Calling Public Librarians to Action! FCC’s Digital Literacy Corps Proposal

After reading my last post, my friend Jennifer Tazerouti (who can be reached through the Auntie Librarian blog and through her Twitter handle @AuntieLibrarian) suggested I should expand my call to action to public libraries.  When you are right, you are right.  Thanks, Jennifer!

The FCC proposes to send its digital literacy corps into schools, libraries, and community organizations. The difference between the organizations and schools/libraries is that the latter already have digital literacy gurus in place.  This seriously undermines our authority and the public’s perception of librarians.

Evidently the old stereotype of librarians is still hanging on.  We all must do a better job to dispel it.

Connect 2 Compete

Jennifer’s suggestion and introspection on my part motivated me to discover more about the FCC’s proposed digital literacy corps.  What I found was both reassuring AND upsetting. The proposed digital literacy corps is NOT something new, but it is new to me (upsetting). How have I missed something so threatening to my profession?

Perhaps it is because it is part of the Connect 2 Compete initiative that is limited to a small fraction of public schools.  Information on it needs to be shared with families whose children who attend these schools (any child attending one of these schools who receives free lunch is eligible to participate in this program that offers inexpensive refurbished computers and $9.95 a month hi-speed Internet access).

Many companies support training our citizens in digital literacy (reassuring) including Best Buy, Microsoft, CareerBuilder.com, Monster.com, and Metrix Learning. (Check out all the Connect 2 Compete partners here.) I am pleased to notice that Discovery Education is on board – but it is bittersweet pleasure.  As a Discovery Education DEN STAR educator, I know that DE is well aware of the school librarians’ role in our schools today.  I would hope that they have voiced a concern that a treasure trove of experts is being overlooked in this initiative.

Public Librarians

I am extremely fortunate to live in a county with a strong public library.  The Spartanburg County Public Library System consists of one main branch and nine other branches spread throughout the county.  One look at their events calendar will convince you that they are a vital part of our community, reaching out to all age levels. The dedicated staff responds to community needs and would gladly (I am sure) include digital literacy training for families meeting the requirements of the FCC’s digital literacy corps.

I’m sure my public library system is not an anomaly; public libraries throughout the country make it their mission to improve the lives of those in their communities. The FCC needs to use the sense of community each library’s staff has created and provide them with the funds to train their patrons in digital literacy.

Please email Chairman Julius Genachowski (Julius.Genachowski@fcc.gov) to share your concerns about his plans for a digital literacy corps.

Three for: Free Resources for You and Your Library

Free is always good!

  • The Libraries Agency offers free templates for posters, notices, announcements, and more.
  • Have Playaways or considering purchasing them?  Circulation Station provides both  Click & Ship and a Build & Print options.  Get free posters, stickers, info takeaways, and shelf tape through the Click & Ship option.  Customize posters, trifolds, and newslettters on the Build & Print page.
  • Love, love, love this downloadable pdf (see photo above) to display in your library!  Gale Cengage Learning offers this and more.  School librarians can find resources designed specifically for K-12 here.  Check out the Lesson Plan Library.

Banned Books Week

Be on the lookout for this dangerous rabblerouser

***Warning:  my tongue seems to be stuck in my cheek this evening.

Banned Books Week (Sept. 24 – Oct. 1, 2011) is just around the corner. When I tell my students that we will be celebrating “Banned Books Week,”  I often am greeted with incredulous looks.

I know what those looks mean:  “Why would you celebrate the fact that books are banned?”  I have to quickly explain that the celebration focuses on our right to read what we choose.

Close to Home

Two years in a row, citizens of South Carolina have made it their mission to provide me with examples of books challenged in my own state.  How absolutely thoughtful of them.

Last year, my BBW bulletin board featured the book Sold by Patricia McCormick.  Its inclusion in a middle  school library had been questioned in Laurens, South Carolina that summer by a “well meaning” parent.

The parent chose not to  pursue the formal challenge process, but by going to the news media, she surely convinced many South Carolina middle schoolers NOT to read the book.  After all, teens never question adults’ intelligence.

This summer, a concerned parent challenged Chris Crutcher’s Angry Management.  He was horrified that a book that contained so much profanity in its first 24 pages would be on a summer reading list.  (He took the time to count the words?)

So tonight as I consider activities and displays to celebrate our right to read, I thought I’d have a bit of fun.  Dangerous authors are running amuck in the world.  What’s a librarian to do?

