Thursday, October 24, 2013

Forward thinking in school librarianship...

*This post was written by Meg Brooke, Supervisor of School Librarians for Jefferson County. 

Twenty three years ago I interviewed for a library position in the system where I was moving my family. In preparing for the interview, I got my interview outfit ready (Ok…hate to say it, but this was my first thought!). I knew that I needed to get my mind and interview skills ready, and so I prepped by doing lots of reading on what was new in library theory as well as  in technology, and I talked to several practicing librarian friends. The CD-ROM was just starting to be used, and I memorized what the letters stood for and learned about information that was available on the CD-ROMS. I had a MacIntosh computer that I could use at home, and I felt prepared. But, whoa, Nellie! 

Dr. Robert Mitchell, superintendent of the system at the time, interviewed me, and I was amazed!!! This was 1990, and Dr. Mitchell was envisioning students being able to access our school library from their homes. Wow!  My finite mind could never have dreamed that big…everyone having a computer at home and being able to retrieve information from our school library…. but I’m thankful that others have minds to be able to see what possibilities lie ahead. 

Remember: computers were just appearing in schools around that time, and the library where I was hired to work had no computers….ZERO.  It took a few decades to get there, but his vision did become reality. (a side note…..Dr. Mitchell was a hero to me in several ways, but I’d love to add that he left the system a year after I was there and started the first daycare in the area that had cameras so that parents could log in and see what their children were doing whenever they had a chance to do that. A real forward thinker!)

Dreams of what our libraries will become must move from the ideas that many were taught and have practiced, too, if we are to move toward the vision of the library that our students will need.  In Harland’s The Learning Commons: Seven Simple Steps to Transform Your Library, we are given some questions to ask ourselves as we think about the future of our particular library. 

Ponder these:
  • ·         Does your school need a library when most information can be accessed in the classroom using the Internet? (This is a question that we need to be able to answer!!!)
  • ·         What is it that your library offers to your users in addition to accessing information?
  • ·         Are you doing it well?  Could you do it better?
  • ·         How can you increase and improve services?
  • ·         Could you make a shift in your service?

We’ve heard the term libraries without walls, and we’re there. Dr. Mitchell got it right!  Our students can access Atriuum, Nettrekker, the AVL, and many ebooks outside of the school library. One leadership session at the upcoming AASL conference and one that was recently presented in a webinar entitled A Library in your Pocket is a reality NOW!  

High schools are without walls, providing online courses for students via ACCESS now. Our buildings are seeing changes as methods of teaching are moving toward more technology, and our library spaces will need to follow suit as well.  No longer are we just protecting what we have…our books, our AV, our equipment, but we are morphing into being the promoters of how to use what we have so that our students and teachers can easily access and use that information. 

This is just a smidgen of food for thought that you’ll find in The Learning Commons by Pamela Harland.  I hope you’ll check it out if you’re interested in moving your library forward into one that will meet your students’ needs.  

Be the “Dr. Mitchell” in the lives around you!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Christmas came to us in October!

*This post was written by our sweet and fearless leader, Meg Brooke! :)

Christmas came to us in October! J  There were some funds left in the account that we were approved to spend, and so I ordered these books for our professional development.  It does not look like we will be moving downstairs, and so I will keep these in my office upstairs.  I know that there is little time for much extra, but hopefully some of these references will be something that some or one of you needs to give that extra “umph” to take your library or you as a librarian to that next level!  Our students deserve this!

If you’re interested in any of these, let me know and I’ll send it by the PONY.  I plan to do some quick “reviews” of these in the future, too, to hopefully pique your interest.

These are the books:

