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Monday Means Leadership: Supporting the Right to Read September 15, 2014

Posted by Deanna Harris in Advocacy, Check this out!, Intellectual Freedom.
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Banned Books Week, scheduled for September 21-27, 2014, celebrates our right to read.  Launched in 1982, this celebration of free speech finds many libraries providing information about censorship and intellectual freedom to their patrons through displays, programs and other events.

In 2013, six of the ten most challenged books were found in children’s and young adult sections of libraries.  The only way that we can continue to provide open access to all materials is through education, standing up and speaking out about our right to read and our students’ right to read.

How do you support your colleagues’ and students’ right to read?

For more resources on celebrating Banned Books Week and educating about censorship and intellectual freedom, check the links at ALA’s Banned Books website.

Monday Means Advocacy: Library Snapshot Day August 11, 2014

Posted by Deanna Harris in Advocacy.
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From the American Library Association advocacy resources:

Library Snapshot Day 

Library Snapshot Day provides a way for libraries of all types across a state, region, system or community to show what happens in a single day in their libraries. How many books are checked out?   How many people receive help finding a job? Doing their taxes? Doing their homework? This initiative provides an easy means to collect statistics, photos and stories that will enable library advocates to prove the value of their libraries to decision-makers and increase public awareness.

School librarians can use Library Snapshot Day to provide a look into their library media programs for administrators and teachers, PTA leaders and parents, district leaders and school board members, as well as community and business partners and government officials.
How would use the Library Snapshot Day plan to advocate for your library media program and school librarians?

Monday Means Advocacy: Communicating Our Professional Goals August 4, 2014

Posted by Deanna Harris in Advocacy.
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Each year we as school librarians set literacy, media and/or digital technology goals for our library media programs.  We set achievement goals for our students and instructional goals for ourselves to help students meet those achievement levels.  We also set goals to help us grow professionally.

But how do we communicate those professional goals to our community and stakeholders?  Are we utilizing all of our communication methods to let our school and community know our professional goals which will ultimately impact the students in our schools?

  • Staff presentations – Make sure we are on the agendas for those beginning of the year staff meetings.  Even a two-minute well-done video or PowerPoint can communicate to staff our goals for the new school year.
  • Social media – Posting that same presentation to our library media center Facebook or Twitter or blog allows folks to view at their leisure multiple times.  A well-done infographic about the year’s goals posted on social media is another great way to inform others.
  • Newsletters – Are we listing our goals in our media and technology newsletter? What about the PTA newsletter? What about other department newsletters (guidance, health/PE, etc.) where we show the collaboration with those teachers and staff and the overall impact to students?

What are other ways you choose to communicate your professional goals with students, staff, parents, and the community partners?

Monday Means Advocacy: Partnerships July 28, 2014

Posted by Deanna Harris in Advocacy, Check this out!.
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A partnership is an arrangement in which parties agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests. (Wikipedia)

Public library partnership – In a research study on the public library-school library connection, the successful relationship between the two partners shows the positive impact to education reform and student achievement.  Working together, the public and school libraries can form networks for resource sharing, develop complementary collections, provide information services and instruction, and encourage reading and literacy.

Civic organization partnerships – Partnerships between school libraries and civic organizations benefit students, teachers, and parents.  Many civic organizations support literacy programs with funding and through mentoring and tutoring.  Civic organizations can assist with speakers and training to support teachers and parents.

Business partnerships – Depending on the particular needs or theme (arts, STEM, technology, etc.) of your school, community business partnerships can enhance your school library program and the entire school.  For example, school libraries in STEM schools can partner with businesses such as SAS, BASF and Red Hat to provide insight into science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs, supporting the school’s STEM initiatives through funding, resources, speakers, mentoring, instruction and presentations.

What partnerships have you created between your school library and businesses or community organizations?  How will forming partnerships with these groups benefit your school library?

