Collaboration and Leadership

Chapter 9: Collaboration by Judi Moreillon“Collaboration is THE key to co-creating a values-centered culture of deeper learning.” (Moreillon 2021, 141)

Maximizing Their Impact
As school librarians enact equity, diversity, inclusion, and intellectual freedom (EDII) in their collaborative work, the school community will help them reach for social justice for all students. In schools with effective school librarians, EDII extend beyond the library and permeate the entire school culture. When school librarians collaborate with classroom teachers, specialists, and administrators, all students will experience the benefits of an EDII-infused learning environment.

Through coplanning, coteaching, and coassessing student learning outcomes, collaborating school librarians advocate for EDII in their daily work and influence the instructional practices of their colleagues. Effective school librarians integrate the diverse resources of the school library as they coplan and coteach. They ensure equitable student access to resources in all formats and to assistive technologies. School librarians coplan and coteach for student choice, voice, and differentiation in teaching and learning strategies, student activities, and learning products. Alongside their colleagues, they guide students in reading for learning in order to make sense and critically analyze and use ideas and information.

In schools with effective school librarians, collaboration results in instructional improvements for educators, including school librarians, and improved learning outcomes for students.

A Collaborative Culture of Learning

Graphic: A Collaborative Culture of Deeper Learning (Moreillon 2021, 139)(Moreillon 2021, 139)

How can school librarians be leaders in co-creating a values-centered culture of deeper learning?

Instructional Leadership: What If?
Given the emphasis on literacy and reading in schools and districts, it makes intuitive sense that students’ reading and writing proficiency and standardized scores would be better in schools with strong library programs.

Research also bears this out. Decades of research indicates that there is a positive correlation between learners’ attending schools with full-time, state-certified school librarians and higher scores on standardized reading tests (Gretes 2013; Lance and Kachel 2018). As Todd notes, deep reading for comprehension and meaning making is the foundation for constructing knowledge (2015, 13). If school librarians seek to guide students in making meaning from texts and creating new knowledge, then the school librarian’s role in reading is critical.

“The school librarian is an instructional partner who models and supports independent reading and the development of reading comprehension through curricular planning, instruction, resources, and literacy activities. School librarians:

  • Co-design, co-implement, and co-evaluate interdisciplinary lessons and units of instruction that help learners increase reading proficiency through inquiry learning experiences.
  • Collaborate with classroom educators and specialists to integrate paper and online reading comprehension strategies in library instruction that supports learners’ development” (AASL 2018).

How can school librarians maximize their impact on student outcomes in the areas of reading and writing while centering EDII in their work?

Collaboration and Leadership
If school librarians are to be instructional leaders, then aligning their expertise in teaching/coteaching information literacy skills through inquiry and research with effective strategies for elevating students’ reading and writing proficiency is essential. Bringing school librarian values to the collaboration table helps spread EDII and principles of social justice throughout the learning community.

Fact
In order to be information literate,
students must be able to comprehend the information they read/view/hear.

Intentionally addressing comprehension strategies during information literacy instruction is a pathway to success for students. One critically important reading comprehension strategy is activating or building background knowledge. When readers connect to ideas and information that reflect their experience, they are more likely to be motivated to read because they have a foundation of knowledge on which to build new understandings. Readers who lack such background knowledge will struggle unless they are guided to build such knowledge or if they havealready incorporated this comprehension strategy into their reading toolkits.

Coplanning for and coteaching reading comprehension and writing strategies must be central to school librarians’ work. Providing students with equitable intellectual access to ideas and information is a way for school librarians to bring principles of EDII into the classroom curriculum. Through diverse, inclusive collection development and coplanning with other educators to enact student-centered practices, school librarians can help all students succeed while they influence the values of their colleagues.

In order to reach their capacity, school librarians must diffuse their value for equity, diversity, inclusion, and intellectual freedom throughout the school learning community. They do this by collaborating with others and in the process, achieve leadership and enact social justice.

Reflection Question
In order to achieve a school culture of deeper learning, what role have you played or will you play in bringing conversations and actions related to social justice (EDII) to the fore in your teaching, school, district, and community? (Moreillon 157).

Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage Book Study
This is the final blog post in this book study of companion writings to support the content of the book. The contributors to the book and to this book study resource hope we have given you some examples, inspiration, and motivation to further your own values-centered practice in the areas of equity, diversity, inclusion, and intellectual freedom. “We hope you will use your voice to affirm your commitment to library values and have the courage to enact them in collaboration with library stakeholders” (Moreillon 2021, 157).

Working together in collaboration with others, school librarians can transform teaching, learning, and the cultures of schools and communities. Together, they can stand up for the hard things that lead to social justice in education.

Works Cited
American Association of Schools Librarians. 2018. “Position Statement: The School Librarian’s Role in Reading.” ALA.org. Available at https://www.ala.org/aasl/advocacy/resources/statements. Accessed December 27, 2021.

