Annual Report

Unfortunately, does not allow me to embed documents, requiring one more click on your part to be able to view the report:

BSHS LMC Annual Report 2009-2010

You will see an edited copy of our report;  student names and pictures have been removed.  Their inclusion adds the much-needed human factor to data,  pairing faces with programs, but removing them before sharing with those outside of our district shows the value we place on our students’ right to privacy.

If you have not yet created an annual report, I highly recommend that you try your hand at it next year.  Doing so gives you a full picture of your program, highlighting your strengths and exposing your weaknesses.  Although seeing those weaknesses is not pleasant, it is necessary.  We have incorporated ours into goals for next year.

Advocacy: Annual Reports

The Old Way

I’ve completed my fourth year as a media specialist and love the job even more today than the day I started.  To keep track of what happens in our library, I used my mentor’s monthly statistic report and added activities that the library sponsored each month.  At the end of each semester, I compiled a chart of the monthly statistics to notice trends.  These two reports were combined into a yearly chart at the end of each year and provided a means to gauge improvements from year to year.

The Annual Report:  Getting Started

Two years ago, I noticed that several of the school librarians in my Google Reader were doing much more than compiling statistics; they were creating detailed reports including collection development and analysis, budgetary spending, collaboration efforts with teachers, reading promotion programs, and goals for the upcoming year.  The reflective aspect of this kind of report immediately caught my eye.  As a Nationally Board Certified Teacher, I learned to use reflection to help me grow and become a better teacher.

This year as I began work on our first annual report, I studied reports other school librarians have shared on the Internet.  The organization of these reports is as varied as the programs they reveal.  Using ideas culled from these, I created an outline for our annual report.   Currently at 17 pages, the report is an attempt to provide a complete picture of our library media program.

My Inspirations

In case you have toyed with the idea of creating an annual report but gave up because you found it too time consuming, you might want to look at the reports and blog posts that inspired me to get started.

Exemplary Reports:

Blog Posts:

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

Need another reason to consider creating a detailed annual report?

In his post “13 Point Checklist 2009,” Doug Johnson provides administrators with a list to assist them in evaluating their school library program.   The final checkpoint , #13 Evaluation, includes

“Does the SLMS determine and report ways that show the goals and objectives of the program are being met and are helping meet the building and district goals? Does the SLMS create an annual library report for administrators, staff and parents that include qualitative and quantitative measurements?” ~ Doug Johnson

Your annual report will not only provide your administration with an overview of your library media program’s accomplishments, but also provide you an opportunity to see where you’ve been and provide you with information for next year’s goals.

Spread the Wealth Using This Google Spreadsheet

Last year, Lesley Edwards (teacher librarian at Seycove Secondary Library) created a spreadsheet for school librarians to share the link to their annual reports.  When my report is finally completed, I’ll post it to Slideshare and  add the url to the spreadsheet.  Why not add yours?

Image Attribution:  Year End Inventory by The Truth About…

Advocacy: Create a Bragalog

Most school librarians I have met find it difficult to brag about what they do.  But think about it.  While there may be dozens of teachers in your building, you are more than likely the only school librarian there.  Many education programs do not address our role in any of their courses.  How many teachers in your building truly know what your program entails?

Every teacher in your school has a built-in advocacy group – their students.  Students talk about their teachers to one another:  “Oh, you don’t want to get Mr. So and So because he requires two research projects a semester.”  “I love Mrs. So and So because she makes class fun by …..”

Teachers in your building are spoken about on a daily basis.  I wonder how many students discuss their school librarian with their friends?

As I was surfing the Internet recently, I came across the California School Library Association’s website.  What a treasure trove!  One of the treasures there struck me as a very simple way to toot your own horn:  the Bragalog. The YouTube video above was filmed at the CSLA’s 2009 conference.  It  introduces the Bragalog (but unfortunately we don’t actually see it).  Further searching on the website turns up a pdf file explaining the Bragalog.

Peggy Klaus, author of Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing It, created the Bragalog as a marketing tool.  In this article, she provides an example of an effective beginning for a Braglog.  By weaving your passion for your program into your story, you can create a positive “brag” that effectively markets your program.

