Hanging Out in Washington, D.C.

Kelly Brannock and I are braving the D.C. heat to represent you as your North Carolina delegates to the American Association of School Librarians Affiliate Assembly.

On Friday night, we met with other delegates across the country to discuss concerns brought to the AASL from the various regions. Region 4, which we belong to, was well represented and our two concerns were discussed by the assembled delegates. 

We both spent time in the exhibits on Saturday, talking with some of our favorite vendors and meeting up with fellow North Carolinians on the floor. 

On Sunday, we will meet again at AASL Affiliate Assembly and share our discussions with you via the blog and listserv!

If you're in D.C., we hope you're enjoying the conference and the D.C. sights! If you couldn't make it, we hope your friends are bringing you back lots of autographed books and free posters! 

Posted by Ms. Dee at 5:47 PM

21st Century Learning Skills: The Big 6 Information Research Process Workshop

Don't snooze, and don't lose.... NCSLMA is sponsoring a very special Big6 Workshop offered by Gerry Solomon at DPI in June. Collaboration is a key feature of 21st Century learning, so this workshop is designed to pair you and a teacher partner in hands-on learning. Enrollment is limited and you must apply by May 21! Here are the details:

  • Date: Tuesday, June 15, 2010
  • Time: 8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
  • Place: NCDPI in Raleigh*
*Reimbursement for travel expenses is available, depending on distance traveled.

Who can attend?
You MUST be an NCSLMA member to participate in this workshop. Workshop is designed for a collaborative team consisting of a media specialist & 1 teacher. 

What will you learn?
Strategies and resources for implementing each of the stages of the Big6, including hands-on activities. Participants will work in teams and should come prepared with a unit topic or curriculum objectives as a focus for the planning activities in the workshop.

Tell me more!
This is a train-the-trainer workshop, sponsored by NCSLMA. After attending the June 2010 session, attendees are expected to conduct at least 3 workshops in their own region (and invite multiple counties to attend), so that other media specialists have an opportunity to be trained. NCSLMA wants to extend this training beyond our own profession, so participants also may receive sponsorship to present this training at other education conferences in North Carolina.

Find a teacher partner, send in your application, and get ready to kick off your summer with some 21st century learning! For more information, contact Catherine Barone at catbarone@yahoo.com. Applications must be received by May 21, 2010. 

Posted by Kelly Brannock at 3:02 PM

Free webinar tonight on Web 2.0 + Education Reform

Classroom 2.0 is offering a free webinar this evening at 8 p.m. This session is part of the FutureofEducation.com series and features an interview with Professor Leonard Waks of Temple University. He'll be talking education reform, Web 2.0, and where the two converge. Sounds like an interesting prospect for our profession to watch! Here are the details:

A message to all members of Classroom 2.0 Tonight, as a part of myFutureofEducation.com interview series, I'll be talking live with Leonard Waks, Professor Emeritus in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Temple University, who's writing a book with the working title The LearningWeb Revolution: Web 2.0, Digital Tools, and the Transformation of Education. Join us for what promises to be a fascinating discussion of educational change.

Date: Tuesday, 11 May, 2010
Time: 5pm Pacific / 8pm Eastern / 12am (next day) GMT (international times here)
Duration: 60 minutes
Location: In Elluminate. Log in at http://tr.im/futureofed. The Elluminate room will be open up to 30 minutes before the event if you want to come in early. To make sure that your computer is configured for Elluminate, please visithttp://www.elluminate.com/support. Recordings of the session will be posted within a day of the event at the event page.
Event (and Recordings) Pagehttp://www.learncentral.org/event/73309 

