"If you want to find your happy place, just go to the library." ~ Lizzie K. Foley, Author

Posts tagged ‘school library’

How Does Your Boss See You?

I just read an article from SLJ called How Does Your Boss See You?  Proof that Principals Value Librarians.  It’s a great article, and the survey results they used were really inspiring.  I know my principal sees me this way — she tells me so.  And I know with the big push in my school for literacy this year, she’s really needing me to step up as a leader in our school and kick things up a notch.  I just thought I’d share my thinking after reading this.

As a school media coordinator, it is truly essential that we be seen as indispensable by our principals, as well as outside administrators.  I usually feel like I’m fighting a stereotype most of the time.  I think most people still think of story time and assume I don’t do anything.  I know a lot of teachers are under the impression I just read stories and piddle around with the shelves all day.  Although they’re quick to complain that I don’t have a single free slot for the next 3 weeks in my planbook either.  I’m solidly booked all day, every day, all year.  That’s just the way it is.

When people ask what I do, I usually reply, “I’m a teacher,” assuming that if I say “Media Coordinator” they won’t be familiar with the terminology.  This response, however, tends to be followed by “Oh, really?  What grade do you teach?”  So then I end up explaining that I’ve left the classroom and moved on to bigger and better things — I get to work with ALL grades, and the staff, helping to extend their classroom learning in fun, meaningful, engaging ways.

I do admit, most of the teachers use me as a drop-off.  They want a story and a checkout, completed in a half-hour.  It doesn’t leave much time for other things.  Fourth grade recently allowed me to begin teaching plagiarism and citing sources as they’re about to begin writing research papers.  Do I get to help with the research projects?  No.  They want the kids to do it in the classroom.  😦

But…  there’s hope.  We have successfully bridged the gap from “Library” to “Media Center.”  My principal knows I am tech-savvy.  She knows that I try to incorporate technology in my lessons whenever possible.  I use my SmartBoard religiously every chance I get.  I know how to make Prezis and Book Trailers, I know how to edit videos and photos.  I live for the great stuff I find in the blogs I follow, and share everything with my staff.  I am the school webmaster, and work with teachers individually to help them implement technology whenever they ask.  I will run to their rooms between classes to troubleshoot or make quick-fixes.

But what other aspects of my job are essential?  Reading, of course.  I encourage my students to read WHAT THEY LIKE.  I don’t worry about reading levels, or if their chapter book has enough pages or a high enough AR point value.  If you like graphic novels, please, by all means, check one out.  You’ve read all the Diary of a Wimpy Kid  books and loved them?  Well, let’s try Vordak the Incomprehensible.  Your teacher won’t let you read Junie B. Jones books anymore?  That mean ol’ teacher!  Well, how about if I introduce you to some new friends — Judy Moody, Ramona Quimby, and Clementine?  Kids need to be encouraged to become readers.  Not just reading what their teachers say they have to for a test or project, but reading for the pure enjoyment of it.  This is how they learn about the world, beyond our little town of Goldsboro.  To encourage MY children to look beyond their own little worlds — there is adventure outside of Goldsboro, away from the gangs, away from the streetcorners…  There are people to meet, sights to be seen, interesting things to explore and learn about.  They need this.

The biggest thing, however, is just being a leader.  The school Media Center is the central hub of knowledge in a school.  We have all the answers to whatever questions the children come up with.  I need to make sure my teachers know this.  I attend their PLCs whenever possible.  Due to programming requirements, I can no longer regularly attend K and 1st grade meetings.  I need to get with these teachers at another time, sharing what I have that can help them in their classroom.  But bringing books, sharing websites, new web resources they can use in their classroom, offering ideas for ways we can work together…  Ways to help them be more effective, and to team up to lighten their load…  This is how I can show myself as a leader in my school and make a significant impact on the students’ learning.


Dewey’s Classification System Explained

One of my co-workers sent me this cute PPT presentation today and I thought I’d share it.  It explains how Dewey came up with his classification system by thinking of himself as a caveman and how his view of the world around him would evolve.


I’m not sure who created the slideshow, but it’s great!  A big thanks to our anonymous benefactor.  Rex May did the cute cartoons.  And thank you to Amber for passing it along.  🙂

Book Trailers

I don’t know about you, but I like love book trailers.  It’s so irritating that so many sites are blocked at school — I can’t find them during the day when I’m at work!  So, I come home and find them on youtube, then I save them so I can share them with my students.  There are great sites for this that make it so easy.  Zamzar is the one our county used to recommend.  I don’t think our tech person offered an explanation, she just told us that another site was somehow “better.”  Unfortunately, I can’t remember which they said for us to use.  Not that it matters, since I’m doing it at home on my personal computer…  But at any rate, there are several sites available for this.  Today I’m using KeepVid.


Do you make book trailers?  I’ve made trailers myself for about half the books on my Battle of the Books list.  Due to a lack of time (and the fact that I still haven’t even had a chance to READ all of the books) I’m using some that others have created.


I want to teach my team members to make trailers this year, too.  And to do book talks.  I’ve also got a group of 12 second graders that I’ll be mentoring.  Most of them are boys who aren’t particularly interested in reading, so I’m hoping that teaching them to do “cool” stuff with what they read will make it better for them.  I’ve already set up a blog for them to use to write about books.  I have a schooltube channel, and an animoto account.  I need to add photostory to the computers they’ll be using, as well, if I’m going to try that. I think they’ll like narrating their own book trailers, as opposed to just typing words like they’ll have to do with animoto.


