Running Amok in the Stacks

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Policies and Procedures

My concept of virtual is paperless. Virtual manuals can be maintained without the challenge of adding pages and adjusting page numbers. Virtual manuals can include hyperlinks to information located on the Web. Before starting the development of my manual, I thought about who might access the manual besides the school library media specialist. Library assistants, volunteers, and, occasionally, substitutes should all be able to access this manual. Also, the library media specialist should be able to access the manual when working at home. The best way to achieve that flexibility is to post the manual on the library media center’s website or on the school’s network, assuming the network is Internet accessible. If a library media center website or network is not available, the concept is still feasible, but a little more challenging, because new versions would need to be loaded on separate computers. Once this decision has been made, the next step is to scan and/or key-in the existing information related to the specific library media center. Following are sections and weblinks to include.

Policies

Some policies need to be written to fit the unique needs of a specific library media center, for example, circulation policies that establish the time periods books circulate and the cost for replacing lost books. Other policies, like copyright, are based on federal legislation. Links to Web-based copyright information will be useful to supplement local policies.

Policy weblinks:

Personnel

The school library media specialist’s job description should be posted, but it also would be useful to link to job descriptions for student and parent volunteers. The Web provides examples of job descriptions for this section.

Examples of job descriptions:

Collection Development and Acquisitions

The purchase of resources and technology for the library requires access to information about producers and jobbers.

Useful websites:

Forms

Examples can help school library media specialists develop the forms for use in the library media center. This is a section that can be developed over time.

Examples of forms:

District Portal as Manuals

School library media services in larger school districts have developed excellent portal pages. These portals provide school library media specialists with both instructional and management resources and tools.

Examples of portals:

These virtual manuals and portals enable parents, community members, and other school library professionals to view how school library media specialists manage media centers and teach students to gather and use information. Now all we need is a portal page to the portals.

Teaching and Learning….The Neverending Story

In reviewing Empowering Learners, chapters two and three, it is extremely evident that the role of the media specialist is much more complex than that of a general classroom teacher.  Not only does the media specialist have to address differing learning styles and multiple literacies, but must do so for not only students, but the entire population of students, teachers, and administration.  As an effective media specialist, one should not only be informed about new technologic advances, but also be able to teach students and staff how to utilize those advances in the most beneficial and effective ways.  So, as times change and technology changes with it, the media specialist has to continue to learn and grow, often before the rest of the school population to be an effective communicator of ideas, information, tools, and resources.

Not only does an effective media specialist need to be aware of technological changes, but they must also be effective collaborators.  To be able to learn and teach others in a collaborative setting using new approaches and an openness to creativity.

In looking at the section on The Learning Space in Empowering Learners, from a personal standpoint, I find some of the actions more daunting than others.  Actions such as creating an environment that is conducive to active learning, is much less challenging than changing the already in place block system of scheduling with a more flexible schedule.  While I will strive to provide more open time for students to use the library, the current model that my school uses may be difficult to change to a flex-schedule. 

In reading Woolls, again, I find some ideas more challenging that others.  While one of the most important points in this reading is that of defending the right to access information, I find this a somewhat daunting challenge.  My former head librarian, would immediately pull any book from the shelves that she either personally found offensive or if a parent lodged a complaint or concern about the book.  My initial reaction was that of outrage, because she was not defending the right of each student (and parents) to have access to certain books or materials.  On the flip side of this, I have thought long and hard about how I will handle a complaint by a parent in regard to a particular work and how to best protect the right of every patron to access information by standing firm in regard to my building’s selection policy.  Again another challenge is informing and teaching students and staff about copyright law and how it has become even more relevant to protect copyrighted works as it is now much easier to access information online. One must stay up today to copyright changes and how to utilize information that is available under Creative Commons regulations.