I get pumped just reading the titles!  But the real worth is what’s inside………

School Libraries Matter: Views from the Research
Mirah Dow, ed
Growing Schools: Librarians as Professional Developers
Debbie Abilock, Kristin Fontichiaro, and Violet Harada, editors
Literacy: A Way Out for At-Risk Youth
Jennifer Sweeney
Get Those Guys Reading: Fiction and Series Books that Boys Will Love
Kathleen Baxter and Marcia Kochel
The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program and the School Library: Inquiry-based Education
Anthony Tilke
The Library Catalogue as a Social Space: Promoting Patron Driven Collections, online Communities, and Enhanced Reference and Readers’ Services
Laura Tarulli
Copyright Catechism II: Practical Answers to Everyday School Dilemmas
Carol Simpson
iPads in the Library: Using Tablet Technology to Enhance Programs for All Ages
Joel A. Nichols
Travel the Globe: Story times, Activities, and Crafts for Children
Desiree Webber, Dee Ann Corn, Elaine Harrod, et al
Book Clubbing:  Successful Book Clubs ..
Carol Littlejohn
Reference Skills for the School Librarian
Ann M. Riedling, Loretta Shake, Cynthia Houston
Integrating Young Adult Literature through the Common Core Standards
Rachel Wadham and Jonathan Ostenson
The Learning Commons: 7 Simple Steps to Transform Your Library
Pamela C. Harland
Seven Steps to an Award-winning School Library Program
Ann M. Martin
A Guided Inquiry Approach to High School Research
Randell K. Schmidt
Guided Inquiry Design: a Framework for Inquiry in Your School
Carol C. Kuhlthau, Leslie K. Maniotes, and Ann K. Caspari

Monday, October 21, 2013

What's Next for Diary of a Wimpy Kid?

On November 4th, from 1 - 2 p.m. Central Time Jeff Kinney, author of The Wimpy Kid Series, will give readers a preview of his newest book Hard Luck. It sounds like a great program for a reading class or elective class to join in and get excited about this crazy-popular series!

Sign up for alerts from School Library Journal to hear more about these special events.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Come to the AASL Conference in Hartford!

Only days are left to get the discounted registration rate for the AASL Conference in Hartford!

Advance registration rates end October 17th.

AASL 16th National Conference & Exhibition image

Here are some of the concurrent sessions on Friday, November 15:

  • Challenge Your Four Walls with a Twitter PLN
  • Game On: Scratch in the Library and Classroom
  • Game On: Using the Latest and Greatest to Entice Patrons and Promote Literacy
  • Give the Kids the Keys: Students Drive the Independent Project
  • Lessons from the Winners Take All Community Read
  • Leveraging the Library: Sci-Fi, Storytelling, and New Media Ignite Student Interest in Science
  • Making the Case for Tablet Computers
  • No-Fear Nonfiction: Meeting the Challenge
  • Presenting Social Issues in Teen Literature
  • Rising to the Challenge: Preparing Students for College-Level Research
  • Rocks in the River: The Challenge of Piloting the Inquiry Process in Today's Learning Environment
And that is just Friday! Plenty of opportunities abound to rub shoulders with some of the best librarians in the business. This type of professional development always brings out the best ideas in technology, books, programming, and literacy promotion.

Conference friends are a built-in bonus and the friendships continue through Twitter and ALA Connect.

So, come and join the fun and remember the old adage that "you get out of it what you put into it!"

Monday, October 7, 2013

Teen Read Week

Students at Hueytown Middle School are working hard to get ready for Teen Read Week 2013! Be on the lookout for posts written by students explaining the significance of Teen Read Week as well as digital resources created by library aides to promote this library event.

Friday, October 4, 2013

ASCLA Awards - Nominate Someone!

A $1,000 award and certificate for a library organization that has provided services for people with disabilities. The award recognizes an innovative and well-organized project which successfully developed or expanded services for people with disabilities. The award can be for a specific service(s) program or for a library that has made their total services more accessible through changing physical and/or attitudinal barriers. Original funding for this award was provided by Aetna U. S. Healthcare beginning in 2000 through the National Organization on Disability. Keystone Systems assumed sponsorship of the award in 2004.

The nomination form is available in both PDF and Word document formats. The deadline for 2014 award nominations is February 1, 2014.

The information above comes from the ALA office.

Has your library offered special services fro people with disabilities or do you know a librarian who has? Nominate someone today!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

This is What Happens When Students are Searching for Information on a Reliable Website during a Government Shutdown

United States Department of Agriculture - Home: Due to the lapse in federal government funding, this website is not available.

After funding has been restored, please allow some time for this website to

become available again.

For information about available government services, visit

To view U.S. Department of Agriculture Agency Contingency plans, visit:

Message from the President to U.S. Government Employees

The message above is what our middle school students tapped into when searching the website This is what happens in school with a Federal Government Shutdown. As Robert Burns said, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry!