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
Hello NSLA Members & School Librarians in Nebraska!
My name is Courtney Pentland, and I will be serving as the Nebraska School Librarians Association president this year. I cannot even begin to describe how excited I am to be working with our current executive board, liaisons, and committee members. This group of fabulous education professionals is passionate about school libraries and school librarians in Nebraska. We wanted to give you just a few updates on what you can look forward to from your professional organization this year. (Many of the items below are based off of feedback that we received from over 400! school library folks who answered our survey in the fall of 2017.)
For a full list of our board members, liaisons, and committee chairs, please visit our website. www.neschoolibrarians.org
Now is a great time to become a member or renew your membership! Membership fees will continue at the same rates. $30 general member, $15 student, $10 for retired. Beginning in 2019, we will have a general due date for memberships—September 30th. You can register and/or check your membership status online on our website. Current members will be emailed a copy of a membership certificate to print and fill out on their own in the beginning of September.
Your membership fees will gain you access to our listserv, provide a discount to the fall NLA/NSLA conference, give you free admission to Nebraska School Librarians Day, and help provide funding for scholarships and professional learning opportunities across the state. Check out a few of the benefits below.
As the end of my two year term draws to a close I look back at how and why I joined this awesome group. I was asked if I would serve on the board. If I remember correctly it was Cynthia. I said, “Okay;” thinking I would be a board member. Next thing I know I am the Secretary. All right, I can do this.
Why did I volunteer to join the board? I wanted to bring the voice of Western Nebraska to the organization. AT the same time the voice of NSLA needed to be spread to Western Nebraska. Every region of our state has its unique character. Many of the librarians in the Panhandle are sole librarians. That makes us rather independent and self sufficient. Being so far removed from the action we are behind in some things, but that has to do with always being an hour behind the other end of the state. My hope for the future is that events like School Librarians Day and Saturday conference sessions will bring the voice of NSLA to the Panhandle.
I have attended the NLA/NSLA conference for at least 10 years. In the beginning I looked forward to interesting sessions that spurred me to improve and vendors that had great giveaways. I would see a few faces I recognized. In the years that followed I would add more faces and friends. Now I look forward to renewing friendships with the people I have met and worked with. They are no longer just long-distance, social media friends.
There are many changes and new visions ahead for NSLA and this board is ready to guide, encourage, and support the members through the journey ahead. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to serve with these fellow librarians. As we said in our Ignite session, “Hold on tight! It’s going to be a wild ride.”
Carole Matthews, Secretary
I had the opportunity to attend the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Denver, Colorado in February. Wow! What an experience!!! I would like to share a few things with you that I took away from the conference and a few tips if you ever get the chance to attend a national conference
First of all, there were so many sessions! So many that during several of the blocks there were at least 5 sessions I wanted to attend! One thing I did in the weeks leading up to the conference was went through the schedule several times. I would pick my favorites for each time slot. Once I got to the conference I went to the session that was my top pick and if it wasn’t what I thought it would be I got up and went to the next one! Time is too precious to sit through a presentation that I was not interested in. The presenters are aware of the time constraints so people were coming and going through most of them. I recommend you do this at any conference you go to. Don’t sit through something you aren’t interested in.
The next big surprise for me was the vendor show. I have never been to a library specific conference so this was a huge surprise. All of the publishers and authors were giving away books, bags, pencils and much more. I was so excited to see some of my student favorites too! I tried to be selective, but it was so amazing! So many books! I drove to the conference so I had the luxury of taking as much as I wanted. If you were flying, that would not be the case. However, they did have an onsite post office so you could ship the books back directly to your library!
Of course the hot topic for school librarians was the new standards. I sat in on several sessions and the affiliate meeting to learn more. It was very interesting to really see all of the advocacy efforts that are going on behind the scenes for the implementation of the new standards. Each of the sessions really highlighted the online resources that they have developed for school librarians. There are so many things but one of my favorite resources were the persona cards. Each of these cards were developed to help you convey information on the standards to the different stakeholders in your library, such as teachers, administration and parents. I highly recommend going to the standards implementation page and reviewing all of the resources they have provided. http://standards.aasl.org/implementation/
The last thing that I wanted to plug for Nebraskans was Do Space. If you haven’t heard about Do Space you need to check in out when you are in the Omaha area! I was able to listen to their Executive Director, Rebecca Stavick tell her story. It was very inspiring. Do Space is ultimately helping to decrease the digital divide in their community. They are providing access to technology for others that would not have it. She considers their model very similar to a public library. I can’t wait to visit Do Space soon! Visit their website to learn more https://www.dospace.org/.