Leonard has been an active participant in the FutureofEducation.com series, and is doing an amazing job synthesizing the larger themes playing out in education as reflected through previous guests and other current voices. In preparing for tonight's interview he has written me: 
"I think we are at a crossroads at the moment. On the one hand folks like Robert Epstein and Anya Kamenetz are pulling away from the schools to take advantage of the affordances of the web. On the other, so many folks are doing the opposite: channeling the power of the web into the schools to neuter it while retaining the top down structure of learning. ...My questions (and answers) are: what is fundamental or revolutionary change (change in basic grammar of learning or 'paradigm'), is web 2.0 generating fundamental change yet (not really), will it (probably but not inevitably), what would it look like if it did (open learning centers), and how will it get there if indeed it will (a path from virtual schooling to blended schools to OLCs). I think the transition to blended schools will now be swift; the question is what happens next... Here are a few interesting thoughts from your favorite authors to put together: 1. We are surrounded with new tools that are powerful, mobile, cheap, easy to learn, easy to use, and soon will be ubiquitous. (Jeff Howe) 2. With these tools it is increasingly easy to learn, to contruct and express one's knowledge and insights, to exchange, to cooperate and collaborate, and to act collectively (Clay Shirky). 3. Late teen and early adult years are cognitively peak years (Bob Epstein) and the young people are the primary users of the new tools (Kaiser Family Foundation and others). 4. All of the world's useful knowledge is already on-line or soon will be, and is readily acquired and mashed up for re-use by the new digital tools. This knowledge, circulating in open access formats, is better than the official knowledge because it is subject to rapid correction and augmentation (Judy Breck and others). 5. As a result teens and adults do not need schools and teachers, and in fact are infantilized and humiliated by their constraints (Epstein). 6. As a result the overwhelming percent of them hate their schools (Collins and Halverson). 7. At the same time all sorts of outside the system innovation is being generated by educational entrepreneurs, such as Live Mocha.(Curt Bonk tells the whole story here). 8. Meanwhile college diplomas are increasingly worthless as links to advantageous jobs, unless they come from elite colleges -- it is the elite college link, not the diploma, that pays. And elite colleges are pricing the middle class out (as Kramanatz said this evening -- though this is hardly fresh news). 9. Larry Cuban is probably right that the schools have great internal capacity to adjust without changing in very fundamental ways -- they'll continue to be age-graded egg-crated curricularized test-oriented factories as long as they can. I might agree with Cuban not to expect much change from within. So where does that leave us? My story is that blended schools can morph into something quite different, and may have to in order to avoid a blow up. But nothing is inevitable. This promised to be quite an evening! More about Leonard:


Leonard J. Waks holds earned doctorates in philosophy (University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1968) and organizational studies (Temple University, 1984). For almost half a century he has been examining the links between technology and education, publishing more than 100 journal articles and book chapters and a book, Technology’s School (CAI, 1995). He taught philosophy and educational theory at Purdue, Stanford, and Penn State, and retired in 2005 from the department of educational leadership at Temple University. In the 1960s at both Purdue and Stanford he introduced the nation’s first regular courses on the philosophy of revolutionary change. At Temple in the mid-1990s he introduced one of the first courses on education in network society.

Waks was co-founder of the National Technological Literacy conferences, which earned him first prize in creative programming by the Association for University Continuing Education. He co-authored the first article on “technology” in theEncyclopedia of Philosophy, and served as associate editor for the periodicalResearch in Philosophy and Technology. He co-directed the summer institute for college teachers sponsored by National Endowment for Humanities on Re-Examining Technology, and he offered popular National Science Foundation Chautauqua workshops for college science teachers on Integrating Technology and Social Issues in College Science. He has also received numerous other research, training, and course development grants from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and other agencies.

Waks is the General Editor of the book series Leaders in Educational Studies, published by Sense publishers, editor of the volume Leaders in Philosophy of Education (2008) and co-editor of the volume Leaders in Curriculum Studies(2009).

Waks’s recent research has focused on revolutionary educational change in global network society. His recent articles have included “How Globalization can Cause Fundamental Curriculum Change” in The Journal of Educational Change(2004) and “The Concept of Fundamental Educational Change” in Educational Theory (2007); the former has been reprinted in the Oxford University Press handbook Globalization, Education, and Social Change (2006), the latter is consistently among the most downloaded articles from Educational Theory. Visit Classroom 2.0 at: http://www.classroom20.com/?xg_source=msg_mes_network

Posted by Kelly Brannock at 3:51 PM

Stephanie Vance, the Advocacy Guru, Keynote Speaker at Fall Conference

Stephanie D. Vance, the "Advocacy Guru" of Advocacy Associates, LLC is author of Government by the People: How to Communicate with Congress, the fabjob.com guide, Get a Job on Capital Hill, Citizens in Action, and the recently released Advocacy Manual: A Practitioner's Guide.  She has over 20 years of experience in Congressional affairs, having worked in a prominent DC law firm, lobbied for National Public Radio, and worked in various Congressional offices, holding positions as Legislative Director and Staff Director.