If you don’t want to feature yourself speaking in your Bragalog, why not involve your students?  If you have a morning news show or a broadcasting class in your school, you might find a ready and willing group to create your Bragalog featuring students.

What do you think?  Is this a marketing tool that you would consider for your program, or is it something you would still feel too uncomfortable doing?

Reading Challenges

J. Kaye of the Home Girl’s Book Blog has issued the 2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge.  The rules of participation are simple:

1. Anyone can join. You don’t need a blog to participate.

–Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the wrap-up post. To learn how to sign up without having a blog, click here.

2. There are four levels:

–The Mini – Check out and read 25 library books.

–Just My Size – Check out and read 50 library books.

–Stepping It Up – Check out and read 75 library books.

–Super Size Me – Check out and read 100 library books.

(Aim high. As long as you read 25 by the end of 2010, you are a winner.)

3. Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, YA, Young Reader – any book as long as it is checked out from the library count. Checked out like with a library card, not purchased at a library sale.

4. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.

5. Crossovers from other reading challenges count.

6. Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010.

7. When you sign up under Mr. Linky, put the direct link to your post where your library books will be listed. Include the URL to this post so that other viewers can find this fun challenge. If you’d prefer to put your list in the sidebar of your blog, please leave your viewers the link to the sign up page. Again, so viewers can join the challenge too.

****You do NOT need to review your books. That is optional.****

(excerpted from the Home Girl’s Book Blog)

What a great way to promote your library and resources!  Imagine using this as a contest in your own library.  Create fliers with the challenge’s image and post throughout your school.  This would be a great advocacy tool to share with your school community.

J. Kaye has other reading challenges listed on the website.  Encourage your students to choose one or more of them.

Do Not Go Quietly Into Your Library


As I continue contemplating ways to promote my school library program, I have been investigating various approaches taken by other educators to promote their ideas and programs.  I came across this video by Dave Truss today and was struck by a comment he made in the video: “Do not go quietly into the classroom.”

A Brave New World-Wide-Web

Many school librarians have vital programs that not only increase student achievement, but also increase a student’s sense of self-worth.  Unlike a classroom teacher, what we teach does not occupy a place on student report cards to reinforce the idea that we make a difference.  Do we really want to entrust our program’s future to chance?  The chance  that our students go home and enthusiastically share what they learned or created in the school library that day? The chance that an administrator walks by the library,  is curious about what has students engrossed in their projects, and enters to make inquiries? The chance that a parent will make a positive comment about his child’s school library to a school board member?

Make Some Noise!

What can we do to ensure that our contributions to education reach the community’s ears?  Why not post projects students create using library resources on our library websites?

Ithaca High School in Ithaca, NY  Examples of student created projects for American History and English classes

Hawthorne Elementary School in Missoula, MT  Examples of group projects from kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade classes

Kapolei Middle School in Kapolei, HI Examples of a variety of exemplary projects from grades 6, 7, and 8

Kamali’i Elementary School in Kihei, Maui, HI Examples of class projects and student created podcasts

Program Promotion Challenge Continues

This week I will be sharing student projects created through the use of library resources.  They should make an attractive addition to our library website.

Where’s my noisemaker?

Image attribution:

Program Promotion

Change is as inevitable as rain in the spring.  Some of us just put on raincoats and splash forward.” ~ Amy Bloom

Continuing the Challenge

In my last post, I shared my personal advocacy challenge:  do something to promote my library program once a week.  Sounds simple enough, but school librarians are a busy bunch and unless we make something a priority, it often gets overlooked amidst the million other things we must accomplish each week.

Last week, I put on my raincoat and “splashed forward.”  This week,  I met my Program Promotion Challenge (PPC) by creating a mini-poster congratulating the winners of our spring semester READissance kickoff challenge.  The poster included a picture of each winner holding her Barnes and Noble gift card.  I posted one in the library and put another one on my principal’s desk. On Monday, copies of these will go on the Student Information boards throughout the school.

How Simple Was That?

It could not have been much easier.  However, that simple mini-poster puts the faces of students who choose to use our resources front and center.  Students and staff are the focus of any school library program.  Often the only promotion I have done in the past was to provide the principal with monthly statistics.    How dry is that?