Gretes, Frances. 2013. “School Library Impact Studies: A Review of Findings and Guide to Sources.” Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

Lance, Keith Curry, and Debra Kachel. 2018. “Why School Librarians Matter: What Years of Research Tell Us.” Phi Delta Kappan Online. Available at http://www.kappanonline.org/lance-kachel-school-librarians-matter-years-research. Accessed December 27, 2021.

Moreillon, Judi. 2021. “Collaboration.” In Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage, ed. Judi Moreillon, 139-158. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Todd, Ross J. 2015. “Evidence-Based Practice and School Libraries: Interconnections of Evidence, Advocacy, and Actions.” Knowledge Quest 43 (3): 8–15.

Classroom-Library Collaboration for Instruction

Chapter 9 Collaboration by Judi Moreillon

“Collaborating educators believe that their instructional practices develop at a much greater rate with more assured improvements when they collaborate” (Moreillon 2021, 144)(Moreillon 2021, 144)

Way back in the 1990s during the National Library Power Project, I participated in a course for Library Power librarians offered by Ken Haycock. A question he asked at that time has been a reoccurring theme in his writing. When asked whom they serve, “most [school librarians] would answer students, yet the primary clientele in terms of power, impact, and effect would be teachers” (Haycock 2017, 3). This understanding of the importance of collaboration with colleagues is, in my view, the foundation for school librarian leadership.

Learning During Preservice Education
As those of us who have served in school libraries know, many classroom teachers and administrators lack an expectation or an experience of classroom-library collaboration for instruction. Preservice preparation programs for educators/administrators are jammed with state-level requirements and do not, as a rule, include information or an experience of collaborative work with school librarians.

When I taught at Texas Woman’s University (TWU), two doctoral students Ruth Nicole Hall and Becky McKee and I organized and provided annual workshops for preservice classroom teachers about how they could work collaboratively with their school librarian for the benefit of their students and to benefit their own teaching (see the “What Every Preservice Teacher Candidate Should Know about Working with the School Librarian” Slideshare on my presentation wiki).

During those years, preservice principal educator Teresa Starrett invited me to present to her curriculum and supervision classes. Our work included a grant-funded crowdsourced video of testimonials from principals and other administrators from across the country: “Principals Know: School Librarians Are the Heart of the School.”

It would have been ideal if these future colleagues had direct experience of working with school librarian candidates during their preservice education. (This was not possible for our online library science graduate students and in-person classroom teacher and administrator colleagues at TWU.) If direct experience is not possible, currently practicing school librarian educators can help provide information and examples/scenarios for preservice administrators and classroom educators as we did throughout my seven-year tenure.

Instructional Partnerships in Practice
In Chapter 8 Advocacy, Kristin and TuesD note the importance of reaching out to classroom teachers for collaborative work. They wrote: “Messages should help classroom teachers visualize working with the school librarian by providing actual examples of the past and potential partnerships that could be possible” (Sierra and Chambers 128).

The vignettes in Chapter 9: Collaboration offered by elementary school librarian Matt King and middle school English language arts teacher Jenni Kramer and librarian Kat Berg provide examples of collaborative work and testimonials to the power of classroom-library collaboration for instruction – and for job-embedded professional development.

Initiating and Promoting Partnerships
There are times when collaborative partnerships form spontaneously and organically in the context of schooling. However, it is my experience that it often takes one person – usually the librarian – to initiate partnerships.

Providing examples of successful partnerships, especially in terms of student learning outcomes and educator development on the part of classroom teachers and the librarian, are ideal ways to get to “yes!” That is true even if the examples are from the librarian’s work in a different school or district, or with educators at another instructional level. Examples provide school librarians with credibility.

Each of my coteaching reading comprehension professional books includes twenty-one examples of teaching reading to learn in collaboration with elementary and secondary colleagues in every discipline. In addition, I published/copublished two on the National Council of Teachers of Reading ReadWriteThink.org to spotlight for site users, classroom teacher colleagues, preservice school librarians, and school administrators how classroom teachers and school librarians can elevate student learning through coplanning, coteaching, and coassessing student outcomes and the effectiveness of their instruction.

As the second librarian at Sabino High School, I collaborated with the ceramics teacher to co-design and coteach “Behind the Masks: Exploring Culture and Self through Art and Poetry.” Students researched mask-making from various cultures, recreated cultural masks, and composed poetry to share their understandings. Then, they created personal masks and poems to reflect their own cultures. The classroom teacher learned to use rubrics for assessment.

When I served as the literacy coach at Van Buskirk Elementary, I collaborated with classroom teachers, the school librarian, and art teacher to co-design and co-teach “Peace Poems and Picasso Doves: Literature, Art, Technology, and Poetry.” Third- through fifth-grade students applied reading strategies to comprehend literature, created artwork and poetry, and used technology tools to publish their work. Classroom teachers learned new ways to integrate technology into the literacy curriculum.