Chapter 10 in Woolls, was one of the most exciting chapters, I have read to date.  Again, my former library media specialist did not partner with classroom teachers and limited her teaching to worksheets from outdated library skills workbooks instead of addressing core curriculum areas and integrating those areas that the students were studying into her library curriculum.  In reviewing some of my library lessons from the past few years, one that was most popular was when fourth and fifth grade students were studying geography and maps in the regular classroom.  While we did work with the atlas in the library, we also made our own magnetic compasses.  I had brought in my son’s compass from boy scouts, pulled up my compass application on my phone and then gave each table a small bowl of water, a refrigerator magnet, a straight pin and a small post-it note.  Most of the students didn’t believe that we could use these few simple items to make a magnetic compass that would point to magnetic north.  It was such an amazing sight to see the looks on their faces when they placed their magnetized pin on the post-it note floating in the water and see it spin around just like the compass on my phone or my son’s boy scout compass.  It made sense to them in a more meaningful way than just saying, “this way is north” and connected to their geography and map lessons from the classroom.  I am truly excited to partner in a more meaningful way with the classroom teachers as well as the special class teachers to create a learning environment that is not separate and isolated, but one in which the students can transfer learning skills and ideas from one area to another.

I agree wholeheartedly with Catone’s point, that there will always be a need for good teachers, whether it is in an online format or in a traditional classroom.  Just giving online tools and resources to a bad teacher is not going to automatically make them better.  It boils down to teachers whether online or offline being able to best utilize the tools and resources they have available to address the needs of their students.  I use a similar analogy when I’m teaching a lampwork student.  For some of my work, I use different shaped presses and tools, but the end result is only as good as the footprint of glass originally laid down.  If I start out with a poorly shaped, or off center base bead, there is not amount of pressing with a brass mold that is going to make it turn out good.  You can have thousands of dollars of tools, but if you can’t make a simple round bead using only gravity, not one of those tools will fix it!  The same goes for online learning, one can have a wealth of tools and if the basis of instruction is flawed, then the extent of learning is limited.

 

Johns brings up the point I mentioned earlier in that with the implementation of Common Core Standards, it is imperative that the library media specialist is involved in the process.  It is more important than ever to teach students how to use the media center and the information in it to become active learners and to integrate the Common Core standards into the teaching of those skills.

The YouTube video, truly highlighted the importance of having a teacher-librarian and learning commons that promotes collaboration and provides not only resources for research, but things such as Best of the Best lists for each grade level.  Also, collaboration between the teacher-librarian and classroom teachers to use different ways to showcase student learning using things like Prezi instead of the more old-fashioned use of a powerpoint.

I think the principal summed it up that “learning is about having experiences that you will never forget” and that learning is fun which is promoted though a learning commons environment.

Joyce Valenza, aptly points out that while defenders of the library, do so in large part on principle, on memories, on our role historically, but most people don’t understand what we teach and why it is important.  I find this personally to be so true!  I was speaking with a friend the other day and she was explaining her new work in social media as it relates to health care in the Native American population and she began telling me how she was using blogs, Twitter, and smartphone apps to reach her target population.  I just had to begin laughing when she started quoting statistics from the Pew Research Center about the use of mobile devices and the internet and I started quoting the same statistics back to her regarding Pew’s research in the educational field.  She didn’t realize that what she was trying to do with the Native American population is the same thing we are doing in the educational field.  It is vital that we continue to push for and be proponents of information literacy early on as the carry over into adulthood is far reaching.

 

Attack of the Calculator or Why I’m Not an Accountant!

Upon reviewing this assignment on library budgeting, I almost immediately had a hand wringing, heart racing, sweaty palms, I’m gonna die right now panic attack.  I hate dealing with budgets!  I’m not good at creating them and I’m even worse about sticking to them!  They make me nauseous to think about and having a budget in the library just saddens me so because I love books and technology and I WANT IT ALL!  With all that being said the library budget and utilizing it effectively is my most feared area as I step into my new role this fall, but the following articles and information has helped shrink my fears somewhat.

In reviewing, Empowering Learners, the guideline for a school library budget is to ensure the program has sufficient funding to achieve the mission, goal, and objectives of the program.  It is stressed that there should be a strategic planning process and that progress toward this is shown in measurable needs assessment and progress.  Also, one should look to alternative funding instead of relying solely in the allotted budget determined by administration through fundraising, partnerships, grants, PTA funding, and many others.  At this time, my school currently holds a book fair and one other fundraiser annually, but going forward will be exploring other funding options through local businesses, grant, and foundations to pad my already tiny budget.