As I promote different aspects of our program each week, I want to enlighten the school community.  I want them to see the difference we make in people’s lives. The  library space that most walk past at least once daily significantly contributes to  student and teacher success at Boiling Springs High School.

Our highly anticipated new facility is nearly ready for occupancy.  I look forward to moving into it, but since the new media center it is not centrally  located, the move also makes me nervous.  No longer will students and teachers pass it on their way to classes, meetings, the workroom, or the cafeteria.  It will be a destination unto itself, raising the bar in program promotion.

Image attribution:

“Wet Grass”

Tooting Our Own Horns

Teaching Today’s Students (and their teachers) to be Smart Searchers from Cathy Nelson on Vimeo.

Advocating Advocacy

Budget cuts. Title changes. Both have sent shock waves through the school library community.  Numerous posts have been written calling us to action.  Having recently graduated from the SLIS program at the University of South Carolina, I am well aware of the need to be a strong advocate for my program.

I enjoy reading about the successes of other school library programs; I glean many tidbits from them to incorporate into my own program.  But sharing our successes with each other is not enough:  we must toot our own horn in our school communities.  This is often hard to do for many reasons, but two that come to mind concerning my own situation:  1) lack of time, and 2) fear of sounding like a braggart.

Overcoming Obstacles

How do I overcome these obstacles?  First, adopt the mindset that if I don’t, funding to my program and my very job may be in jeopardy.  Second, gather data. Third, turn to my PLN.  The people in my professional learning network value  school libraries, whether they are teachers, administrators, information technology specialists, school librarians, or consultants.  They challenge me daily as I read their tweets and blog posts.

And, finally, plan.  Plan  in specific detail.  This past week, I challenged myself to proactively spread the successes of my school library’s program.  Once a week, I will share snippets of success with members of my school community.

This past week, I began with an email to my principal, superintendent, and PR district liasion sharing the fall semester results of READissance, our voluntary reading program.  Very quickly, I received positive feedback from both my superintendent and principal which alleviated my fear of sounding like a braggart.

Next, I need to share the results with my school board members.  I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t already created a group in Outlook with their email addresses.  So, guess what is on tomorrow’s agenda?

Emails, newsletters, and phone calls are all means to spread the good news.  But in today’s visual society, photographs and videos provide more impact.  How can I effectively incorporate those into my Advocacy Plan?

My PLN to the Rescue

Joyce Valenza of Springfield Township High in Erdenheim, Pennsylvania, recently  began a new online community, School Library InfoTech Programs: Tapestry of Effective Practice. Here, members are urged to create and share videos that focus on the effectiveness of various components of their school library programs in order to demonstrate the vital need of our programs.  Check out the first entry from Cathy Nelson of Dorman High School in Spartanburg, South Carolina, at the top of this post.  By focusing on specific components of their programs in this manner, they provide a clearer view of their impact on student achievement.

Buffy Hamilton of Creekview High School in Canton, Georgia, spiced up her school library monthly reports by creating Animoto videos. This upbeat method of sharing her program’s successes in no way feels like bragging as the students take center stage.

Involve your students in creating mini documentaries of your program and share them via your library’s website.  Ensure your school community’s awareness:  send links to your shareholders, including the education reporters for your local paper and television station.


Advocacy. Marketing. Branding.  By incorporating these into our long term plans, we are also building accountability into our programs.

At Boiling  Springs High School, I feel an even more imperative need to establish the validity of my program.  Within weeks, we will be packing up and moving into a nearly-completed new facility.  When plans began for the building over two years ago, my fellow media specialist Jay Campbell and I used our input to make several requests to meet the needs of our growing student population:

  • thirty student computers surrounding the circulation desk (twelve has been the standard in our district.  The seventeen in our current facility have been insufficient to accommodate the needs of classes, prompting our request.)
  • two computer labs (There is currently only one lab in the building for class sign up.  The district planned on adding more in the future;  however, we saw the urgent need to not only have them sooner, but to incorporate them into the research and learning center of the school.)
  • two teaching areas complete with Promethean boards (Current space only allows for one teaching area with a Promethean board.)

I am grateful that our school board agreed with our vision and provided the funds to add our requests to the plans.  I can hardly await the opening of the new facility and am excited beyond words at the teaching and learning opportunities it will provide for our teachers and students.

