Monday, January 30, 2017

At ALA Midwinter

with librarian friends Deborah Ford, Andy Plemmons, & Pam Harland in the ALA Midwinter Exhibit Hall
If you've been following me lately, you will know that I am participating in the #EdublogsClub, sponsored by the amazing Edublogs blogging software organization. This week's prompt asks us to post a photo, with the reasoning behind that prompt, being to have us consider and respect issues of Copyright, Creative Commons, and Fair Use. I am actually doing two presentations that will explore these concepts and issues later this week at the California School Library Association Conference. So, I'm going to defer this discussion until next week, and I will post my presentation slides then. For this week, I'm going to share, instead, a little bit about my experiences and adventures last week attending the American Library Association Midwinter Conference in Atlanta.

The American Library Association is a huge organization, with multiple divisions. I belong to two of the divisions, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). ALA has an annual conference each year in June, and a somewhat smaller "Midwinter" conference each January. The primary participants at Midwinter are people involved on the ALA or division boards or committees. I went this year to attend a meeting of the planning committee for the next AASL Conference this coming November in Phoenix. I am serving on the committee as social media chair. Yeah, I know that sounds like a whole lot of conferences, but those of us who attend these events benefit from them in so many ways. We get amazing professional development, networking opportunities, chances to meet with book and other library product vendors, and so much more.

So, while my reason for flying to Atlanta was, theoretically, a two-hour planning meeting, it was actually a great opportunity to also attend wonderful sessions, catch up with old friends and colleagues, and make new connections. A big bonus of being at "Midwinter" is that this is when all the Youth Media Awards for children's and young adult books of the year are announced. You can see all of the awards on ALA website. I've watched the live stream of these announcements many times, but never been there in person before. The energy in the auditorium with attendees awaiting to learn the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz and other youth book awards was amazing.

The biggest excitement for me was that March, Book 3, the third in the graphic novel series by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell won four awards! I actually already wrote about getting to hear and meet Lewis in my October posting  about the School Library Journal Summit. I also included the book in my posting of personal favorites of 2016. The series relates Lewis's own experiences as one of the prominent leaders and heroes of the Civil Rights Movement. He traces events from 1964 to 1965, his role as chair of the  Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the sacrifices so many people made to fight segregation. It won the YALSA Printz Award, recognizing the best book written for teens; the YALSA Nonfiction Award, for the best nonfiction book for teens; the Association for Library Service to Children's Sibert Award, for the most distinguished informational book for children and young adults; and the Coretta Scott King Award, recognizing the "outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values." And, how especially fitting that the award was announced in Lewis's home congressional district in Atlanta, where he serves a U.S. Representative. Lewis is a true American hero, and I couldn't have been more excited to see his book win all these awards.

Here is my Tweet after the fourth award:

I also attended the YALSA Morris and Nonfiction Awards brunch following the announcements event, and got to hear Lewis and all the winners and finalists for these two awards speak. Here is my recording of Lewis's speech. Please forgive the poor visual quality of my impromptu recording; the important part is the audio:

The texts of all the speeches will be posted soon on the YALSA website.

Along with all the conference events, I also managed to get out and see a little bit of Atlanta. Here I am at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Museum and Library with two librarian friends, Jessica Gillis and Katie Williams:

And here I am participating in the March for Social Justice and Women with friends:

I feel so lucky to be a part of a profession of so many wonderful, dedicated librarians. They are an incredibly dedicated group, who all work to support students and make their lives better through their library programs. Here I am with several more of my awesome librarian friends, Sue Heraper, Joy Millam, and Heather Gruenthal:

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Leadership in Information Literacy

I am writing this post as part of the weekly #EdublogsClub. This week's prompt asks that we write about leadership.

Numerous recent events have demonstrated the inability of many Americans to distinguish real from fake news, demonstrating a serious gap in information literacy skills (1) among our citizens. And, equally disturbing, this problem is not being adequately addressed at school. A recent research study by the Stanford University History Education Group concluded that “Overall, young people’s ability to reason about the information on the Internet can be summed up in one word: bleak. Our ‘digital natives’ may be able to flit between Facebook and Twitter while simultaneously uploading a selfie to Instagram and texting a friend. But when it comes to evaluating information that flows through social media channels, they are easily duped.”

Clearly, if these students graduate without more preparation in information literacy skills, the problems adults are having interpreting information sources will only get worse. So, what is needed? In my view, our schools need to take leadership in making information literacy a priority. And, while such instruction should be the shared responsibility of teachers in all subject areas, the logical leaders of this curriculum are teacher librarians. (2) Why? Teacher librarians, through their training and academic preparation, have special expertise in information literacy. They are also natural curricular leaders in their schools, since they are aware of and work with classroom teachers in every subject area. They know which classes are the most effective places in which to include information literacy instruction and to collaborate with classroom teachers in delivering it. They are also leaders within their communities on educational technology, so savvy in how to leverage it for such instruction. They facilitate multiple aspects of the future ready schools movement. Rather than list those here, I'd like to urge you to visit Future Ready Schools: Preparing Students for Success for details.

So ….

If you are a teacher librarian, make sure that you are being that leader, championing efforts in your school or district to assure that information literacy is taught to all students.

If you are a classroom teacher in a school with a teacher librarian, please be sure to contact him/her and ask for support teaching information literacy to your students.

And, finally, if your school lacks a certified teacher librarian, please advocate to have your school hire one! In addition to the desperate need for instruction in information literacy, your students - all students - need and deserve access to a quality school library program with a teacher librarian for lots of other reasons, including providing quality, curated print and digital collections; promoting reading; teaching digital literacy and digital citizenship skills; connecting students with the world; and championing equity.

1. The Association of College and Research Libraries defines information literacy as “the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.”
2. Teacher librarian is the terminology used in California to identify certified school librarians who possess a teacher credential and an additional credential in library services. In other states and countries, the terminology may vary, including school librarians and library media specialists.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

My Retirement Life - So Far

This week's prompt for the #edublogsclub asks that we write about our classroom or place of work.

A year ago, of course, I would have posted photos of my school library, and you can still see a lot of those on my library blog. Since I retired last June, I don't yet have a regular workspace. I find that I do most of my work moving my laptop around my house. I actually spend most of my time at the kitchen table, some in the living room, and a lot less than I should in my "sitting room," the name my daughter and I came up with for my home office/guest room. Alas, while cleaning out and making the sitting room more efficient is on my retirement "to do" list, it hasn't gotten much priority yet. A lot of people have been asking me what, indeed, I've been doing in retirement. One thing I am sure of is that all my time is full! So, I'm going to use this post to share both with myself and my readers a bit about how all my time is getting filled, along with some my goals.

Supporting School Libraries and Educational Technology

While I retired from my "day job," I'm as busy as ever with all the related, unpaid work I used to do as a school librarian. I volunteer for California School Library Association and the American Association of School Librarians, and I'm an advocate for MackinTYSL. For CSLA, I'm co-webmaster and co-chair of our new ESSA task force. I'm also presenting several sessions at our conference in February. For AASL, I am serving as social media chair for the National Conference in Phoenix in November, I was just appointed to the brand new Social Media Editorial Board, I am chairing a task force to implement new social media recognitions the association will be rolling out very soon, and I am teaching an online Twitter class in March. (You may notice a strong social media theme here!) To keep my skills up, I continue to spend a lot of time on Twitter, reading blogs, attending webinars, and so on. I just completed the recertification exam for Google for Education Trainers, and am fulfilling the tasks to keep my Google for Education Innovator status active as well. During the summer and fall, I presented at two EdTechTeam Google Summits, and hope to do more of those this year.


I have been vey fortunate to get to travel. My husband and I took two wonderful trips last year: a Stanford Travel/Study tour of Scandinavia in July, and a cruise from Montreal to New York in October. I love meeting people from all over the world and trying to understand their cultures and what is unique about where they live. This month through March, my time is jam-packed with travel to a conference each month. I'm especially excited to be heading to Atlanta for the ALA Midwinter Conference late this week, where I'll be meeting with other members of AASL Conference planning committee live for the first time. Along with all the conference meetings, sessions, and speakers, I plan to take some personal time to visit Jimmy Carter's Presidential Library and to participate in the Atlanta March for Social Justice and Women on Saturday.

My husband and I haven't made any definite plans travel plans for this year yet, but we are talking about visiting some of the National Parks in the Spring and heading to Europe in the Fall.


I'm proud to say that I have been getting to my gym four + days each week, and walking almost every day I'm not there. I started taking a group swim class at the gym in July, and I swim on my own one or two days between classes. I am loving learning new swim skills for fun, relaxation, and exercise. I am also a regular at weekly barre burn and pilates classes. I love the feel of slightly soar legs as a permanent condition and the energy boost I get from more exercise.

Catching up with Friends and Family

I'm terrible about making phone calls, but I am trying harder to keep in touch with family and friends and get together with those who are local. I have always enjoyed cooking and entertaining and am doing quite a lot more cooking and some more entertaining now.