Classroom Teachers as Advocates
When school librarians help others meet their needs, those library stakeholders will become our advocates. Helping classroom educators and administrators succeed is at the center of the work of school librarians. AND it is important that school librarians turn support for the librarian and library program into actionable advocacy.

Reflection Question
“With whom in your school do you share your vision for building a collaborative culture of learning?” (Moreillon 157).

Note: If you are a School Library Connection subscriber, you can assess the entire Chapter 9 Collaboration as part of the Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage Book Study Kit.

Works Cited
Haycock, Ken. 2017. “Leadership from the Middle: Building Influence for Change.” In The Many Faces of School Librarian Leadership, 2nd ed., ed. S. Coatney and V. H. Harada, 1-12. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Moreillon, Judi. 2004. Peace Poems and Picasso Doves: Literature, Art, Technology, and Poetry. ReadWriteThink.org. Available from http://www.readwritethink.org/classrcoom-resources/lesson-plans/peace-poems-picasso-doves-93.html. Accessed December 19, 2021.

Moreillon, Judi. 2021. “Collaboration.” In Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage, ed. Judi Moreillon, 139-158. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Moreillon, Judi, and Diane Roderick. 2003. Behind the Masks: Exploring Culture and Self through Art and Poetry. ReadWriteThink.org. Available from http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/behind-masks-exploring-culture-395.html. Accessed December 19, 2021.

Sierra, Kristin Fraga, and TuesD Chambers. 2021. “Advocacy.” In Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage, ed. Judi Moreillon, 123-138. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Site- and District-level Advocacy

Chapter 8 Advocacy by Kristin Fraga Sierra and TuesD Chambers

Blog post by Judi Moreillon

“When professionals combine our expertise for the benefit of students, there is transformative power in collaboration” (Sierra and Chambers 127).(Sierra and Chambers 127)

Chapter 8, like every other chapter in Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage, includes two vignettes from practitioners in the field. Erin Godfrey Bethel contributed a vignette focused on a reading promotion initiative at Washington Elementary in Tacoma, Washington, that became a successful advocacy project for the library and her librarian role in the process. Chapter 8 co-author TuesD Chambers contributed a district-level public relations turned advocacy effort in Seattle Public Schools (SPS).

Site-level Advocacy Reaches District-level Advocates
In her vignette, Erin shared her main motivation for seeking and enacting a reading program grant called the Global Reading Challenge (GRC). She implemented the program in her school with a vision for increasing a focus on reading and on the school library as a hub—a welcoming place for all students, especially young people who had not found acceptance elsewhere in the school.

This initiative involved students in the planning process and in organizing teams of readers. Erin used social media to promote the GRC. Each year since its inception, the number of participants has increased and the program has expanded to other schools in the district. Parents and businesses got involved in supporting the GRC and when the district-level competition was held, Erin invited district decision-makers to attend. A win-win-win for students, administrators, and community means a win for the school librarian.

District-level Advocacy
In her vignette, TuesD writes about how a district-wide newsletter representing the work of the entire school librarian cadre of SPS made a huge difference in decision-makers’ understanding of school librarians’ critical roles. The newsletter began as a communication tool among librarians themselves—to share their work and learn from one another’s practice. They also wanted a way to amplify their work that aligned with the SPS Strategic Plan and goals for literacy learning and share it with site- and district-level decision-makers.

The result was a collaborative competition that improved practice among the school librarians while it influenced the understandings of the work of school librarians of families, district leadership, and community members. Spotlighting specific school librarians, libraries and their literacy-focused programs demonstrated how librarians matter to the students in the district. Collaborative competition boosted librarians themselves in elevating their practice. The district-wide newsletter provided direct evidence of the importance of librarians’ work to district goals.

School Librarians as Advocates for the School Library Program
In both of these examples, site- and district-administrators, parents, businesses, and other community members became knowledgeable about the roles of the librarian and library in students’ learning. If and when Erin or TuesD’s librarian cadre need support – a specific “ask” from their advocates, there were supporters with first-hand experience of the influence of school librarians and the impact of school libraries.

“It takes a special kind of curator to gather these voices for others to see and hear until our advocates’ voices become impossible to ignore. It takes a certified school librarian leader who is a library and librarian advocate” (Sierra and Chambers 137).

As they note at the end of their chapter, Kristin and TuesD proclaim that school librarians must be the curators who gather and provide the evidence that will enlist other voices to step up on behalf of their work. School librarians must engage in public relations as curators of their own influence and impact in order to grow advocates. That truly makes school librarians their own best advocates!

Reflection Question
What is one method or example of advocacy that you want to improve upon and why? (Sierra and Chambers 137).

