School Library Journal Leadership Summit

It’s time to get back on the blogging track. I’m spending a couple of days in Washington DC at the School Library Journal Leadership Summit. The event is full of school librarians as well as some authors and illustrators. The main discussions will center around reading and ebooks. I’m not exactly sure what to expect from the event, but I’m excited to be surrounded by some familiar faces, meet a few more, and learn.

The first evening included a social event sponsored by Capstone. Author Michael Dahl was there signing copies of his books. He signed a couple of books I can’t wait to share with the students at school.



We Have a Winner

Well, the contest is over and a winner has been randomly chosen.  Thank you to “bigvincec” for contributing this picture for the Lenovo M90z library photo contest.  I left a comment on the photo in Flickr.  I’ll give him a few days to get me his information – either by a comment here or in the comment section of the picture.  If I don’t get it, I’ll randomly select a new winner.

Thanks to everyone who submitted photos.  Here’s a link to all of the pictures.

The Contest…Are You In?

I’m not talking about That Contest, I’m talking about the Lenovo M90z Contest that’s starting here on May 11th and wrapping up on May 15th.  Over the past several weeks, many bloggers have been writing about and giving away a Lenovo M90z All-in-One desktop computer as part of a promotional arrangement.  Some of these bloggers have ties to the educational blogosphere while others do not.  The contests have been pretty interesting, all lasting 5 days each.  Here’s a neat example of the contest my friend Lee Kolbert ran on her blog.  My contest, is the last of the bunch and one that I think a lot of educators, especially school librarians, can benefit from.

I wrote a previous post that prompted my idea for the contest.  I’m interested in creating fantastic library spaces in my school library, but often struggle with ideas on what I could do.  Seeing other school libraries could give me ideas on displays, signage, or furniture arrangements to improve the atmosphere of the library.  However, actually visiting a lot of libraries isn’t the easiest thing to do.  This is where the contest comes in.  To enter the contest, you must submit a picture of any school or public library that you think is fantastic.  The photo could be of the entire library, a small corner, a display, signage, reading area or whatever you want.  The main idea is to share pictures of great library spaces with others to help everyone create wonderful library environments.  Here are a few requirements that must be followed:

  • All photos must be uploaded to Flickr and tagged “librarym90z”
  • In the description of the photo, please include the name of the library and the location.
  • State what you think is so special about the photo.
  • To be eligible for the computer, photos must be posted between May 11 and May 15.

That’s it, it’s pretty simple.  Are you in?

Soon after May 15th, one winner will be selected among the hundreds (hopefully) of photos submitted and that person will receive a Lenovo M90z computer all for themselves.

Oh What a (Bad) Night

Last night, my local School Board, decided by a vote of 4-3, to eliminate all of the elementary school librarians.  The District will be implementing a Spanish language program in the elementary schools and will be using the cost savings from the library positions to help fund the new Spanish teachers.

The initial meeting on January 10th was packed, with many incredibly passionate community members and parents speaking in support of the school libraries.  The meeting last night also had good attendance, but not like the previous meeting.  Again, there were outstanding comments made, all but two in support of keeping the school librarians.  In the end, it wasn’t enough.  I had a feeling who would vote in what direction.  I had some hope that the Board president, who revealed her vote last, would say no.  The vote was 3-3 when she spoke.  Unfortunately, she supported the proposal.

There were tears from some of the librarians who are losing their positions.  I feel for them, some I know very well.  Luckily, they are not losing their jobs, just assuming different teaching position if they choose.  I know the value of school librarians.  I’m one of them.  I would hate to have been in their shoes the last two weeks.  It had to be incredibly stressful.

Last night wasn’t fun.  The last two weeks weren’t fun.  The schools will adjust, elementary students will begin to learn Spanish next year.  Life will go on.  It just won’t be the same without elementary school librarians. They are a valuable asset to a school.  The students and teachers in the nine elementary schools in Wauwatosa will not only miss them, they will suffer.

Update: This is the article from the newspaper that I didn’t see until now. I’m sure the comments will be interesting.

A Sigh of Relief

A few days after the School Board meeting I wrote about, I was speaking with someone who mentioned that the Director of Curriculum from my district, was in attendance at the meeting.  I didn’t see her there, but the room as packed, including a nearby hallway, where she was standing.  I wondered why she were in attendance.  This person happens to be my boss, the person in charge of the school librarians in my district.  Hmmm.