It goes without saying that I love to read. I've been trying to make it a priority to devote more time to reading for pleasure and lifelong learning. I continue to have two books going at a time, one an audiobook and the other print or ebook. Right now, I am listening to All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely and reading Demelza: A Novel of Cornwall, the second book in Winston Graham's engaging series about late 18th Century Cornwall. I plan to continue to read YA books along with with adult fiction and some nonfiction.

Following the News 

My father always read the Los Angeles Times from cover to cover every morning, along with several news magazines. I have always felt guilty that, as a slow reader, I couldn't keep up with the news as well as he did. So, the good and bad thing about retirement, is that I have more time to follow the news. I also read the Los Angeles Times, these days digitally during the week and in print on Sunday, but I get most of my news from Google's News links and Twitter links that come up in my feed. It's become more and more stressful in the last months. I also do my best to be an activist and contact elected officials about important social justice and equality issues. I am trying to find a proper balance between the stress of reading constantly upsetting news and being well enough informed to be a good, activist citizen.

And, yes, cleaning up and organizing the house!

... I've done a little bit of that!

So, am I enjoying my retirement? Absolutely. What are my goals to enjoy it more?


  • Learn to not over-book myself and allow myself to relax a little more
  • Resist this new obsession I have to be constantly following the News and upsetting myself
  • Find more ways to be a change agent and political activist. I fervently believe in the value of advocating for school libraries. Why? The critical thinking skills required to distinguish fact from fiction is something that teacher librarians teach, and that both students and adults clearly need. Far too many schools do a disservice to their students by failing to employ teacher librarians and failing to teach these skills. I intend to do all I can to advocate for strong school libraries and equitable access to them for all students. I also want to explore and find the most effective ways to advocate for other social justice, civil liberties, and equity causes.

Monday, January 9, 2017

My Blog Story

Edublogs, a great educational blogging platform and organization, recently announced a new "Blogging Club (#EdublogsClub)" to challenge educators to write a blog posting each week this year. I have been wanting to write in my blog more regularly, so I signed up for the club to help inspire me do that. Each week, the club will send me a prompt, and I will do my best to participate with a posting. If you are interested in the club, you can get more information here and sign up here. This week's assignment asks that I share something about my history as a blogger, so here goes ....

I set up my first blog and wrote my first posting way back in 2007. CSLA (California School Library Association) was offering an online tutorial, School Library Learning 2.0, about Web 2.0, as we called it then. As a participant, I learned about different Web 2.0 tools, and wrote a posting about each one. After I completed the tutorials, I continued the blog with commentary about my work as a school librarian.

A little while later, CSLA came out with a teen version of the tutorial, and I promoted it to students in my middle school library. Then, in Fall, 2009, my library position was eliminated and I spent a year teaching 7th grade language arts and a computer exploratory rotation class. I had all my students blogging. I used the Teen Learning 2.0 tutorial as the curriculum for the computer exploratory class. For my language arts students, I maintained a daily class blog sharing all the class activities and assignments, and my students' blogging assignments often drew on that same tutorial. Frankly, blogging was the most rewarding part of that year. All the students benefited from the chance to practice informal writing in their blogs and to exchange comments with each other and sometimes outside our school. And some really found their writing voices through this process. I especially loved how I was able to work with the students on every aspect of digital citizenship as part of the blogging process. Another nice part of it for the computer exploratory students was that my friend Sheryl Grabow Weiss had a similar class at another middle school in our district, and we were able to get the students together online and via Skype visits to share their blogging expertise and experiences. And, based on those experiences, Sheryl and I updated the Teen Learning 2.0 tutorial for CSLA that summer.

The next year, in Fall 2010, I moved back to a librarian position, this time at a high school. I immediately set up a library blog to report about and promote library activities. I also immediately began promoting the value of student blogging to my teachers, and I've been doing that every since. I have enjoyed working with a number of different classes in a variety of subject areas, helping them get started with blogging. Typically, I handle teaching the technical and digital citizenship aspects, and the teachers, with my help if they want it, handle the prompts.

As part of my Google Teacher Academy innovation project, I set up a website to support teachers who want to have their students blog and don't have a teacher librarian like me at hand to help them.  I've given some conference presentations promoting blogging as well.

All along, I have maintained this personal blog to share thoughts and insights on school libraries, education, and technology. I never seem to find time to contribute to it as often as I would like, but, now that I retired last June, I am hoping to change that. So, I'm not sure that I'm going to respond to every single prompt during the year, but I'll do my best! And, I look forward to connecting with some of the other participants in this challenge.