Ten Commandments for School Librarians

I just turned in my last assignment of the semester. I wrote ten commandments for school librarians based off of Joyce Valenza’s Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians

  1. Reading I will at all times promote reading across all modalities.
  2. Information Landscape I will be a beacon of current technology best practices.
  3. Collection Development I will develop a collection of books, technology, and creative tools that meets the unique needs of my population.
  4. Access, Equity, Advocacy I will advocate for and strive to provide equitable access to digital tools and information to all.
  5. Audience and Collaboration I will promote and facilitate student collaboration and publishing beyond the walls of the school building.
  6. Copyright, Copyleft and Information Ethics I will educate students and teachers on copyright law and promote digital citizenship.
  7. New Technology Tools I will embrace new technology tools.
  8. Professional Development and Professionalism I will constantly seek out opportunities to learn and grow as a professional.
  9. Teaching and Learning and Reference I will facilitate and encourage students to become learners.
  10. Into the Future (acknowledging the best of the past) I will incorporate the best of the past as I pave the way to the future.

the end is nigh (for now)

There is only one week left of my first semester as a grad student and I have learned so much. I had no idea the scope of the librarian’s role in the school. It’s a lot more work than I thought, but it’s work that I love.

Next week is going to be an overlap of my life as a kindergarten teacher and my life as a grad student as I go back and start setting up my classroom while also finishing my last assignments. I’m excited to get back into my room and set things to rights after the summer cleaning and to see my partner teacher. She is such an encouragement to me (even though we pick on each other constantly) and I am looking forward to planning the first few weeks of school with her. We are going to start the year coteaching all day until our kids have learned the basics of school and gotten used to us, then we will begin rotating. It’s a new adventure for both of us. We didn’t departmentalize and start partner teaching until February last year. It worked out really well even with the late start, so I can’t wait to see how things go this year.

The next four weeks are going to go by far too quickly. Finishing the semester and working in my classroom week, in-service training and meet the teacher the week after, and then the first week of school with my students followed by another first week of school as a student.


term papers and webquests and popplets

It has been a busy week. I’ve been working on my term paper for INFO 5000. My working title is “Professional Learning for Teacher Librarians: Utilizing the Resources Available to Create a Personal Learning Network.” I’m about halfway done with my first draft.

The other assignment I’ve been working on is a group project. We created a webquest, something I have never done before. You can see it here. I had two other people in my group and we worked really well together. I was responsible for the process and evaluation portions. When I started the popplet that is used in the process section it was just me organizing my thoughts about the assignment. As I put it together though I realized it could actually work really well as the instructions for the students and it fell into place from there. I cannot tell a lie, I’m pretty proud of that popplet. I really enjoyed working in popplet (and saying popplet, it’s just a fun word) so I decided to use it as my literature map for the aforementioned term paper. Once the paper is finished I will share all of that with you.

In PLN news, Curmudgication has quickly become my favorite blog that I follow. It’s mostly about education in general, mostly education policy and politics. What I love is how, well, curmudgeonly he is. I enjoy a good snark-ridden rant.


regarding banned books

Here are some more of my thoughts after looking at the top ten most banned books of 2015 (page 18 of the ALA State of American Libraries report)

I think there is a difference between “appropriately banned” and “inappropriately chosen” books. No book should be banned, but not all books are appropriate selections for all libraries. A high school librarian should certainly select books that include some language or sexual/violent content because teens need a safe space to explore those aspects of life. Books like Fifty Shades of Gray, however, that are written purely to titillate and not inspire reflection on the part of the reader do not serve the needs of the high school library user. Just as it would be appropriate to have a library subscription to a magazine like Teen Vogue that discusses sexuality and identity in order to help teens navigate their personal experiences, but would be inappropriate to subscribe to Penthouse or Playboy.

