A reading culture. Words my ears savor, and words I love to say often. After ten years of building a reading culture at my school, it was time to tackle the next goal: renovating the library. To support the high volume of checkouts, the increased presence of students, and the number of elementary library classes, it was time to improve the library space.
Two years of preparation were needed for the library addition to take shape. The process was challenging to convince administrators and board members that enlarging the library space was a necessity for our growing district. I attended several workshops that gave me points to ponder on how to approach this money-taxing project and how it could be made possible with fewer dollars. First, I outlined the necessity of space for our elementary students. It was once shared with me that the percentage of space should be equivalent to the percentage of students I serve at each level. Elementary students frequent the library more often than the middle and high school students; however, the space in the library tended to appeal to the older students. Second, the number of books in the square footage of the library meant very little space for teaching, learning, or relaxing. Third, it was time to upgrade our facilities for the growth of our district (and continue to find more room for books!). Finally, I convinced a National Honor Society member to tackle the process of reorganizing the library as her Individual Service Project. It was a win-win situation for us both! And, the administration along with the board members were ready to make this library addition happen.
In the summer of 2018, the preparation for enlarging the library finally came to fruition. The preschool classroom located next to the library was vacated because the building across the street was purchased for the Tiny Tiger Early Learning Center. An opportunity for making more space for books! A large doorway was created in the wall to connect the library and the old preschool classroom. This created an opportunity for an elementary section and a middle school/high school section for the library. The moving of bookcases, books, and furniture were completed by the NHS member. Her project also included painting the rooms, storing and reshelving the books (over 15,000). It was quite the project for her, but I am so grateful she was part of the process. Her eye for design and detail were invaluable. This endeavor made the elementary room of the library larger and allowed for library classes to be conducted more easily while other students peruse the shelves. I also purchased shelves that were lower so our young patrons no longer needed to use stools to reach the books on the top shelves. Our shelves are no longer “stuffed” so students can retrieve books more easily.
I am a proponent of the idea that the library is the heart of the school. I want students to feel safe and comfortable in the library environment. This project gives students the opportunity to feel good about coming to an environment that supports their reading needs. Creating an addition to our library only enhanced the reading culture that was already thriving in our district.
By Mary Gregoski
The Nebraska School Librarians Day was held on October 17, 2020 via Zoom. We had over 100 registrants and a great turn out for a wonderful morning! We were fortunate enough to have a keynote speaker and two back-to-back sessions from school librarian presenters. We spent our lunch hour with the annual NSLA membership meeting and getting an update from Dorann Avey with NDE regarding Rule 10.
K.C. Boyd started off our morning with an amazing presentation on advocacy. One of my favorite quotes from her session was, “Show your passion!” If district leaders are uninformed about your position as a librarian and what you can offer, how will you make yourself irreplaceable? You have to speak up, advocate, and show them how amazing school librarians are and how valuable they are to your district. Some of the ways she suggested you could accomplish this was to join committees, use your social media, and ask to present to stakeholders. Bottom line: “Get off the complain train” and show them how amazing you are!
All of our registrants were given access to the recorded sessions from the day. Although we are making the most of our situation this year with many virtual professional development opportunities, we hope to see you all in person at NETA and next fall at Nebraska School Librarians Day! Thank you for joining us virtually this year and helping our organization continue to grow. Check the website professional development calendar for more awesome PD opportunities!
Submitted by NSLA President, Angie Blankenship
“Graphic novels’ popularity with young people has certainly earned them a definite place in school libraries” (Mardis, 2016, p. 105). I have discovered this popularity in my new role as school librarian the past two school years. As a past classroom teacher, my students would bring back graphic novels on checkout day and I have to say I wasn’t fond of them. But now in the library I see students read with enthusiasm and thrive on the visual information. They are the first books students ask for and the shelves are continually empty! The population of the graphic novels makes book selection an easy task because I now know which books the students are reading.
According to Mardis (2016), “the modern types of graphic novels began in the 1970s, but in recent years they have become extremely popular and many librarians include them in their collections” (p. 106). Some advantages of including graphic novels in your collection are: visual learner connections, leading to exploring other kinds of literature, attracting boys and reluctant readers, useful for ESL or below level students and for attracting young people to the library. I notice all of these advantages as graphic novels are used in my library. I strongly feel that the books are magnets for pleasure reading and are critical in the development of literacy in our second language learners.
Adding graphic novels to a library collection also has some disadvantages. “The contents of some graphic novels are not appropriate for young people” (Mardis, 2016, p. 106). This is a concept I struggle with when considering what graphic novels to add to my collection because I am at a grade level campus that hosts only second and third graders. I have some students who like the graphic novel format and have a higher reading level than a second or third grader. Therefore, the content may be too advanced for my younger student. I experienced this when receiving a set of Babysitters Club graphic novels and one was titled “Boy Crazy Stacy”. After reading it, I decided the contents were not appropriate for the age of a second or third grade student and I chose not to put it on the shelf.
So let’s continue this love of reading and let the graphic novel collection continue to be the ones with the tattered covers and the longest wait list! All students will be able to build their reading confidence and there will continue to be a surplus of options for readers of all ages.
Mardis, M. (2016). The collection program in schools: Concepts and practices (6th ed.). Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.
Sandoz Elementary School
Whether you are teaching students in person or remotely or a little of both, it’s important to make sure all learners are engaged. Here are my favorite tips for helping remote learners stay in touch with what is happening in their classrooms.
If you need more ideas, you only need to harness the power of the web or social media to see the innovative ways teachers and librarians engage with remote learners. What great ideas will you discover?
Joy Harvey, Coordinator of Library Services for the Lincoln Public Schools
Like many of you, school librarian summers are spent catching up on books to share with my students and thinking and rethinking ways to engage students and teachers in our library. This summer, however, was much different. Measuring tape in hand and library map prepared, I spent the summer calculating how many students I could safely fit into the library and what six foot of social distancing looks like. I worried, I freaked out a bit, and I’m on level 520 of Bubble Pop. In the end, I sat down and prepared a two page document of library operating procedures for the coming school year. I had to let a few things go to make room for safety procedures. The end game was to keep students in our library and build a robust digital platform to serve every one of our 1800 students regardless of their location - school or home.
In my heart, I felt the least prepared I have ever felt before the first day of school. However, when the students hit the halls and the questions started rolling in, I did what comes naturally. I helped, problem solved, directed, and escorted a few shaky freshmen to their classes. I worked with teachers through the kinks of the Google Classroom transition knowing whatever came our way, it was the platform that would support learning. The worries of the summer fell away and within our safety procedures, we rolled. We helped. And we persisted.
School librarians have an opportunity to take a seat at the table providing resources and support to meet the needs of students in large and small ways. As our teachers rethink their instruction plans, we can offer collaboration and insight. Rethinking the workflow in our libraries shows our students ingenuity and grit. We can move through this season of uncertainty with courage. My hope for all of you this fall as school opens in whatever capacity, is that you roll and you persist.
By Cynthia Stogdill
We get to continue to build relationships with our kiddos.
Very few teachers are as fortunate as we are. We get to spend years developing relationships and really getting to know our students, and that’s something that this pandemic cannot take away from us.
So as you enter this school year, my advice to you is to set aside your worries about how you will manage to get books in kids hands, how you will need to quarantine library materials, and how you will teach in person or online. Because at the end of the day, that doesn’t matter. What does, is that you spend time with your students.
Greet them at every chance you can. Do some fun icebreakers. Sit and talk to them. Let them get to know you. And build that relationship.
By Kelly Kenny
Executive Secretary’s Report - July 23, 2020
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.