With Deep Gratitude and Admiration

Sunrise over the Santa Rita Mountains, December, 2021Sunrise over the Santa Rita Mountains, Green Valley, Arizona
December, 2021

Dear School Librarian Leadership Blog Readers,

This is my final post on this blog. It has been my pleasure to share my thoughts, experiences, research, and wonderings with you over these past nine and a half years. With this farewell, there are 503 posts on this blog. Thank you to everyone who has contributed one or more posts or made comments to enrich this blog’s content.

School Librarian Leadership will remain an archive at least through August, 2023. This will allow readers access to two books studies hosted here as well as the weekly posts to this blog.

Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage (Libraries Unlimited 2021)

Maximizing School Librarian Leadership: Building Connections for Teaching and Advocacy (ALA Editions 2018)

Although I have now officially retired, I will never tire of advocating for effective state-certified school librarians in every K-12 school—not ever as long as I live (see Pentland 2022). I have completed my professional book writing career with the publication of Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage. I published my last and coauthored research article in School Library Research Volume 24 “Take Action: A Content Analysis of Administrators’ Understandings of and Advocacy for the Roles and Responsibilities of School Librarians.” I am also proudly standing for a seat on the 2024 Caldecott Committee and will appear on the 2022 ALA ballot.

Clearly, my career in librarianship has channeled my passion for literacy and libraries and offered me the opportunity to learn, grow, and share—gifts all.

And with great joy and gratitude, I am returning to a creative writing passion project that I have set aside for too many years and opening space in my life for much more time to be with my young grandchildren and meet the changing needs of my family.

“Gratitude and grace cannot really be measured; nor can they be willed. Each requires that we be open and vulnerable. We are most human and most alive when we allow ourselves to be touched by the wonder of the world and when we feel genuine gratitude for the life we have been given. Practices of giving thanks and giving gifts demonstrate that we know in some way that there is an underlying wholeness and an enduring holiness to life.” Michael Meade

May you continue to be touched “by the wonder of the world” and continue doing the work that matters most to you and in service with and to others.

With admiration for your commitment and courage and wishing you all the best,
Judi

Works Cited
Meade, Michael. 2021. “Gratitude and Grace.” Mosaic Voices. Available at https://www.mosaicvoices.org/events/gratitude-and-grace. Accessed January 2, 2022.

Pentland, Courtney. 2022. “The Advocacy Efforts for School Library Staffing during the Pandemic.” Knowledge Quest 50 (3): 24-32. (Soon to be available online as well.)

Photograph from the Personal Collection of Judi Moreillon

Core Values Redux from the AASL Conference

Whether #AASL21 in Salt Lake City in October was your first or your tenth American Association of School Librarians National Conference, I suspect your schedule was something like mine. At every hour of the concurrent sessions, I found two and sometimes three sessions that I would have liked to have attended.

As an attendee who prefers to make a commitment to a speaker or panel rather than session hop, I missed a number of sessions that now, thanks to recordings made by AASL, I can listen to at my convenience.

If you registered for the conference or if you pay a fee, you can access the conference recordings at https://aasl.digitellinc.com/aasl

“Our values should be so crystallized in our minds, so infallible, so precise and clear, and unassailable, that they don’t feel like a choice…” Brené BrownCore Values at AASL
Many contributors to our book Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage shared outstanding presentations at the conference. I am grateful to them for sharing their knowledge and experience and when appropriate, making connections for participants to their chapters in our book.

Photograph of CVSL Presenters Plus Book Contributor Suzanne ShermanPhotograph of CVSL Contributors/Presenters:
Erika Long, Suzanne Sannwald, Julie Stivers, Judi Moreillon,
Suzanne Sherman, Meg Boisseau Allison, and Nancy Jo Lambert

The following is a menu of Core Values contributors’ recordings. The number in parentheses is the page on which each is found on the AASL Conference recordings site. Each presenter’s book chapter is referenced after their name. If they served on a panel, I did not include the names of their panel mates.

Evolving Practices in Creating a Reading Culture (1) panel with Erika Long (Chapter 1 Equity)

The Power of Manga + Anime in Our Libraries (1) by Julie Stivers (Chapter 2 Diversity)

Core Values Lighting Our Way: Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Intellectual Freedom panel with Erika Long, Julie Stivers, Meg Boisseau Allison, and Suzanne Sannwald (2) (Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 4)

Radical Inclusion in Every School (4) by Meg Boisseau Allison (Chapter 3 Inclusion)

The Social-Emotional Learning Commons (4) panel with Suzanne Sannwald (Chapter 4 Intellectual Freedom)

Inclusive Collections: A Frank Conversation about Diversity in Library Resources (6) by Nancy Jo Lambert (Chapter 2 Diversity)

Curate a Digital Library (8) by Nancy Jo Lambert (Chapter 2 Diversity)

Centering Our Values through Classroom-Library Collaboration: The Key to Enacting School Librarian Leadership (9) by Judi Moreillon (Chapter 9 Collaboration)

ABC-CLIO Special Offer
Our book is available through ABC-CLIO at a 20% discount through the month of December. This is the discount code to use at checkout: Q42120,

Core Values Book Study
In December, we will complete the Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage book study. Two blog posts will be devoted to Chapter 8: Advocacy and two will focus on Chapter 9: Collaboration.