I do not think any of these books should be banned, but the librarian must take the task of material selection very seriously, bearing in mind personal prejudices and working to overcome self censoring.

diversity matters

Diversity is a big issue. The world is a diverse place full of people with different backgrounds, experiences, traditions, the list goes on. And yet somehow I find myself surrounded by books featuring the same type of characters. White, able-bodied, cis-gendered, and straight. According to the American Library Association’s State of American Libraries (2016) out of the top 10 most challenged books that year 9 included diverse content. Students don’t see themselves reflected in library collections, or when they do those books are challenged. What message does that send to our children? We are telling them that their very existence is offensive. As a school librarian I intend to make it my mission to stock my library with books that show students that people like them matter. Their stories matter. They matter.

That’s why when I came across the site Social Justice Books I was so excited.

SocialJusticeBooks.org is a project of Teaching for Change, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide teachers and parents with the tools to create schools where students learn to read, write and change the world. Teaching for Change developed SocialJusticeBooks.org in 2017 to identify and promote the best multicultural and social justice children’s books, as well as articles and books for educators.

Their “about” page has this beautiful infographic that they encourage others to share


Huyck, David, Sarah Park Dahlen, Molly Beth Griffin. (2016 September 14). Diversity in Children’s Books 2015 infographic. sarahpark.com blog. Retrieved from https://readingspark.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/picture-this-reflecting-diversity-in-childrens-book-publishing/

What a great visual and a great resource!

I was just casually scrolling through my Twitter feed when I was sucker punched in the gut.

gut punch

Steele, D. [SteeleThoughts]. (2017, July 22). Not all kids have hope, and when that fact hits you, you realize your job is bigger than any lesson plan or standardized test. #leadupchat [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/SteeleThoughts/status/888765707357495296

here’s the latest from my PLN

One thing I was not expecting when I started putting together a PLN (which I really should have expected) was the political activism of the librarians on Twitter. Some of the librarians I follow have been posting regular updates on what is going on in the Texas Legislature regarding education. Librarians are advocates.

Yesterday’s KnowledgeQuest blog post was about science in the library and I love it. I followed a link to a blog all about doing science in the school library (and added it to my follow list ’cause I gotta grow that PLN). While I love books and reading my favorite subject to actually teach is by far science. I love doing hands-on experiments. Give me mud and slime and worms and paper pulp any day. I thought I was really going to miss that in the library. I guess I thought wrong! I love the idea of bringing science to the library and I wouldn’t have discovered this idea and specific blog if I weren’t building my PLN.

This past week I was a bit of a creeper and went through the ePortflios of my classmates to see who actually posts on their blogs and subscribe to their feeds. I have a section of my feedly for classmate blogs now and it’s really cool. I like getting to see how other people are going through the course. What they learn that maybe I missed, the direction they take an assignment that I hadn’t thought of. With this being an online course and not having any actual in-person interaction it’s really nice to get that insight. I think it was a smart move to add them to my PLN. If you are from my class and reading this hello!

Through my Twitter PLN I found this video about what kids deserve and it made me cry.

Twitter also led me to this blog post about being too focused on reading levels and suffocating kids’ love of books. The title of the blog is Curmudgication: Trying to Make Sense of What’s Happening in Education. I am all about grumpily pointing out the faults of the American education system so I subscribed through my feedly.

In non-PLN news I turned in my midterm for INFO 5000. Before I submitted it I printed a copy and gave it and a red pen to my sister (who was an English major and knows about writing) and it came back to me with very few red marks. My top priority this week is finishing my infographic, which I will share here when it’s finished.

PLN roundup


Project Connect “Follett formed Project Connect to advocate for librarians as district leaders so that students can learn digital literacy, modern research techniques and cutting-edge skills that apply across all subject areas. We help librarians transform their library spaces into vibrant hubs of digital learning by giving them ideas and resources to become future ready.”

Future Ready Schools “Future Ready Schools® helps K-12 public, private, and charter school leaders plan and implement personalized, research-based digital learning strategies so all students can achieve their full potential.”