In Woolls, the section on writing proposals to gain either a budget increase from school administration or from outside sources.  Developing a statement of needs was quite helpful as I have several areas of the library that are lacking in resources and by developing a statement of needs for those areas, I may be able to garner additional resources outside of my already established budget by showing that the current materials are inadequate for student assignments by the classroom teacher.

Jacquie Henry made an excellent point in her blog post regarding hanging onto her library budget by encumbering her funding as soon as possible.  By having those funds already spoken for even if an order has not be submitted, they are effectively taken off the table so to speak because they are already earmarked for use.  This is a tip I fully intend on using as I would hate to have my principal look at my unspent budget and allocate those funds elsewhere because it was assumed they were not needed.

Karen Jerolamon in her LM-NET post explained her experience in submitting a budget based on need to the school district. I have to admit, in my newness, I have no idea how the library budget is calculated in each of my school buildings.  I don’t know if it is a district or school line item or how it is even calculated.  I had always assumed that it was largely decided by the principal in how they allocated funding for the different areas in the school building.  In order to create a proper needs statement, goals and planning one of my first orders of business is to find out where the money comes from because it certainly isn’t a magical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Doug Johnson put the whole confusing budget creation process into three simple steps.  Goals or how my budget will effect student learning.  Specificity or this is exactly how and on what I am going to spend my budget. Finally, assessment or how the budget helped move the library media center and student learning toward specific goals and outcomes.  For my mathematically challenged brain, this is the most succinct and easily understandable explanation of budget creation I have read.

Johnson also points out that good budgets creators are advocates for their programs by providing a budget with specific tangible needs and outcomes even if it isn’t requested, know and can show and explain the importance of their program and unfortunate outcomes if budget needs are not met and use of the budget to create an up-to-date catalog of information and a sustainable, almost living library media center and program.

Empowering Learners, Guidelines For School Library Media Programs. Chicago: American Association of School Librarians, 2009. Print.

Henry, Jacquie. “Book Budgets – Hanging on to What Is Yours.” Wanderings 20 Nov. 2009. Web. 27 May 2011. <http://wanderings.edublogs.org/2009/11/20/book-budgets-hanging-on-to-what-is-yours/>.

Jerolamon, Karen. “HITLibrary Budget as Line Item.” Mailing list. LM_NET. Syracuse U., 17 May 2012. Web. 3 June 2012. < http://bit.ly/L0QFjm>.

Johnson, Doug. “ Budgeting for Mean, Lean Times Part 5.” The Blue Skunk Blog 20 Dec. 2009. Web. 27 May 2011. <http://doug-johnson.squarespace.com/blue-skunk-blog/2009/12/20/budgeting-for-mean-lean-times-part-5.html>.

—. “Effective Library Budgeting.” The Blue Skunk Blog, 23 Jan. 2012. Web. 3 June 2012. < http://doug-johnson.squarespace.com/blue-skunk-blog/2012/1/23/effective-library-budgeting.html>.

Woolls, Blanche. The School Library Media Manager. 4th ed. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited, 2008. 279. Print.

Climbing Everest without Supplemental Oxygen!

In reviewing Empowering Learners, in particular the section on staffing it states, “The school library media program has a minimum of one full-time certified/licensed library media specialist supported by qualified staff sufficient for the school’s instructional programs, services, facilities, size and number of teachers and students.” (p. 32).  This is such a challenge for many library media centers due to budgetary cuts and lack of funding to meet this guideline.  I work in a school district where there is one certified library media specialist for every two elementary schools and my sister-in-law was a library aide in a district where there was one certified library media specialist that had oversight of all of the elementary schools and each school then had two full time aides.  For that to change, collectively we need to advocate, advocate, advocate about the integral role the library media center is and the importance of having fully qualified individuals staffing those centers.

It is also vital that we create spaces both physically and virtually that are inviting to our students and staff, filled with relevant  and timely materials.  While I feel my libraries, are welcoming in the physical sense, we also have to contend with block scheduling instead of flexible scheduling and there is little opportunity for students to come in at their leisure to pick out a new book or engage in research.  It is a goal to recruit enough parent/student volunteers that I can have a section of time each day for students to come in and check out a new book or look up information even if it isn’t there scheduled time to come to the library.  As it is, I am more than accommodating to students, but it is difficult to help students check out materials, when I am also trying to teach 25 kindergarteners.  If I could recruit enough parent volunteers to staff the library during lunch time, while I have cafeteria/playground supervision then students could come in from 11:25 to 1:25 each day to use the library at their leisure.

