BACC January Recap

January is always a very busy month for me and so if you are like me you may have missed some of the great discussion here on the BACC blog.

As I have been looking back at the post from my co-bloggers this month several things resonate with me. I am teaching Administration of the School Library this semester and reading these posts I found that there are several items that need to be added into my course. First, I really like the term proposed “classroom collections” over “classroom library” and agree with Lucy’s assertion that “the classroom collection is not a library because it is missing the information literacy expert.”

And we need to prepare future school librarians for “classroom collections” and the challenges they may experience with these, but also how they can transform this into an opportunity for collaboration. Offering to help a teacher select books for their classroom collection is a great way to connect with them and then in turn as Judi talked about, always get input from teachers when building the school library collection too.

Whether it is through a library advisory committee, a survey of needs, and/or just informal feedback. The collection does indeed belong to the entire school community. If we want teachers to work with us and utilize the collection it only makes sense to promote this type of ownership through including them in the selection process. I know I teach this to my students, but we need to add more strategies on how to do this.

Because as Judy says “Resources for literacy should not be an either/or choice for investing in school wide literacy programs.” And she is exactly right – we all should be contributing to the same goal. Teachers and teacher librarians are partners for the literacy in their schools. I believe this is just one more collaborative relationship that we as school librarians need to cultivate. I well remember the strategies I utilized to maximize this opportunity and Judy expressed several of these in her post with a great list of some ideas to add to your toolbox and connect with teachers to serve as a literacy leader in your school.

The “L” Team


Are you a member?  Do you have your flashing cape and shiny literacy toolbox ready to come to the aid of your local classroom teachers and learners? What’s in your toolbox to help teachers personalize literacy for all their learners?

Resources for literacy should not be an either/or choice for investing in schoolwide literacy programs. In some schools, classroom collections are funded at the expense of school library collections. In some schools there is zero, or limited budget for both, so classroom teachers and teacher librarians are scrambling to find donations or write grants to provide needed materials for students. Some school rely on textbook programs.  Some schools have robust resources for classrooms and libraries. What’s it like at your school? In order to address the individual challenges of each school, literacy leadership teams should represent a cross section of educators in a school. The teacher librarian needs to be at the table and on the team.

Classroom collections are an important resource for literacy instruction. School library collections provide a breadth of materials in multiple formats that extend and support reader choice for information and enjoyment in and beyond  the classroom.  A selection of current and relevant resources chosen by a knowledgeable teacher librarian, benefits all the members of the school community, and provides a great return on investment.  Both of these resource collections are important components of a dynamic and nimble literacy program.  Teachers and teacher librarians are natural partners for the literacy team.

Working with classroom teachers in the classroom as co-teachers, or in the library space, teacher librarians have opportunities to guide emerging, developing, or passionate readers and writers to discover literacy as a joy, not a chore in life. What do you bring to the literacy table?

Here a few ideas for the “L” team toolbox-either for face to face collaboration or on your virtual website or blog:

  • A chart that compares reading-grade level systems: Lexile Levels, DRA, Fountas & Pinnell, Ready Recovery, etc. (Talk the talk, walk the walk)

  • In person or with a screencast, demonstrate the power of the digital library catalog. Reveal the hidden secrets to searching for and discovering reviews, awards, formats, or reading levels in the display record. (Train the trainer)

  • Updates for new books, materials, or author websites on your blog/website. Tweet it out to teachers at your local school #. (Be social)

  • Book talks, book trailers, book discussions with teachers. Set up a Goodreads share site. Select a new outstanding book for a small group or whole school discussion.  Feature a CH/YA author, or a title to inspire discussion, such as The Book Whisperer (Miller, 2009), or Reading in the Wild (Miller and Kelley, 2013.)

  • Book clubs for students, and invite teachers, parents, or community members to take part. Choose themes or genres to begin, and then let others do the choosing and leading.

  • Extend literacy lessons for the classroom into the library. For those on a fixed schedule, coordinate with the classroom teacher around themes, genres, or skills.  Or flip it-introduce them in the library classroom and send selections back to the classroom.