Future Ready Librarians “Future Ready Librarians is an expansion of the Future Ready initiative aimed at raising awareness among district and school leaders about the valuable role librarians can play in supporting the Future Ready goals of their school and district. Two guiding questions are central to Future Ready Librarians.

  1. How can librarians and libraries support Future Ready schools?
  2. How can librarians and libraries become more Future Ready?

Future Ready Librarians will provide resources, strategies, and connections for district leaders and librarians to be able to work together to promote and implement innovative learning opportunities for students.”

EveryLibrary “EveryLibrary helps secure funding for libraries at the ballot box. We train, coach, and consult with library communities on Information Only and Vote YES campaigns. EveryLibrary is donor supported in our pro-bono work. We believe that any library campaign anywhere should matter to every library everywhere.”

Save School Librarians “This site and our state partnership activism are made possible with the support of Follett Learning. Their donor support lets us do targeted, smart, and effective outreach and activism wherever and whenever it is needed. With Follett’s support, we can build on our successes and try to address this school librarian crisis in schools and districts around the country. SaveSchoolLibrarians.org has one-click ‘take action’ capabilities that make it easy for concerned parents and stakeholder to make their voices heard for school libraries and librarians. The site will include the best training guides for local school library activists to build their own political and organizing power. But they don’t have to do it alone. EveryLibrary is here to help advise on the right tactics to make change happen and, with Follett’s support, we can put the power of social advertising to work reaching and activating more potential local supporters than ever before.”

Blog Posts

Librarianship: Not a Job, an Avocation “Rather than keeping the status quo in our K-12 libraries, let’s become vocal advocates for change. We need to leave our comfort zone and invent new ways to provide services effectively … we need to leave diversity and embrace inclusion…we need to remember that society is changing and we need to change with it! Do I know how to do all of this right now? No, but I am not ruling anything out.”

What is an Educator Mastermind, and Why Should You Join One? “A mastermind is a small group of people who meet on a regular basis to talk about their work, set goals, learn together, and help each other solve problems.”


Disrupting Thinking

Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst

This book showed up on my twitter feed several times today from people attending Scholastic’s Reading Summit in Houston.


twitter roundup

Here’s a few things I found through my new library-centric twitter feed that I wanted to share here.

I cam across a link to an article called “Confessions of a Librarian Who Does Everything Wrong” and I was intrigued. It’s a good reminder that what may be considered the “right” way to manage a library may not always be the way that is best for students. I was inspired by the author’s honesty and her commitment to her students.

I also came across this quote image:

And finally a blog post by The Kindergarten Smorgasbord about an easy to use green screen app. This one gave me an idea for the webquest my group is going to be creating. We’ve decided what our goal is, but we haven’t decided on an end product. I think tasking the kids with making a green screen video would be a great way for them to use technology, synthesize their knowledge, practice public speaking, and use creativity. I’m going to share it with my group and see what they think.

PLN update

After following the moderators of #txlchat on twitter and sending an “I’m here” tweet out into the void I almost immediately got a welcome to the community tweet from one of the #txlchat mods and four people followed me. I feel like that’s a good sign.

for the love of reading

When I was applying to the MLIS program for school librarianship one of the documents I had to submit was a statement of my purpose and goals. It challenged me to really think about the decision I was making to pursue this career path, why I was making it, and what I wanted to accomplish. Here is what I wrote (it was good enough to get me into grad school so perhaps you will enjoy it).

When I was growing up my papa read to my siblings and me every night before bed. He would read all sorts of things; poetry, picture books, short stories, novels, even comic books. We would pile around him, reading over his shoulder and studying every detail of the pictures. Those are some of my most treasured and impactful memories of childhood. I learned to love books; they contained worlds full of people, information, and truth. The contents of books have changed my life and I want to help children discover that magic.

Books have the power to take us places we will never go, introduce us to people we will never meet, and show us a whole new side of the world. Seeing the world through the eyes that books give us builds empathy and understanding for our fellow men, qualities that are crucial in our global society.

