came.
The flooding that came at the beginning of March was a natural disaster I had never experienced before. One of our towns, Winslow, is completely gone. We were barely in school the month of March and when everyone returned, we tried to help our kids out the best we could. Any books that were damaged in the flood we noted for reorder but did not charge anyone money. My junior and senior high students were waived of any fines and had a full week to return any overdue books. For my elementary students it was much harder. My elementary students were so upset that they lost their library books in the flood (since we hit them hard with book care at the beginning of the year). We comforted them and reminded them that this was a different situation and we were just happy that they were ok and that we had money to replace books in that type of situation.
As we end this school year, I feel like I have grown so much as a school librarian and can’t wait to continue my career at Logan View Public Schools promoting reading and literacy. I wouldn’t be able to accomplish this without the help of the NSLA. Again, thank you for this opportunity and I would encourage other NSLA members to apply for scholarships during the next school year.
You can find all NSLA scholarships in our "Awards and Scholarships" tab above or click here. Scholarship applications are due on July 1, 2019.
This blog is a joint effort by members of the NSLA Executive Board. We hope to provide relevant information, tips and tools to help you in your journey.