Monday Means Advocacy: Advisory Committee July 13, 2014

Posted by Deanna Harris in Advocacy.
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meetingDo you have an advisory committee for your library?  An advisory committee is a representative team of teachers, administrators, parents and students who review library policies and procedures, assist with library media initiatives, create  budgets, assist with library programming and events, and promote and advocate for the library program.

Your advisory committee should be made up of the following members:

  • school librarian
  • technology facilitator
  • administrator
  • teachers representing each grade level and core subject
  • teachers representing electives, specialists and administrative staff
  • parents
  • students

Your advisory committee should review and assist with the following policies, procedures, and initiatives:

  • collection development and collection policies
  • facilities management
  • budget and funding
  • literacy, media and instructional technology initiatives
  • challenges and materials reconsideration policies
  • mission, vision, and advocacy plan
  • program evaluation

How do you see an advisory committee making an impact on your work as a school librarian and your library program?

Monday Means Advocacy: Collection Development June 29, 2014

Posted by Deanna Harris in Advocacy.
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STEM Recyle display

When students and teachers look for print and electronic resources in your school library, are they likely to find what they want?  Does your collection meet the needs of your community?  Is your collection up-to-date? Do you have copies of the latest award-winning books?

Or are patrons disappointed by the selection in your library? Do they complain about the lack of materials and the outdated resources?  Are there no popular titles on display?

Having a strong print and non-print collection that meets the needs of your school community speaks volumes. (Pun intended!) But the only way to do this is to have an appropriate collection development plan with supporting policies in place at your individual school or at the district or state level.

Under the AASL Essential Links: Resources for School Library Program Development, you can find links to resources to support your collection development work.  The bibliography suggests three strong titles by respected colleagues in school librarianship.  The links to collection mapping and collection development and selection policies will help you create a comprehensive plan to get and keep your program on track.

Photograph: Environmental resources display in the library at East Cary Middle School, a STEM school. (D.Harris)


Monday Means Advocacy: Annual Reports June 22, 2014

Posted by Deanna Harris in Advocacy.
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ECMS Media Center

As the school year ends, school librarians find themselves completing inventories, chasing down overdue books, converting our spaces to testing sites, and compiling to-do lists a mile long to wrap up projects, instruction, and other items.  Hopefully one of those items on our lists is preparing our annual reports.

My district requires that we complete a two page report providing the number of books, periodicals, etc., in our collection, noting the numbers that were weeded and purchased in the given school year, and detailing the funding sources for said resources.  My state  requires us to complete an annual media and technology report which focuses more on the technology in our schools but also highlights print and electronic resources, average publication dates, and circulation statistics.

While these are great reports to wrap up the year and provide some small insight into the media and technology in our schools, these reports do not showcase the instruction, professional development, and literacy initiatives that occurred throughout the year.  To actively advocate for school librarians and school library media programs, we must provide the best documentation possible, a comprehensive year-end or annual report, that will highlight more than circulation statistics and material counts.

Here are some examples to help us get started with our annual reports:

  • Springfield Township High School Library Annual Report – Former school librarian Joyce Valenza used her annual report to highlight curricular connections, her professional development activities, trends and patterns in usage both on- and offline,  and included issues, plans and goals for the next school year.
  • Wendell Middle Media Center Annual Report – Media coordinator Linda Dextre uses her annual report to highlight the teaching and learning, events and activities from the learning commons, budget analysis including operation losses, and quotes and pictures.
  • Durant Middle School Media Center Annual Report - Media coordinators Kristen Ziller and Janice Edwards include their SMART goal in their report, as well as a infographic to give a quick view of the year.

Jennifer LaGarde, “librarian ambassador and education road warrior” at Adventures of Library Girl, provides additional insight and information about creating annual reports in her blog, School Library Annual Reports: Connecting the Dots Between Your Library and Student Learning  We cannot see our annual reports as one more thing to do on our already full plate. We must view these reports as the advocacy tool that they are:  promoting teaching and learning, documenting the impact to student achievement, highlighting the professional development and growth in us and our staffs, and showcasing the resources, usage trends/patterns, and literacy initiatives happening at our schools.

