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/

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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.

Dr. Stephen Krashen: Education is Not Broken; the Problem is Poverty

Tori Jensen shared this YouTube video with me today.  It is worth the time it takes to watch it!

Do you want proof that school libraries are a major part of the solution to our problem in education?  Watch this video!  Do you want to know where we can get the money to support school libraries?  Watch this video!

As an aside, do you want to know three ways to prevent dementia?  Watch this video!

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