National Information Literacy Awareness Month

Information Literacy Supporter Badge

It’s been three years since President Barack Obama proclaimed October as National Information Literacy Awareness Month.  This year I served on a committee to word a proclamation to present to Gov. Nikki Haley so that South Carolina could also shine the light on the importance of information literacy. Eighteen states have now followed Obama’s lead; is your state one of those?

Update: Librarians ARE the Digital Literacy Corps

Wow.  Joyce Valenza noticed my little post last week (Calling School Librarians to Action) and reposted it on her NeverEnding Search blog.  It then grabbed the attention of thousands of librarians as well as the American Library Association.  I was pleased to notice that ALA  responded quickly to the same newspaper article that had grabbed my attention (see “ALA Wastes No Time – Our Work on Digital Literacy“).

I was informed today that Matt Richtel, author of the article and a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist,  provided us with misinformation.  The digital literacy corps referred to in his article has NO money associated with it.  I have sent him an email through the NY Times requesting more information. (You may request the same information from him here.)

Although the article was misleading, it hit a nerve among librarians who feel that the public still does not have a clear up-to-date understanding of our profession.

Evidently many of you are contacting the FCC as I requested. Deb Logan, one of the co-founders of Act4SL, contacted me yesterday and has given me permission to share part of her email here:

“The great news is that people are inspired to action… In all advocacy efforts, speaking up is important, but it is critical to not put people on the defensive…Communications need to be persistent, professional, positive and polite…This situation, in particular, is a great opportunity to position ourselves as part of the solution.”

Let’s keep in mind that all of us are working towards a common goal:  to teach our citizens digital literacy skills. 

Please continue to exercise your right to communicate with our governmental agencies and let the FCC know that librarians are trained information professionals who already address their concern that our citizens need to be taught digital literacy skills. Our efforts here may well help lay the foundation for future partnerships to better prepare Americans to navigate the digital landscape.

May the Digital Literacy Corps be with you! (With apologies from a former English teacher who cannot pass up plays on words.)

Image used through a Creative Commons license:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/starwarsblog/793008715/

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.

Calling School Librarians to Action! Another Attempt to Undermine Our Jobs

My blood is boiling.  I read this article online today after it was shared on Twitter by Rebecca Oxley (@LibrariansFTW).  This excerpt is what got my dander up.  And that is a dangerous thing to do with a Southern gal:

“The new divide is such a cause of concern for the Federal Communications Commission that it is considering a proposal to spend $200 million to create a digital literacy corps. This group of hundreds, even thousands, of trainers would fan out to schools and libraries to teach productive uses of computers for parents, students and job seekers.”

Looks like the FCC has no idea that our schools have a ready-made “digital literacy corps” in place.

Chairman Julius Genachowski was quoted in the article.  He recognizes the importance of digital literacy, but he is ill-informed. He does not know that there are already trained professionals in many schools who work, against great odds at times, to train our students and who volunteer to teach parents these skills.

Let’s not let him claim ignorance before spending this money.

Send him an email( Julius.Genachowski@fcc.gov) informing him that WE ARE THE DIGITAL LITERACY CORPS (feel free to copy or adapt the following):

I just read the NY Times May 30, 2012 article entitled “Wasting Time is New Digital Divide in Digital Era.”  As an educator, I realize the importance of information and digital literacy.  As a school librarian, I have been trained to teach information literacy skills.  I collaborate with classroom teachers to teach lessons in which I incorporate these skills.

However, the recession has had an enormous impact on school libraries.  Many programs have been completely cut; others are being run by volunteers rather than a certified school librarian; and other programs have lost their assistants, whose job of handling routine procedures freed the school librarian to plan with teachers.

I noticed that the FCC is considering “a proposal to spend $200 million to create a digital literacy corps. This group of hundreds, even thousands, of trainers would fan out to schools and libraries to teach productive uses of computers for parents, students and job seekers.”

Although I applaud the intent of teaching digital literacy skills to our students, I question the expenditure of these funds.  Why not instead funnel these funds into school library programs to allow trained, certified professionals to teach the skills?

I look forward to hearing from you on this vital issue.

Will you contact the FCC?