“The contributors to this book seek to provide colleagues with a ‘home.’ When we are connected to others who share our values, we are able to provide security for one another and our library stakeholders as we rise up to meet the opportunities and challenges of today and tomorrow” (Moreillon xii).

For me, attending #AASL21 face to face, live and in person, felt like coming “home.” Thank you to everyone who presented and attended for coming together for this outstanding learning opportunity.

Works Cited

Brown, Brené. 2018. Dare to Lead, Brave Work, Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. Vermillion: London.

Moreillon, Judi. 2021. “Introduction.” In Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage, ed. Judi Moreillon, ix-xiv. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Principal Partnerships and Leader-Librarians

Chapter 6 Principal-School Librarian Partnerships by Kelly Gustafson and M. E. Shenefiel
Blog post by M. E. Shenefiel

Tempus Fugit (Time Flies)
We’ve just returned from the 2021 AASL National Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, where we had the honor of learning from our co-authors as they presented an overview of the core values embodied in our book. (Thanks to Suzanne Sannwald, Judi Moreillon, Erika Long, Julie Stivers, and Meg Boisseau Allison for sharing your ideas and passion. You are each inspirational role models for those who choose to embrace this work.) It’s been just about a year since we completed the final draft of Chapter 6 of Core Values in School Librarianship and we are grateful to have had the opportunity to participate. When we began the project, we couldn’t have imagined how pertinent this work would become.

Leader-Librarians
At the AASL conference, the Friday general session was a conversation with administrators (including the co-author of chapter 6, Kelly Gustafson.) The conversation focused on “what administrators need and expect from their school librarians and school libraries, and how administrators can empower a school librarian’s leadership role to impact all learners” (ALA, 2021.) Several times during the conversation the panel of exemplary administrators referred to the “mental model” of the school librarian, and how it does not match the actual role of the school librarian. The “mental model” refers to the antiquated role of the school librarian whose seemingly sole purpose was to protect the paper and shush the student. (The pivotal word being, “was.”) These administrators expressed high expectations for what a leader-librarian can and should be.

 “Principals who value school librarians have a high expectation for those librarians to be leaders within their school and district” (Gustafson and Shenefiel, 94).(Gustafson and Shenefiel, 94)

Question: What does a school leader-librarian look like?

Answer: Whatever your administrator needs it to be. It could be something as small as having a few moments during each staff meeting to highlight new resources. It could mean collaborating with another department to help curate resources for a grade-level curricular project. It could mean organizing literacy events for the school community. It could be presenting professional development within the district or at the local, state, or national level.

Leader-librarians observe and listen, attuned to the needs of the students, staff, and school community. When resources and opportunities to address these needs come to light, leader-librarians share proactively. Committed to finding opportunities to serve, they are curious about school-wide and district-wide initiatives and seek out information to understand these initiatives. They ask for a seat at the table, whether it be a small focus group to provide input for a prospective grant, a standing social studies department meeting, or an expanded advisory committee focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Leader-librarians are confident in their ability to advocate for all students and will take risks to challenge the status quo if that challenge is in the best interest of the students.

Building the Partnership

“Trust is built on very small moments.” – Brené Brown

Librarians tend to have their finger on the pulse of what’s happening in a school or a school district. Principals are responsible for guiding the programs and making decisions in the best interest of the school community. Each time the librarian can be proactive and offer solutions to building-level concerns, the principal can breathe a little sigh of relief. These small moments and actions build trust, and strong partnerships are the result.

As a leader-librarian you need to be alert and take advantage of opportunities to show that you are connected to the goals of the school and district. These opportunities don’t require grand gestures or complicated plans.

For example, my building principal is facilitating a year-long book study of When You Wonder, You’re Learning: Mister Rogers’ Enduring Lessons for Raising Creative, Curious, Caring Kids by Gregg Behr and Ryan Rydzewski. A few weeks ago, the authors were speaking at a local independent bookstore, and I was able to share this event with my principal, so he could, in turn, share it with others. This tiny action is just one of many small moments where I’m proactive and step up to support the goals of my principal.

As a result, the principal will always listen when I have a question or suggestion, and when possible, will defer to my judgment when it comes to decisions about the library.

Collaborative Leadership in Our District
The partnership that Kelly and I have has evolved into an interesting collaborative leadership opportunity. Kelly has used her voice to elevate the role of the school librarians across the district. She has been strategic about finding opportunities to advocate and as such, the other principals and administrators are recognizing the value of a leader-librarians. As a result of this work, for the first time, the library department is working in tandem with the ELA department to update our core novel list with a focus on including diverse texts.

Reflection Question
“What opportunities exist for you to be a leader in your school or district?” (Gustafson and Shenefiel, 105).

Works Cited
American Library Association (ALA). 2021. “Friday General Session.” AASL Salt Lake City. Available at https://national.aasl.org/general/. Accessed October 27, 2021.

Behr, Gregg and Ryan Rydzewski. 2021. When You Wonder, You’re Learning: Mister Rogers’ Enduring Lessons for Raising Creative, Curious, Caring Kids. New York, NY: Hachette Book Group.

Brown, Brené. 2019. “The Anatomy of Trust,” recorded April 15, 2019 for Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations, podcast, 24:28, Available at https://super-soul.simplecast.com/episodes/dr-brene-brown-the-anatomy-of-trust-FfsQ0Y_C. Accessed October 27, 2021.