- Angela Blankenship
It is hard to believe the 2017-18 school year is already half over! I would like to share with you some information about Break Out boxes. This is something I first heard about at the 2016-17 NLA/NSLA conference in Kearney. I attended a session presented by Crys Bauermeister and part of her presentation involved talking about Break Out boxes used in the library. I found the presentation very interesting and brought the information back to share with my teachers. Our Academic Decathlon moderator, who is also one of our English teachers, purchased two of the Break Out boxes from Breakoutedu.com. If your budget does not allow you to purchase the pre-made kits online, it is very easy to create your own kits using items purchased at local retail stores. The official Breakout kits include: 1 large locking box, 1 small locking box, 1 hasp, variety of locks (alpha, directional, color wheels, number wheels, three digit, four digit, and key), reflection cards, red lens viewer, UV light, USB thumb drive and 2 hint cards.
The website has free registration and offers several free games already created by fellow educators, digital games and a tutorial for how to create your own digital game by offering free design a game tools. I assisted our English teacher with a Breakout game on Shakespeare that she was able to find free online. My goal is to create a Breakout session of my own to share with the English department in the future. The students had fun working through the puzzles to get to the final prize.
One other take away from Crys’s session was providing a jigsaw puzzle in the library for students, faculty and staff to put together. I started providing 1000 piece puzzles that were put together on our circulation desk. This went over really well with students, faculty and staff. My principal even made a comment that he liked the idea of the puzzle creating a sense of community with the puzzle being available for everyone to work on together.
I hope you find Breakout EDU and jigsaw puzzles to be a positive addition to your library.
Does anyone else’s finger hurt from jamming the refresh button innumerable times waiting for the new AASL standards to make their online debut? Anyone else buy the app for $12.99 because the FREE PDF DOWNLOAD just wasn’t there yet? Just me? Okay.
The new AASL standards website, http://standards.aasl.org/, features browsing by role (school librarian, administration, parents/guardians, and classroom teachers). This is definitely something I can direct my colleagues to and be proud of, but…. Secretly…. My favorite part is the school librarian site. Features on this abound. Self-advocacy tools, instructions on how to read the new standards, learner videos, and more show that the AASL has gone to great length to make sure the standards and their meanings are accessible by all. Based on six shared foundations, these insightful standards show just how school libraries affect learners.
Shared Foundations Icons (2017). Online Image. Retrieved on November 15, 2017 from http://standards.aasl.org/project/foundations/
So what do these mean? In the simplest terms, the framework can be described as
Rather than a step-by-step process like Bloom’s Taxonomy, the new Standards Framework for the Learner is more fluid in nature. Our patrons will drift from column to column. It is designed to never end; instead, the cycle of fostering life-long learners and responsible members of a global society continues.
You can download your own copy of the Framework here.
The NSLA Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts have additional information about the standards. Share with us how you are integrating the standards framework!
The New Standards for Library are finally here. The new National School Library Standards were introduced at the AASL Conference in Phoenix. The National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians and School Libraries replaces the former AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner, Standards in Action and Empowering Learners.
The National School Library Standards will help school librarians develop plans to meet the needs of today’s learners with standards that will update and improve library lessons to reflect the current learning environment and best professional practices for an effective school library.
As stated in the “National School Library Standards”, the new standards include:
At the AASL Conference in Phoenix, Affiliate Assembly members participated in a two day workshop about the standards. Included in the conference were many sessions about implementing the standards, as well as ideas to present the new standards to our local organizations. NSLA is in the process of planning ways to inform and involve members in the implementation of the New National School Library Standards.
Betty Meyer, AASL Liaison
The 2017 NLA/NSLA Conference entitled, “Providing Access to the Good Life for All” was held in Kearney and was an extremely successful event! I want to thank the conference planning committee and the many, many volunteers who spent countless hours preparing an outstanding conference experience. A very special thank you to all of the session presenters for not only taking the time to prepare a quality presentation but for sharing their incredible thoughts and ideas with others in our profession. Thank you, also, to the gracious partners, donors, and exhibitors who made the NLA/NSLA Conference possible. And finally, thank you for YOUR passion! I know that there were many, many professional and personal sacrifices that were made to attend conference.
Mark your calendars… the 2018 NLA/NSLA Conference will be held in Lincoln Thursday, October 4th through Saturday, October 6th. Yes… you read that correctly... one of the days will be a SATURDAY! Golden Sower sessions and the NSLA Keynote will be on Saturday. NSLA’s keynote will be Michelle Luhtala. Michelle is the library department chair at New Canaan High School in Connecticut, which won AASL's National School Library Program of the year in 2010. Michelle was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2015, and won the New York Times I Love My School Librarian award in 2012. Michelle also facilitates monthly webinars at edWeb.net.
It is so important that we continue to grow as learners, as well as network with each other, in order to provide access to the good life… for all! As we witness continued budget cuts and other workplace challenges, I am reminded of a quote by Doug Wilhelm, “A library is a house of hope. It’s a place where we all, whatever our situation, can feed our ideas and develop our dreams.” Let us ALL continue to keep the door of hope wide hope for everyone.
Angie Richeson, NSLA President
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.