Blog Archives

Sign the White House petition!

School libraries need YOUR support…now. The new White House petition described in Carl’s post needs 25,000 signatures and I hope that yours is one of them and that you spread this request far and wide to librarians and library advocates.

If you missed AASL 2011…there’s still time to learn and take action!

I just had the great fortune of traveling to Minneapolis to the attend the American Association of School Librarians National Conference.  I’ve made it a professional goal for myself to attend this conference that occurs every two years because it’s an opportunity to network with librarians from around the world.  The aspect of the conference that I love the most is that there are so many ways to get involved with the conference as a whole whether you are attending in person or learning from afar.

Georgia Librarians @AASL Minneapolis/photo source: theunquietlibrarian

As the conference comes to a close, it’s not too late for you to connect with the conversations that were started in Minneapolis.  In fact, I think it’s necessary that you find at least one avenue to not only connect with the conversations from Minneapolis, but also use them to take action within your own practice, your school culture, and the education community as a whole.  It’s not an excuse to say, “My school doesn’t have funding to travel to Minneapolis”.  From the comfort of your own home, you can learn, reflect, and contribute well after the close of the conference.

The main message that I took away from AASL is that we are in a time of opportunity and transition.  Now more than ever, we must all take on a leadership role not only within our schools, but also within the education community and beyond.  We must be innovative, creative, and daring listeners, teachers, and collaborators.  We must harness the resources that are available in the world and work with our students and teachers to use these evolving resources to both consume information and create new content.  We must be transparent about the work that we do and digitally document our practice to not only support one another as librarians, but also to send a message to the world about the importance of our role as teachers in our profession.

What might you do to connect to the conversations at AASL:

1.  Download the new ebook School Libraries: What’s Now, What’s Next, and What’s Yet to Come? which was crowdsourced by more than 50 authors.  I started reading the book on my flight to Minneapolis, and every essay spoke to issues that I am currently wrestling with in my own practice and in my district.  I love how each essay is short and concise and that I don’t learn who the author is until after I finish reading the text.  This book can be a springboard for current and future conversations about libraries.  However, it should be more than a springboard for conversation; it should be an invitation to take action and move forward with the transforming nature of our work.  Here are just a few of the quotes that spoke to me.

School Libraries: What's now? What's next? What's yet to Come?

“New technologies do not create or fill some new need; they allow us all to express needs that have existed for generations.” ~Sara Kelley-Mudie

“The only constant is change.  More than anything else, perhaps, that change is exemplified in the future librarian herself: a highly skilled teacher who is an instructional chameleon.” ~Jennifer LaGarde

“As what it means to educate the 21st-century learner evolves, school librarians have the opportunity to claim our place as instructional leaders in this new educational landscape.  Today’s students cannot afford to wait for the ‘future librarian’.” ~Jennifer LaGarde

“I am a storyteller, information curator, database expert, extended essay supervisor, book group coordinator, wiki specialist, transliteracy coach, interdisciplinary-information literacy collaborator, approaches-to-learning leader, guided inquiry mentor, curriculum team member, open-access advocate, one-to-one and mobile device promoter, reading champion, and accreditation team member.” ~Beth Guorley

“We cannot simply support the curriculum anymore.  We cannot wait for people to see our worth.  Yes, part of our job is to support the staff and students, but we can also teach them and improve student learning directly.” ~Heather Hersey

“There is a good chance that the school librarian or library media specialist, as one of the school’s technology leaders, has the most organic understanding of how content and technology are most effectively co-mingled to the benefit of the student and to best help the teacher.” ~Evan St. Lifer

“What we cannot afford is to let students forget to love to read.  What we cannot afford is a generation of people who forgot how to think, to imagine, to care.” ~Jesse Karp

“Libraries should not shrink as physical collections shrink; they should grow as opportunities for collaboration and cooperative learning grow.” ~Len Bryan

“As we look to the future of school libraries, I see us as a run-on sentence of sorts.  People outside librarianship are often so anxious to box us in, to define us.  They want to apply their grammar to the library – a place that is, at its heart, artful, authentic, and inquiring.” ~Elizabeth Friese

2.  Join the twitter conversation by search for the hashtag #aasl11 and reading through the extensive documentation and reflection of hundreds of people attending in person and from afar.  Contribute to the conversation by adding your own tweets and responding to tweets.  Be sure to tag your new tweets with #aasl11 as well.

3.  View the wealth of slidecasts, wikis, and videos from the Learning Commons.  Sessions on topics such as the bookstore model, play in the library, inviting participation in the library, the image of the school librarian, iPad apps, advocacy, reimagining libraries, and more can be found on the pages of this wiki.

