My husband tells me this slide is a lie. 1 year, 42k miles on my car. Tell them about my job.
Neglected 2 dogs and 1 husband.
Started back in 2008 and I don’t know how up to date it is. Notice, NC. Looking like we’ve avoided disaster. Not exactly true. We are a local control state, which means the state writes each school district a check, based primarily on enrollment, but then the district has nearly 100% control over how they spend that. Which means schools are not required to have school librarians in NC. They are what’s considered “instructional support” and “optional.” Still, we’ve managed to hold on to most of ours. That’s not to say, libraries have managed to avert the fiscal free fall that the rest of our state has been in. In fact, clerical staff and or “2nd librarians (in our larger schools) have been eliminated. And library budgets have been disproportionately cut. In my district, for example, the budget for instructional supplies has been cut by about 40% over the last 5 years. Library budgets, during that same time, have been reduced by an average of 78%. So... we’ve got our fair share of issues. But we’ve managed to hold onto to most of our library positions. Not true elsewhere, as you can see.
And in fact, NYC has been making headlines lately because of an attempt to wave the state requirement that every school be staffed by a certified librarian.
I beg your pardon? Really? I mean... aren’t those the exact reasons why school librarians are MORE important than ever?? I mean, this is insanity, right? It’s like saying a shifts to crowdsourced resources like Web MD have made doctors not as necessary.
But I mean... if common sense, national research and advocacy efforts by our state and national professional organizations can’t stop the insanity, one has to wonder... and i get asked this question all the time. Everywhere I go, librarians as, who is going to save us, Jennifer? And the more time I spend in school districts and working with principals and superintendents, the more I truly believe that the only person who can save your job, is you.
I call myself library girl, and someone did just recently send me a cape, but I can’t save your job. Only you can do it. And, frankly, I believe with all of my heart that the misguided NYC have, inadvertently, given us all the secrets of how to do it.
The reality is, the standards by which we judge education are changing. And rightfully so. In many cases we are preparing students for the 21st century, using 20th century paradigms and in facilities that were designed in the 19th century. So change is good. And. what’s more, the very changes some people seem to think make us irrellevent are, in my opinion, good for both kids AND for librarians. What’s more, it’s a golden opportunity for school librarians to not only change with the standards, but to be the standard bearers, to lead the charge into a new era of educational excellence. But that can only happen if we’re seen as the ANSWER to the questions about the shifts we’re seeing in education. So... let’s talk about those shifts.
and of course if we’re talking about curricula, we’re talking about the common core. Now, at last count, I think there’s something like 45 states who have adopted the core standards, and those of us who jumped in early know that the words teacher librarian or media coordinator or any of the other monikers we go by are mentioned exactly zero times in the new standards, so that’s left us, the practitioners, to figure out where we fit in. And in a lot of cases, the first association, teacher librarians have made with their work an the CC is the emphasis on informational text. And that’s great, there is a link to be made there, but I want to make something very clear here...
simply buying more non fiction will not save your library. as more and more librarians used the CC as leverage to convince principals to invest in non-fiction materials, the more principals began to realize that these resources, as good as they may be, have some limitations - especially in print since the moment you get them on the shelves, they are out of date. So... YES! The common core’s emphasis on informational text DOES represent an opportunity for us, but not in this very limited way.
I love David Lankes’ notion that the REAL collection that librarians strengthen and contribute to are our communities. Books, ebooks, computers, programming and instruction, those are all just the tools we use to build our real collection - our community. So... if we subscribe to that idea, the questions we ask about informational texts become very different.
And if we start asking that question, “how are we building our community’s capacity to read, understand, interact with and write their own and use informational texts to build new knowledge?” then our success becomes much less dependant on how many titles we have and what date they were published in. Instead we start focusing on things like..
whether or not we are making it easier or harder for our kids to find the resources they need. So... full disclosure, here, I’m a fan of genre shelving and, before I left my library, I abandoned dewey completely. And I saw RECORD circulations as a result. I involved my teachers and my students in making shelving decisions and as a result they felt empowered and like they had part ownership of the library. But even if you’re not ready to go full on genrefied, there are lots of ways to make sure your students don’t need to know a secret language in order to find the book they need. And trust me, not only is Dewey a secret language, but it’s not a life skill... but I digress. The bottom line, if we make building capacity within our communities a priority, we have to start organizing materials based on what’s good for kids, not what’s on convenient for librarians.