Gustafson, Kelly, and M. E. Shenefiel. 2021. “Principal-School Librarian Partnerships” In Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage, ed. Judi Moreillon, 91-106. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Kelly Gustafson, MEd, serves as the Wexford Elementary School principal in the Pine-Richland School District in Pennsylvania. Kelly’s passion for school library partnerships fueled her active role in AASL’s School Leader Collaborative. She champions the value of librarians as a member of AASL and Pennsylvania School Librarians Association. Connect with her on Twitter @GustafsonkKelly.

M. E. Shenefiel, MLIS, (she/her) is the librarian at Eden Hall Upper Elementary School in the Pine-Richland School District (Gibsonia, Pennsylvania), where she also serves as the library department chairperson and a Building Level Technology Coach. She was a contributor to both the Guidelines for Pennsylvania School Library Programs (2019) and The Model Curriculum for Learners in Pennsylvania School Libraries (2019). Connect with her on Twitter @bookbird.

Diversity in a Culturally Responsive School Library Collection

Chapter by Julie Stivers, Stephanie Powell, and Nancy Jo Lambert|
Blog post by Judi Moreillon

Chapter 2: Diversity Co-authors
Since I, Judi Moreillon, have the privilege of writing this post, I am beginning by introducing Core Values in School Librarianship readers to the co-authors of the “Diversity” chapter.

Julie Stivers, MLIS, (she/her) is the librarian at Mount Vernon Middle, an alternative public school in Raleigh, North Carolina. As a 2018 ALA Emerging Leader, Julie helped develop AASL’s Defending Intellectual Freedom: LGBTQ+ Materials in School Libraries and she is the author/editor of Include (ALA, 2021). Julie’s research and practical interests include culturally sustaining pedagogy, building inclusive library spaces, and exploring the power of manga and anime with her students. She connects on Twitter at @BespokeLib.

Stephanie Powell, MEITE, is a librarian at Green Level High School in Wake County, North Carolina. A National Board-Certified Teacher and lifelong learner, she has been a classroom teacher and now librarian for nearly 28 years. She earned a Master’s in Instructional Technology from UNC-Chapel Hill and her Master’s in Library and Information Science from UNC-Greensboro. Stephanie is invested in promoting equity and being an advocate for underrepresented voices through library services. Connect with Stephanie on Twitter @spowel15.

Nancy Jo Lambert, MLS, is a Google Certified Trainer with friEdtechnology and high school teacher-librarian at Reedy High School in Frisco, Texas. She advocates for libraries by telling the story of the learning happening in her library. Named TCEA Library Media Specialist of the Year, Nancy Jo was AASL Social Media Superstar Curriculum Champion in 2019. She is a cisgender, white, bisexual educator and co-founder of #TeachPride and EduPrideAlliance. Connect with her on Twitter @NancyJoLambert and on her websites: reedylibrary.com and nancyjolambert.com.

“Building, maintaining, using, and promoting a diverse, inclusive collection and library program takes both passion and purpose-driven work.”Julie Stivers, Stephanie Powell, and Nancy Jo Lambert 2021, 19.

Culturally Responsive Educators
The co-authors make many references to culturally responsive collection development, maintenance, promotion, and teaching throughout this chapter. As Stephanie notes, “Through (their) three points of view, the lenses of our varied perspectives allow (them) to better understand how librarianship plays an important role in meeting those who we serve where they are and what they need” (20). Bringing their individual experiences as well as their collective thoughts together in this chapter makes it an especially powerful read.

One point all three co-authors make is that school library collections must reflect the multiple identity markers of school populations as well as reflect the diversity of experience and perspectives across the country and around the globe. As Julie notes: “Even if—especially if—your school population is mostly or solely White, you should build a collection that is racially diverse and not restrict students to a single lens” (21). This can be a particular challenge because our predominantly White and female profession must have self-knowledge and engage in critical reflection that causes school librarians to take action to diversify the library collection and ensure its use to normalize diversity in all of its manifestations.

This challenge also calls on librarians to consider authors from underrepresented groups and texts with diverse characters in books published for youth. As Julie points out, statistics from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center continue to spotlight the fact that the number of books featuring animals and inanimate objects are more commonly published and even exceed the sum of the number of books featuring all underrepresented groups combined. (See the 2019 stats at https://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/the-numbers-are-in-2019-ccbc-diversity-statistics.)

Commitment to Diversity
Readers will find support for their own self-education about various lenses for examining texts. The co-authors cite and describe five frameworks that can help school librarians deepen their knowledge regarding diversity:

  • Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors—Rudine Sims Bishop
  • #OwnVoices—Corinne Duyvis
  • Danger of a Single Voice—Chimananda Adichie
  • Plot-Driven Adventures across Identities—Malinda Lo
  • Black Joy—Many Writers!

The value of auditing the library collection using each of these frameworks is discussed in this chapter.

Diversity Audits
One way librarians’ values are manifest in the library collection is the understanding that the library is not a neutral space; what is included in or excluded from the collection makes a “political” statement. As co-author Nancy Jo notes: “By offering youth a free, public education where they have access to information and all sides of issues, we equip them with the skills they need to navigate learning and to form opinions of their own” (24). In the process, issues related to prejudice, discrimination, and injustice will arise.

In order to build a collection and library program that is relevant to students and that prompts their critical thinking, school librarians can use diversity audits to evaluate the inclusiveness of the collection. This requires librarians to use an equity and diversity lens. Initial audits may focus on aligning the collection with the school’s demographics. Additional analysis of the collection involves searching for gaps related to additional identity markers as well as taking a more global perspective on ideas and information.