United We Stand

What advocacy efforts have you enacted lately to demonstrate the value of your program?  What efforts have you read about and want to enact?  Please share – together, we can ensure the lasting successes of our programs.

B.O.W.W.O.W. Display


There is always room for improvement.  My newest brainchild is our B.O.W.W.O.W. display.  My younger daughter rolls her eyes at my corny ideas, but they just keep coming! Just keep in mind that Boiling Springs High School’s mascot is the bulldog (and I won’t see you roll your eyes, so go ahead!).

Our Book of the Week (B.O.W.) and Website of the Week (W.O.W.) display is located near the front of our current facility.  It will find a permanent home soon when our new media center opens.  Each week I choose a book and Jay Campbell, the other media specialist, chooses a website to spotlight.

The display includes copies of the book and a notebook with screenshots of the website as well as signs describing each.  So far, the display hasn’t garnered much attention.  What’s missing?  Maybe a bulldog?  So now I’m on a quest to find the perfect stuffed bulldog to place in the center.

Any other suggestions to make our display stand out?

The State of School Libraries

In June, talk on the South Carolina Association of School Librarians listserv focused on the need for school library program advocacy. In somes states, library media specialist jobs are being eliminated in tight budgets.  Today, YALSA’s podcast on Teens & School Libraries focuses on interviews with media specialists in Michigan and Massachusetts.

In YALSA’s Podcast #53, Maureen Ambrosino of the Central Massachusetts Regional Library System interviews Kathy Lowe, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts School Library Association.  Interestingly, Lowe states, “It really comes down to a principal in a building within a district and whether or not that principal perceives the school library program as having value and if they do,  and if they understand the positive impact on students and teachers of having a professionally staffed and up-to-date library then they will support that.  It’s a priority that any prinicpal has to decide.”

How can your principal know the value your program adds to the school if you don’t tell him? Our job as school library media specialists must include advocacy.  Already overwhelmed by all the roles they must fill, many media specialists have put advocacy for their library program on the back burner.  If we don’t advocate for ourselves, no one will, so this year, plan on making your presence known!  Here are some resources to help you get started:

Welcome to the School Library Campaign AASL site

School Libraries Work! The 2008 edition of Scholastic’s Research Foundation Paper

Strong School Libraries Help Students Learn An advocacy toolkit that accompanies the School Libraries Making a Difference site

Research: Making the Case Part of a site started by 3 moms in the state of Washington in response to hearing that school librarians’ hours were being cut

Advocacy: The Teacher Librarian as Advocate This online course offered by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson defines advocacy and provides many links to sites to help you in planning your advocacy program.

The Principal’s Manual for the School Library Media Program A two page guide to evaluating a school library media program produced by AASL

School Library Systems Advocacy Toolkit Although created for New York, this site has many suggestions that all library media specialists can use.

Advocacy Toolkit for School Library Media Specialists The Colorado Library Consortium has compiled several resources, arranged by category: Learning to be an Advocate, Usable PowerPoint Presentations, Facts and Stats, Brochures, and Quicktime Video.

Added 3/31/2010:

California’s Best Seller Campaign for Strong School Libraries This California School Library Association’s site includes several useful sections and forms: The Message, What is a Strong School Library? (identifies 5 components), Identifying “Best Sellers,” “Strong School Libraries Build Strong Students and Lifelong Learners” (a flyer you can access from the home page – scroll down to “Identifying and Inviting ‘Best Sellers'” ), and Research and Other Resources (an annotated list with hyperlinks) found at the bottom of  The Message page.

We can incorporate research that proves the efficacy of school library programs in increasing student achievement, but we must begin to collect our own evidence.  Circulation statistics, class visits, and tallying individual student visits show our media centers and their resources are being used, but the best evidence is proof that our programs are making a difference.  How can we show that learning is taking place?

  • use programs such as TRAILS to track the improving information literacy skills of our students
  • ask teachers who have successfully collaborated with us to provide a “testimonial”
  • ask students to complete exit slips after you have taught a skill
  • maintain portfolios of lessons taught and evidence such as projects completed in conjunction with the lessons
  • sponsor a “What My Library Means to Me” contest

This is by no means an exhaustive list!  Please help by adding your suggestions.

Image from cindiann


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