The bi-annual national conference of the American Association of School Librarians was held in Louisville, Kentucky from November 14-16, 2019. The conference provided opportunity to hear from well-received speakers and to learn from colleagues in the profession. Nebraska was well represented as several of our state librarians had presentations during the conference. One of the primary themes of the conference was centered around the new school library standards. If you have not taken the time to review them, make a point to do so soon.
The AASL Learning Library is available at https://aasl.digitellinc.com/aasl/conferences/31/view
The Learning Library offers recordings of 62 sessions from the conference. You can find sessions about advocacy, gaming, collaboration, and media literacy – just to name a few. The AASL Learning Library is free for members and is $199 for non-members.
During the conference, AASL launched a new state-level leader collaborative. The AASL School Leader Collaborative will included administrators and school librarians. It is a two-year initiative to engage with administrators who are vital to the success of school librarians. The panel includes seven administrators – superintendents and principals from across the county. A group of state-level school librarian leaders will serve as a point of contact to initiate the activities developed by the collaborative. Goals for this initiative are to develop active ambassadors for school libraries and to become a catalyst for sustained change. Watch for more news about this initiative in the months to come.
Dr. Kim Gangwish
I know you are asking yourself - where did half of the school year go? Let’s start this new year off with some fresh ideas for your library! Here are a few bulletin board, book display and library ideas for you to try out in your space. These ideas can be tweaked for libraries big or small - elementary, middle and high school!
In January I have always had students cut out snowflakes to decorate the library, but I always forget about snowmen! Have your classes decorate snowmen and hang them up on a bulletin board or around your space. I feel that these are just as unique as paper snowflakes.
(Credit: Tillysha Naomi on Facebook)
If you don’t have bulletin board space (like me), decorate your doors! What a great and inviting way to welcome your students into the library.
(Credit: Kimberly Lane on Facebook)
If you like puns, then you will love this idea!
(Credit: Sherrie Rizzo on Facebook)
Snowflakes and snowmen aren’t the only thing that represent winter. How can you incorporate New Year’s Resolutions in your displays? Ask students anonymously what their goals are for 2020 and hang them in a window or on a bulletin board for all to see. It’s a great way for students to reflect, but to also see what their peers wrote.
A great way to start the year is to start a new series. Create a display using the 1st book of any of the series in your library.
Have students who are makers? Create a display of “New Year, New Hobby” with maker books, knit/crochet, various how-to non-fiction books that will spark some interest!
(Credit: St. Louis Public Library)
Something I am incorporating into my library in 2020 is Adopt-A-Shelf. I originally saw this idea on Facebook. I am at a large middle school and you could say that by the end of the day or week, my shelves need some love. This is an awesome way for students to hold ownership within your library. Students will “adopt” a shelf to take care of. This can be just a row or even a whole shelf. A fun way to get students to buy in is to make adoption signs about who “owns” the shelf. You could allow students to decorate their area or not. Let them run with it! Students can come in before or after school, during their library time, at the end of the week, etc. However it will work for you. In return, it saves you a few extra minutes of straightening up your shelves.
Here are a few links to get you started:
Adopt a Shelf!
A fun twist on adopt a shelf https://shawnacoppola.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/our-adopt-a-shelf-program-the-deets/
Happy New Year!
By Rachel Westphalen
by Kelly Kenny, Hillside Elementary
Thank you, Kelly, for sharing your top five tips for saving your sanity in the school library! If you'd like to contribute a blog post for the NSLA blog, please email Mandy Peterson at email@example.com.
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
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.