Audits are not simple nor are they a one-time exercise. In order to maintain a culturally responsive, inclusive collection, librarians must continuously assess both the fiction and informational texts available to students, classroom teachers, and families. Involving students and other educators in developing, auditing, and maintaining the collection not only builds a stronger more useful collection, it also builds relationships. And relationships are key to a successful school library program that ensures that the collection is used in the service of student learning.

Reflection Questions
“How as your own cultural context influenced the books you’ve read—both within school and personally? How has this shaped your collection development framework as a school librarian?” (34)

Addendum:
Access to Joyce Valenza’s Toolkit: Inclusive Collection Collections and Diversity Audits.

Work Cited

Stivers, Julie, Stephanie Powell, and Nancy Jo Lambert. 2021. “Diversity.” In Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage, ed. Judi Moreillon, 19-36. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Equity from a District-level Perspective

Blog Post by Chapter 1: Equity Co-author Suzanne Sherman“It is very important to our mission to ensure that the district’s school library services truly serve every student” (Searles and Moser, cited in Long and Sherman 2021, 14).(quoted from Long and Sherman 2021, 14)

Transition From a Building-level to a District-level Perspective
At the time Erika Long and I were crafting Chapter 1: Equity in Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage, I was entering my 12th year as a school librarian at a large, suburban high school in Knox County, Tennessee. Providing equity had always been at the forefront of my thinking and while I like to think that I was seeing this from a broader perspective than just this particular school, the reality was that I primarily applied the principle to the 2,100+ students I interacted with daily. I attempted in my regular practice to ensure that my energy and accompanying resources in lesson design, collection management, and outreach efforts were all-inclusive and provided entry points for every student.

At various points in my career in Knox County Schools, I served in district leadership positions which allowed me from time to time to have a glimpse of the bigger picture and to see some of the challenges around providing equity on such a large scale. Those experiences were partly what led to my decision to apply for the Library Media Services (LMS) Instructional Facilitator position for the district. I was selected for the job and transitioned from the school library setting into the role at the district office in January, 2021. I knew at this point that my vantage point was shifting and suspected that my understanding of equity in school libraries would be as well.

Collectively Learning
I was extremely grateful for the professional development I received during my first week in my new position as it solidified my thinking about collective efficacy and the role it would play in shaping my work. When I saw that one of the primary goals is to help our department of 90+ librarians grow in their practice as a whole, I immediately saw equity in the equation.

As I undertook specific tasks such as continuing the work outlined in Chapter 1: Equity wherein my predecessor and supervisor collaborated with the Knox County Public Library to provide library cards for all KCS students and partnered with one of the preschools to organize and rethink those libraries, I was able to see firsthand the impact this was making in the community.

I was quickly introduced to planning for professional development (PD) and, again, I saw the power of equity on this larger scale. Through careful planning and thoughtful consideration of our different adult learners’ needs, it became clear to me that ensuring that the PD we offer the school librarians in our district is meaningful and relevant has to be at the heart of my practice.

Consistently providing the entire department opportunities to engage with research-based practices and grow in their understanding of what it means to deliver high-quality instruction and maintain current and relevant collections has the capacity to level the playing field for all students when librarians implement their learning in their individual schools. Exploring ideas pertinent to school libraries such as the ones we included in our 2021 summer PD sessions: on-demand access to materials, building inclusive collections, Universal Design for Learning, and Social and Personal Competencies, highlights for the librarians these principles of equity and ultimately has the power to positively impact their instruction and programming.

Achieving Empowerment
Our chapter concludes by saying, “The first step in working to achieve equity within schools is ensuring that all learners in every school have access to a certified school librarian or district leaders who advocate for resources and services within underserved schools where this is not feasible from a staffing standpoint” (15). We are fortunate enough in our district to be allocated the funding for both a supervisor and an instructional facilitator in the LMS department and this is not something that I take lightly or for granted.

The charge that comes with providing resources for all students and dedicated support for the school librarians points always to the pursuit of equity. Modeling the practice becomes a means of providing structures for the librarians and ultimately empowers them to deliver the same equitable services to their students, classroom teachers, administrators, and families.

To learn more about the role equity plays in planning for instruction and services, explore Chapter 1 in Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage (Libraries Unlimited 2021).

Reflection Question
“Brainstorm services your school community lacks. Develop out-of-the-box to meet those needs and create a timeline implementation. What barriers might arise, and how will you overcome them?” (16).

Work Cited
Long, Erika, and Suzanne Sherman. 2021. “Equity.” In Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage, ed. Judi Moreillon, 3-17. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Core Values in School Librarianship at #alaac21

“All school librarians need a firm foundation to provide strength and direction during these rapidly changing and challenging times”
(Moreillon 2021, ix).

Are you registered for the American Library Association Virtual Annual Conference?

If so, may we recommend our On-Demand Video Program, Q&A, and Slow Chat at ALA Virtual Annual Conference from June 23 – 29?

Program Title: “Taking Action for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Intellectual Freedom in School Libraries.”

The presenters are contributors to our hot-off-the-presses book Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage (Libraries Unlimited 2021). We are enthusiastic about sharing our work.

