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.
It’s nearing the end of the year and where did the time go? The end of the school year also brings probably the largest book return you see all year. Here are some ideas for book displays and book return incentives! I hope they give you a boost for your 4th quarter!
Book Return Bulletin Boards
Book Return Incentives
Makerspaces have been the talk of the town in libraries all over the land. Matter of fact, I knew when I started my journey as a librarian two school years ago that I needed to have one of these magical places in my library. I started with some research then scoured the internet for innovative ideas for STEM challenges and other items to put in my makerspace. I had yet to meet my students, and since we were a brand new middle school, the entire staff was in the same boat! We were ecstatically planning for a school full of students we didn’t know. I started out with some low-tech, low-cost STEM challenges such as the army person launcher challenge, the airplane cargo challenge, and the newspaper tower challenge.
I was able to collect many items from around my own house, and I reached out to staff members for items they no longer needed and were willing to donate as well. This enabled me to get started without any huge expense, and since the school year’s budget was not yet available, that was a good thing. I also learned that the district office had makerspace items for checkout. I was able to schedule many items that rotate from building to building such as a giant chess set, Littlebits, Bloxels, K’Nex, and many other more expensive high-tech and low-tech options. This also allowed me to see if my students were interested in the items so I could decide if an investment was warranted. Some of the funding since my startup has come from my annual library budget, but the majority of funding for larger purchases such as our own K’Nex set, VR goggles with an iPod, and our BB8 Droid has come from book fair profits. Scholastic actually has some of these items in their catalog. If you have the book fair dollars, it’s a great place to spend those funds.
An important issue that came up in my planning was when the students would be able to use the makerspace. I decided at that moment that our library should be open at lunch as an alternative to recess. Students would sign up on a Google form the day before and then sign in as they entered. The response was awesome. Kids wanted to do the STEM challenges, they used the books on drawing I pulled from our collection, they made duct tape everything (and the tape was gone in a flash). They hammered away on nail art and loved it (yikes! I knew this could not continue into year two if I wanted to stay sane).
Some lessons were learned that first year. 1) If I could get one student to try a new activity or challenge, others would follow. 2) Things can quickly become old news. Put them in the cupboard for a couple months, then pull them back out and they’re brand new again. 3) Low tech is just as popular as high tech. 4) Loud is okay, but too loud is not. 5) They will take the stuff and make stuff you didn’t plan or intend (this is good, this is one actual purpose of a makerspace, and when it happens, it is a beautiful mess). 6) Kids can learn how to pick up after themselves and take ownership of a space if you are consistent and follow through with expectations. 7) Ask students what they’d like to see in their makerspace. They will tell you. 8) Watch how students use the spaces in the room and move the furniture around.
I’m now in the middle of year two of my makerspace journey, and I continue to watch the students create and use their space. I think by far, the most important lesson of all is to observe closely and feel this living, breathing makerspace take shape--Not the shape you see in all of the pretty catalogs, but the shape of your students and their interests and their imaginations.
Sara Meier, Moore Middle School Teacher Librarian
Hello, dear Nebraska librarians! We’re preparing for the holidays by offering you some Stocking Stuffers - effective ideas for your school library all packaged up and ready to go. I “Grinch-who-stole-Christmas-ed” these goodies from the NLA/NSLA 2018 Fall Conference and am looking forward to incorporating them into my own school library. Most of the images are respectfully pilfered from their slide presentations.
Stocking Stuffer #1 : Take-away advertising
Number 1 on my “to steal” list is from Alexandra A. Ball’s “Promoting Literacy to Teachers and Staff” and Amy Taisch’s section of the #mwlibchat IGNITE. You take a small item, such as Extra gum (“Let the library make 4th quarter EXTRA awesome”) or a sharpie (“The library has what you need to stay SHARP in 2019”), and attach it to a brightly colored note. What a great way to promote the library and add some fun into your days! The back of the card can include your name, contact information, and library social media.
Stocking Stuffer #2 : The GIANT LOOM
Cheryl Wilkins of Lincoln Public Schools presented this in an IGNITE session, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. She created a huge loom in her library and put out the call for leftover yarn, resulting in this gorgeousness: a no-tech maker space that her students can get enough of. I’m ready to do this for the winter months.
(Check out their IGNITE slides here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Byg0fBGq8544SHVuVDRlYUpiM0gtc0FDQmpqanNMTzRfMXk4/view)
Stocking Stuffer #3 : Library Cake Boss
Pilfered from Jenna Krambeck-Reeh’s section of the #mwlibchat IGNITE, I love the creativity behind a cake decorating contest centered around books. In my mind, this would make a powerful Golden Sower nominee activity. It would take a significant amount of planning and preparation with cake groups. Luckily, collaboration is a good thing! The library can keep the pieces on display all day, take votes from students and staff (drive traffic), and hold a cake eating party too!