Well, librarians do value copyright, so this one asked for permission to use Chris Crutcher’s photo in the “Wanted” poster.  Visit his website to view the original photo and to also download “Guide to Teaching Challenged and Banned Books featuring the novels of Chris Crutcher.”

Want to make your own “Wanted” posters?  Visit this site.

One last thing – definitely not tongue-in-cheek:  I love my home state and am proud to be a Southern girl.  The two parents who challenged books are not representative of the entire state.

Snapshot: A Day in the Life of South Carolina School Libraries

The South Carolina Association of School Librarians (SCASL) held their 2011 Conference March 9 – 11.  During the conference, the SCASL Advocacy Committee announced their initiative “Snapshot: A Day in the Life of South Carolina School Libraries.”  The purpose of the initiative is to gather information from school libraries across South Carolina to share with administrators, school board members, and legislators.

If you are a South Carolina school librarian, you are urged to participate.  Let’s gather data that proves the vital role we play in the education of our students.  Please click on the link for more information about this initiative.

SnapshotADayintheLifeofSouthCarolinaSchoolLibraries

Advocacy: Free Professional Development

In honor of School Library Month, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) will be offering free professional development in  March.

“How to Create Strategic Stories to Gain Support for Your Library”

Sign up for three sessions with Nancy Dowd:

    “Session One, March 15, 6:00 pm Eastern
    Experience how strategic stories can help you gain the support you need. Learn the three easy steps that will guarantee your story hits the mark with your listeners.
    Register External Link Icon 

    Session Two, March 22, 6:00 pm Eastern
    Messaging is everything. What kind of messages resonate with parents or teachers or administrators? This session will review participants’ messages and answer questions to ensure the story you share will matter to your listener.
    Register External Link Icon

    Session Three, March 29, 6:00 pm Eastern
    This session will help participants put their stories together. We will review submitted stories and tweak them to perfection!
    Register External Link Icon

    ~from the American Association of School Librarians’ website http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/aasl/aaslissues/slm/schoollibrary.cfm#dowd

    Image attribution:  “School Library Month Create Your Own Story”  logo

    http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/aasl/aaslissues/slm/schoollibrary.cfm

Dressing Up Destiny

This post is based on an article published in the South Carolina Association of School Librarians’ Media Center Messenger (Volume XLVIII, Issue 4).

My school district upgraded our library catalogs to Follett’s Destiny over the summer of 2010 and provided training to the school librarians in August.  I was disappointed that the training provided little  information on creating a Destiny home page.  As I usually do, if the professional development I need is not provided by my district, I went in search of information to meet my needs.

I began combing the Internet to find great examples of Destiny home pages, and serendipitously stumbled across Alicia Vandenbroek’s Destiny home page.  Not only was her home page not just a list of links, it was colorful and animated.  How did she do that?

Wix

The answer:  www.wix.com.  Alicia discovered this awesome free web site creator that allows web pages to be embedded into other sites – including Destiny!  Not only has she created an inviting home page for her school catalog, but she has also shared detailed directions that all school librarians can use to dress up their Destiny home page.

Using her directions, I created our Destiny home page as seen in the screenshot above.  Wix offers many options, but one that I love is the Mini Page option.  Using this option, you can create hyperlinked sections to be displayed on your home page. I created three:  Library Info, Recommended Reading, and Book Trailers.

In the screenshot below, you’ll see that the left column of our home page has changed to the Recommended Reading Mini Page where I have inserted hyperlinks and a book trailer. (Disappointing news at this point for my school district:  the embedded YouTube book trailers played perfectly for the first week or so, but the district once again blocked YouTube so I am currently looking for other options, including a Vimeo player that can be embedded into Wix.)

The third Mini Page I created is solely for book trailers:

Our new Destiny home page is colorful and informative.  At this point, Destiny is only on our district’s Intranet so we still use our library web page as our Internet home page on library computers, providing access to more research oriented links.  Although you cannot visit our page on the Internet, you can find Alicia Vandenbroek’s and her detailed directions for dressing up your own Destiny home page!

Shack Stacks, Shackelford Junior High’s Library Wiki:  http://shackstacks.wikispaces.com/Find+a+Book

“Wix and Destiny” found on the Librarian’s Lounge page of the above wiki:

http://shackstacks.wikispaces.com/Librarian%27s+Lounge

(The “Wix and Destiny” directions are the fifth embedded document on the page.)

Updated Advocacy Page

Over the holiday break, I found more resources to add to this blog’s Advocacy Page (you’ll see the link above).  Because the page is growing in length, it was getting quite cumbersome.  I thought it best to organize it.