In reviewing the text by Woolls, I must admit in relation to managing and planning the physical space in the library, I am very fortunate.  One of my libraries was remodeled several years ago and is well designed and laid out with one exception.  The tables chosen for the space are very large and round.  They take up the bulk of my floor space and are difficult to configure in any other way than they are now.  This makes it difficult to create a space for independent learning by other students who may need to come in at times other than their assigned library block.  However, the space is attractive and easy for students to find materials and also easy for one person to oversee to ensure the safety and learning by all.  My other library, while older has it’s pluses and minuses also.  It is much more spacious with room for students to spread out and read or study.  It is light and airy with skylights and a view of the school courtyard.  The downfall to this space is that it is located in the center of the building and has now walls around it.  So, extra care must be taken to not disturb classes directly adjacent to the media center as well as the disruption of students coming in and outside from recess as they pass by to their classrooms.  One of the capital improvements that our new principal has in mind is to wall off the library with glass sliders which could be opened if necessary for a larger event or closed to preserve the integrity of the space.

Again in reviewing the text by Woolls regarding staffing and management, again I am very fortunate.  I have an extensive management background prior to coming into the school district, so job delegation, follow-up etc. are some of my stronger areas.  Also, having been in the school for 4 years, I have learned quite a bit about classroom management from my fellow teachers, administration, and prior graduate work and will continue to undergo training this summer at a week-long BIST behavior management seminar at the end of July.  With that being said, I intend on working with my library aide on classroom expectations and guidelines as this was one area where my predecessor and I disagreed.  Here style of classroom management was very erratic and the students didn’t know from day to day what her expectations were.  I plan to write a comprehensive plan for job responsibilities, procedures, and classroom management that falls in line with our school wide positive behavior strategies, so students and staff alike know that the expectations are the same whether they are in the classroom or in the library.

The reading by Corbett, emphasizes the shift we need to make from assuming all information is found freely on the web as it is not.  Just as UCM has an extensive collection of online databases for student and faculty use, they did not come without a cost and again it is up to us to advocate for greater digital integration and personalization for our school population.  I personally am finding the speed at which this is happening to be mind numbingly slow.  District wide, we have some e-books available in our collection, but at this point we have no way via Kindle, Nook, iPad for students to access these titles.  In my collection, I also have non-fiction books that have a companion website, but with only three computers available in the media center for student use there is not a truly viable way for students who do not have access at home to utilize this resource.  I understand the hesitancy to jump on the portable media bandwagon, by the district administration, but I have to question how often do they use their smartphones and iPads each and every day.  I would bet all of them do and I am sure our students who as Corbett said are “digital natives” would not hesitate to embrace the same tools.

In watching the screencast, by Sherri Bryan, it is important to note that the reasons why libraries and librarians must advocate for and be at the forefront of the move to creating a learning environment are as applicable here as in California  and every other state as we move toward Common Core Standards.  Importantly, she notes the move away from block scheduling and advocates a flexible learning commons schedule for teachers and students to come in an utilize the space to best suit their needs.  She also relates the importance for having flexible physical space for group use, for use by individuals, and class use.  She also points out the importance of being able to use digital devices, either owned by the school or personal devices.  Something that is virtually non-existent in my current school district.  The vision of a learning commons in this presentation is a great template for creating a learning commons in every school across the country.

I enjoyed Hansen’s view on the library as the hub of the school filled with the buzz of productivity instead of stern shushes by an authoritarian and stern librarian.  While I can see that is an ideal goal especially for middle and high school students, it might be more difficult to implement in a grade school situation, especially younger grades where students need more guidance and structure.  However, I believe the concept of a learning commons is doable and completely relevent in the grade school setting particularly the concept of flexible uses and the discarding of block or fixed library scheduling, but flexible schedule where teachers can reserve time to come in as a class for whole class collaboration and utilization.  This would free up more time in a school day for other uses such as small group collaboration, a space for reflection and thought, a place for presentation and more informal styles of learning.