In my own life I have learned to understand the lives of people who are different from me by seeing the world from their point of view. Books such as Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry, Seedfolks, A Girl Named Disaster, and The Hiding Place have all taught me important lessons about the world and the people in it.

I began my degree in education with the intention of sharing my love of books with my students, as my papa shared his with me. I always had the idea in my mind that perhaps after I had taught for a few years that I might go back and get a masters degree is something literacy related. It was during my very first year of teaching that the vague idea of going into a more specific field in the future really crystalized in my mind as a desire to be a librarian. I was teaching at a charter school whose library consisted of one tiny room with an un-curated hodge-podge of beaten up books. As a charter school our school librarian was not required to have any training or certification, and consequently she did not have the knowledge to help students select books that were appropriate to their maturity, interest, and reading ability. I took it upon myself to make sure my students had access to a variety of books appropriate to their levels. I went to library book sales, scholastic warehouse sales, begged donations from friends and family, and regularly combed used book stores. I built my classroom library to more than 500 books during that year and soon realized that connecting students to books was my favorite part of teaching and I wanted it to be able to focus on it full time.

School librarians are in an ideal position to open the eyes of children through books. Helping students find books they enjoy, and encouraging them to explore the world through the pages of a book, is my passion. I want to create lifelong learners who see the world differently.

There’s no reason for me to wait until I have charge of a library to work towards that goal, though. I intend to use my graduate studies in my classroom immediately. Courses regarding school librarianship, instructional materials, learning resources, and literature for youth can be implemented in my classroom right away. The knowledge I gain from this program of study will have an immediate and direct impact on my students. It is my constant desire to improve my methods and better serve my students.

In the future I intend for my degree to help me reach more students through a station as a school librarian. While my current teaching position gives me direct responsibility over 34 children, a librarian position would increase my responsibility and impact to every student in the school. Helping students to develop a love of literature and providing them with the tools and knowledge to seek out books and materials that will challenge and inspire them is the dream of my heart.

building my PLN

I mentioned that for a career development project I am going to start work on building my Personal Learning Network. Today I set up a RSS through feedly.com of a few blogs selected from this list of top 50 librarian blogs. Feedly lets you put the things you follow into categories so you can organize your feed, which I love. I imagine that as I follow more blogs it will be helpful to sort them into groups such as “library activities” or “book reviews” so I can find the content I need.

I also created a twitter account @LibraryMelody to start connecting there. I started out by following the moderators of #txlchat. Hopefully I made good decisions about what blogs and twitters to follow, but that’s the beautiful thing about PLNs; they’re flexible. If I find that a blog or twitter account really doesn’t suit my needs I can remove it from my feed, and I can always add new blogs and twitters that I find.

plugging along

I feel like I have slacked off this week and barely done anything, but then I look at my list and realize I was really productive. There are a couple of things that I didn’t quite get done, but I’m in a good place.

In INFO 5000 I worked with my group to finalize our presentation on S. R. Ranganathan based on feedback from our classmates. I got to look at presentations made by other groups and it was so interesting. I’ve been completely focused on Ranganathan for three weeks and it was really cool to get to see what other pioneers contributed.

My other INFO 5000 focus this week was collecting resources for my midterm. My goal was to get 5 entries of my annotated bibliography done this week. I only got 4, but I’m pretty pleased with that number. The topic of my paper is “Professional Learning for School Librarians: Utilizing the Resources Available to Create a Personal Learning Network.” I’ve been reading articles about how school librarians face isolation because they are the only librarian in the building and how this can be alleviated through the development of a Personal Learning Network. I have another assignment that is a career development project and I am going to begin creating my own PLN and recording what I learn, so stay tuned for updates on that.