Her work on congressional communications stems from a deep and abiding belief that government is effective only when citizens are active participants. She has presented the concepts behind Citizens in Action at seminars and workshops around the country and she is a member of the National Speakers Association. Ms. Vance is also a member of the American Society of Association Executives and Women in Government Relations. Her website, www.advocacyguru.com has won a number of awards, and her work has been the subject of a variety of print media stories, including a column in the Washington Post.

A frequent guest on radio and television news shows around the country, Ms. Vance holds a Masters Degree in Legislative Affairs from George Washington University and a Master’s Degree in Liberal Studies at Georgetown University. She is the only advocacy trainer to hold the prestigious Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation from the National Speakers Association.

Stephanie Vance is the keynote speaker for the fall conference.  She'll open the conference on Thursday, November 4, 2010. 

Posted by Ms. Dee at 6:13 PM

Storyteller, Author Joseph Bruchac to Appear at Fall Conference

Author and storyteller, Joseph Bruchac will present sessions and speak at the storytelling breakfast on Friday, November 5, 2010, at the fall conference.  Much of Joseph Bruchac's writing draws on his deep connection to the Adirondack region of New York where he was raised and still lives and his American Indian ancestry. His ethnic background includes Abenaki, Slovak and English blood. He and his two grown sons, James and Jesse (who are also both published writers and storytellers) work extensively in projects involving the understanding and preservation of the natural world, Abenaki culture, language, and traditional Native skills and also perform traditional and contemporary Abenaki music together as The Dawnland Singers. Their most recent CD, HONOR SONGS, came out in 2009.  Joe's academic background includes a B.A. from Cornell, a Master's Degree from Syracuse and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the Union Institute of Ohio.

His poems, articles and stories have appeared in over 1000 publications, from American Poetry Review to National Geographic. He's authored more than 120 books for adults and children and his honors include a Rockefeller Humanities fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Writing Fellowship for Poetry, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas. 

Posted by Ms. Dee at 6:47 PM

Danger, Will Robinson!

I'm just now catching up on my blog feeds in my Google reader, so apologies to those who may have already read through Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk blog posting of April 21st, "Dangerous Statements for Librarians to Make". Some of the statements really do emphasize how we can be our own worst enemies when making our cases for our library media programs.

Here are some of my favorites:

But the school HAS to have a librarian/libraryReally? So we don't think they could do without us and our programs?

If all we're doing all day is sitting behind the circulation desk and checking out books, then yeah, they can do without us. A paraprofessional, an assistant, even a parent can scan those barcodes to check out those books to the voracious readers that clamor through our doors.

With facilities budgets being cut and school populations growing, that space we call a library media center would convert nicely into about three classrooms. Just move in some portable walls and voila! More space for instruction!

Oh, we instruct, do we? Well, that reminds me of another favorite line:

Correct bibliographic format is absolutely critical

If our instruction revolves around colons and periods being in the right place of a bibliographic citation, then we're feeding the stereotype of the anal retentive librarian, in my book. Why aren't we helping students evaluate websites? Or helping them craft a thesis based on the preliminary investigation they are doing on a topic of interest? Or working toward creating processes that will build foundations for their research?

Maybe here's our problem: The research proves that libraries improve student achievement.

Well, bully for the research! But we can show all the research in the world to our principals and our staffs, but if it's not data and research that DIRECTLY impacts OUR students and teachers, it's probably not worth a hill of beans. Do our teachers and kids really care about what happened in Colorado ten years ago? A resounding, "No!"

But our teachers do care about the fact that we've spent all year working with our students at one particular grade level to implement a process to improve students' research skills and access to information. They do appreciate the time we put in with them and their language arts students, helping to create rubrics and instructing those students in cool technology tools to enhance their multimedia book reviews. And those same teachers are probably excited that we introduced them and their students to blogging which they now use on a regular basis to deconstruct and flesh out content, ideas and concepts in their core content classes.

But ultimately our actions have to speak for themselves. What we do for STUDENTS has to be the focus of all that we do. We have to be ACTIVISTS.

And don't believe this statement for a minute: I can advocate for my own program. I don't need anyone else vocally supporting it.

In today's budget crunch, teacher lay-offs, and central office down-sizing, we need all the support and advocacy that can be mustered for employing strong teacher librarians. But that support has to come from our students and teachers and most especially our administrators.

If we aren't being ACTIVE, relevant, innovative and information-savvy TEACHERS for our students, then how can we expect anyone to support and advocate for librarians in our schools? 

Posted by Ms. Dee at 10:24 AM

Conference Author Luncheon Speaker: Lisa Yee

Born and raised near Los Angeles, California, Lisa Yee always loved to read. As co-owner and creative director of Magic Pencil Studios, a strategic creative company, she has done everything from writing and directing original projects for Fortune 500 clients to leading creativity seminars for dairy farmers. Lisa has also penned her own newspaper column, and written TV and radio commercials, as well as menus that have been read by
millions, jingles for waffles, and television specials for Disney.

With the publication of Millicent Min, Girl Genius, Lisa realized her lifelong dream of becoming a book author. Winner of the prestigious Sid Fleischman Humor Award, the book has over 250,000 copies in print. Lisa’s second novel,Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time, was published in October 2005 and her third book, So Totally Emily Ebers, was published in 2007. Other books includeAbsolutely MaybeBoys vs. Girls (Accidentally), and Geektastic, an anthology

Lisa will present at the author luncheon on Friday, November 5 of the fall conference. For more information on her, visit her website, www.lisayee.com .

Posted by Ms. Dee at 12:24 PM

School Librarians, Where Do You Hang Your Hat?

At my library media learning team back in August 2009, we looked at the beliefs that are the cornerstone for the standards in library media programs using the book, Standards for the 21st Century Learner in Action (AASL, 2009). First, we looked at the nine common beliefs through our own eyes, as library media coordinators. 

If we had to hang our hat on just one of the beliefs, where would we hang it? What did we see as our focus in our library media programs?
  • Reading is the window to the world.
  • Inquiry provides a framework for learning.
  • Ethical behavior in the use of information must be taught.
  • Technology skills are crucial for future employment needs.
  • Equitable access is a key component for education.
  • The definition of information literacy has become more complex as resources and technologies have changed.
  • The continuing expansion of information demands that all individuals acquire the thinking skills that will enable them to learn on their own.
  • Learning has a social context.
  • School libraries are essential to the development of learning skills.
We were split between two of the beliefs: 'Reading is a window to the world' and 'School libraries are essential to the development of learning skills'. Some of us felt that reading was the main focus of our programs and our work with students while others took a broader approach to seeing themselves and their programs as the place, environment, and access to all. No real surprises there.

But when we looked at the beliefs from other perspectives, we began to see how others view the library media program and how this affects our work. We asked ourselves which belief our principals would hold up as the hallmark for the media program. What would our students say is the most important belief? And what about our parents and PTA? Where would the superintendent or the school board member hang her hat on these common beliefs?

That's when we realized that we have to consider all perspectives about library media, our influence on others, and the advocacy to promote our entire program. 

If a teacher views the library media program as a place for reading and that's it, will he ever begin to incorporate instructional technologies or encourage educational and social networking with his students? If our principal sees our program as the place for students to improve their technology skills, will we ever get a budget to purchase the latest and greatest fiction? If the superintendent is most worried about and focused on ethical behavior in use of information, will he recognize the need for inquiry and critical thinking skills within the framework of learning?

We as librarians know that these are a set of beliefs and one does not necessarily outweigh another. It's important to understand the perspectives of all our users in order to meet their needs, build influence and advocate for out total program. 