Hansen also points out that this is a space for creativity, including resources for younger students, such as felt story boards or poetry walls.  By creating a learning space that is visually appealing, user-friendly, and flexible to meet the needs of students of all ages promotes learning both informal and formal and gives students a sense of pride and ownership by utilizing their own creations in the promotion of the media center as a  learning commons.

As Whelton reports in his blog, the beginnings of transforming his library space from an unappealing and cold space to one filled with color and creativity, I am encouraged to begin my next school year.  While I am enjoying my summer break, I also am filled with ideas for transforming my own space by creating places for student artwork, adding comfortable seating in place of one of my most hated pieces of “furniture” in the library which is a cast iron claw foot bathtub (don’t ask, I didn’t put it there and if I could have hauled it out on my back to the dumpster on the last day of school I most certainly would have done so), and repurposing my tall metal storage cabinets by painting them with chalkboard paint for younger students to draw, write, and express themselves.

While I am so excited to be moving forward in the time of change in the library, I also find it somewhat daunting.  It feels like I’m climbing Mt. Everest without supplemental oxygen and Sherpas.  One step forward, two steps forward, three steps forward, rest and regroup, one step forward two steps forward to the top.

References:

Bryan, Sherri. “Calgary LC 2012.” Calgary LC 2012. Web. 03 June 2012. <http://sites.google.com/site/calgarylc2012/home>.

Corbett, Tom. “The Changing Role of the School Library’s Physical Space.” School Library Monthly. Apr. 2011. Web. 1 June 2012. <http://www.schoollibrarymonthly.com/articles/Corbett2011-v27n7p5.html>.

Empowering Learners, Guidelines For School Library Media Programs. Chicago: American Association of School Librarians, 2009. Print.

Hansen, Jessica. “The Learning Commons.” Screencast.com. TechSmith. Web. 01 June 2012. <http://bit.ly/Kv4aeF>.

—. “The Learning Commons: Physical Learning Commons, Virtual Learning Commons.” Screencast.com. TechSmith. Web. 5 June 2012. <http://bit.ly/Kv4Y38>.

Whelton, Michael. “Our 21st Century Learning Commons Journey Begins…” Michael Whelton, 18 Apr. 2012. Web. 3 June 2012. < http://michaelwhelton.com/2012/04/18/our-21st-century-learning-commons-journey-begins/>.

Woolls, Blanche. The School Library Media Manager. 4th ed. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited, 2008. 279. Print.

Advocacy or “Hey Look We Do More Than Shelve the Books!”

Advocacy in the library media center has never been more important that it is in the 21st century.  In reviewing the readings for this week, it is very evident that the library media specialist must play a larger role in our education system by partnering with other educator and administration to create a strong community of learners and educators.  As it was pointed out in Empowering Learners, the media specialist must play a global role within  the school in order to advocate for change.  Partnering with other educators and ensuring that library services are known and championed not only within the school building, but within the community is key to awareness of the role the media center plays in student success.

As I’m starting in a new position as a library media specialist in the fall, I found the reading by Woolls to be very timely and helpful as I step into my new role.  It is helpful to think of the library as a business and most businesses will fail in fairly short order if they do not provide items that the customers want and if they don’t provide exceptional customer service.  I’m stepping into a role where unfortunately, advocacy through good customer (teacher/student/administrative) relationships was not cultivated by my predecessor.  As my former colleague and I rotated on  a weekly basis between two school, I was often struck by how often teachers would come to me searching for materials, but would not as readily ask my former colleague for the same help.  So, in moving forward, it is imperative to me to make sure the library is a warm and welcoming environment to students and teachers alike.  Removing the stigma of the library as a castle with the drawbridge closed is my most important job the first few weeks of school by championing the media center as a place where student/teacher input is always welcome and as a resource for everyone in the school building, not just the students who come to the center at their regularly scheduled times.