Three days after this meeting, everyone librarian in my district received an email from her.  The subject line of her email said “Future of IMC.”  The first two lines of the email said “I am sure that all of you heard about the proposal from the Wauwatosa School District.  I want to assure you that we are not moving in that direction.  Kurt announced at our board meeting that our IMC directors were and are proactive in providing services to students in meeting needs of technology.”

The email goes on to talk about how we, as a department, will still need to utilizing best practice un teaching with Web 2.0 tools and that we still need to consider the possibilities for the future and the IMC role in our schools in order to be valued.  It’s time to up the game again.  I couldn’t agree more with many of this statements and while it’s sad the Administration in the District I live doesn’t feel the same about school librarians, I’m glad my current Administration supports us.

Whew!  Big sigh.

I Hope it Doesn’t Happen

It’s the middle of January and I haven’t posted anything.  It’s not that I haven’t been thinking, it’s just that I’ve been a little consumed by a proposal my local School District released last week.  They, the District I live in and my kids attend (not where I work), are interested in adding a World Language Program in the elementary schools.  The idea is to introduce the Spanish language to students beginning in first grade.  On the surface, this sounds like something that will be a huge benefit for our students.  The problem, however, is how they plan on funding the additional teachers.  We all know the budget situations most school districts are in and that money isn’t easy to come by.  The proposal on the table to fund the new positions will come at the expense of the elementary school librarians.  The District is proposing to cut all elementary library media specialist and reassign them to different teaching positions.  The libraries would be staffed part time by educational assistants.  I know this is not a good idea.  I think those of you reading this would agree.

This information was told to teachers and parents only 5 days before a School Board meeting was being held to go over the proposal.  This left little time for people to gather information and share their feelings with the District or School Board members.  To assist with the sharing of research, ideas, and comments, I created a Facebook group and quickly invited neighborhood parents.  In just a couple of days, there were over 100 members of the group.  I was pretty pleased with this.  Great conversations were taking place in the days leading up the School Board meeting.  At the meeting, many concerned parents spoke, as did I.  The speakers were incredibly passionate, informed, and positive in their comments.  While there were many comments on the actual structure of the language program, no one spoke against it.  One common theme was the need for our schools to continue their quality library programs and staff those programs with certified teachers.

The vote on this proposal is scheduled for January 24th.  I believe the vote is going to be very close.  There is still about a week for parents to express their concerns to School Board members.  I hope the proposal, as it’s currently written, is voted down.  I do hope, however, that a new proposal to fund the world languages program comes back to the table.  Perhaps the District can find a way to fund the additional teachers without cutting a program that impacts every single elementary school student in the District.

More Twitter Favorites – Library Ed.

This week’s Twitter favorites have one thing in common – libraries.

Now the Hard Part

Okay, so the school library blog is up and running.  I’ve got about 25 teachers from school as email subscribers.  That’s not everyone, but it’s a great start and I’m pretty excited about it.  Today, I wrote another post with a brief recap, telling the initial subscribers that they should stop in the library for an “Early Subscriber prize.”  No one stopped in all afternoon or even after school to claim their prize.  Honestly, I was a little disappointed about this.  I did have one teacher ask me what she got, but I told her she had to stop in to get the prize.  She didn’t stop in.  What’s the prize?  It’s a free book for their classroom.  Hey, it’s nothing big, but it’s something.

I do want to keep the staff aware of what’s going on in the library, but the more important audience is the parents and kids.  My recent newsletter about the library contains information about the site and has directions for parents to sign up for updates.  If all goes as planned, the newsletter will go home tomorrow.  If it does, I’ll be anxiously checking feedburner to see how many new subscribers there are.  I’m hoping at least 10 the first time around.  I’m not setting my hopes too high but wouldn’t mind being pleasantly surprised.  We also have parents coming in for an event on Wednesday and I hope to get a few more to sign up that evening and tell them about the value of the site.

All of our students have email accounts.  However, we typically have only allowed fifth graders to use the accounts, although students with older siblings have sometimes accessed their emails without us telling them about it.  Most don’t even know the accounts exist.  I’m wondering if I should introduce the email accounts to all of the 4th and 5th graders and have them subscribe to the library blog as well.  This would be a neat way to introduce the kids to email as well as blogs and possibly get the students to share the information with their families.  I haven’t decided for sure which way I’m leaning on the student issue, but I’ll eventually have to make a decision.  What do you think about this?  I’d love feedback one way or the other.