Andy Plemmons presenting on participation in the library/photo source: theunquietlibrarian

4.  Register for the virtual conference.  For as low as $99 for AASL members, you can get access to the recordings of the opening and closing sessions as well as 8 concurrent sessions.  You’ll also have access to the handouts and slidecasts uploaded by presenters of other sessions.  Some of the archived sessions include Buffy Hamilton’s Libraries as Sponsors of Transliteracy, Doug Johson’s Cloud Computing, a panel on what kinds of books we need in K-12 libraries, and Dr. Violet Harada’s Assessment in the library.

5.  Join the conference Ning.  Get connected with people who attended the conference, continue conversations from before/during/after the conference, and view feeds of tweets and photos from the conference.

In one of the sessions I attended, a leader within ALA stated that she would like to see all librarians being transformative, transparent leaders within the next 3 years.  How will you get connected and take action?

Andy Plemmons

School Librarian

David C. Barrow Elementary

Athens, GA

Call for Stories: The Impact of the Economic Downturn on Library Staffing and Resources

As we all return to our classrooms, please take a moment to let me know how your media center has been impacted by the economic downturn relative to state and local funding.  We need to supply information to the staff of the education funding commission and your stories have resonance.

I assume many of you have heard that the Atlanta Public School system is pulling media specialists to place them in classrooms.  Other systems in the state have some media centers staffed only with parapros/clerks and we know that in other states, media centers have been closed or staffed by volunteers.

Please let us hear your story. For example, “I am assigned a parapro in my elementary media center, but with budget cuts, she has duties outside the media center every day after 10:30.  Our school would show that we have a full-time media specialist and a full-time parapro, but the reality is that we have a 0.3 media parapro.”  or “My media center always got at least the 90% of the full allotment for materials, but now my principal says it’s needed for other things like copy paper and test-prep books, so I should work hard for a successful book fair.  My cost-center budget is $500 for this year.”

As always, I will not identify you, your school, or even your district.  I will only report only the school level (elementary, middle, or high) and the region of the state.

PLEASE help us advocate for our programs state-wide.  You may e-mail your confidential story to

Nan Brown

Update: GLMA Advocacy Report

We just completed a great GLMA Summer Institute at Callaway Gardens yesterday; thanks to Susan Grigsby for coordinating it all and to everyone who presented (or helped with the logistics).

During the Institute, Judy Serritella, Coordinator of Library Media Services for the Georgia DOE, gave an update on GALILEO funding. THANKS to your efforts (with those of the public and academic librarians in the state) not only was the funding maintained for this year, but some additional monies were added. ProQuest agreed to reinstate SIRS for the amount added, so all schools will have SIRS access again next year!

Again, THANKS for all the contacts you made in the “Save GALILEO” effort this winter. Now we need you to take just a moment and write another e-mail – to thank those legislators you contacted for their support of GALILEO and request their continued acknowledgment of the tremendous value of this resource. Please do contact your local legislator – who’s likely getting fewer e-mails since the General Assembly’s not in session – but also please send a similar note to the members of the House and Senate Education Committees. (I’ve listed their names and e-mail addresses at the end of this e-mail.)

The second update is on the State Education Finance Study Commission (established by HB 192), charged with evaluating education funding at the state level, which has potential for great impact on media centers. We will seek to have representation on ad hoc committees as provided in the law to provide input on funding needs for our programs. The first commission meeting will be held on June 30, 2011; the law calls for interim recommendations to be completed by September 30, 2011, and for completion of proposed legislation for interim recommendations by December 31, 2011. If you are interested and able to attend on Thursday, June 30th, please contact me or Michelle Crider ( so we can coordinate our efforts. Having a number of media specialists who make the effort during the summer to attend this initial meeting should help us in our effort to get a seat on one of the ad hoc committees, so please consider attending for some part of the day!


Nan Brown

Advocacy Chair, GLMA

Excerpts from HB 192:

20-2-331 (c) The commission may engage additional ad hoc nonvoting members as needed to address certain issues in subcommittee. This may include, but not be limited to, input from various personnel experienced in the Quality Basic Education Formula, such as counselors,? media specialists, ?.

20-2-332 (1) (d) (D) Review other areas within the QBE Act that relate to or impact school funding, such as maximum class sizes and expenditure controls, and whether local school systems should continue to be given flexibility in these areas (expenditure controls include our media materials allotments…)

Senate Appropriations Education Subcommittee Members:

Sen. Bill Heath, Chair

Sen. Tommie Williams, Vice Chair

Sen. John Bulloch

Sen. Jack Murphy

Sen. Chip Rogers

Sen. Horacena Tate

Sen. Jack Hill, Senate Appropriations Chair

Sen. Fran Millar, Senate Education Committee Chair

House Appropriations Education Subcommittee Members:

Rep. Tom Dickson, Chair

Rep. Rick Austin, Secretary

Rep. Amos Amerson

Rep. Kathy Ashe

Rep. Amy Carter

Rep. David Casas

Rep. Brooks Coleman

Rep. Jan Jones

Rep. Margaret Kaiser

Rep. Howard Maxwell

Rep. Jay Neal

Rep. Terry England, House Appropriations Chair

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