Woolls also points out the importance and need for involvement in leadership and professional associations.  As most school library media specialists are the sole person in their role in a school, it is important to be involved and active in these associations both at the local, state, and national level to move the profession forward as an integral part of the education system.  Membership in these types of associations exposes media specialists to new ideas and information as well as being a force in driving school library media programs forward.  As a member of MASL, I find the information I gain from being part of this association invaluable each year.

Nancy Dowd, begs the question by Seth Godin, “will they miss you if your are gone in ten years”?  I think not if we as library media specialists don’t advocate for change now!  With the availability of e-books and online content, we need to let go of the outdated idea that libraries are book repositories and embrace the rapid changes in the spread of information while realizing that even with information at our fingertips online, collaboration is just as important and doesn’t always happen behind the sterility of a computer screen.  Libraries, as Godin points out needs to be a place where people come together to work, create, and invent, not just some dusty warehouse of print materials.

Buffy Hamilton reflects on Seth Godin also and I agree, that we need to stop thinking of the library as book driven and move forward to realize the library as a place of learning.  Not simply learning from a text book, but a place of multiple literacies which is embedded in the community as a resource for all to collaborate.  As she states a place to, “take the world of data, combine it with the people in this community and create value.”  After all that is the basic concept of learning.  The ability to take information, make new connections and create a new outcome.

Gwyneth Jones covers creating a transparent media center program which is accessible through various web tools such as Wikispaces, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook.  I find that having an easily accessible web presence is not just something nice to have, but absolutely imperative in today’s highly mobile society.  While, she notes an on again off again relationship with Facebook, it is important to realize the advocacy power of this particular social network.  In looking at Facebook’s recent statistics, there were 901 million monthly active users at the end of March 2012.  To ignore this vast customer base would be foolish at the very least.  While Facebook is one option for creating a web presence, it should not be the only option.  Libraries need to utilize as many of these tools as possible to reach their users in the most convenient way possible for those users.  This idea is highlighted by Sara Johns, who used the online tool Animoto to create a video highlighting the exciting things going on in her library and used this tool to share her and her student accomplishments with her administration, students, staff, and parents.  The use of this type of technology in promotion of the library program is something every librarian should be doing to maintain the connection between the library and stakeholders in the advancement of library programs everywhere.

Finally, Doug Johnson points out several key reasons why he maintains memberships in ALA and AASL, one of which, well two of which are that by paying his dues, also gives him the right to voice his complaints and concerns.  I find this amusing and so true as I am a member of several professional organizations in my other life as a glassblower.  I am continually amused when I hear complaints about one organization or another by non-members and think to myself, “be part of the solution, not part of the problem” and get involved in the association by becoming a member and advocating for change instead of standing on the outside and beating on the windows, so to speak.

References:


Dowd, Nancy. “The ‘M’ Word – Marketing Libraries: Godin, Gutenberg and Going Forward.” New Marketing Trends 14 May 2011. 27 May 2011. <http://themwordblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/godin-guttenberg-and-going-forward.html>.

Empowering Learners, Guidelines For School Library Media Programs. Chicago: American Association of School Librarians, 2009. Print.

Hamilton, Buffy. “Are Librarians, Not Seth Godin, The Ones Missing the Point on Libraries?” The Unquiet Librarian 16 May 2011. Web. 27 May 2011. <http://theunquietlibrarian.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/are-librarians-not-seth-godin-the-ones-missing-the-point-on-libraries/>.

Jones, Gwyneth A. “ Transparency is the New Black.” The Daring Librarian. 3 Apr. 2012. Web. 1 June 2012. <http://www.thedaringlibrarian.com/2012/04/transparency-is-new-black.html>.

Johns, Sara K. “Guest Post: Visibility Works!” Make Some Noise! School Library Journal, 9 Mar. 2012. Web. 01 June 2012. <http://blogs.slj.com/make-some-noise/2012/03/09/visibility-works/>.

Johnson, Doug. “BFTP: Why I Belong to ALA/AASL.” The Blue Skunk Blog. 14 Apr. 2012. Web. 1 June 2012. <http://doug-johnson.squarespace.com/blue-skunk-blog/2012/4/14/bftp-why-i-belong-to-alaaasl.html>.

Woolls, Blanche. The School Library Media Manager. 4th ed. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited, 2008. 279. Print.

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