You’ll now find resources in three categories:

  • ALA/ALA Affiliates’ Resources
  • State Organizations’ Resources
  • Other Resources

What other great advocacy resources do I need to add to this annotated list?

 


Image attribution:

“This is not a social media megaphone” by altemark    http://www.flickr.com/photos/24844537@N00/337248947

Edited through a Creative Commons license using Big Huge Labs Pop Art Poster utility

Advocacy: Monthly Reports

How do you keep your program front and center in the eyes of your school community? Many school librarians create and share monthly statistics reports with their principals.  But should we stop there?  Why not post these reports for the entire school community?

Example Monthly Reports

Excellent examples of monthly reports are posted online each month.  Each report is different in not only what it contains, but how it is presented.  The common factor?  Transparency.  We must let our communities see how our programs impact student achievement.

Buffy Hamilton’s Unquiet Library report (see link above) provides program highlights, photographs, and statistics.

Lorena Swetnam’s Blythewood Middle School report is a quarterly,  rather than monthly report, on her library website.  The slideshows help bring her program to life! She also includes program highlights, collaborative work, and statistics.

Blythewood Middle School First Nine Weeks Report

Pam Harland’s Plymouth Regional High School report is a pdf file linked to the library home page.  This colorful report includes library highlights, statistics, and collaboration highlights, as well as levels of collaboration attained (from 1-5 with a key explaining each level).

Plymouth Regional High School Library report

Laura Collins’ Clovis High School report can also be found through a link on her library’s website.  She not only includes program and instructional highlights, library statistics, and collaboration information, but also includes standards met through collaborative lessons.

Clovis High School Library reports

Reassessing My Monthly Report

Mrs. Hinmighty, English teacher extraordinaire, has consented to read and grade the latest set of school library monthly reports.  Uh-oh.  Can I say the dog ate mine?  Compared to the examples I have shared here, my monthly report isn’t worthy to even warm the bench.

Up until last spring, my monthly report consisted of statistics and a listing of special events held in the media center.  Can you say drab and uninspiring? (Mrs. Hinmighty is “tsk-tsking” and shaking her head sorrowfully as she considers my report.)

When we moved into our new facility, I began adding photographs of students and student work to the monthly report, but I still felt that I wasn’t doing our program justice.  (Tsk-tsk. Sigh…..)

How can I find the time to create the report my program deserves while maintaining that program?  Fellow South Carolina school librarians provided help this week.

The Advocacy Committee of the South Carolina Association of School Librarians recently requested that example monthly reports be shared on our listserv.  Several have been posted and inspired me to revamp our report.

My October report is taking shape.  Statistics appear in tables and some will be represented visually with pie charts and bar graphs.  The one page report is now a thing of the past!  That page limitation (self-imposed) limited the number of photographs I could include and stifled my desire to be creative. (Mrs. Hinmighty will probably still bleed across my report, but perhaps she may occasionally smile rather than tsk.)

Creating the first revamped report is time-consuming, but will provide the template for future reports, thereby eventually saving me time.

Now to create a page on our library’s website to begin posting our monthly reports…..

What do you include in your monthly reports?

Analyzing Shelf Life

Spice Cabinet: Tins with Spices

Tired of having spice bottles fall off the shelf when I was trying to extricate one from the bunch, I decided to weed through the shelf contents.  Embarrassing to say, I had not one, but three, old bottles of chili powder.  Even more embarrassing to say, I uncovered bottles that had to date from the early part of this century. (At least I can almost certainly say none were from the 20th century as I have reorganized that shelf within the last few years.)

Why would I have two bottles of orange peel  when I rarely use that spice?  What is the purpose of hoarding spice bottles when each spice loses its potency over time?

Shelf Life?

Whether common or exotic, spices are meant to enhance food’s flavor.  Stating the obvious here, but to work, spices must be applied.  Purchasing the spice and displaying it in your spice cabinet adds nothing to the intensity of your meal.

I must admit I have not only hoarded spices, but also ideas.  I look forward to reading journals and scouring  the Internet for new ideas to incorporate into my library program. I’ve created various folders on my computer to store the treasures I find.  But if I am just storing these ideas on a “computer shelf,” then I am doing no better with them than I am with the spices I have accumulated.  These ideas cannot help my program unless I apply them.

I must make a conscious effort to break the information cycle (seek, read, store) I have created.  Although there is nothing inherently wrong with  seeking, reading, and storing information, if the purpose I am doing these tasks is not being satisfied, then I am no different than a hamster endlessly running on its wheel.