Image used through a CC license:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/smemon/5683575389/

Infographic: Monthly Library Report

“Hello.  My name is Fran, and I am an overachiever.”

What else explains why I never seem to be satisfied?  I have been on a quest to improve my monthly library reports since 2010 as discussed here, here, and here.  I had been using Word to create my reports but changed to PowerPoint this year.  I have found that I can create and edit charts so much easier with PowerPoint.  And I have been fairly pleased with my monthly reports. However…

I am a fan of infographics, so this morning when I saw this tweet from Sassy Librarian, I had to play:

Piktochart

Pikochart provides both free and upgraded accounts; as always, I opt for free.  Once I had registered for an account, I was presented with three infographic templates.  Because I wanted to present our monthly stats, I chose the Web 2.0 B template.

Once you choose a template, you can change the mood (Colour Scheme, Fonts, and Background Styles) and then begin editing. Your editing toolbox comes equipped with Tools (you can add images and charts), Shapes, Graphics, Text Editor, and Theme Graphics.

Not too bad for a first try, but since I am an overachiever…..

Snapshot: A Day in the Life of SC School Libraries 2012

As SCASL Advocacy Committee Chair, I am pleased to announce Snapshot: A Day in the Life of SC School Libraries 2012.  Details about the program will be mailed to SC public school librarians within the next two weeks; however, because many of you would like to start planning now for your own Snapshot Day, I thought I would post information both here and on our SCASL blog about the initiative.

Introduction

You and your library program play an enormous role in the lives of your students.  All around the country, school librarians have been losing jobs as budgets are slashed.  In our own state, school librarians are being asked to do more, often with less help and money.

Never before has advocacy been more vital!  SCASL has been hard at work advocating for our state’s school library programs. One of our priorities has been to inform those with budget decision-making authority about the role that school librarians play in educating South Carolina’s students.  Two mailings have been sent to your superintendents, principals, and state and national legislators:

  • In August they received the Media Center Messenger whose lead article was “Why You Need School Librarians and School Libraries:  An Open Letter to South Carolina Principals and Superintendents.”
  • In February they received the brochure created by the Advocacy Committee reminding them of the role we play and inviting them to schedule a visit to a school library to witness our work first hand.

However, nothing is more powerful than each of us advocating for our own library programs by demonstrating the impact we have on our students’ education.

The SCASL Advocacy Committee is again sponsoring Snapshot: A Day in the Life of SC School Libraries.  Your participation will focus your school community’s attention on the work you do and provide SCASL with data to use in future advocacy efforts.

Last year, approximately 38% of our public school libraries participated in Snapshot Day.  South Carolina school librarians are dedicated to enriching the lives of our students.  If we expect our legislators and administrators to support us, then we must be willing to demonstrate our dedication to our students through strong school library programs.  Participating in Snapshot Day is an excellent way to demonstrate your dedication and provide you with data you can use to advocate for your own program.

Snapshot Day Resource Wiki

To support you as you plan your Snapshot Day, the SCASL Advocacy Committee has created a wiki full of resources.  The wiki details the data you are being asked to collect as well as ideas and downloadable documents to assist you as you plan, market, and sponsor your library’s Snapshot Day.  You’ll even find a page dedicated to using the data you gather to promote your own program!  Please visit the wiki at

http://snapshotday2012.wikispaces.com/

Let’s celebrate the successes of our library programs and provide our administrators and legislators with proof that we are making a difference!

Advocate! Advocate! School Libraries Rock!

Cue the music:  “Celebrate” by Three Dog Night

Replace the ending of the song  (“Celebrate! Celebrate!  Dance to the music”) with:

Advocate! Advocate! School libraries rock!

Advocate! Advocate! School libraries rock!

…and it goes on and on….just like our advocacy efforts should.

New Resource

Formal advocacy efforts often take a backseat to the hectic pace of our everyday routines.  The Colorado Association of School Libraries has created an inspiring site that provides resources to simplify your efforts to promote school libraries and your school library program.

