in which I attempt to be a rockstar teacher librarian :)

Posts tagged ‘librarians’

Thoughts on: Evidence-Based Practice in SchLibs

This week, our professor offered us two different discussion prompts/ideas/guiding questions on Evidence Based Practice.
I reproduce them below, but understand that my thoughts don’t necessarily align with either question, but rather the practice of EBP in school libraries on the whole. My brain decided that’s how it wanted to function today.

What are some of the issues or concerns that might hinder school librarians from engaging in EBP and, in your opinion, are they valid, insurmountable, etc.? What are potential evidence-based strategies that you might use in your school library? (For example, Ross Todd mentions rubrics, checklists, portfolios, etc.)

First, a few statements that may sound a bit harsh:

  • If one’s understanding of EBP is that it is librarian-focused, not student-focused, one needs open up to the greater possibilities.
  • If the thought of implementing EBP is overwhelming, rest assured it’s entirely possible to do so in pieces, and necessary.
  • If you believe school libraries and learning are important, please continue reading! 🙂

What is evidence-based practice? I’ll allow Ross Todd to explain that, in this quote from The Evidence-Based Manifesto for School Librarians which can be accessed here on the School Library Journal website.

“School libraries need to systematically collect evidence that shows how their practices impact student achievement; the development of deep knowledge and understanding; and the competencies and skills for thinking, living, and working. This holistic approach to evidence-based practice in school libraries involves three dimensions: evidence for practice, evidence in practice, and evidence of practice.”

Here’s the beauty of evidence-based practice: it won’t look at the same at school 1, school B, or school 3. The three components that Todd speaks of work together to take in the big picture, apply it to the local picture, and create a local picture. The end result is the ability to say,

This school in particular has been affected/changed/transformed/improved through X, Y, and Z initiatives, which were developed based on this needs assessment based on our local learning community. This team of persons implemented these initiatives and we have witnessed outcomes 1, 2, 3. Our students learned how to do this, that, and the other and successfully reached the learning objectives that were designed to meet their particular needs. These initiatives were developed based on research of best practices, and then applied in specific ways to the needs our learning community presented.”

Wouldn’t you love to be able to say all of that about the projects and learning going on in your school library?!

Perhaps it sounds overwhelming – I can appreciate that. One step at a time! What can you implement into the library program that will turn towards a culture of evidence-based practice, and help incorporate it consistently? Maybe starting with rubrics for projects – and having students help you create those rubrics and engage in their own learning. What about adding in reflective practice on the part of students – starting small with a discussion-style “wrap up” of the project with ideas on what went right, what went wrong, and what went awesome?

The first step to moving towards EBP is to start moving towards EBP. 🙂 Start with analyzing your students needs and determining learning goals. In what ways can you gather evidence to support teaching to meet those goals? In what ways can you gather evidence that the learning goals are being met effectively through both teaching and learning? I firmly believe that simply starting to think about how to incorporate evidence-based practice is the first step to making the transition smooth.

I liked this short summary of areas from which to gain evidence in your practice, from the School Library Media Specialist Eduscapes page.

This means gather evidence from various perspectives (Loertscher & Woolls, 2003):

  • learner level – student gains (i.e., achievement test scores, rubrics, portfolios, attitude scales, checklists, reflections)
  • teaching unit level – lessons and learning (i.e., checklists, collaboration rubrics, evaluation forms, timelines, log sheets)
  • organization level – library output (i.e., center statistics, hardware and software data)

As someone who is about to enter the school library world, I have one more request to make – please share your evidence! Share the successes; share those that didn’t meet expectations; share how you’ve revised; share what you’ve learned; share what your students have learned and how learning outcomes have changed along the way; share how your role as a library media specialist has changed as you’ve learned more; share.

And now, a statement that hopefully wraps up my ramblings coherently and gives us all hope and motivation for the future, that comes to you via Ross Todd (again, from the Evidence-Based Manifesto for School Librarians):

“EBP is not about scrambling to find additional time. It’s about establishing priorities and making choices based on your beliefs about the importance of school libraries and learning.”