Work Cited
Sierra, Kristin Fraga, and TuesD Chambers. 2021. “Advocacy.” In Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage, ed. Judi Moreillon, 123-138. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Taking Action: A Top Priority

Chapter 7 Leadership by Pam Harland and Anita Cellucci
Blog post by Pam Harland and Anita Cellucci

Three Core Values in School Librarianship contributors Pam Harland, Anita Cellucci, and Judi Moreillon, completed a research investigation earlier this year about how school administrators understand and prioritize the roles and responsibilities of school librarians. We studied several AASL created videos featuring outstanding school administrator leaders from around the country.

Judi shared our research questions, purpose, and overview of our findings in last week’s blog post. In this post, we want to highlight the most significant finding from this study: Exemplary school administrators value the ability and willingness of school librarians who take action. Specifically, school librarians who take action when responding to challenges and opportunities to increase their effectiveness are appreciated by their administrators and considered leaders.

Photo Credit: Wash, R. (2018). Do Not Wait. [Photograph]. Unsplash. https://unsplash.com/photos/4lfrwRyHRYk“Don’t wait for leaders. Become them.” Rob Walsh

When you are faced with a challenge or opportunity, how do you respond?
For example, at the beginning of the pandemic, how did you respond? Did you create screencasts for teachers, students, and parents to use to access important digital information at your school? Did you work with collaborative partners to develop digital tools and lessons for all students? Did you reach out to colleagues and offer access to ebooks and digital information sources to embed within their classes?

One of the administrators in the Town Hall video said: “Our librarians haven’t been waiting for people to tell them what to do. They’ve been saying okay here’s the problem we need to solve and then here’s how we’re going to make it happen” (AASL 2020). The school administrators in our study highlighted many of these ideas as integral to the role of school librarian leaders.

Another example is when your school hires a new principal, how do you respond? Do you approach them over the summer to discuss shared goals and values? Do you share the National School Library Standards (AASL 2018) as a method for developing an understanding of your roles and responsibilities? Do you offer to help with understanding cross-curricular connections based on your collaborative efforts?

“If we are to create the necessary environment for today’s school librarians to lead...confidence and vulnerability are emerging imperatives.” Pam Harland and Anita Cellucci (Harland and Cellucci 2021, 121)

Collaborating with Principals and Superintendents
During the Town Hall video (AASL 2020), several school administrators featured anecdotes of how their school librarians were among the first members of the faculty to introduce themselves and offer to help meet their goals. As school librarians, we know the importance of working with principals to clearly describe how the library can play an important role in responding to current challenges. Through thoughtful and intentional trust-building and leadership, school librarians must take action.

We understand that taking action in these situations is not always easy- in fact, it’s frequently quite challenging. However, “when a school librarian understands the challenges confronting the community, has intentionally built relationships, and is willing to listen authentically, there is an opportunity to co-create a more positive culture within a school” (Harland and Cellucci 2021, 112). Taking action requires both vulnerability and confidence.

For more detailed research questions, methodology, and findings we have two forthcoming articles that go deeper into the study:

Harland, Pam, and Anita Cellucci. 2022. “Do You Know Your Administrators’ Priorities for the School Library?” Knowledge Quest, January/February.

Harland, Pam, Judi Moreillon, and Anita Cellucci, 2022. “Take Action: A Content Analysis of Administrators’ Understandings of and Advocacy for the Roles and Responsibilities of School Librarians.” School Library Research.

Reflection Question
“What difference have you made/hope to make in your school culture as a school librarian leader?” (Harland and Cellucci 2021, 121).

Works Cited
American Association of School Librarians. 2018. National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries. Chicago: ALA Editions, an imprint of the American Library Association.

American Association of School Librarians. 2020. “AASL Town Hall: A Conversation with the AASL School Leader Collaborative.” AASL Learning Library (video), 1:02:32. Posted by AASL, Nov 18, 2020. Available at https://aasl.digitellinc.com/aasl/sessions/4159/view. Accessed November 10, 2021.

Harland, Pam, and Anita Cellucci. 2021. “Leadership.” In Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage, ed. Judi Moreillon, 107-122. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Photo Credit: Walsh, Rob. 2018. Do Not Wait. [Photograph]. Unsplash. Available at https://unsplash.com/photos/4lfrwRyHRYk. Accessed November 10, 2021.

Pam Harland, EdD, served as a librarian for 25 years. She is now a member of the faculty at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire where she directs the School Librarian and Digital Learning Specialist educator preparation programs. Most recently she earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership in 2019 in which she researched the leadership behaviors of school librarians. Connect with her on Twitter @pamlibrarian.

Anita Cellucci, MEd LMS, is a high school librarian, K-12 library leader, in Westborough, Massachusetts. She advises teens in a library advisory board and coaches a poetry spoken word team. As a teaching lecturer for Plymouth State University, New Hampshire, she teaches children’s and young adult literature with a focus on social justice and diversity. Connect with her on Twitter @anitacellucci.

Strengthening Principal-School Librarian Partnerships

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

“School librarians must actively endeavor to understand their principal’s interests, needs and priorities both on a personal and professional level.” Kelly Gustafson and M.E. Shenefiel(Gustafson and Shenefiel, 99)

As M. E. noted in last week’s blog post “Principal Partnerships and Leader-Librarians,” when 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.”

Meeting the Needs of the Community
It is essential that school librarians help other people in the learning community solve problems. Whether responding to a student’s question, a colleague’s resource, technology, or instructional strategy need, a parent’s question about their student’s access to library materials, or the principal’s initiative to continuously improve literacy learning and teaching in the school, school librarians must be at the table and bring with them ideas for addressing the needs of others.

While all library stakeholders deserve our attention, meeting the needs of building-level and district-level administrators must be a top priority. Listening to and understanding those needs is essential if school librarians are to reach their capacity to influence teaching practices and student learning outcomes.

There is no substitute for having a mutually respectful, supportive, and beneficial relationship with one’s administrator.

Connection to Research
At the AASL conference in Salt Lake City last month, there were two concurrent sessions focused on research. One Research Empowering Practice session focused on collecting evidence of practice; the other focused on advocacy. In the advocacy session, I presented a recently completed study that focused on the influence of the 2018 National Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries (AASL Standards) on the understandings of the AASL School Leader Collaborative (Collaborative). Four members of Collaborative also presented an opening panel keynote at the conference, including principal Kelly Gustafson coauthor of Chapter 6.)

In May of 2019, AASL put out a call for school librarians to nominate their administrator to join the Collaborative in an effort to establish a network of administrators who could provide advocacy for school librarians. Three superintendents and four principals served for two years and it was announced at the conference that another cohort will be forming soon.

Pam Harland, Anita Cellucci (coauthors of Chapter 7), and I conducted a content analysis of videos produced by AASL with testimonials from the Collaborative gathered at the 2019 conference in Louisville (secondary sources) and the November, 2020, AASL Town Hall video, which was the primary source of data for our study.

Research Purpose and Questions
Our research inquiry was based on our belief that if administrators understood the roles and responsibilities of school librarians and school librarians were meeting administrators’ needs then there would be fewer school librarian positions eliminated. We believe that in sharing their perceptions and priorities, these exemplary administrators, who were selected based on their understanding and experience of school librarians as leaders in their schools and districts, can teach school librarians and librarian educators how to further develop as educational leaders.

We wanted to know if we could locate, within these artifacts, these administrators’ understandings of what school librarian leaders do in practice. We also wanted to learn whether or not the AASL Standards were prioritized in these artifacts. Did they mention the five roles of school librarians as defined by the Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Programs (AASL 2009) and cited in the 2018 AASL Standards? Did they refer to the six Shared Foundations as described in the AASL Standards? And finally, how did the content of these artifacts support the leader role of school librarians?

Research Findings
What we learned is that these administrators expect school librarians to take action to help them and others solve problems. The most noteworthy theme that emerged from the Town Hall data is that these administrators expect librarians to take action in response to challenges and opportunities in order to increase effectiveness.

Out of the 32 quotes by administrators in the town hall meeting artifact, 25 of them mentioned this leadership behavior for school librarians.

One of the administrators said: “Our librarians haven’t been waiting for people to tell them what to do. They’ve been saying okay here’s the problem we need to solve and then here’s how we’re going to make it happen” (Harland, Moreillon, and Cellucci 2021).

Another theme that emerged is that these administrators expect librarians to collaborate with principals in ways connected to the school’s mission, vision, and goals.

Out of the 32 quotes by administrators in the Town Hall video transcript, 14 of them mentioned this collaborative role for school librarians. These school leaders were asking librarians to share solutions with principals in response to school and district-wide initiatives.

Research and Practice
As noted in Chapter 6 and in last week’s blog post, school librarians must invest in their relationships with administrators. They must listen, learn, and act to help administrators be successful and thereby influence the success of every student and educator in the building or district.

Reflection Question
“How does your library program support the strategic goals of the building and district?” (Gustafson and Shenefiel, 105)

Works Cited

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.

Harland, Pam, Judi Moreillon, and Anita Cellucci. 2021. “Research Empowering Practice: Advocacy. The Influence of Standards of School Administrators’ Priorities.” American Association of School Librarians Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

For more information about this research study, Anita Cellucci and Pam Harland will have an article published in the January/February, 2022, issue of Knowledge Quest that focuses on the study: “Do You Know Your Administrators’ Priorities for the School Library?” All three researchers have a research study report forthcoming in School Library Research: “Take Action: A Content Analysis of Administrators’ Understandings of and Advocacy for the Roles and Responsibilities of School Librarians.”

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.

Collaborating for Diversity and School Library Programming

Chapter 2: Diversity by Julie Stivers, Stephanie Powell,
and Nancy Jo Lambert|
Blog post by Judi Moreillon

“Books that reflect our students and our world need to be intentionally and seamlessly displayed, promoted, personally read, and incorporated into the classroom curriculum.” Julie Stivers (36)

Collaborating with Others to Build the Collection
The goal of building and maintaining a culturally responsive school library collection is for diverse resources to be used for learning by students, educators, administrators, and families. School librarians who have diligently developed such a collection must collaborate with others in order to ensure that the library’s resources are integrated into the reading and learning lives of students and broaden the perspectives in the classroom curriculum. Collaborating with students and other educators is essential for the librarian and the library to reach their capacity to transform learning and teaching.

