Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An Arena of Possibility

A friend of mine, who is not a librarian himself, has been asked to head up a search team that will be interviewing candidates for the position of school librarian. He has asked what type of questions I might consider meaningful and enlightening.

Well, John, here are some suggestions.

Before you even call in the candidates, review expectations with administrators. Determine the strengths and weaknesses of your library program and decide how it might best serve your student population. No rigid framework, mind you, just general expectations that the new librarian can use in formulating a plan of action.

Do a bit of homework. Browse a few librarian blogs to get a sense of current trends and issues. Read what Doug Johnson, Joyce Valenza, Buffy Hamilton, Cathy Nelson, Carolyn Foote, for example, are writing about. Check out the topics for conversation on the TL Virtual Cafe site.

Pose questions that don't have a "correct" answer:

Give a definition of "transliteracy" (The ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks) then ask the candidate to relate this to her/his professional duties.

Other questions that might prove productive:

How would you define the role of a school librarian?

What is your comfort level with technology?

Describe your professional development attitude and activities.

What do you think school libraries will be like in 5, 10, 20 years?

What books are you reading now?

How do you feel about social networking, gaming, online learning (good & bad points)?

If you were given an open budget for the library, how would you allocate funds?
What is your passion?

This last query is an important one. You want a dynamic, passionate person in your district, someone who loves people and loves learning. Your students deserve nothing less.

Good luck with your interviews!

"The library is an arena of possibility, opening both a window into the
soul and a door onto the world." -Rita Dove

"Final Jeopardy for Dollhouse" by AsGood

Be Led By Your Dreams

Today my friend and professional colleague, Buffy Hamilton, took library advocacy one step further. Rather than just promote current practice, Buffy has envisioned what our profession might (must?) become in order to best serve the needs of our students.

In It's Broken; Let's Fix It: The Traditional Model of School Librarianship, Buffy asks "Is it [the traditional] a model that makes sense for today’s culture of learning or for the culture of learning we want to foster in schools?" Her vision is for something different, an approach that is "bolder in scope and practice."

Library programs vary from district to district, state to state. Some librarians, particularly in an elementary setting, are tied to a fixed schedule. Others may find a significant portion of their time devoted to clerical tasks and various non-instructional duties.

There are many - myself included - who believe that the educational system in this country needs to be re-imagined and rebuilt, rather than patched or repaired.

The concept of "librarianship" also requires a radical overhaul. I am convinced that we need more than automated circulation, e-books, and the occasional collaborative project: we need more than a 20th century professional using 21st century tools.

Buffy imagines "a model of school librarianship that embeds us in the classroom whether it be the classroom of a teacher, our library space, or a learning space outside the traditional school building (such as virtual)." This team approach would ensure that librarians were available to "facilitate and support powerful learning experiences with teachers and students" throughout the day and throughout the school year.

I have often thought that a librarian-consultant model might work, with the teacher/librarian in charge of administrative decisions (collection development, budget allocation) but not tied to a fixed schedule or even a fixed location, free to interact and collaborate, providing instruction for students, teachers, and administrators. The librarian-consultant could also be a key member of the professional development team, serving as a conduit for information, empowered to learn and encouraged to be a risk-taker for the benefit of all.

When librarians are labeled "specials," it means that they are considered extras, add-ons. Not essential, they are, therefore, subject to downsizing or elimination. We don't want to be appendages; we want to be key players, THE key player, in education.

Buffy ends by saying,
"While it may seem like an impossible and improbable reality, effective and real change cannot begin unless we dare to challenge the status quo and to thoroughly interrogate our practice, our beliefs, and our stance on librarianship on a regular basis. Dr. Bob Fecho instilled in me the value of reflection and action through the simple question, 'Why are you doing this?'. When I think about this model of school librarianship, I can’t help but ask, 'Why aren’t we doing this?'"

Lack of funding isn't the entire problem: lack of vision is. How would you answer Buffy's question...Why aren't we doing this?

"Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams." -Anonymous

"Hope_in_a_better_future" by Massimo Valiani

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gwyneth Gets It Done!

I'd like to congratulate all newly-elected ISTE Board Members, most especially teacher/librarian/technologist and all-round creative force Gwyneth Jones (a.k.a. The Daring Librarian).

I met Gwyneth at AASL Charlotte, but we've become friends via the Geek Squad and TL Virtual Cafe activities.

Gwyneth has given me permission to share her latest Go!Animate video clip, a promo for ISTE 2010 in Denver.

If you are lucky enough to be in attendance there, and you see a beautiful red-head with a steampunk attitude, please give her my love.

GoAnimate.com: Blue Bear in Space - ISTE10 Conference by gwyneth

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!

Earth Day 2010

"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children." -Native American Proverb

"The poetry of the earth is never dead." -John Keats

"What would the world be, once bereft Of wet and wildness? Let them be left, O let them be left, wildness and wet, Long live the weeds and the wildness yet." -Gerard Manley Hopkins

"All I want is to stand in a field and to smell green, to taste air, to feel the earth want me, without all this concrete hating me." -Phillip Pulfrey

"I will be the gladdest thing under the sun. I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

"I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in." -John Muir

"In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we have been taught." -Baba Dioum

All photos by Diane Cordell

Monday, April 19, 2010

Get Over That Laryngitis

Today, I'm happy to share a guest posting by ALA presidential candidate Sara Kelly Johns:

"Are You Suffering from ALA Laryngitis? Vote by Friday in the ALA Elections!
In a speech Hillary Clinton gave as a First Lady, she said, 'If you don’t participate, you’re going to leave it to those who do. And you may not like what you find.'

So, far, participation in the ALA 2010 election is low. As of 4/15/2010, 2:06 pm, of 55,328 eligible voters, 8,164 (14.76%) have voted. This compares to last year at this time when, of 56,068 eligible voters, 10,187 (18.17%) had voted. Doug Johnson always says that he pays his dues to have the right to complain; being a member gives you a voice---and voting for the people running your professional association is one way to speak up.

That said, many have complained that they did not get their electronic ballots. If that is you and you can sort your e-mail, the sender is: ALA Election Coordinator and the subject line is: “ALA 2010 election login information below.” It could be in your spam file; many are. It could have been sent to an old e-mail address, too. Two reminders to vote have been sent, also. If you can’t find your login information, call the ALA membership office at 800-545-2433, option 5 or 866-909-3549, the direct line. It might take a few minutes but is worth the time to get your voice back.

Once you log in, the process can be onerous. It’s easy to vote for president and treasurer if you have decided on which person will be the best spokesman for your association (and I will appreciate your vote for me, of course!). You can then save that choice. The next page is the list of all the people running for Council and you have an allotted number of people for whom you can vote. Do you need to vote for that many? NO!

Your vote is more effective if you target those who match your beliefs and those you know. It does take a lot of time to read all the biographies for sure. To help out, AASL, YALSA and ALSC, the youth divisions, publish a list of youth candidates. It may well be the perfect list for you to reference, mark your choices and submit that part of your ballot.

There are great candidates for division offices, too, such as AASL, YALSA and ALSC. They are separate ballots and I hope you will review, vote and submit them, also.

The voices of school librarians need to be heard at the national level. To quote Terri Kirk in the March/April issue of Library Media Connection (p. 36):

'The American Library Association has advocated for school librarians and school children in Washington, and will continue to do so no matter who is elected as president, but the voice could be a school librarian if we get the vote out. Wouldn’t it be cool if a school librarian was quoted on NBC Nightly News or interviewed by Katie Couric on CBS?'
Terri says later in the article,
'Voting is easy so take the time, take the initiative, take the first step, take the advantage, and take control. You are the most important asset to ALA and to AASL. Make the most of it, VOTE!'