Well, back to my search…

The research proves our impact!

This is not my work, just something that was shared with me to pass along:

VERY important article by Keith Curry Lance and Linda Hofshine, School Library Journal, Sept 1, 2011:

“Something to Shout About: New research shows that more librarians means higher reading scores”


Laying off librarians has a negative effect on fourth grade reading scores (2004 to 2009): “fewer librarians translated to lower performance—or a slower rise in scores—on standardized tests.” Most important, Lance and Hofshine present evidence showing that the negative effect was due specifically to laying off librarians, not overall staff changes.

“We found that 19 of the 26 states that gained librarians saw an average 2.2 percent rise in their National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) fourth-grade reading scores. Meanwhile, 9 of the 24 states that lost librarians had a 1 percent rise … the increase in scores of states that gained librarians was two times that of states that lost librarians. Scores remained unchanged for 6 states that gained librarians and 12 that lost librarians. Three states that lost librarians had an average decline of -1 percent, and one state that gained librarians experienced a -0.5 percent decline in scores.”

” … the magnitude and significance of the relationship between librarian staffing and test performance was reduced only very slightly when taking into account overall staff changes in schools … Whether a school had a librarian remained an important factor in reading test performance, regardless of what was happening with overall staffing numbers.”

Correlation between percent change in school librarians and percent change in reading scores for all students: r = .567.  Correlation when controlled for percent change in total school staff: r = .562 (partial correlation).

A whole other kinda library…

This summer I decided to help fill in at the public library.  They were short an assistant, and I had time to spare.  I work 20 hours a week, so 2 1/2 days.  The main reason in needing help was for coverage in support of their summer reading program.  I thought it would be fun — a chance to mingle with some kids, and actually see what it’s like when there are adults around. 

Coming from an elementary school media center, I thought it would be a good experience.  I am certified as a public librarian, as well as a school librarian, but had never actually had any experience in a public setting.

Let me begin by saying…  It’s entirely different. 

I’m sure all libraries are different — they will vary from school to school and branch to branch.  I’m working in a very small branch library, not the main.  That’s part of the difference.  This is a small-town library which is housed in a 2-room building that used to be a bank.  I love the drive-thru window and so do the patrons!!   A very handy invention, let me tell you… 

The first difference between what we have here and what I have at my school is the way the patrons use the library.  When my students come on their own, many will use the computers while they’re there.  However, they are using them to take an AR test, check their Destiny Quest, or look something up.  They then get new books before heading back to their classrooms. 

Here at the public library, they are waiting at the doors for us to open so that they can get on the computers.  Their time is limited to an hour a day, and many of our patrons are daily visitors.  They come in, spend their hour online, and then leave without a book in hand.  Many of our patrons here aren’t even able to check out books because they carry fines on their cards.  Policy dictates that if you owe more than $5 you cannot check out a book until you pay it down.  However, they are still able to use the computers, so they come in just for that.

It’s also a much more restrictive environment.  Confidentiality is a top priority.  At school if a teacher says, “Please don’t let little Johnny get any more drawing books — he needs something to read during DEAR time and hasn’t been taking his AR tests,” I try to oblige.  When little Johnny comes to check out two more drawing books later that day I steer him into the chapter book section with a slick, “How about we get one drawing book for you to work with at home, and one AR book you can read during DEAR time in class and take an AR test on?  Ya know, if you get the drawing dogs book and read A Dog’s Life you may even get extra credit if you draw a picture of a dog and write up a little summary.  I can even post it here to advertise the book!”

Which leads me to another big difference:  the way we interact with the patrons.  When my students bring back books, I talk to them and ask how they liked it, what they liked about it, what they didn’t like.  If it’s a book I haven’t read, I’ll ask them what it was about.  I’ll ask them what kinds of things they’re interested in to help them find other books they might enjoy.  If they’re checking out books on lizards, for example, I might ask if they’re doing a project or wanting a new pet.

In the realm of the public library, however, such discussion is frowned upon.  Their materials are to be checked out without any regard to what it is.  When a patron comes in and tells us excitedly about how much they enjoyed the book, it’s fine to listen and discuss.  But to ask a child if he’s doing a project for school?  Heaven forbid!  I haven’t had to deal with this issue, but was warned by one of my co-workers not to as she’s been reprimanded for such atrocities in the past.

The most pronounced difference, I suppose, is the amount of use.  While (to my understanding) life in the main branch is always busy and verging on chaotic, this smaller branch is very slow and laid-back.  I remember my first Monday (our busiest day), the branch manager asked me how the “rush” went.  Rush?  What rush?  The 10 people who came in and spent an hour exchanging books?  “Oh, it went well.  Smooth as silk.”  In my library, it’s not at all uncommon for their to be a class in the mini-lab using the computers, while I’m teaching a lesson to another class, random students are up checking out books, staff members are needing materials gathered or are having issues with the copiers, and we have small group instruction going on in the various lofts surrounding the media center. 

It’s really a shame people don’t make better use of the public libraries.  It was announced yesterday one of our county’s branches will be closing next month.  If you don’t use them, you lose them.