In Chapter 2, Stephanie Powell describes how she and her library partner work with students and classroom teachers. When a group of students approached the library staff to support them in starting a digital literacy magazine focused on students’ responses to the pandemic, the librarians and library were reaffirmed as students’ allies and further built relationships. The library staff also attends educators’ planning meetings and Professional Learning Team meetings to discern and solicit students’ and educators’ library collection development needs. Stephanie notes, these activities give “librarians the opportunity to be visible in and supportive of the needs of our students” (35).

Building Inclusive Programming
Julie Stivers charges school librarians to be literacy leaders who work to diversify the literature canon in schools.

“Diverse library programming cannot exist in a school where classroom texts for language arts are overwhelmingly White” (26).

Collaborating with classroom teachers and encouraging them to incorporate books and resources written by underrepresented groups and diverse perspectives is a leadership responsibility of school librarians.

Advocating for all students with their diverse identity markers will require commitment and perseverance. It will require critical self-examination and honest assessments of one’s own role and the role of the library program in breaking through the status quo. This charge requires courage on the part of school librarians.

Diversity Reflected in Library Programming: Vignette by Gabriel Graña
Gabriel Graña, middle school librarian at RD & Euzelle Smith Middle School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, contributed one of the two vignettes in Chapter 2 titled “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop—Building and Promoting an Inclusive Collection(32-33). Gabriel notes that “representation is a verb” (32), meaning librarians must be proactive in seeking out and representing the stories of all students, including those who do not frequent the library space. Thinking about and taking action for the voices that are unheard is powerful.

One way Gabriel accomplishes this is through talking with all students and encouraging them to make suggestions for library purchases. He also critically examines books under consideration for their attention to multiple identity markers. He gives the example of Kacen Callender’s King and the Dragonflies (Scholastic 2020), a fantasy novel that is a Black Queer story, as the kind of book he remains alert to reading, purchasing, and promoting.

Shared ownership in the library space, collection, and program is key. Gabriel writes, “I’ve been in my library for six years. As the years have progressed, I’ve seen more self-selected, self-formed study groups, organic clubs of students of color who just want to come in and celebrate their interests” (32).

Gabriel recommends following other librarians on social media to stay up to date on the latest in literature and library programming. He uses Instagram to reach out to students to promote books and share his own reading lifestyle. At the time the book went to press, he was organizing a library initiative to involve students and educators to join him in #30SecondBookTalks that would be shared via social media, the library website, and promoted via in-person classes.

Curriculum and Community
As the co-authors note, “For our students, seeing themselves in the library is not enough—they need to see their rich and whole selves in the curriculum and school community, too” (34). Readers will find many additional ideas for diversity in collection development and library programming in the Diversity chapter in Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage.

Reflection Question
“What steps can you take to affirm diversity beyond the library and reflect on how you can influence stakeholders—and especially other educators—throughout your school?” (34).

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.

Core Values in School Librarianship: Collaborating for Social Justice

“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just,
you have to speak up. You have to say something;
you have to do something.”
Representative John Lewis
(Cited in Moreillon 2021, 168).

Are you registered for the upcoming ABC-CLIO-sponsored webinar “Core Values in School Librarianship: Collaborating for Social Justice”?

If so, we look forward to having a conversation with you. If not, well… it’s not too late – and it’s free!

Registration – 7/2/21- Find the recording and the handout at:
Core Values in School Librarianship: Collaborating for Social Justice

(The recording is available for two weeks courtesy of ABC-CLIO/School Library Connection. Better yet, why not join the SLC Community?)

Promotion for Webinar with photographs of the presenters

Let’s explore how school librarians’ core values of equity, diversity, inclusion, and intellectual freedom are foundations for our work toward enacting social justice in our libraries and throughout our school communities. Let’s think together and discuss why collaborating with library stakeholders and advocacy are essential if our efforts to spread social justice are to succeed.

Please join Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage (Libraries Unlimited 2021) contributors Peter Langella, Suzanne Sannwald, and Kristin Fraga Sierra as they share how they have integrated social justice practices through applying their school librarian core values. Moderated by yours truly, this will be a lively and thought-provoking conversation!

Peter Patrick Langella – @PeterLangella
Suzanne Sannwald – @suzannesannwald
Kristin Fraga Sierra – @lincolnabesread

About the Program
What value statements guide school librarians as we meet challenges such as equitable access and opportunity gaps?

Although school librarians and classroom educators share values such as collaboration, innovation, and literacy as a path to school success and lifelong learning, we have a unique set of values that positively impact the entire learning community: equity, diversity, inclusion, and intellectual freedom. It takes commitment and leadership to enact school librarian core values. It also takes courage to stand up for social justice in our school communities.