(#mwlibchat IGNITE slides found here: bit.ly/NSLA18mwlibchat)
Stocking Stuffer #4 : Staff Book Bags
Amy Taisch makes her second appearance on my list with her staff book bags program. She talks with staff members and creates summer reading book bags for them based on their interests and professional goals. What a great way to re-connect with staff before and after summer break and promote your library materials! I’ll be trying this out at my school this summer.
Stocking Stuffer #5: Guessing Games
Alexandra A. Ball’s “Promoting Literacy to Teachers and Staff” had one more gem I just have to share with you! Don’t underestimate the power of guessing games to bring patrons into the library. She specifically mentioned one we are doing right now (it’s October as I write this) “Guess how many candy corns are in the container”. Also from her presentation, cover most of a book cover and have patrons guess the book title. Here are some other ideas I had: guessing the source of a quotation, how many feet of shelving there are in the library, how many items are in the collection, etc. I advertise on social media, email teachers, and always have a prize! In fact, I offer a prize for the student with the winning guess AND their Focus (like homeroom) teacher.
Well, there you are, Nebraska school librarian! I hope you found something inspiring to steal and make your own. Make sure to let us know if you do use one of these ideas by posting to social media and tagging the Nebraska School Librarians Association on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
NSLA News - December 2018: Alexandra Ball, Karla Wendelin Continuing Education Scholarship Recipient
When it comes to library programming, we typically think of events and incentives designed for our students. However, as school librarians, we would be remiss if we were to ignore another important group of patrons: fellow teachers and school staff. Because we spend so much of our days working with students, it is easy to forget about teachers as patrons. However, teachers are indeed our school library patrons not only with resources used in classroom teaching, but also for personal use. Additionally, teachers have a great potential to be library advocates within our school building, district, and the community at large.
I have used several ways to get staff involved and interested in the library, including having a display of staff picks, “guess the book” contests, and hosting informational breakfasts before school. While these have all had varying levels of success, I have had the greatest success with a library challenge I created for staff during the third quarter of this past school year. At the beginning of the quarter, I gave out a flyer with ten different activities staff could choose from. These activities varied in their level of involvement, from simply stopping by the library to say hello, to bringing their class to the library for an activity or lesson. Along with the flyer, I sent out a video explaining the challenge and the different prize levels. Teachers were able to earn prizes based on the number of activities they completed, and I promised that anyone who completed all ten would get their choice of coffee or fresh baked cookies.
My goals with this challenge were that teachers would become more familiar with the library and its resources, including the expertise I could help bring to their classrooms. By the end of third quarter, over half of the staff had participated in the challenge, with several teachers completing all ten activities. Even greater than numbers however, were the responses teachers gave, sharing that they used library resources (such as our ebook collection) that they would have otherwise not explored, and were now thinking about how else they could use the library in the future.
Classroom teachers and school staff are in unique positions to be strong advocates for our school libraries. However, this power is lost if staff do not feel there is a place in the library for them, or are unaware for the library’s resources. Focusing on programming specifically targeted to teachers and staff can help promote the school library in new and fun ways that help engage everyone in the school.
The 2018 NLA/NSLA conference was a success for many reasons. The main reason is that we had 20 fantastic school library focused sessions for attendees to choose from - 10 each day! If you are interested in any of the conference materials, you can view almost all of them on the NSLA website under the professional development tab. I would like to personally thank all of the NSLA board members for their hard work on the conference, the fabulous presenters who shared their experiences and expertise, and the attendees who were able to join us for this professional learning and networking opportunity. Keep reading for announcements about upcoming opportunities!
We also launched our Nebraska Needs Librarians shirts in both red and blue—and nearly sold out! We will have these fabulous items for sale again for just $10 at NETA March 28-29, 2019 and Nebraska School Librarians Day on April 6, 2019 (coming to 4 locations across the state!). We are not making a profit on these shirts, but we are spreading advocacy far and wide! If you purchased one of these shirts at conference, please post a picture when you are sporting one in your library and tag our social media @nslaorg on Twitter and/or Facebook. We were inspired by Raygun's "America Needs Librarians" shirts, and they love librarians so they gave us permission to print these exclusive shirts!
At our business meeting on Saturday, we covered how NSLA is working to revitalize the relevance of your AASL state affiliated professional organization. We introduced out 2018-2019 Action Plan. We also covered several other items of note:
Webinars - We are working on adding more webinars to help support professional learning. Check out previous webinars on our YouTube Channel and look for upcoming webinar opportunities in our listserv.