You can make a difference! Dig out that ballot and get over that laryngitis! Again, vote by 11:59pm on Friday, April 23rd."-Sara Kelly Johns

I believe that Sara Kelly Johns has the vision and drive to be a positive force for librarianship as our profession continues to evolve.

But no matter your choice for the various offices, if you are a member of the ALA, please take the time to vote. In this time of change and challenge, every voice needs to be heard. -Diane

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

TL Cafe: Crisis Webinar

From Joyce Valenza:

Crisis Webinar

Monday April 19 - 8:00-9:00 pm. EST

Special Guests: Chris Harris and Buffy Hamilton
Hostess: Gwyneth Jones and Carolyn Foote

It's the most exciting time to be a teacher librarian. The opportunities for learning have never been more rich. The studies prove the value of the role of strong school libraries in student achievement. Yet, the pink slips are flying. Where do we go from here? Led by Buffy Hamilton and Chris Harris and moderated by Gwyneth Jones and Carolyn Foote, this webinar is a crisis planning session for moving forward with purpose! Please join us!
TL Cafe events, the first Monday night of each month.

Visit the Elluminate room: https://sas.elluminate.com/site/external/launch/dropin.jnlp?sid=lcevents&password=Webinar_Guest
(allow around 10 minutes to login!)

To learn about events and access previous, archived webinars, visit the TLVirtualCafe

"Cafe Header" designed by Gwyneth Jones
"This Library Now Closed" by David Gallagher

The Currency of Democracy

Today, April 13, is Thomas Jefferson's birthday. Jefferson was the third president of the United States and principal author of the Declaration of Independence.

He was also a passionate supporter of education and learning.

A lifelong reader and bibliophile, Thomas Jefferson assembled three different book collections in his lifetime. After the Library of Congress was almost totally destroyed in the War of 1812, Jefferson's personal library become the core of the new collection. Jefferson understood the necessity of having information available for researching inquiries made by members of Congress.

But Jefferson was much more than a bookish scholar.

His interests included horticulture, architecture, philosophy, archaeology and paleontology. He was instrumental in securing funding for the Lewis and Clark expedition and included artifacts from that journey in a museum located at Monticello. Jefferson invented improved versions of the plow and dumbwaiter, and came up with an original design for a macaroni machine (and the recipe for macaroni and cheese!).

Other innovations credited to his curious and fertile mind include the rollaway bed, a revolving bookstand, and the wheel cipher. Had he lived in our time, I'm sure that he would have reveled in digital technology, with all the opportunities for exploring and creating that it offers.

Jefferson is famous for declaring, "I cannot live without books!" He cautioned that “To penetrate and dissipate these clouds of darkness, the general mind must be strengthened by education”

I believe that Mr. Jefferson would have been a strong advocate for schools and libraries in this time of fiscal crisis. He understood that government should take care to "educate and inform the whole mass of the people...They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty."

“Information is the currency of democracy.”
-Thomas Jefferson

"Biography of Thomas Jefferson (Third President 1801-1809)" by Tony the Misfit
"Thomas Jefferson's drawing of a macaroni machine and instructions for making pasta, ca. 1787" Thomas Jefferson Papers
"Thomas Jefferson Library Books" by judy_breck

Friday, April 9, 2010

Library Pocket Survival Guide

While searching for images on Creative Commons, I chanced upon a set of pictures titled "Shopdropping Pocket Survival Guides by Packard Jennings - Southern Exposure Passive/Aggressive Public Art Day"
Participants are invited to meet at SoEx for a 20-minute workshop to fold instructional pamphlets on how to devise an emergency raft out of recycled product packaging in case of a catastrophic flood- a consequence of consumer waste and mass production that contributes to pollution, and global warming.
Once the Pocket Survival Guides are folded, participants will enter various stores and install them on consumer products to replicate “instant savings coupons.” Future customers will be happy to find their household purchases subverted by public art!

Because of our nation's current fiscal situation, library funding is being slashed in many cities and states. Shonda Brisco has created a map which dramatically illustrates the crisis in school libraries; I'm sure that public and academic librarians could share similar information about their struggles to maintain services.

I loved the idea of colorful little booklets, and decided to modify it, creating a Library Pocket Survival Guide to highlight four ideas I considered key concepts for library professionals.

I'm not advocating attaching this guide to anything, but it might be useful as a conversation starter. You are welcome to use my version, in strip or slideshow format, or "steal" the idea and create your own Library Pocket Guide.

If you do use this idea, please share a link to your efforts.

"The library is not a shrine for the worship of books. It is not a temple where literary incense must be burned or where one's devotion to the bound book is expressed in ritual. A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas - a place where history comes to life." -Norman Cousins

"A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life." -Henry Ward Beecher

"Library Pocket Survival Guide (cover)" by dianecordell
"Making Pocket Survival Guides" by Steve Rhodes
"Library Pocket Survival Guide" by dianecordell

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Circulate This!

From CSLA (California School Library Association) via Joyce Valenza:

News Release

April 6, 2010

Circulate This: Stories from the School Library

Listen to this! The California School Library Association released an audio journal, Circulate This: Stories from the School Library, which is packed with powerful stories about school libraries. .

High School Teacher Librarian/CSLA Past President Connie Williams and songwriter/storyteller/public radio producer Joe McHugh collaborated on an audio journal project to capture stories from teachers, school administrators, children's authors, legislators, parents, and students about how school libraries and librarians make a difference in the lives of children. Connie orchestrated and arranged the project, Joe interviewed and captured the stories; both made magic happen when they put it all together. Listen to and share the stories!

Says Connie:
We have created an audio magazine in which we tell the stories of the importance of school libraries and teacher librarians via interviews with teacher librarians, library staff, teachers, community members, parents, administrators, and most importantly, students. The format is along the lines of a 'This American Life' type of audio journal with a narrator, who sets the tone, describes the dilemma, and sets the stage for each interview. Each is short but dramatic and powerful. The intent is to distribute the audio journal widely on radio and across the Internet – go 'viral' – as well as create CDs to hand to legislators and decision-making administrators. Teacher librarians and others are able to download the journal and burn CDs to distribute to their local administrators and parents.
Joe McHugh, a talented Washington State storyteller and audio producer points out that
stories are effective because they deal in specifics, not generalities, and the best, in terms of persuasion, are told by those who have first-hand knowledge of what they are talking about.
Many came forward to tell their stories. Among those presented here are stories from: Dr. Doug Achterman, Glen Warren, David Burt, Winny Duffy, Heather Keaton, April Wayland, Manuel Perez, Dr. Lesley Farmer, Donald Gill, Jeanne Nelson, Anne Birchfield, Hannah Jackson, Kathy Green, and Sophie.

Connie Williams, a National Board Certified Teacher and library leader says
California schools are in deep trouble, with the state budget in tatters and education taking the brunt of the cuts. This impacts school libraries all over the state. The California School Library Association has been exploring a variety of venues and strategies to bring school libraries out of these depths and into the limelight so that the services provided by strong school libraries can be in the forefront of any school reform.
The good news is that the State Board of Education has requested Model School Library Standards.

This project was sponsored by the generous donations of long-time school library advocates DEMCO, Follett Software, and Gale Cengage. We thank them for their support!

The California School Library Association (CSLA) is a non-profit organization of teacher librarians, classroom teachers, paraprofessionals, district and county coordinators of curriculum, media and technology, and others committed to enriching student learning by building a better future for school libraries. CSLA advocates, educates, and collaborates to ensure that all California students and educators are effective users of ideas and information.

For more information on the project or how you can best support school libraries, contact the CSLA Offices at 916-447-2684 or write to csla2team@yahoo.com

I second Joyce's hope that this project goes viral. Rather than watch in shock as their library programs are gutted or completely cut, teacher/librarians, parents, and other concerned community members need to fight back with facts, anecdotes, and other resources.