  • Help teachers set up routines to supplement their classroom collections with library resources. Let students take responsibility to curate materials that they think the class would enjoy.  (Small book trucks with wheels work well for rotating physical collections.)

  • Skype/Hangout with authors or other experts in literacy.  (Share ideas, and generate new ones.)

  • Listen to the concerns and challenges of classroom teachers, and be ready to problem solve solutions to help them transform literacy learning in the classroom and the whole school.


These are just a few of the ideas that I have tried with success, and I’m sure you have many more.  So grab your cape and toolbox and join the team!


Miller, Donalyn. The Book Whisperer.  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2009. print.

Miller, Donalyn and Susan Kelley.  Reading in the Wild. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2013.


Classroom Collections and School Libraries

Hello BACC readers,

I am writing to you on a cold and rainy day in South Georgia; a day with just enough fog to make my small town look like it belongs in the Chronicles of Narnia. I am also writing to you after having enjoyed listening to my nine year old daughter read sections from Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming aloud to me as we snuggled on the coach before school. I share this second tidbit with you because Brown Girl Dreaming is a book leveled above 3rd grade, and one not many third grade teachers would be likely to stock in their classroom collections. Thankfully, my daughter was able to check this book out from her school library under the guidance of a school librarian who is aware of my daughter’s reading capacity and interest.

When thinking on the BACC theme this month (school libraries compared to classroom libraries), several threads began to weave themselves together. I’d like to share those threads with you all.

Thread 1: Is it “And” or “Vs”?

As a school library educator, my job is to prepare future school librarians. It occurred to me that in our program here at Georgia Southern, we do not formally address the presence of classroom libraries. Since the overwhelming majority of our students are classroom teachers, I imagine many of them maintain these collections in their classrooms. Does it behoove the school librarian to push against classroom collections? To discourage their presence and present a negative reaction to their existence? Should I teach my school library candidates to set their cross-hairs for classroom collections, ridding the world of these “imposters?”

I don’t think so.

Much of what we do is inter-relational, and oftentimes, politically sensitive. I cannot see the benefit in attacking an effort that comes from a well-intentioned place, and I actually think this would hurt a librarian’s ability to maintain positive interactions with his or her colleagues.

Thread 2: The Terms We Use

When Judi blogged last week, someone posted that he preferred the term “classroom collections” to “classroom libraries.” I think he makes an excellent point. The terms we use are extremely important. The school library should not merely house a collection of books, e-books, databases etc. Its primary treasure, I argue, is the expertise the school librarian embodies; an expertise that multiplies the impact of those instructional resources. The classroom collection is not a library because it is missing the information literacy expert. Tying thread 2 to thread 1, I think it is our job as school librarians to promote this expertise, to be willing to engage in collaboration and multiply the impact of any library resource – be it space (makerspace activities, after school coding clubs), be it print, be it online research. If a teacher asks for my help, for my expertise, I am going to say yes! I am going to prove that I am the key resource in that school library! Instead of attacking classroom collections, encourage teachers to see the multitude of extras they have access to when accessing the school library (and you!).

Thread 3: Comparing Apples and Oranges

Years ago, I was a music teacher in Fort Worth, Texas. For a while, this school district considered getting rid of elementary music because it was reasoned that classroom teachers could easily sing songs or play music games (hey! We have boom boxes now!) with their own students. The community fought back. Music teachers explained that simply singing songs or playing games is not a music education. It takes an individual who is a certified music teacher to use these resources to teach foundational music skills such as ear training, steady beat, accurate pitch matching, harmonization, and sight reading. This may seem obvious to people who are trained musicians, or familiar with musical concepts. However, to a school administrator or other individual who walks by a music classroom and is unaware of the pedagogical reasons behind the activities, a music class might look like chaos!

I see this same lack of awareness being an issue for the school librarian. We KNOW how wonderful we are. We KNOW what we bring to the table. We KNOW why the school library collection, developed with our care and expertise, and used in collaborative instruction is an incredible component in student achievement. But. Does your administrator know this? Do your parents know this? Do your teachers know this? Have you clearly documented and voiced your role in instruction?