Beginning this week during ALA Virtual we will provide opportunities for you to engage in conversation with us around these core values and their implication for practice:

Equity: Erika Long – @erikaslong

Diversity: Stephanie Powell and Julie Stivers – @spowel15 and @BespokeLib

Inclusion: Meg Boisseau Allison and Peter Patrick Langella – @meg_allison and @PeterLangella

Intellectual Freedom: Suzanne Sannwald – @suzannesannwald

About the Program
In this program, the co-authors and presenters share their values and practices related to the first four chapters of the book. Enacting these core values in school libraries requires a deep understanding of what each value means and how it can be applied for continuous improvement in the K-12 learning environment.

The program is divided into five segments, a brief introduction and one for each of the core values. After the moderator’s introduction, each presenter will organize their portion of the program in this way:

  1. Give a brief introduction and personal connection and commitment to the core value.
  2. Define the core value in terms of school librarian practice.
  3. Give an example of courageous application of the value that demonstrates reaching for social justice.

The presenters invite video viewer participants to reflect with other attendees and us regarding their individual next steps to take action to apply equity, diversity, inclusion, and intellectual freedom practices in their teaching and leading in their library spaces. Program participants can ask questions or make comments via the ALA virtual system and via the slow chat on Twitter. Presenters will respond.

Learning Objectives:
Upon completion, participants will be able to:

  • Describe how school library/public library youth/family users will “see” evidence of equity, diversity, inclusion, and intellectual freedom (EDII) in library spaces.
  • Identify and share action steps to achieving EDII in their library and school learning environments.

Invitation to #alaac21 Slow Chat
Please join us throughout ALA 2021 – from June 23 through June 29 – for a slow chat to extend our conversation focused on “Taking Action for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Intellectual Freedom in School Libraries.”

We will post questions from our presentation each day. We invite you to engage in the conversation by responding to the questions, asking questions, and sharing your thoughts!

We look forward to the discussion! Be sure to use the hashtags #alaac21 and #SLCoreValues when contributing.

Registration : Taking Action for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Intellectual Freedom in School Libraries

Handout

We look forward to learning with you online this week!

Work Cited

Moreillon, Judi. Ed. 2021. Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage. Santa Barbara,

Advocacy During Times of Austerity

On Thursday, February 11, 2021, the Arizona Library Association (AzLA) and its Professional Development Committee hosted a webinar given by EveryLibrary executive director John Chrastka: “Advocacy During an Austerity Budget.” You can access the video recording of his presentation on the AzLA YouTube channel as well as John’s slide deck. John addressed the concerns and possible solutions to school and public library advocacy efforts during the post-pandemic budget cycle, a time of austerity (in terms of revenue).

I tweeted some of my take-aways during the session. I’ve added my school librarian and library connections after each one.

“Scarcity scares human beings!”

Important for #librarians to prepare for challenges: state/city/county/school district budgets will be negatively impacted by economic fallout from pandemic. “Watch out for austerity budgets! Scarcity scares human beings!” @MrChrastka @EveryLibrary @azlalib #aasl #libraries

Most states and local governments have projected general fund revenue declines as the result of the pandemic. At the same time, costs have gone up due to COVID expenditures. The situation will be dire for many unless there is a substantial federal relief remedy. (Please see John’s slides for data.)

Note: The loss of funds for public schools will be devastating, which is why Arizona Proposition 208, the Invest in Education Act, passed by voters in November, 2020, is so important. It provides dedicated funds for hiring educators, including school librarians.

School librarians can counter the fear and conservatism that decision-makers feel. We must position our work as the number one priority for the 2021- 2022 educational health of our students and our schools. That said, “Before educators and school stakeholders will advocate for (school librarian-led) transformation of teaching and learning, they must see how educational innovations align with their priorities” (Moreillon 2018, 130).

COVID-Slide

In austerity framework, most productive components or politician/administrator pet projects survive. Very few “nice-to-have” services post-pandemic. Must demonstrate to parents/school board/admins how #schoollibrarians can reverse COVID-slide for Ss. @MrChrastka @EveryLibrary @azlalib #aasl

Responding to the COVID-slide is the way we do so. We know that far too many students have lost ground during remote or hybrid learning. Progress in traditional and multiple literacies has been undermined for students who lack/lacked access to devices and resources, including support for learning in their homes. We know that classroom teachers, particularly those who have simultaneously taught groups of students in face-to-face and online classrooms, have been stretched and have needed and still need support.

Research in school librarianship has consistently affirmed that schools with state-certified, collaborating school librarians positively impact student achievement, especially in reading (Lance and Kachel 2018). School librarians whose literacy work impacts successful learning for all students and the effective teaching of all educators can be the number one priority for superintendents, principals, and school boards.

Gap-Fillers

Must address people’s post-pandemic concerns/fears. #schoollibrarians must be gap-filler rather than nostalgia restorer. Stories/data of success or failure w/path to improvement (integrity). @MrChrastka @EveryLibrary @azlalib What are #library high-impact solutions? #Lilead #aasl

This is the time for school librarians to share how we can continue to fill the gaps exposed during school closures. We must gather our advocates, principals, other educators, families, and students, to speak up for how school librarians provided and will continue to provide much needed instructional support, including technology support.

If schools that lack professional school librarians did not/do not have that support, then decision-makers must be made aware of what students, educators, and families have to gain by hiring school librarian literacy leaders for the ’21-’22 school year. School librarians are the educators who can help students, educators, and families reverse the COVID-slide and fill the gaps going forward.