Rapidly Live-Blogged: “Rethinking Digital Literacy for All Ages” at #CILDC

Michele Farrell, Senior Library Program Officer, Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
Enid Costley, Children’s and Youth Services Consultant, Library of Virginia
Matt Montgomery, Technical Services Librarian, Mechanics’ Institute
Jeremy Snell, Web Librarian, Mechanics’ Institute

Here are my notes, largely unedited – I can only type so fast, after all. Sigh, human limitations. ::sips coffee::

Michele and Enid:

Most libraries today have a children’s room, but that’s a “new” thing – as in, circa 1890 – so literacy in libraries is not a recent trend

“Storytime” isn’t what you think it is (my note: so stop stereotyping children’s librarians, please, thanks) – we’re engaging in children’s social, emotional, physical development – we’re branching out and creating new partnerships with the community to advance literacy

What’s the federal role?
Majorly comes out of support from the Inst of Museum and Library Services – their goals are to promote literacy, education, and lifelong learning – and the “early literacy” focus means working toward these goals before kids can read and write
other goals: build healthy communities; support and empower parents; create possibilities for more things libraries can do through partnerships — IMLS partners with a lot of different organizations all under the umbrella of leading to children’s success
At the end of May: IMLS will be issuing a report on early learning – stay tuned!

Digital Literacy:
what does it mean? –> “skills associated with using technology to enable users to find, organize, evaluate, create, communicate information”

Programs in existence that may be of interest:
Rhode Island’s Getting Ready for Kindergarten
Utah’s Getting Ready to Read program
StoryBlocks: collection of 30-60 second videos to model songs/rhymes/finger plays for young children & enhance ‘early literacy’
DaybyDay: every day there is a song to sing/activity to do that’s high in creativity, along with a TumbleBooks – family literacy project –there is a bid underway to translate the entire thing into Spanish
Colorin Colorado!: helping children read and succeed – a bilingual site for English language learners
Project ENABLE: training sessions for gaining skill and understanding in creating and delivering effective library/information services to students of ALL abilities (my note: I’ve done the training, and it is highly useful. Recommended.)

Current national ad campaign: “3 2 1 Everyone On” – aims to promote digital literacy at multiple skill levels, searchable by zip code for programs in your area that may fits your digital literacy needs

Matt and Jeremy:

(My note: I hate when I accidentally +1 something on Google+ when I’m on a different website! ^_^)

Their work has focused on a population that tends to lack digital skills. They needed a way to serve this population better than they had been – one barrier was that the reference desk is in the middle of the library space, so approaching with questions wasn’t nearly as comfortable as it should be. SO they set out to fix that.

Change the setting and set the mood:
using an upper space in the library and having “open office hours” to provide one-on-one service – one hour, each day, for an entire week. You could set up a 15min appointment or just walk in for help. Fifteen minutes is not enough time to do anything and there were very few walkin/dropins.

They tried it again – and instead of the previous setup, it was a six-hour shift with 30minute appointments. There were more drop ins and overall, a more effective approach to solving problems and teaching digital skills.

How’d they promote it?
The usual – website, posters, print newspaper, etc – they had a few prompts on what they could do – “help with eReaders, the library catalog, general technology questions” – and one staff member was tasked to set up all the appointments so that the patrons had just one person to meet with via phone/email. (My note: the thought of not shuffling between staff members on the phone makes me smile!)

What happened as a result?
They’ve assisted 69 people over 38 “staff hours” in a 6 month period. This isn’t something that only older library users are attending! Basic email/computer questions are what they handle – but they do a number of things from formatting eBook formats to building a WordPress blog for professional uses – it keeps the library staff “on their toes” as well. 🙂

The library members are appreciative of the service – and the library staff have been able to learn more about the needs of their community and thus, respond more effectively to those community needs.


The iSchoolSU heads to #CILDC!

I’m writing this to you from the main ballroom of the Washington Hilton near Dupont Circle.

Did you know this is the hotel where President Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinckley, Jr? Well, now you do.

I’m sitting with a group of fellow iSchoolSU students. We’ve gotten muffins, bagels, and bananas, and are armed with some hot java to get through the morning. The keynote speakers, Brent Leary of CRM Essentials, and Rebecca Jones of Dysart & Jones Associates, will take the stage soon. Apparently it’s going to be an interview-style keynote. The topic?

Evolving Community Engagement: What Would Amazon & Google Do?

I’m psyched for this conference, can you tell? It’s a picture of me with a coffee mug!