Target Attendees
This roundtable is intended as a sharing and discussion with Q&A. Who should attend?

  • Of interest to practicing school librarians and library students
  • Discuss how leadership and collaboration go hand in hand
  • Get and share ideas for leading in a values-centered learning community

Possible Questions
These are some of the questions we may have the opportunity to explore during our 40-minute webinar:

  • What are some of the actions school librarians have taken to ensure access and to close gaps for all students, classroom educators, and families?
  • What are some potential barriers to working in accordance with core values and how might you navigate them?
  • How do you sustain this work? How do you balance “doing enough” with also caring for your own mental and emotional well-being?
  • What strategies have you used to turn your library into a hub for courageous conversations?
  • In what ways do our school libraries reinforce inequities and injustices by choosing what we remain silent about?
  • How have our students shown their investment and advocacy for the work of their school library and literacy in their communities?
  • Why is collaboration with administrators, colleagues, and others essential to our success?

Listen in and use the chat during the 40-minute discussion by the presenters followed by a ten-minute Q&A. We want to hear about your work, respond to your questions, and elevate the conversation about the impact of school librarians’ core values on learning and teaching in schools as we reach for social justice.

Registration
Core Values in School Librarianship: Collaborating for Social Justice

Work Cited

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

Core Values in School Librarianship Responding with Commitment and Courage

Book Cover: Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and CourageI am a card-carrying collaborator but before Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage (Libraries Unlimited 2021) the professional books I’ve authored have been solo projects. Working with 17! co-contributors to Core Values has been a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience for me and now we all get to share in the celebration.

After an 18-month journey, our book is published and available for purchase from ABC-CLIO!

Core Values
When proposing this book, I suggested four core values for school librarianship: equity, diversity, inclusion, and intellectual freedom. From my perspective, this is an interdependent set of values and a combination of values that are unique to school librarians. While some of our non-school librarian colleagues may share two or more of these values, I proposed that school librarians have the commitment and responsibility to ensure all four of these values are fully accessible and functioning in our spheres of influence.

Indeed, we share other values with our classroom teacher and administrator colleagues such as literacy and education as a path to lifelong learning, innovation, and collaboration. Yet, these four—equity, diversity, inclusion, and intellectual freedom—are the foundation on which school librarian leadership is built.

Editorial Role
As the editor of the book, I had the honor and responsibility of securing an approved book proposal and then soliciting contributors for specific chapters. I am so pleased that the chapter co-authors said “yes!” They remained committed to this work through one of the most difficult years any of us has experienced in our professional and in our personal lives. I am grateful for their perseverance and dedication to our book.

Infusing our profession with voices of our present and future generation of school librarian leaders was one of my goals for this book. (The co-authors are not of my generation of school librarianship!) They are diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, and gender identity. The contributors, including those who offered vignettes of practice found in each chapter, live and work in various parts of the country, serve in urban, rural, and suburban schools and in libraries at all three instructional levels. Our hope is that all Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage readers will find themselves and their work reflected in this book.

I wrote the introduction to the book (and the final chapter as well). In the intro, I share my passion for school librarianship and my inspiration and motivation for proposing this project to our initial acquisitions editor Sharon Coatney at ABC-CLIO.

The introduction begins with a one-sentence theme that summarizes the message I hope we clearly convey throughout the book.

Introduction: A Passion for School Librarianship
All school librarians need a firm foundation to provide strength and direction during these rapidly changing and challenging times.
Judi Moreillon

Based on my experience and thirty years of involvement, I can honestly say that our core values are what initially fueled the fire of my passion for school librarianship, have kept me going in times of trouble, and have—without fail—reaffirmed and reignited my commitment to the profession. I believe that our values are the firm foundation we can rely on during times of change and challenge. As a practicing school librarian and as a school librarian educator, I have met many courageous school librarians who have stepped up to ensure that our core values were accessible to all of our library users when others might have shrunk from that responsibility.

Core Values Chapters: First Four Chapters and Contributors
In the first four chapters of the book, the contributors share their understandings of, passion for, and commitment to four core values: equity, diversity, inclusion, and intellectual freedom. The co-authors frame their chapters with one-sentence themes that convey the overarching meaning of each value. They also share how they and their colleagues have enacted these values in their practice of school librarianship.

Chapter 1: Equity
Equitable access is a matter of social justice.
Erika Long and Suzanne Sherman

Chapter 2: Diversity
Diversity in resources and programming is not optional.
Julie Stivers, Stephanie Powell, and Nancy Jo Lambert

Chapter 3: Inclusion
Inclusion means welcoming and affirming the voices of all library stakeholders in a way that shares power.
Meg Boisseau Allison and Peter Patrick Langella

Chapter 4: Intellectual Freedom
Intellectual freedom, including access and choices, privacy and confidentiality, is the right of all library stakeholders.
Suzanne Sannwald and Dan McDowell

Courage Chapters: Chapters 5-8 and Contributors
The co-authors of the courage chapters share how they have enacted the four values in specific contexts: professional relationships, principal-school librarian partnerships, and through specific behaviors—leadership and advocacy. Their one-sentence themes convey connections to the application of our core values in practice.