NETA - March 28-29, 2019
CHI Conference Center, Omaha, NE
Featured Speaker: The Daring Librarian @GwynethJones on March 29th
NSLD - Saturday, April 6, 2019
9:00-12:30 in Omaha, Norfolk, Kearney, & Scottsbluff
Free for members; $30 for non-members (membership is included)
Joint ILA/NLA/NSLA Conference - Oct 3-4, 2019
Embassy Suites, LaVista, NE
Keynote Speaker: Jaime Casap, @jcasap, on Thursday October 3rd
Session Submissions are open from NOW until February 8th, 2019
NSLA Fall Spectacular - Saturday October 5, 2019
8:30 AM-2:30 PM
Papillion La Vista South High School
Based on feedback from the survey conducted in November 2017, we know it is difficult for many people to attend conferences during the school week and that these opportunities can at times be cost prohibitive. As such, beginning in 2019, we will offer a Saturday option for school librarians after the annual fall conference at a fraction of the price of a traditional conference. This opportunity will follow the fall conference as it moves between Omaha and Kearney each year. (We are still looking to name this event, Fall Spectacular is a place holder, so please send suggestions our way if you have one!)
This Saturday offering will consist of concurrent sessions relating to school library. Session submissions are welcome here! from now until February 8, 2019.
$30 for Members; $60 for non-Members. Presenters will have a discounted registration rate of $20 for members and $50 for non-members. Non-Members will gain membership status with their registration for this event and be eligible for all member benefits until September 29th of the following year.
We are so excited for this next year with NSLA, and we hope that you will join in as often as you can and please keep sending feedback our way, so we can continue to strengthen our professional organization!
Do you host a book club with your students? Did you know hosting a book club is as inexpensive as the cost of postage?
Book clubs are a great way to connect with students of all ages and backgrounds in your school. The benefits of book clubs go beyond the obvious that students are reading. The connection students make with each other socially is one of the largest benefits that I see. Kids who would otherwise not cross paths with each other due to grade level differences or interest level differences come together in book club. New and differing perspectives are shown in book clubs. Trying new books and genres is another one of the bonuses students gain.
Book clubs look different at each age level you host. For instance, our junior high book club is exclusively for middle grades. At this level, we set small reading goals for each week. Then at the high school level, our book club is open to anyone in grades 9-12. Again, we read in weekly increments, but we read a bit more aggressively. The key to both book clubs and the gathering time is one common factor. Food. What teenager doesn’t appreciate/devour free food? Even if I suspect that students aren’t reading and just coming for the food, we sometimes set a rule that until a contribution, question, or comment is made no food is consumed. Most of the time, the interest from the book makes kids want to read. Some students operate on the guilt they feel from not contributing to the discussion, which is enough to make them read for the next week.
No matter what your book club looks like, how wonderful is it to see students generating or possibly cultivating an interest in reading? That’s what we live for as school librarians. Where can you get books without breaking your entire budget? We have wonderful collections available from our regional library systems. Three Rivers, Southeast, and Central Plains Library Systems all have book club kits available to borrow. Your only cost is return shipping. In addition, many libraries across our state offer book club kits that they are willing to share. The Nebraska Library Commission also has book club kits available to borrow.
What’s stopping you? Why not give book clubs a try in your library?
- Crys Bauermeister
My first week as a school librarian, I answered hundred of questions, navigated the lab reservation calendar, and hunted for the light switches and paperclips. When the first day of school arrived, I had no displays ready and a homeroom I didn’t know I had until they walked into the library and sat down. That day, I literally ran from the building at 4:00 and had no intention of returning.
Before leaving my office, I sent an email and the response saved me from myself. My mentor reminded me what I was experiencing would pass. I would find my way, and I had not made the biggest mistake of my life. I was not the first person to run from the building with no intention of returning. Those words have stayed with me throughout my career as a school librarian, In fact, I have repeated those words to new librarians as they struggled through their first weeks and months.
New school librarians face some massive challenges. As new teachers, they are learning the district policies, schedule, and faces. They are also expected to hit the ground running when the teachers report and to have answers to impossible questions. Mentors are the safety net for school librarians either new to the profession or new to a district. They assist in navigating the light switches and paper clips, as well as the bigger questions about curriculum, management, and professionalism. Mentors reach across a table and tell us we are letting too many people take our energy, and they remind us we are really good at what we do.
As a new school librarian, how do you begin to find a mentor, when you are barely getting through the day? Look to those who have inspired you through classes, conferences, and social media. Librarians are always willing to share and to support each other. Your experiences, frustrations, and concerns are those shared by school librarians across the state and nation.
One of things we learned from the NSLA survey last fall, was the need for a better mentoring network. Knowing full well many library professionals are singletons in their building and district, the need for a mentor network is critical. The school librarian experience is different from the classroom teacher experience. It is something we are working to bring to our membership in the future. Visit with us at NLA/NSLA this October if you are interested in mentoring another library professional or if you would like to connect with a mentor on your adventure as a school librarian.
Cynthia Stogdill, NSLA President-elect
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.