Coalition Building

Who else cares about #literacy & K-12 Ss/Ts success? Coalitions are essential. There are many people who care about what we do! #schoollibrarians connect & reciprocate to support each other. Show how your work leads to prosperity. @MrChrastka @EveryLibrary @azlalib #aasl #Lilead

All education stakeholders care about the COVID-slide. Who else in your community cares about literacy learning loss? John Chrastka’s slide below lists questions to ask yourself regarding finding internal and external advocates at this point in time (published with permission).

Who Else Cares on Campus? Slide from John Chrastka

Defining the Negative
One of John’s comments that deeply resonated with me was about decision-makers who have eliminated school librarian positions in the past. In speaking to them, our job is the help them see the wisdom of correcting an error. John made the connection with the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Since that is our situation in Tucson Unified School District, I need to think more about this connection and how I can show understanding and compassion as we move forward with our efforts to restore school librarian positions in the district.

Highly Recommended
I highly recommend that all school librarians view this webinar recording and John’s slide deck. See also the SLIDE: The School Librarian Investigation: Decline or Evolution? research study data to compare your state with those around the country.

Gather your colleagues and form your coalitions. This is the time to demonstrate how school librarians are essential to reversing the COVID-slide and filling the gaps for students, other educators, and families in the ’21-’22 academic school year.

Works Cited

Lance, Keith Curry, and Debra E. Kachel. 2018. “Why School Librarians Matter: What Years of Research Tell Us.” Phi Delta Kappan 99 (7): 15-20. Available at http://www.kappanonline.org/lance-kachel-school-librarians-matter-years-research/

Moreillon, Judi. 2018. Maximizing School Librarian Leadership: Building Connections for Learning and Advocacy. Chicago: ALA.

Reflection 2020

Photograph: Reflection and Ripples in a PondSince 2016, this is the annual blog post where I share my reflection on the past year. (Prior to 2016, this blog was a collaborative project with several contributors.)

Before writing a new post, I review end-of-the year reflections from previous years. I must admit that “Professional Connectedness 2019” almost brought tears to my eyes. Although I will be eternally grateful to the alignment of the pandemic with the rise of Zoom, this year I deeply missed being face to face with so many family members, friends, and colleagues.

Teaching and Learning in 2020
After teaching graduate students 100% online for more than ten years, this year I had the experience of failing to creating community in the virtual learning environment. Perhaps, I am now of the generation of educators who need to see students’ faces in order to understand how best to guide their learning. (I took it personally when students opted out of turning on their cameras.) Or perhaps, the combination of online learning with the pandemic presented a stress level that inhibited a level of trust and sharing that I expect to give and receive in graduate studies. Whatever the reason, this was a difficult lesson for me.

On the other hand, the virtual world supported collaboration among contributors to Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage (Libraries Unlimited 2021). School librarians from across the country responded to my invitation to contribute to the book. Eight of nine chapters were co-authored by two or more educators who co-wrote using online tools. I provided feedback and edits virtually as well. We couldn’t have done this easily without the support of Google docs and Zoom.

This was also a banner year for free online professional development. I took advantage of many opportunities to learn from far-distant colleagues and to extend my reach for sharing my work. I believe that many individuals and organizations experienced success in developing more interactive virtual learning strategies and that this trend will continue long into the future.

That said, I look forward to having the option to return to in-person professional learning, sharing, and networking.

Connecting 2018 with 2020
Looking Back, Looking Forward,” my 2018 reflection, focused on the research and writing that had further influenced my understanding of teaching reading. In 2019, I had the privilege of chairing the American Association of School Librarians School Librarian’s Role in Reading Task Force.

The position statement we crafted was approved by the AASL Board in January, 2020.  I am exceeding proud of this work and stand by the perspective that the crucial work of school librarians is not only as book promoters but also as teachers of reading. To be sure, the school librarian’s role in reading is indeed “the hill on which I will die.” (As a colleague noted, perhaps it’s time for a bumper sticker!)

Identity in 2020
If I were asked to provide one word that anchors my professional identity, it would be authenticity. I believe in remaining true—true to my beliefs, passions, and values. I want to be considered a genuine person with unquestionable integrity. I strive to always represent myself true to my nature even if my truth does not align with that of another person of integrity or that of the prevailing norms.

Christopher Connors is an author, executive coach and emotional intelligence speaker. He reminds us that “authenticity is about presence, living in the moment with conviction and confidence and staying true to yourself” (2017). According to Connors, these are five qualities of an authentic person.

  1. Be True to Yourself.
  2. Think Inward, Look Outward.
  3. The Way You Treat People (Kindness and Respect)
  4. Live in the Moment and Be a Great Listener.
  5. Open-Mindedness and Fairness to Opportunities and People (Connors 2017).

To learn about how Connors describes these qualities, read his entire article on Medium.com.

Authenticity in 2021
Kindness, respect, and trust may be especially important now when reality has been turned upside down for so many students, families, colleagues, friends, and neighbors. Our struggles are real.

This could be an especially essential time to live an authentic life.

As Brené Brown so eloquently said, “there is no better way to invite more grace, gratitude and joy into our lives than by mindfully practicing authenticity.”

This is a time when it is essential for school librarians to mindfully practice authenticity. As educators and colleagues, we must make a commitment to taking risks to improve our teaching and transforming students’ learning experiences.

For 2021, I am renewing my commitment to be my authentic self—to be vulnerable and brave and true. I will collaborate with others to create a better today and tomorrow for others. I invite you to join me.