Survive and Thrive!  An Advocacy Toolkit for School Librarians 

If you don’t have the time to peruse the entire site, these three pages provide excellent examples of why you should bookmark it:

  • Video Gallery  There are ten videos demonstrating the roles school librarians play.
  • Email templates  Those linked here will help you promote collaboration with your teachers.
  • Newsletter blurbs  Those linked here provide examples of how school librarians empower our students with 21st century skills.

And, yes, I was around when this song debuted.  Still love it!

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.

Three Quick and Easy Ways to Advocate for Your School Library Program

Has advocacy for your program been moved to the back burner while you deal with other, more pressing issues?  The following advocacy strategies can be easily and quickly replicated.  Why not try one this week?

1.  Ask students to recommend books they would like to have added to the library’s collection.  This can be a simple Google Doc Form that you link to on your website (examples: The Unquiet Library , Blythewood Middle School , North Andover Public Schools , Rock Creek School Library) or it can be a sign on the Circulation Desk with slips of paper (example:Academy of Personalized Learning’s Please Buy This Book ), pencils, and a box where completed forms are inserted.

By requesting student input, you are reinforcing that the library is THEIR library.  If you purchase a book based on a student recommendation, why not place a book plate in the front of that book identifying the student?

2.  Contact parents.  As a classroom teacher I dreaded most of the phone calls I had to make to parents.  To ease the stress of sharing problems with parents, I began to make one positive phone call each week.  What a difference that one phone call made!

Why not call parents when

  • a student seems to be enjoying a research project he/she is working on?
  • a student has participated in a literacy program?
  • a student has participated in one of your library’s programs (perhaps he/she won a contest you sponsored)?
  • a student has been helpful to other students in the library?
  • a student has excelled in a program outside of the library? (As an educator, I take pride when any of our school’s students is successful.)

Try a positive phone call once, and you will be hooked! Read Leigh Ann Jones’ blog post “How to make a parent’s day AND advocate for your library in one simple step” for inspiration.

3.  Show administrators what is happening in your library. Keep a camera at your Circulation Desk and use it!  Snap pictures of students reading, researching, using the library’s online catalog, etc. Compose a quick email to your principal and attach a photo.  Because he/she more than likely has a full inbox, use a catchy phrase in the subject line.  (Our school mascot is the bulldog, so my subject line will read “Bragging ’bout Bulldogs!” Yes, that’s intentional slang usage; love alliteration!)

Don’t just stop with pictures of students.  Pull out that camera and capture teachers interacting with students in the library.  When you compose the email to your principal bragging on the teacher, why not CC the teacher?  Imagine how warm and fuzzy that teacher is going to feel (and rightfully so!) about the library when he/she opens that email?

Advocacy:  don’t leave your library without it.

Show Your Stuff!

Gloom and Doom

When animals feel threatened, they become defensive and attack.  When school librarians feel threatened, they become__________________.  If I had to fill in the blank based on what I’ve been reading on our state’s listserv, I’d be filling in “negative and whine.”

Yeah.  That’ll protect our jobs.  Let’s just sit back and whine – others will feel sorry for us and not only save our jobs, but pay us double and get us library assistants, and give us unlimited budgets, and, and, and….

Loud and Proud

Instead of feeling defensive, let’s do what some of our colleagues have done and toot that horn, blast that trumpet, raise that roof!

Kelly Knight, librarian at Fork Shoals School in Greenville County, South Carolina, began today what I hope to see as a continuing theme on the SCASL listserv and forums:  a thread entitled “Tooting my own horn.”

In the post, Kelly shared the success she has been experiencing while teaching her 4th graders about blogging. Today the students learned netiquette and began posting comments on the library’s blog.  Next they will tackle book reviews and are revved up and raring to go!

After wading through several negative “gloom and doom” messages, Kelly’s post was like a breath of fresh air.

We are doing AWESOME things in our school libraries.  Let’s share them with not only one another, but also with our school communities.  They’re dying for fresh air, too.

Challenge!

Let’s inspire one another.  Please share one (or more) awesome thing(s) that you are doing in your library in a reply to this post, or in a post of your own (and then share the link to that post here).  And remember to share it with your faculty, administration, parents, and community.

Image “African trumpet‘ by smithadri  is  used through a Creative Commons license