These are the three threads I am weaving today as I think on classroom collections. Help teachers understand that while classroom collections are great for supporting silent reading, for example – these cannot replace the impact of an instructional expert working with a large, curated collection. Finally, develop the discipline of documenting and explaining your instructional choices, approaches and decisions. Clearly outline your reasoning for the collection development process you undertake, voicing connections between your expertise, resources, and student learning needs.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below, or tweet at me: @lucysantosgreen

School Library Advisory Committees: The Key = 4 Cs

key2What are the keys to an effective school library advisory committee? I propose these: Communication-Connection-Commitment-Collaboration.

If classroom teachers have not had positive input into school library collection decision-making, then they may refer to the library collection as the property of the librarian. When a classroom teacher tells students to be careful with “Ms. Jones’s books” (the librarian’s books), the wise school librarian will make it clear that the library collection belongs to all of the library stakeholders: students, teachers, administrators, and families.

Once collective ownership is established, the librarian can invite classroom teacher colleagues to join the school library advisory committee in order to participate in decision-making regarding library purchases and initiatives, such as grant writing and literacy events.

The wise school librarian will ensure that the resources of the library are aligned with the curricular needs of classroom teachers and students. While the Common Core State Standards may make this a library goal in many states, the school library has always been charged with providing resources and technology tools to support teaching and learning the required curriculum.

In most schools, the school library advisory committee will meet during before or after school hours. It will be important for the school librarian to honor the extra commitment it will take for classroom teachers to participate in developing the library collection as a shared resource for the school community. Likewise, the school librarian’s commitment to shared decision-making must be genuine and clear to all advisory committee members.

One of the most outstanding benefits of a library advisory committee is increased collaborative teaching between classroom teachers and school librarians. When advisory committee members have shared responsibility for selecting resources, they will have a shared commitment to using those resources for standards-based instruction. While classroom-library collaboration ensures that valuable resources will be integrated into instruction, it can also improve educators’ teaching and students’ learning.

School library advisory committees that achieve the four keys, communication-connection-commitment-collaboration = win-win-win-win for all library stakeholders.

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School Libraries – Reinvented?

shooting_starThe BACC bloggers are experimenting with exploring a shared topic each month. We will share various perspectives and points of view.

This month we are looking at school libraries as compared with classroom libraries and book rooms and the impact of leveled reading on library resources. Overarching question: If a school librarian’s goal is to strengthen her/his relationships with classroom-bound teachers, what roles might the library collection play in supporting teachers’ teaching and students’ learning?

While I was pleased that the eSchool News noted their #1 Top Story of 2014 was “Libraries, reinvented,” I must take exception with the reasons they cited in this article. According to eSchool News: “With libraries serving as many schools’ central hubs, it’s only natural that they would intersect with many of the other top trends on our list—by setting up maker spaces, letting students explore coding, and helping to increase student access to the internet after school hours.”

Providing students with “trending extras” such as makerspace and coding opportunities does not capture the most meaningful contributions school libraries make to learning and teaching. These two examples should not be restricted to the library environment and would be most effective if integrated into a total-school program. School libraries that are open for after school hours have always provided students with access to whatever resources they need; this is not new and should not be news.

In my opinion, school libraries first and foremost contribute resources and the expertise of the school librarian (not necessarily in that order). While library resources and school librarians’ skills have changed, these contributions have been consistent — at least for the quarter of a century I have been involved in school librarianship.

According to literacy educator Frank Serafini, at least 100 books per child should be the goal for a well-stocked classroom library and recommends that classroom libraries contain 2,500 – 3,000 books in all genres and at all reading levels (37). While I applaud classroom teachers that write grants, raise funds, and use their own financial resources to provide students with classroom libraries, my experience tells me that a classroom collection cannot compare with a well-developed and managed library collection.

A school librarian who aligns the library collection with the curriculum and provides independent reading selections for students can provide a wider selection of books and resources in all genres and more support for readers at all reading levels. Involving classroom teachers in reviewing, recommending, and purchasing resources for the library is one way for the school librarian to strengthen her/his relationships with classroom teachers. This can be done formally with a Library Advisory Committee or informally with individual teachers and grade-level teams.


Serafini, Frank. Around the Reading Workshop in 180 Days: A Month-by-Month Guide to Effective Instruction. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2006.

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