AASL Best Websites: Coming Soon to ALA Annual! June 10, 2014

Posted by Heather Moorefield-Lang in ALA Annual Conference, Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, Technology.
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As you may know the American Association of School Librarian Best Websites for Teaching and Learning Committee produces a list of recognized websites every year. What you may not know is that this the committee’s sixth year and we will be presenting our 150th site this month at ALA Annual in Las Vegas on Saturday, June 28th. Follow along on Twitter with the hashtag  #aaslbestlist.

Everyone on the Best Websites Committee has been working hard throughout the year and is really excited to share this year’s list. We feel that we have a great list for you here in 2014 full of strong online tools in the categories of Media Sharing, Digital Storytelling, Social Networking and Communication, and more.

This is the committee’s last blog post until September. In the fall we will be bringing you more blog postings on how to use the AASL Best Websites in your schools, libraries, and classrooms as we have in the past. We will have a whole new list to share and will be super excited to offer up new ideas and sites. As always if there is ever a Best Websites online tool that you would like for us to write about, just comment below.

The Best Websites Committee hopes to see you at ALA. If you can’t make it follow us on Twitter or check out our website: http://www.ala.org/aasl/standards-guidelines/best-websites on June 28th to see all of the new sites, resources, presentations, and freebies.

Heather Moorefield-Lang: AASL Best Websites Committee Chair

Monday Means Advocacy: Public Relations June 2, 2014

Posted by Deanna Harris in Advocacy, Check this out!.
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What is public relations?  As part of our advocacy efforts, we have to manage our public relations, our communication efforts.  The AASL Advocacy Committee created definitions that can help guide our work as advocates for and public relations managers of our school library programs.

Public Relations

One-way communication of getting the message across:

  • who we are
  • what we do
  • when and where
  • and for whom

What is your message?  Do you have a written mission and vision about who you are and what your program is all about?  How do you get your message out to your school community?

Here are some communications tools that all school librarians could be using for stronger public relations:

  • Email – short, informative emails to targeted groups (i.e. lists of new YA titles to language arts teachers; reminders of upcoming events to administration)
  • School Library Website – a web presence with well-organized links and updated information
  • School Website – a link to the library website, an article or other information presented on the school’s main website
  • PTA Newsletter or Website – articles, information, and updates for parents
  • Twitter – short, informative tweets about events, teaching and learning, great reads, and other information
  • Facebook – another social media / web presence with links, updates, calendars (synced to Twitter)

What other forms of communication are you using with students, teachers, and parents to build strong public relations?

Monday Means Advocacy: What is Advocacy? May 27, 2014

Posted by Deanna Harris in Advocacy.
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What exactly is advocacy?  The AASL Advocacy Committee created definitions that can help guide our work as advocates for school libraries and school librarians.


On-going process of building partnerships so that others will act for and with you, turning passive support into educated action for the library program.

It begins with a vision and a plan for the library program that is then matched to the agenda and priorities of stakeholders.

On-going process – Advocacy cannot be just a one time, one shot deal.  It’s systematic, methodical, ritualistic.  On-going means that we are constantly thinking about school libraries and school librarians, how we interact with our constituents and our community, and the influences that we and they have on us and our programs.

Turning passive support into educated action – It’s nice when folks share their “feel good” stories about school libraries, but it takes real action to affect change.  It takes those same folks standing up to school boards and administrators in support of funding.  It takes others sharing the teaching and learning statistics and the impact of our programs on student achievement in support of fully staffed school libraries.

Do you have a vision and a plan for your school library?  Is it updated to meet the changing needs of students and staff? And does that vision and plan match what the student, staff, PTA, administrators and school community value and support?

How are you advocating for school libraries and school librarians today?