In INFO 5001 I wrote an article critique on Collaboration and Coteaching: a New Measure of Impact (Loertscher, 2014). This research article explores how successful a learning experience is when taught solo by a classroom teacher or teacher librarian versus when teacher and librarian collaborate. Teachers and librarians from 16 schools across the country were invited to self-report on the results of a learning experience that they had conducted individually. Next the participants co-taught a learning experience and completed a second self-report. In individually taught experiences an average of 48% of students met or exceeded the teacher’s highest expectations. When a learning experience was co-taught, however, that number increased to 70-100%. The author concludes that co-teaching is invaluable and recommends that teacher librarians devote at least 50% of their time to collaboration with classroom teachers. I am something of an introvert and get intimidated by the idea of reaching out to someone. The results of this study though show how incredibly valuable co-teaching is and I am going to have to take initiative and get involved with what teachers are doing. That’s going to be a challenge, at least at first.

Next week is going to be more reading, more writing, more learning.

Loertscher, D. V. (2014). Collaboration and coteaching: A new measure of impact. Teacher Librarian, 42(2), 8-19.

three weeks in and so much to show for it

Today marks the end of my third week as a graduate student. As expected there has been a great deal of reading. What I did not expect was how much time has been spent searching the databases for journal articles.

In INFO 5000 I worked with a group to research S. R. Ranganathan. We learned about his life and his impact on the library profession. You can see the prezi we created here.  To collect all the information for my portions of the presentation I had to sift through many articles in various databases. I got practice using RefWorks to catalog my references and on my ability to create appropriate APA citations. I spent a great deal of time checking that my sources were credible, relevant, and correctly cited. One thing I didn’t expect to learn was how to set up and host an online meeting with GoToTraining, but I did. It’s easy to work as a group on prezi with everyone plugging in their assigned information slides, but making sure it is cohesive and that everyone is on the same page is a little harder. I signed up for a free trial of GoToTraining and was able to voice chat with my group mates while they could see my screen and we could go over everything together.

That’s what I learned skill-wise from the assignment. In the prezi I explain what I learned about library science from the project

Studying Ranganathan forced me to examine my notions of what a library truly is: what its purpose is and how librarians bring that purpose to fruition. What the library is not is a place to hide from people in peace and quiet, left alone with the books. What the library is is a place to seek out people in need and strive to help them to the best of your ability through a vast array of resources. Librarians are public servants in the truest sense.

In INFO 5001 my assignment was to select one of the nine belief statements associated with the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner, find two journal articles that support that belief statement, and design two library activities that could be used to implement the belief statement. All of this was to be delivered in PowerPoint presentation through knovio as if I had just been hired as a school librarian and was addressing the staff. I chose the belief statement “learning has a social context” because it immediately made me think of activity ideas. I thought it would be a piece of cake to find journal articles that supported that statement. It’s so obvious. Wrong. I spent two days of frustrating database searching trying to find relevant articles. I’m still not sure why it was so hard, but I think part of the problem is that the main research in support of this statement is not articles, it’s whole books. While I was searching I wracked my brains for different search terms to narrow it down and the best combinations of terms in Boolean strings. I got a lot of practice sifting through articles. Eventually I found two that worked and made my presentation, which you can see here. After all the frustration it took to find my articles I’m motivated to work on my search abilities. I’m certain there are more articles out there that I could have used if only I could find them.

Week four starts tomorrow and it is going to be full of more reading, more researching, and more writing.

My goals for the week in each class are

  • INFO 5000:
    • find, read, evaluate, and create annotated bibliography entries for 5 articles for my midterm paper
    • read 4 articles from the module reading list
    • practice my presentation of the Ranganathan prezi
    • complete the peer review form for my group mates
  • INFO 5001:
    • type up the results of my interview with a school librarian and sum up my three main takeaways
    • complete the assigned reading
    • complete the YA book search assignment
    • start on the infographic assignment
    • read an article about librarians as teachers and write an article critique
    • communicate with my group about our webquest project, determine the topic, outline, and divide the work

Wow. That looks like a lot of work. I’ll be back next Sunday to let you know if I get it all done.

let’s get started

I’m trying to set up this webpage for my ePortfolio, but wordpress is not very user friendly/intuitive. Or maybe it’s just me. Whatever it is, this is a lot harder and more time consuming than I wanted it to be. How do I make sub menus?