However, our hat rack may tell a different story if we tend to hang our own hat on only one or two of the beliefs instead of wearing the many different hats of our profession. 

Posted by Ms. Dee at 7:58 AM
1 Comments

School Librarians Cut in Wake County

Wake County Public Schools has made proposed budget cuts for the 2010-2011 school year that include $2.9 million in cuts to media specialist allotments. In real terms that equals 40 school librarian positions that will be lost.

Yet the News and Observer is reporting that with the WCPSS proposed cuts no teaching positions will be lost. The last time I checked, media coordinators in the state of North Carolina are certified teachers and the school libraries and media centers that they teach in are their classrooms.

The proposed budget cuts create a new formula for serving the students, staff, and parents of schools, no matter what the size of the school: 1 media coordinator at an elementary school, 1 media coordinator at a middle school, and 2 media coordinators at a high school.

To say that no teaching positions are being cut is misreporting of this budget information. Every day media coordinators, teacher-librarians, implement the information literacy curriculum: teaching students search strategies for gaining information, teaching students to evaluate print and electronic resources, teaching students to think critically about information, teaching students to select appropriate reading materials.

In Wake County, 20% of the school librarians are National Board Certified Teachers. They hold a certification recognizing them as accomplished teachers in their curriculum area. It is wrong to state that no teaching positions are being cut: WCPSS administration is proposing a cut of almost 20% of those teachers of information literacy.

It's not only a sad day in Wake County for media coordinators, it's a sad day in the state of North Carolina for all media coordinators. But ultimately, it's a sad day for all teachers.

Deanna Harris, NBCT
President-Elect 

Posted by Ms. Dee at 7:17 AM
3 Comments

3 little letters

MLS? LMC? SOS?

No -- not those kind of letters! 

How fast can you copy and paste? If you've got 5 minutes, you can create and send 3 letters to advocate for school libraries. All the resources you need are at the Lettersforlibraries wiki. Come on... it's easy! 3 little letters might make all the difference -- and you don't even need a stamp. 

Time is of the essence, so SOS (support our students) and send 3 little letters today!


Kelly Brannock
connecting - learning - leading 

Posted by Kelly Brannock at 4:48 PM

Media Center Survivor!

Oh what trying times are these. The economic news is bad and badder, and if you're like me, you're just holding your breath, hoping that we can hold the line, and nervously wondering about the impact on the hard-working school librarians in North Carolina and across the United States. Advocacy, ubiquitous as the phrase has become these days, doesn't seem like a big enough strategy to shield us from the shifting political realities and economic downtime we live in.

In January 2010, East Carolina University held their annual Librarian2Librarian Networking Summit and as NCSLMA President, I was invited to join other distinguished NC library leaders to talk about surviving in the lean times. The theme for the Summit was Media Center Survivor and here are my comments from that panel discussion.

Who knew that all the hours I spent watching reality TV would pay off one day? With homage (and apologies) to the good people of Survivor, here's my take on how to be the player that can "outwit, outplay, and outlast" in the game of Media Center Survivor. Whether you're dropped off in the wilderness of the Australian Outback, Samoa, Kenya, or say, Greenville or Raleigh... what are the top ten strategies of the ultimate survivor? Here's what my viewing experience tells me...

10. Create alliances 
Think strategically about whom might be a good ally. Consider: who are all the stakeholders for the library program and how can I cultivate their support? What's in it for them for my program to flourish? Who can I go to for information, help, or support when I feel that my program's status is in danger? Remember that you can find allies in surprising places and that your allies can come from different tribes, like students, parents, community members, administrators, and school board members, (as well as from our own friendly tribe of library peers).

9. Know how to start a fire, read a map, and build a shelter 
Make sure your basic skills are sharp so that you are seen as a contender and can hold your own back at camp. Better yet, stay abreast of new information, resources & tools; take advantage of opportunities to develop professionally; learn new skills and teach others. Joyce Valenza, a player that I'd love to have in my tribe, has blogged about "how to retool yourself ...a roadmap of at least 14 ways" to develop professionally. Best of all, a lot of the professional development resources she recommends are ready-made and easy to use. Who doesn't love Common Craft videos, Teacher Tube, bookmark sharing sites like Diigo, ALA toolkits,and much more? As Summit attendees giving up your Saturday to be here today, I'd say that this group has a head start on surviving under tough conditions!

