Blog Archives

Upcoming Knowledge Quest Webinar

I am very honored to be a part of the September/October issue of Knowledge Quest, the professional journal of the American Association of School Librarians.  The theme of the issue is Participatory Culture and Learning and my article Opening the Space:  Making the School Library a Site of Participatory Culture can be found on p. 8.  This article was a joy to write, even though it took hours and hours to create.  I hope that the article inspires other school libraries to think about how their programs can embrace participatory culture as well.

If you would like to know more about the article and our Barrow Media Center program, I invite you to attend a webinar that I am presenting this Tuesday, October 9th, at 7PM EST.  I will expand upon what I wrote in the article as well as offer pieces that didn’t make it into the text.

The following October webinar is FREE to anyone wishing to attend. Members and non-members are welcome to register!

kq headphones iconOpening the Space: Libraries as a Site of Participatory Culture
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
7 p.m. EDT/6 p.m. CDT/5 p.m. MDT/4 p.m. PDT

Participatory culture is grounded in low barriers to artistic expression and allows students to be creators of content as well as pass on their experiences and knowledge to others. The Barrow Media Center is a site of participatory culture through elements such as student book budgets, collaborative projects that culminate in student product creation, opportunities for students to showcase their creations to others in a variety of ways, and students taking leadership in teaching one another how to use technology to create. This year, developing the participatory culture of the library is a specific goal that has been made public to all students, teachers, and families in the school and all members of the library have been invited to find their place in the library and make things happen. This webinar will explore participatory culture and how the library can be a space of participation.

Andy Plemmons is a school librarian in Athens, Georgia.  He teaches students in PreK-5th grade at David C. Barrow Elementary.  The participatory culture and collaborative projects of the Barrow Media Center are regularly featured on his blog Barrow Media Center

Register by clicking HEREThis webinar is FREE to anyone wishing to attend.

Briefing: Education Reform and the SKILLs Act: An Analysis of Twenty-First Century School Libraries and Their Impact on Career and College Preparedness

Education Reform and the SKILLs Act: An Analysis
of Twenty-First Century School Libraries
and Their Impact on Career and College Preparedness

October 17th, 2011

The American Association of School Librarians (AASL),
a division of the American Library Association
In conjunction with Representative Rush Holt and Senator Jack Reed

Cordially invite you to a briefing:

Education Reform and the SKILLs Act: An Analysis of Twenty-First Century School Libraries and Their Impact on Career and College PreparednessMonday, October 17th, 2011
10:00-11:00 am
121 Cannon House Office Building


  • Carl Harvey, School Librarian, North Elementary School, Indiana
  • Donna L. Haye, Assistant Superintendent, Atlantic City Public Schools, New Jersey
  • William A. Mayer, University Librarian, American University, Washington D.C.
  • Kathy Mortimer, Parent, Henrico County Public Schools, Virginia
  • Connie Williams, National Board Certified Teacher Librarian, Petaluma High School, California

School libraries are no longer just for books. Instead they have become sophisticated 21st century learning environments, offering a full range of resources that provide equal learning opportunities to all students. S. 1328, the Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLs) Act, supports and sustains 21st century school libraries by ensuring that every school is served by a state-certified school librarian and has access to the resources our students need to succeed and prepare for the future. As Congress considers the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, it is crucial that the SKILLs Act is included in the plan for education reform. This briefing will feature a panel of experts who will discuss the important services that are provided under the SKILLs Act to promote literacy and career and college preparedness for our nation’s students.

Please RSVP to Kaytee Lozier at or             202-349-1030       by October 12th.

Visit the AASL website:

Shanna Miles Wins the 2011 AASL Innovative Reading Grant

For Immediate Release
April 26, 2011

Contact: Jennifer Habley

CHICAGO – Shanna Miles and her project the “Billionaire’s Book Club” is the 2011 recipient of the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) Innovative Reading Grant. Sponsored by Capstone Publishers, this grant of $2,500 supports the planning and implementation of a unique and innovative program for children that motivates and encourages reading, especially with struggling readers.

Working out of the Tech High School Library in Atlanta, Ga., and with the support of the Tech High School Parent Teacher Association, the Billionaire’s Book Club will team ninth grade struggling readers with an upperclassman who is a member of the National Honor Society.  These teams will read one book a month for six months, and each month the teams will host an online radio show analyzing the book read.  In addition, the teams will keep a reading journal and maintain a Billionaire’s Book Club Facebook group as a place to share their thoughts about their reading.

The goals of the project are to increase the reading level of the struggling reader by improving reading comprehension and fluency. The students will also use social networking to improve their academic success by discussing literacy academically and socially. The program seeks to create a reading culture within the school and help bridge the digital divide.  Throughout the program the students will work cooperatively to produce their radio shows, but team members can work competitively to earn the grand prize, an e-reader.

“Shanna Miles has established an exemplary example of engaged reading opportunities for her students with the Billionaire’s Book Club,” said Leslie Preddy, award committee chair. “This project incorporates reading with social interaction, which is vital for reading to thrive and survive with this generation. It is a shining model for others to follow.”