Work Cited
Connors, Christopher D. 2017. “The Five Qualities of an Authentic Person.” Medium.com. https://medium.com/personal-growth/the-5-key-ingredients-of-an-authentic-person-259914abf6d5

Image Credit
From My Personal Collection

#lafcon Learning

Image: Books with a sign: "So many books, so little time."

And so many sessions, so little time!

Last week, I participated in the Library Advocacy and Funding Conference.  I appreciated that the conference organizers made it so easy for people to participate. All of the sessions were pre-recorded and those of us with other obligations on these days could dip and out of the presentations that met our perceived needs. (I also appreciate the access was extended through to the end of the week. Thank you, @EveryLibrary and #lafcon sponsors.)

When I wrote a conference preview last week, I thought I would write about all of the sessions I attended. However, such a post would be too long for this blog space and I did post thank-you tweets for most of the session I attended (see @CactusWoman and #lafcon).

Instead, I want to share my take-aways from two phenomenal sessions: “Small Doors and Broken Windows” presented by Alvin Irby and an interview with Elizabeth A. Davis, president of the Washington (D.C.) Teachers Union. Each of these speakers had so much to share with school librarians, in particular; the following are just the highlights.

Alvin Irby, Small Windows and Broken Mirrors
Alvin Irby, former classroom teacher and part-time stand-up comedian, is the founder of Barbershop Books, a non-profit which he calls an “identity-based” reading program. Barbershop Books puts books selected by Black boys in child-friendly, male-spaces (barbershops) with the goal of all boys seeing themselves as readers.

Mr. Irby puts this work in a context. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 85% of Black male fourth-graders are not proficient in reading. Fewer than 2% of U.S. teachers are Black and a majority of Black boys are being raised by single mothers. Barbershop Books creates the possibility for access to books and Black role models that can help boys identify as readers.

And many of the books these boys choose for the program make them laugh! Mr. Irby cites information from the Scholastic Kids and Family Reading Report. Parents (and likely educators, too) want kids to read books that inspire them to do something good—books with good stories that make kids think and feel. And what do kids want? They want books that will make them laugh—good stories that are humorous.

In that vein, Alvin Irby delivered a critique of the books librarians honor with awards and the lists we curate for young readers. Where are the funny or gross books? You won’t see Captain Underpants or Walter the Farting Dog on these lists, but these are the kinds of books kids who are beginning to identify as readers want and need. (This may be a stinging critique for one of our sacred cows, but I think it is one to seriously consider as we rise to the challenges posed by illiteracy and aliteracy.)

There was so much in Alvin Irby’s session that was memorable and quote worthy for me. Here are two quotes:

“Cultural competency at its core is about humility. It’s about educators/librarians being humble enough to recognize that they (we) don’t know enough to recognize that they (we) don’t know everything that they (we) need to know to make that (reading) experience as relevant and engaging as it could be and that by actually taking time and making space to gain a better understanding of who the audience is and about what’s important to them…”

“If you look at a book list for any child and there are no laugh out loud books on it then I don’t even know what to say other than that book list is not allowing children to see their whole self.”

At the very end of his presentation, Mr. Irby gave librarians a critical key to success. Guest readers will read books differently. If, for example, we want to impact the reading experiences of 4th-grade Black boys, then we should invite Black readers into our libraries to share.

During the pandemic, many authors have given us the gift of reading their own books online (or giving recognizable celebrities permission to read their books). These recordings can be our guest readers. Let’s look for the ones read by Black men if we want to create relevant and engaging reading experiences for Black boys. (And the same practice will be true for any other group of library patrons.)

Whether or not you saw his #lafcon session, I highly recommend Alvin Irby’s 8-minute TED Talk: “How to Inspire Every Child to Be a Lifelong Reader.”

Elizabeth A. Davis, President of Washington Teachers Union (WTU), Washington, D.C.: Interview with John Chrastka, Executive Director, EveryLibrary.org
Ms. Davis: “Education is a civil right.” When she ran for WTU president, Ms. Davis’s platform was to transform WTU into a social justice union that would come to the table with solutions, not just problems, would amply the voices of teachers, and build respect.

She had been an activist educator who taught students how to write letters to decision-makers. In the interview, Ms. Davis tells an inspiring story of a 6th-grade student in her class in 2005 who wrote a letter to the principal asking why the library was closed. He responded that there was no librarian but he allowed the student access to the library during lunch. The girl discovered that the same books that were on the shelve in 1953, when the school was all White, were still on the shelves for her and her all Black and Brown schoolmates. After writing another letter, Representative Elijah Cummings invited the student to the Capitol to present her findings at the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.

When schools were on the verge of closing in spring 2020, Ms. Davis asked all teachers to survey their students regarding their tech access. They found 38% did not have computers, and all of them had TVs. Using these data and a commitment to equity, Washington, D.C. schools delivered instruction via TV during spring 2020. Brilliant!

John Chrastka: “Politics is people or money.”

Fully resourced, fully staffed school libraries are a funding issue. WTU sponsors an Annual Fund Our Schools, Fund Our Futures budget campaign to activate parents to speak before the city council in support of school funding. This kind of parent activism could transform how budget decisions are made in every district across the country.

As Ms. Davis noted, leaders must listen to all education stakeholders to learn what matters to them. Ms. Davis found that in Washington D.C. “equity is the thread that connects the dots among school stakeholders.” She also noted that “if logic doesn’t work, shame does!”