In keeping with tradition, I have a coffee mug in m hand. :)

In keeping with tradition, I have a coffee mug in m hand. 🙂

That’s about ten minutes from now, and then things kick off for the rest of the day. Until then, I’ve got a bit more coffee to drink 🙂 and some decent music piping through the speakers to sing along to. Happy conferencing, y’all!

Some Quick Thoughts from an Elementary Practicum Student!

I know, I know, I’ve been fairly terrible about blogging during grad school. The truth is that I prefer micro-blogging. Think twitter posts and conversations, long comment threads in facebook groups, and the like.

That said, I want to try to be better about putting things down in blog form this semester.
Reasons why:

  • I have to post a blog once a week for my practicum seminar anyway. I may import some, as possible.
  • I’m taking extensive (paper) notes on each day of practicum. I’m going to have to type them up. May as well share!
  • Sharing is caring.
  • I want to look back and say “oh yeah, I did that!” not “oh yeah, I wish I had typed up some of those experiences before I forgot them”.

So without any further pontificating…a few things!

  1. I interact better with the younger age group than I thought I would, honestly. There’s a learning curve on both sides, teacher-to-students and students-to-teacher, but it’s going well so far!
  2. You know how we talk about teaching “just-in-time” so skills align with activities and projects? Right… well, learning just-in-time works too. Like learning how to use a technological tool 10 minutes before you teach it. Not everything has to be rehearsed, scripted, etc. — there’s a freedom in the land of improv, as well.
  3. One of the most frustrating things, after “I can’t find a book” is when the question “well, what are you interested in?” is followed up with “I don’t know”. It’s this that I’m still working on – how to respond, how to find common ground, how to help a student determine what their interests are. 
  4. It’s okay that I haven’t jumped on the iPad bandwagon yet, but time will tell if I can continue to hold that view.
  5. Not having the privileges to update software as needed so that other software/tools can be used causes frustration. Sorry, tech club. 😦
  6. Wrestling books are COOL, y’all. 😉
This book is double-sided. It's like a "choose your own adventure"... in WWE.

This book is double-sided. It’s like a “choose your own adventure”… in WWE.

Yes, I’m talking about books and reading. Deal.

Nothing overly complicated to see here, folks. It’s just that I love reading for the sake of reading and many times, we talk about the things we enjoy most. Oh, I know, it’s a walking cliche for a wannabe rockstar school librarian to love reading, right? But here’s the thing — it shouldn’t be. You know why? Because we’re models for the students we encounter, the children we see on a regular basis, the infant who simply loves the sound of voice.

Logan, Medford, & Hughes have recently researched the effect of  intrinsic motivation on readers of all levels. They found (unsurprisingly) that “academic success for children is usually founded on their ability to read proficiently, as most subjects across the school curriculum rely, to varying extents, on reading skill.” (2011, p.124) The American Association of School Librarians’ Standards for the 21st Century Learner (2007) further stresses, “The degree to which students can read and understand text in all formats (e.g., picture, video, print) and all contexts is a key indicator of success in school and in life.”*

And that’s the thing — reading isn’t just for school. I read constantly for my job – task lists from my supervisor, documentation on how to order services at a conference (the comprehension level required for such documents feel astronomical at times), reading between the lines of an email to find what someone’s really asking. And that’s a life skill. A necessary one. Some jobs may seem to require less reading, and that’s fine: I know quite a few people who, I’m certain, were meant to work with their hands. (Farmers, among others, you rock). But I dare you to make it through a day – no, that’s ridiculous – I dare you to make it through five minutes without reading something. (Staring at the ceiling does not count, but that’s currently the only thing I can come up with that might work).

None of this is mind blowing, is it? I didn’t think so. But it was last night, when I wrapped up several hours of working on various graduate school assignments, and eagerly picked up the book I just started** as a form of mental relaxation and entertainment, that I realized for the gazillionth*** time just how fortunate I am. I grew up in a family that found value in reading for both work and for pleasure; my mother willingly took me the public library about once a week so I always had fresh reading material; I had teachers that encouraged using free time to read; I undertook an undergraduate degree that allowed me to research fascinating topics****. And now, I want my actions to further encourage young people to develop that intrinsic love of learning, of the written word, of the joys hidden within – and that’s why I do this. That is why I do all this. And it’s a good reminder.