The same is true for the source types we value. The world is changing. MLA has released a citation guide for social media that includes tweets. Soon cats and dogs will be living together in perfect harmony! And these changes a parallel to another shift in the common core language arts and literacy standards is an emphasis on primary source materials. This is another opportunity for us to build capacity in our community by letting go of traditional authority and teaching them how to be authorities. Instead of requiring all sources to be peer reviewed journals, we need to teach them how to determine validity in the sources they interact with every day - and yes, that means wikipedia. In other words, we need to take the focus off library skills and start focusing on life skills, because...
How does the Dewey Decimal System work? The answer... who cares? We need to start asking them questions that matter... or, better yet, let them craft their own questions, so that figuring out how resources are shelved or indexed becomes something they care about.
Another shift in the standards is the emphasis on text based arguments, the idea that students can back up what they say with evidence from what they’ve read. Spend any time listening to politicians (on either side of the political spectrum) and you realize just how needed this skill is. This an aside, and I’m telling you, this has nothing to do with party affiliation, but did y’all hear about Rand Paul and wikipedia? See this is what happens when your school doesn’t have a school librarian. That said, when your principal asks how you are supporting students in this goal, your answer can’t be... I bought more books. Instead, you need to be able to point to all of the ways that you are helping kids interact with books in meaningful ways.
Building strong readers and thinkers requires more than just giving them access to high quality reading materials. That’s like saying, giving someone access to the gym will make them fit. Access IS part of it, but it’s only the beginning. Students will only understand the power of the written world if they can pluck words and phrases from the text and use those words to affect change or build knew knowledge. And given our knowledge of words that are written just for kids and young adults, who better than us to engage us in those conversations?
In the same way our students will only become builders and innovators if, instead of teaching them how to write a works cited page, we harness their natural ability to wonder, teach them to craft good questions, evaluate sources of information and build upon that knowledge that will often lead to bigger, more significant questions. This is a inquiry center that I recently visited in a library in north carolina, and I love this space because
But it’s a necessary shift. Otherwise, it’s hard to argue with those who see our work as becoming outdated and irrelevant. A lot of districts ask me to do quick 15 minute walk throughs through all of their school libraries - where I just record my first impressions. Often, when I do this, I ask myself, as I walk through the doors, what is this library about? What does this librarian value? When I see plackards at the front door about overdue books or unplugging cell phones and signage throughout the space about proper shelving and being quiet, I worry. Not because I think that means the librarian is doing a bad job, although it might, I worry about what other people think when they walk into the library. People who don’t know libraries the way I do. If this is what *I* think the library is about, what must those people think. On the other hand, when I see spaces filled with evidence of the library being a place that builds strong communities, I worry less.
Mark Moran, who is a teacher librarian in Washington State says teacher librarians need to do more teaching and less librarying.” I think this is true, but that’s not enough, we also have to make sure that this shift is reflected in everything we do.
The other shift that, according to officials in new york city is ringing the death nell for school librarians, is advancements in technology. To this I can only say one thing. Hogwash.
And the folks in Manhatten and the burroughs have one things right. Technology is changing, but that’s not what’s transforming education.
the shift in technology that we’re seeing in education MUST be about using the tools we now have access to, to give kids the opportunity to do things we’ve never imagined before.
The common core = using digital tools to publish for an authentic audience. We can help!
Because if you aren’t in the question business... if you aren’t in the business of building your community’s capacity to use technology to solve big problems and build new knowledge...
how will you justify your job when everyone has a library in their pocket? And this is what will happen. I don’t care how big or how small, how rural or how urban you are, your students are only going to be geting more access to more connected devices. The change might be slow, but it WILL happen. And it’s this shift from needing a room filled with stuff to having the stuff in your pocket that makes some people think we’re irrellevent. We have to flip that script and show folks that having access is different from konwing what to do with the tools you have. And that WE are the key to building that capacity within our communities.
Lexile Fever. Misreading of the common core.
They need someone who will fight for their right to have TIME to read for pleasure. someone who will organize book clubs and schedule author visits and who will talk to them about books that aren’t on their lexile band.
Places where it’s okay to be a little bit geeky or different.
Where THEY are seen as the most important resource in your collection. Student writing.
Sandra hughes hassell has developed a hierchy for building library displays and her work is centered on engaging african american males, so she talks about this through that lens, but i think it could apply to any learner... she talks about a 3 step heirchy... the lowest being, okay... we want to engage males, so we build a disply with books for boys. the next step up from that being we build a display, but we given kids some say so in the books on the display and the 3rd step, the most evolved and effective step involves engaging them with the display... I believe our entire space needs to be that way - full of ways for kinds to contribute and participate.
I believe it. And I believe in you.
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