Chapter 5: Relationships
Relationships are the root of a strong community.
Jennifer Sturge with Stacy Allen and Sandy Walker

Chapter 6: Principal-School Librarian Partnerships
Principals are our most important allies.
M.E. Shenefiel and Kelly Gustafson

Chapter 7: Leadership
Leadership requires confidence and vulnerability.
Pam Harland and Anita Cellucci

Chapter 8: Advocacy
Advocacy involves effective communication and building partnerships.
Kristin Fraga Sierra and TuesD Chambers

Final Chapter
I had the gift of contributing the final chapter to the book. Advocating for collaboration through instructional partnerships is the hill on which I will make my final stand in school librarianship and K-12 education. The four core values must be enacted throughout the learning community if school librarians are to achieve our capacity to lead and positively influence every student’s learning. Collaborating with others is the way to co-create the learning environment in which students and the adults who serve them can thrive.

Chapter 9: Collaboration
Collaboration is THE key to co-creating a values-centered culture of deeper learning.
Judi Moreillon

All Chapters
All chapters in the book include two vignettes that spotlight core values and behaviors in action. The co-authors have also included quotes that have inspired them from a wide variety of scholars, practitioners, and writers. Each chapter concludes with questions for reflection.

ALA Annual
The contributors and I are enthusiastic about sharing our work. We will provide many opportunities for you to engage in conversation with us around these core values and their implication for practice beginning at ALA Annual where the co-authors of the first four chapters will offer an on-demand video session #SLCoreValues #alaac21:

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

We invite you to join us in promoting and enacting the unique contributions of school librarians to our learning communities!

And, of course, we hope you will read our book, discuss, and share the ideas and examples of practice with colleagues in your PLNs.

Work Cited

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

Leading Learning: Advice from the AASL School Leader Collaborative

Last Friday, American Association of School Librarians (AASL) past-president Kathryn Roots Lewis posted “Celebrate Your Influence!” on the Knowledge Quest blog.

This is a must-read, seriously consider, reflect upon, and take action guide for all practicing school librarians, librarian candidates, and school librarian educators.Word Cloud in the letters W and ELeaders and Instructional Partners
The responses from five of the seven School Leader Collaborative (Collaborative) members reinforce the critical actions school librarians have taken during the pandemic. The school librarian’s role as a leader and the Collaborate Shared Foundation (and action taken during the role of instructional partner) are dominant threads throughout the Collaborative members’ comments. These principals and superintendents know the school library can and should be at the center of the academic program and that school librarians can and should lead from the heart of the school.

Although many school librarians have been serving as leaders and instructional partners for decades, the necessity of leadership and classroom-library collaboration came into acute focus during school closures, hybrid and remote learning. These practices must continue into the future if we are to demonstrate our value and reach our capacity to influence teaching and learning in our school communities.

Maximizing School Librarian Leadership
I believe that the testimonials of the Collaborative suggest that educators thrive in a positive school climate characterized by a can-do spirit. In their comments, they ask school librarians to be adaptable and flexible, intentional and effective communicators who practice grace and patience, and serve as outcomes-oriented coteachers who can be assertive team players.

School librarians must be coleaders in building and maintaining a collaborative culture of learning. “Leaders must communicate optimism to their followers. Optimistic leaders support people in taking the first and then the next steps in a change process. School librarians can be coleaders who positively affect school climate and culture through successful classroom-library instructional partnerships” (Moreillon 2018, 130).

Advocacy
From the perspectives of these administrators, the positive results of (more) school librarians serving as leaders and instructional partners has been a “good thing” for students, educators, and administrators.

This MUST become the new normal for our profession!

Publicizing the work of the Collaborative creates an opportunity for advocacy for all of us. But first, it is incumbent upon all school librarians to take action to work toward the highly influential role of instructional coleader in our schools.

After we have taken on that responsibility, sharing the understandings, experiences, and suggestions of these school leaders can help school librarians influence the actions of administrators in their schools and districts. Combining exemplary practice with administrator support will help us achieve our rightful place at the center of teaching and learning.

Coming Soon at the AASL Conference
Pam Harland, Anita Cellucci, and I have just completed a research study of content created by the Collaborative. We will be presenting “The Influence of Standards on School Administrators’ Priorities for School Librarians” during a “Research Into Practice” session at the AASL National Conference in Salt Lake City in October, 2021.

Work Cited

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

Image Credit

johnhain. “We Unity Cooperation Together.” Pixabay.com. https://pixabay.com/illustrations/we-unity-cooperation-together-566327/