I agree with Ms. Davis that educators (especially school librarians) have to realize our power. Through the students we serve in our schools, we are connected to parents, relatives, and caregivers who are voters. Educators must activate voters to change things that aren’t working. We must adopt strategies to change our daily working environments for our own and our students’ and colleagues’ benefit.

Ms. Davis’s advice to school librarians: Look at the power of the services you are providing and where those services are falling short in your school. Then, focus on how your contributions are lifting that up for students and classroom teachers.

This is the second time I’ve heard Elizabeth Davis speak about her leadership and organizing efforts. She is a wonder and her personal stories as a student and an educator are powerful. I wish there was an organization specifically for teachers’ union presidents. If there is/were one, she should be speaking at their conferences and leading their charge.

The D.C. school librarians are doing outstanding work, and it helps their cause beyond measure that they have an advocate like Ms. Davis who will stand up for them and with them and speak truth to power. She is a brilliant impassioned leader. Thank you, @EveryLibrary, for spotlighting her voice and work.

#lafcon 2020
As a no longer practicing librarian, I might not have attended #lafcon without the support of the Lilead Project. I appreciate that they gave me this opportunity.

By participating, I learned that as a literacies and libraries consultant, author, and school librarian advocate there was so much valuable information in the conference for someone like me. Thank you to those in the School Librarians Group who posted reviews of the sessions they attended and engaged in brief exchanges in a discussion forum.

I gained a great deal of knowledge that I will apply in my consulting, writing, and advocacy work. My only wish was that I had had more time to take advantage of more of the session offerings.

Image credit:
Prettysleepy. “Books Library Education.” Pixabay.com, https://pixabay.com/illustrations/books-library-education-knowledge-5430104/

 

The Library Advocacy and Funding Conference

Illustration of a Microphone and a Woman Getting Ready to SpeakBeginning Monday, September 14, 2020, I’m participating in the Library Advocacy and Funding Conference. I appreciate that the conference organizers specifically mention helping school librarians increase our “effective organizing and power building” in order to save our profession from further erosion.

As an advocate for school librarians and libraries, there are two strands that are most compelling for me: “Advocacy” and “Library Campaigns and Elections.” I have been advocating for state-certified school librarians in every K-12 school and fully resourced high-quality school library programs for almost thirty years so this topic is a must-explore topic for me. I am currently promoting Prop. #208, The Invest in Education Act, a ballot initiative in Arizona that will put more public school funding in the hands of districts so they can hire more educators, including school librarians, and pay them better.

These are selected session topics under “Advocacy:”

  • Strategies for Nonpartisan Civic and Voter Engagement Activities
  • Personas in Action: Define Your Audience to Develop Your Message
  • Ambassadors of Truth: How Librarians Can Help Save Our Democracy This November
  • Using Video Storytelling to Get Political
  • Getting a Seat at the Table: How c3 / c4 coalitions advance policy and funding
  • Politics Isn’t a Dirty Word: Be an Effective Advocate in a Time of Uncertainty
  • Advocacy in an Election Year
  • Ballot Measures as a Tool for Advocacy
  • Leading from Within: How mission-driven organizations create policy change and pass legislation

And these are selected topics under “Library Campaigns and Elections:”

  • 8 Principles for Running A Modern, Digital Library Campaign
  • Strategies for Nonpartisan Civic and Voter Engagement Activities
  • How to Connect with Voters through Personal Stories
  • Ballot Measures as a Tool for Advocacy

When I skimmed the session offerings, these four jumped off the screen. The following are excerpts from their descriptions:

Marsha Donat – Ballot Measures as a Tool for Advocacy
501c3 or C4 organization can help support ballot initiatives for the library or take other political action. Join the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center to learn how you can utilize ballot measures as at tool and move your advocacy goals forward and create a more equitable and just society.

Caitlin Donnelly: Strategies for Nonpartisan Civic and Voter Engagement Activities
Many organizations don’t realize how much they can do to further democracy and help the community they serve to participate in voting and elections and advocate for a cause, ballot measure, or political position… One major strategy for engaging voters is making sure they understand what will appear on their ballot.

Kyle Shannon – Using Video Storytelling to Get Political
Your ability to tell the stories of your library and its value is more important than ever. Video is the best way to share the impact on your community.

Joshua Starr – American Attitudes Towards Public Education: Findings from the 2020 PDK Annual Poll
This is the 51st year of the PDK poll, which is the longest running continuous poll of American’s perspectives on public education. From school choice, to the use of standardized tests, diversity and the performance of the current administration, the PDK poll results inform the debate on public education policy and practice in unique ways.

I agree with the organizers of #lafcon that librarianship is political and that learning to be strategic in how we navigate the political world is essential for our success.

“Libraries are political when they take a stand to support topics such as first amendment rights, information access, the freedom to read and so much more. It’s also true that 98% of library funding is politically driven by the will of local voters and the will of local, state, and federal legislators. That means that if we want to see libraries funded and supported into the future then we need to understand how to navigate this world of politics” (https://www.lafcon.org/libraries_aren_t_political).

This is the link for #lafcon registration.

I look forward to using and sharing what I learned.

Image Credit:
mary1826. “Speaker Lecturer Speech Conference.” Pixabay.com, https://pixabay.com/illustrations/speaker-lecturer-speech-conference-2148213/