* – taken from a recent collaborative assignment, focused on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
** – “The Wild Queen: The days and nights of Mary, Queen of Scots” – Carolyn Meyer. (Fictionalized history).
*** -Not a real number.
**** – My senior history thesis was on the presidency of Warren G. Harding, last president to come from the Great State of Ohio. By the time it was done, I referred to him as Warren G.
***** – Note this was written at an incredibly early time of the morning, before I’d consumed my usual coffee intake. Excuse the rambling.

Meaningful Play – and reading! – at the Strong.

So I spent Monday through Thursday of the previous week in class. 9AM to 5PM, with occasional coffee refill breaks (you know how I am about my coffee) and of course time for lunch (you know how I am about eating). But IST 612, alternatively known as Youth Services, was a great class. Can’t underscore that enough. I absolutely loved it minus the parts where I was slightly overwhelmed and I learned entirely too much for my brain to comprehend in 4 days.

So, my new perspectives, ideas, thoughts, and creative quirks have spilled over into real life. Ack! I spent the weekend decompressing and continuing to caffeinate in Rochester, a city that’s right down the thruway/canal. May as well explore while I’m living in Upstate!

So, Friday late afternoon, I found myself at the The Strong. If you glance at their website, you’ll discover that The Strong incorporates several different facets of life and fun and museum-ish things.

  • The National Museum of Play!
  • International Center for the History of Electronic Games
  • National Toy Hall of Fame

Now, in my I need to decompress immediately before my brain collapses state on Friday, I chose to focus most on the National Museum of Play because…well… play. That sounded fun.

And it WAS. I sat on the stoop at 123 Sesame Street. I read children’s books. I built towers of blocks. I drove a stunt racecar using my hands with an XBox Kinect. I organized a laser light show. I tried on superhero capes. I played an electronic harp in the Giant’s kingdom. I discovered a secret door in the Mystery Mansion. I walked through a tilted room to see perspectives change. I saw the Lorax in person!

standing against a wall mural

Proof that I am taller than Mr. Snuffleupagus. He’s tanner though. If orange is considered tan. Is it?

Short summary: I had a lot of fun. But I learned stuff, too. Which is even more fun. (That’s just how I roll.) But there’s something else that, as a newly-escaped-from-intensive-class-school-media-student, I appreciated all the more.

The public library system of Monroe County has an entire collection at the Strong. The books are located throughout the museum – expect to find graphic novels in the superhero section, and primary-age books on color and letters and numbers in the Sesame Street section, and books of all shapes, sizes, and silliness in the ‘reading adventureland’ section. Kids who don’t have a library card can sign up for one – right there inside the museum – and take books home. Then they can be returned to any library in the whole county system! For those who return often, there’s a book drop at the entrance to the museum.

While I won’t spend enough time giving this idea justice… think about it for a moment. How awesome is that, as an example of how to reach your community? Parents accompany kids to the museum – especially if they’re younger kids – and now, they can combine their fun trip to play with a trip to the library. No extra car seat wrangling involved.

I love it. And it made me quite happy to see it. And my poor boyfriend had to hear about how much I loved it, in between me trying on superhero capes and trying to make them swirl through the air dramatically, so I figured I’d blog it out of my system so I can stop talking about it. What do you think?

(Edit0r’s note: no promises to stop talking about it anytime soon. Also, I spent 4ish hours playing the museum. It’s fantastic. Take your kids, take your self!)

Smile. Chat. Admit You Don’t Know Everything.

Okay so… normally I’m not as snarky as the title of this post would seem to indicate. (N.B.: this may or may not be true.)

But really, I’ve been terrible about blogging about my library school experience. My apologies. I’m not going to bother taking the time to rehash the semester; perhaps I’ll do that in a series of posts over the next few weeks. Instead, I’m going to take this time to discuss some interactions I’ve had with both librarians and libraries – note, those are not the same thing. Bear with me, if you please.

Story/Tale/Incident/Occurrence #1:
of the not-so-positive variety.
(and if you’re considering TL;DR … here: poor customer service.)

I needed to have a form signed in the presence of a public notary. I’ve only been in NY about 10 months, and haven’t had to deal with this before, so I was at a bit of a loss as to where to find one – preferably at no cost to myself. In Ohio, we had about 7 notaries on staff at my library branch, so I immediately think “yes! the library”.  I call my ‘home branch’ here in NY, which we’ll call… HomeLib. On the phone, I am informed that HomeLib does not have any notaries on staff, but OtherLib does. OtherLib is a fairly sizeable library, in a relatively economically stable part of the greater CNY area. It’s out of my way to go to OtherLib, but I figure I’ll just factor it into my commute home. So, on the way home from a long day at work, I go to OtherLib.