Remember: it's not about books, computers, or jobs...it's about the quality of education for our students.

"What a school thinks about its library is a measure of what it thinks about education."
-Harold Howe, former US Commissioner of Education

"Circulation" by MonkeyMishkin

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Poetry of Another Sort

“Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.” -Rainer Maria Rilke

"Forsythia is pure joy. There is not an ounce, not a glimmer of sadness or even knowledge in forsythia. Pure, undiluted, untouched joy."
-Anne Morrow Lindbergh

"The green eyes of Springtime,
Charming, as ever,
Flirting, again."
-Michael Garofalo

"I stuck my head out the window this morning and spring kissed me
bang in the face." -Langston Hughes

"Harshness vanished. A sudden softness
has replaced the meadows' wintry grey.
Little rivulets of water changed
their singing accents. Tendernesses,

hesitantly, reach toward the earth
from space, and country lanes are showing
these unexpected subtle risings
that find expression in the empty trees." -Rainer Maria Rilke

"Is it so small a thing To have enjoy'd the sun, To have lived light in the spring, To have loved, to have thought, to have done..."
-Matthew Arnold

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Poetry Sampler

"Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is now held every April, when publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools and poets around the country band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture." -Poets.org

In gratitude for the pleasure that poems have given me throughout my life, I've gathered some links and posts that celebrate the beauty of the written (and spoken) word.

The Library of Congress has a poetry page with a variety of resources, programs, and webcasts. In the spotlight is current American Poet Laureate Kay Ryan, who believes
"Poems are transmissions from the depths of whoever wrote them to the depths of the reader. To a greater extent than with any other kind of reading, the reader of a poem is making that poem, is inhabiting those words in the most personal sort of way. That doesn’t mean that you read a poem and make it whatever you want it to be, but that it’s operating so deeply in you, that it is the most special kind of reading."
Her "Hide and Seek" speaks of more than just a child's game:
"It’s hard not
to jump out
instead of
waiting to be
found. It’s
hard to be
alone so long
and then hear
someone come
around. It’s
like some form
of skin’s developed
in the air
that, rather
than have torn,
you tear." -Kay Ryan

Two other American poets whom I admire are Richard Wilbur and Mary Oliver.

A Scottish acquaintance of mine, Amy Palko, has recorded a lovely reading of T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock on VoiceThread.

Examples of poets reading their own works can be found at the Poetry Archive; Poets.org has both audio and video available.

Some of my favorite poetry-inspired or -enhanced blog postings include:

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

"I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after." -Wallace Stevens

Of Modern Poetry

...It has not always had
To find: the scene was set; it repeated what
Was in the script.
Then the theatre was changed
To something else. Its past was a souvenir.

"It has to be living, to learn the speech of the place.
It has to face the men of the time and to meet
The women of the time. It has to think about war

And it has to find what will suffice. It has
To construct a new stage. It has to be on that stage..." -Wallace Stevens



"You are the great flood of our souls
Bursting above the leaf-shapes of our hearts,
You are the smell of all Summers,
The love of wives and children,
The recollection of the gardens of little children..." -Amy Lowell

Stars Were With Me Most of All

"But stars were with me most of all.
I heard them flame and break and fall." -
Fanny Stearns Davis

The Starry Host

"The countless stars, which to our human eye
Are fixed and steadfast, each in proper place,

Forever bound to changeless points in space,

Rush with our sun and planets through the sky,
And like a flock of birds still onward fly;
Returning never whence began their race,

They speed their ceaseless way with gleaming face
As though God bade them win Infinity..." -John Lancaster Spalding

A Barge Made of Ice

My Erotic Double

"We are afloat
On our dreams as on a barge made of ice,
Shot through with questions and fissures of starlight
That keep us awake, thinking about the dreams
As they are happening. Some occurrence. You said it." -John Ashbery

"Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history." -Plato

"boxed assortment" by QuintanaRoo