Miles’ “Billionaire’s Book Club” project and other AASL award recipients will be honored at AASL’s Awards Luncheon during ALA’s 2011 Annual Conference in New Orleans. The luncheon will be held Monday, June 27, and Lauren Myracle, best-selling young adult author and national spokesperson for intellectual freedom, will headline.  Ticket information can be found on the AASL website at

The American Association of School Librarians,, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library field.

New Online Tool Links AASL Learning Standards with Common Core Standards

For Immediate Release
Tue, 04/19/2011 – 16:06

Contact: Jennifer Habley

CHICAGO – The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) announces the launch of the “Standards for the 21st-Century Learner Lesson Plan Database,” a public, online database providing school librarians a fast and user-friendly way to create and share quality lesson plans with their peers.

Building on the template provided in “Standards for the 21st-Century Learner In Action,” the  Lesson Plan Databaseis an interactive resource and tool to support school librarians and other educators in teaching the essential learning skills defined in the AASL learning standards. The database serves as a catalyst for collaboration, as school librarians and teachers work together to create projects that weave content and skills into engaging learning activities.

Registered users may submit lesson plans to the database, as well as search the database by learning standards and indicators, content topic, grade-level, resources used, type of lesson or schedule, keyword and much more. Registered users can also bookmark lesson plans in a portfolio for future use, rate and comment on lesson plans in the community, print plans to PDF, and share lesson plans across social networking platforms.  In addition, the database automatically aligns the skills, dispositions in action, responsibilities, and self-assessment strategies represented in the lesson plan to their corresponding English Language Arts Common Core Standard as set forth by the AASL crosswalk. When available, the database will be updated to include the same capability with the Common Core Math Standards.

“The launch of the AASL Lesson Plan database signifies a red-letter day for our association,” said standards and guidelines implementation Chair Susan Ballard.  “The database represents the collective wisdom, experience and expertise of the many members and staff that helped to develop this outstanding resource. And, as a dynamic publication, the ongoing expansion and improvement of the database ensures that it will continuously serve the instructional design needs of school librarians as they help students to be learners for life.”

Submissions to the Lesson Plan Database are vetted by AASL reviewers to ensure lesson plans published are of the highest quality.  The lesson plan rubric (PDF) and checklist (PDF) used by moderators are available to site users prior to submitting a lesson plan.  With this system, AASL hopes that the database serves not only as a useful tool full of exciting best practices, but as professional development to those new to developing lesson plans.  Not only can peers rate and comment on published plans, but site moderators can provide feedback on plans prior to being published. For more information, or to create an account and begin using the database, visit

The “Standards for the 21st-Century Learner Lesson Plan Database” is freely available to all users and is a part ofAASL’s national campaign, Leaning4Life. The Learning4Life (L4L),, national implementation plan supports states, school systems and individual schools preparing to implement the “Standards for the 21st-Century Learner” and “Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Programs.” Development and maintenance of the database is supported through AASL membership dues.

The American Association of School Librarians,, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library field.

Telling Your Library’s Story

Not so long ago, data were hard to come by.  As our society has become more and more infused with technology, data aren’t nearly as scarce as they used to be.  In school libraries, we have circulation statistics, site hits, classes taught, and the list goes on and on. There is no doubt that these data help us when we need to justify our programs to administrators and others. We can also use data to see trends, identify problems, and herald successes.

In between the infographics, statistics, and charts, lately I’ve noticed the call for stories. Stories are one of the main ways that we learn from and share with one another. Numbers can be informative, but they are all the more compelling when accompanied by a well-told story of a successful learning experience made possible by the school library.

April is School Library Month. AASL has adopted “Create Your Own Story” as the 2011 School Library Month theme. Students can use the library to find and tell stories, and we can tell our library’s stories as well.

If you’re not sure how to tell your library’s story, there are a number of resources that might help you think about how to start developing a collection of stories about your library.  Starting March 15, AASL is offering a free series about creating strategic stories to gain support for libraries. I also learn a lot about the power of effective stories from resources like StoryCorps, not to mention friendships with professional storytellers including Linda Martin and Stephanie Jones.

There are many ways to begin collecting stories, or add to the collection you’ve already started. You might grab a flip video camera for an interview. Record photographic evidence of student learning and audio record accompanying reflections. Encourage digital storytelling.

Of course, librarians can’t be the only ones telling positive stories about school library programs. When programs are in trouble, parents and other community members need to speak out on our behalf. Keep an email file with comments from parents and community members who have been enriched by your program. Include a “press” page on your website with links to local news stories about projects that include your school library.  If a crisis comes, you have ready resources to share efficiently.

Unfortunately, outside of the library community, there are too few people telling positive stories about what school libraries do.
I’ve seen calls for positive examples that aim to stretch beyond our usual conversations.  This is one way projects like the Learning4Life video contest and PC Sweeney’s Great Librarian Write Out! can inspire us to share stories in different ways and places.

As School Library Month approaches, take time to cultivate your library’s own story as you enhance student learning and storytelling.  Find interesting ways and unexpected places to tell that story.

Beth Friese

Ph.D. Candidate

Department of Language and Literacy Education

The University of Georgia