Having never been inside, I’m surveying (and a bit lost) when someone approaches me. “Can I help you?” “Oh, yes, please. I need a public notary; I was told you have one.” “Okay, wait one moment please”. HelpfulEmployeeA walks away and… leaves me standing in the middle of the floor. Do I follow her? Is she coming back? I didn’t quite know, so I surreptitiously stalked her across the library. She’s on the phone for a minute or two, at which point she says, “sorry, none of them are here the rest of the day”. I’m disappointed. “Oh, the staff at HomeLib told me you’d have one here…” “No, they’ve both left for the day. You missed them.” Hmmmm, okay. “So, can you tell me when they’ll  be here tomorrow? I work during the day, so it’s not like I can just stop by…” “No, I’m sorry, I can’t. You’ll just have to call ahead and see if someone’s working.”

It was this line that gave me pause. Now, a few weeks removed from the situation, I can deal with it. But here’s a customer/patron/user/member who is asking for a service, and asking to be informed when that service might be available, and the response is “ask us again when the service will be available”. Perhaps I shouldn’t assume such things, but since OtherLib knows the individual staff members that are notaries, and considering their schedule has to be somewhat set in stone in order to properly staff OtherLib each day of the week, somewhere it must be known that “Notary 1 is here tomorrow until 4. Notary 2 is here Thursday in the evening hours.” I don’t think it’s completely outside the box and overwhelming to take a moment and locate that information and share it with a patron. However… I’ll let it stand.

The bigger problem was the attitude encountered, which is impossible to convey here, other than “Stop asking questions; I know better/more than you.” Now, as an INTJ, I’m unlikely to adopt this attitude well. As a librarian-in-training and former public library employee, I’m tempted to out myself just to see the reaction. We’re moving on from this story. Moral: you’re not above your customers/patrons/users/members. I think most librarians I know embrace this fully.

Story/Tale/Incident/Occurrence #2:
of the very positive variety. (TL;DR: affirm us as future librarians.)

Yesterday, a number of people involved in the library/information profession in some way were visiting my place of employment (the iSchool). As shocking as it may be to some, the I in INTJ doesn’t mean “standoffish in the corner”. While I am, at heart, an introvert, I love conversations and chatting with random strangers.

I introduced myself to a trio of older gentlemen yesterday. I knew 2 of them by name and association. The third I did not. However, within 90 seconds of conversation, I stated my ultimate goal of being a “rockstar school librarian” – my catchphrase – and was informed by Unidentified Gentlemen that he was most certain that I would, someday, achieve such status. Now that is something I’d like to hear more often. We libraryschool students thrive on being told by others in our field that we’re going to go accomplish great things. Trust me.

Another conference attendee that I interacted with had a short exchange with me that truly summed up why we do what we do.
“Thank you, you’ve been so helpful today!”
“Well, isn’t being helpful a defining trait of a librarian?”
“Why…yes. You’re so right.”

If I didn’t, on some level, want to genuinely help people in whatever ways I can, I wouldn’t be in this field.

Story/Tale/Incident/Occurrence #3:
also of the positive variety. (TL;DR: engage your community.)

I won a book on Facebook today. My HomeLib in Ohio posted a trivia question from their Facebook account, and stated that the first person to answer correctly would win a copy of a children’s book. I, having just logged in at that particular moment, jumped on it and managed to win a copy of a Scooby Doo book. (My nephew will be the direct beneficiary of my actions this morning). I hope the library system continues to engage their public with such contests. A great follow-up would be “didn’t win a copy of AmazingBookX today? Here are the branches that currently have copies. Here’s a link to the catalog. Ask us for help in requesting a copy!” or something to that effect.

Which brings me to my concluding point (you didn’t think it would ever end, did you?) — relationship marketing. Figure it out. Read up on it. I highly recommend “The Thank You Economy” by Gary Vaynerchuk. Get it from the library; buy yourself a copy; borrow it; do what you need. But… grasp the concept. And then run with it. Start making relationships. SMILE at people. Seem genuinely concerned for their well-being – and BE genuinely concerned with their well-being.

Be genuine,

be bold,

be loud,

be helpful,

be conversational,

be real.