Have you found yourself in a rut lately?  If so, what steps have you taken to break out of the routine?

“We judge others by their behavior.  We judge ourselves by our intentions.” Ian Percy


Image Attribution:

“Spice Cabinet:  Tins with Spices” by Chris Martino

Used through a Creative Commons license


Gearing Up for the New Year: Preplanning

Pencils and Moleskines 04 by Paul Worthington.

In June, I posted our library’s annual report.  In it, I included four goals for the 2010-2011 school year:

  • Increase collaboration with classroom teachers.
  • Continue to improve both the content and currency of our collection.
  • Increase participation in READissance.
  • Master Destiny software and complete inventory.

Our first day for the 2010-2011 school year will be August 9th.  I plan to hit the ground running on that day and thought I would do as my friend Heather Loy did earlier this week – share some of my plans with you.

Increase Collaboration with Classroom Teachers

After reviewing our 2009 HSAP scores, I shared my concerns about the low scores on the research portion of the ELA test with colleagues.  I had been following Buffy Hamilton’s effort with the Media 21 project and was impressed with the scope and sequence of the program.  I knew that I needed to take a proactive approach to collaborate with an English II teacher on research but would not be able to accomplish anything as comprehensive as Buffy’s project just starting out.

I scheduled a meeting with my principal after the 2009-2010 school year ended and shared my proposal with him. After he had time to review it, he gave it two thunbs up.  Once teachers’ schedules had been finalized for the upcoming year, I approached an English II teacher with my proposal and she enthusiastically agreed to work with me.

We have our work cut out for us as we plan and implement our research unit, but we have been exchanging ideas and look forward to sitting down for a more formal planning session.  We agree that teaching students how to conduct research is vital.  Plans now include a pretest using the TRAILS 9th grade standards and incorporating a research model such as the Big6.

I’ll share more as the plans come together and we begin to pilot the program.

Continue to Improve Both the Content and Currency of Our Collection

As we prepared to move into our new facilities, we aggressively weeded our collection based on age and condition.  This year we will begin to use a five year plan to systematically analyze and improve our collection. (Dewey Decimal classifications are given below.  All items in the collection identified with these classifications will be inventoried in the designated year.)

2010-2011: 500-799 and equipment

2011-2012: 900’s

2012-2013: 000-499 and Professional Library

2013-2014: 800’s and Biography

2014-2015: Fiction and Story Collection

Increase Participation in READissance

When our READissance founder, Sally Hursey, moved to the Boiling Springs Ninth Grade Campus, our READissance planning committee disbanded.  I have already asked one teacher to serve on the committee this year and need to recruit at least one other teacher and a couple of students to review the program and make needed adjustments.

We will survey the faculty and students and use the data to guide us as we begin to make changes.  I don’t want to be making what Buffy Hamilton referred to in her post “Milkshake Mistakes.”

We are a High Schools That Work (HSTW) school and, in an attempt to address their standard of having students read 25 books a year, we have raised the  number of books we require students to read in the READissance program.  Comparing participation data before and after the adjustments uncovers the negative effect of our changes. (We have increased the number of books required by two for two years, raising the number from 7 to 11 required books per semester.) By our current requirements, if a student reads Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (759 pages), he/she will get credit for reading one book.  However, HSTW defines “books” as a set number of pages.  If HSTW considers 200 pages the equivalent of a “book,” then the same  Harry Potter book would qualify as three (nearly four) books by that standard.  How do we address this to encourage, rather than discourage, participation?

Several other aspects of the program need to be reconsidered as we seek to increase both student and teacher participation in the program.

Master Destiny Software and Complete Inventory

Of the four goals, this one will take top priority as the year begins, but it should be accomplished quickly, allowing us to focus on our other goals as well as the day-to-day administration of our library program.

Destiny will be used for the first time this school year as our records were converted at the end of last school year.  The district has scheduled a two hour webinar and a full day of training to prepare us to begin using the program.  Inventory will need to be completed to activate the program so we had to wait until the beginning of the new school year to inventory our collection.

Other Plans

1) Reading promotion – using technology to promote books

2) Revamp our library website

3) Continue to work on branding our library – we will be known as “The MC”

4) Create a community of educators who want to explore using Web 2.0 tools in instruction

And, of course, there will be more.  I have never been one who is happy to sit on the sidelines.

What are you planning this year to improve your services?

Photo Attribution:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulworthington/82648702/

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