8. Work hard around camp, learn to speak the native language, and be a stand-out performer at immunity challenges
Work hard and let your efforts be visible; when there's too much to do, as there often is, set priorities & focus on the most important things. Do the essential things that benefit your entire tribe in an immunity challenge. As for communicating with the natives, make sure you speak their language. Translate our unique language about concepts like information literacy and make it meaningful to the players outside the school library tribe. Initiate conversations with other tribes about assessment and data -- then use that data to inform your collaborative planning. Demonstrate that you can (and DO) make a difference in student learning and you can help your tribe win immunity.

7. Know when to speak up at tribal council 
First of all, make sure that you have a seat at the council... serve on the School Improvement Team, the Leadership Team, Curriculum Committees, district-wide task forces, etc. If you're not chosen or elected to serve on one of these committees, ask to attend anyway and offer your ideas. In his Blue Skunk blog, Doug Johnson, another great survivor, has posted a series of entries about leading and managing the library program in lean times. He makes the important point that "if you have a chance to take a decision-making role and do not, then you've lost all your whining rights about the choices that are made for you". Don't sit on your hands, and don't get voted out with the immunity idol in your pocket. You must take advantage of opportunities to speak out for your program at Tribal Council!

6. Be the strongest player 
The strongest player in every tribe has a variety of talents and excels in nearly every area. The strongest player also possesses deeply-felt convictions, a vision for the future, and a belief in their ability to succeed. So, be the strongest. Maintain a strong skill set by keeping up with the pace of change in the world around us; look to peers that have strengths you need and learn from them; share what you know with other teachers, and NEVER stop learning. Do you have a personal learning network? Are you exploring and using social media like Twitter, nings, or Facebook to develop new professional relationships, skills, and knowledge?

5. Never go fishing, swimming, eating, or bathing alone 
...because you don't know who or what they're talking about back at camp! What's more, some of the most valuable information and alliances are built on shared experiences. Cultivate personal relationships with staff in your building, at the local public and college libraries, and with other school media peers in your district, region, and state. Join your professional organizations and be an active member. Develop a personal strategy for advocacy and be ready with an elevator speech about your library program. Don't be afraid to share ideas and strategies with others in our profession. Back at your own camp, make sure that your space exudes warmth and welcome: keep a jar full of chocolate in your workroom and share it with other teachers; look for reasons and opportunities to communicate with parents and engage in two-way conversation often; use your technology skills to connect in more than one way. Bottom line -- don't go it alone! Pursue relationships with others... don't wait for them to come looking for you in the library.

4. Hold your nose (if you need to) and find a way to eat the gross stuff 
Be a devoted team player, even when the challenges are inconvenient, unpleasant, not part of your usual duties, or involve a disgusting thing to eat. Volunteer and be visible; stay for after school meetings and come back in the evening for report card night, math night, and PTA meetings; get your hands dirty with messy tasks. Join the PTA, serve on their board as a teacher representative, and actively participate in their family events; help to raise funds for other programs at school; and offer your library as a place for meetings and activities of all kinds. This is all part of creating and maintaining important alliances as well as developing personal relationships with other players. You want to be seen as an indispensable member of the tribe. As Joyce Valenza says, "as schools are making tough budget choices, if the librarians aren't at the center of the school culture, they're on the cutting board."

3. Lead quietly, but lead nonetheless 
Don't grandstand, demand, or be seen as a pushy or negative force. Good leaders collaborate, build consensus, make others look good, and develop strength within their own tribe. If you watched last fall's Survivor episodes from Samoa, you know that a very powerful and strategic player lost in the final round to a seemingly lesser tribe member. The reason? Others didn't like his tactics. While his former rivals couldn't defend against his impressive skills and strategy, they wouldn't abide this powerful player's conduct, and it showed when they cast their votes for a winner at the final tribal council. Reflect on your professional practice, embrace your strengths as well as your weaknesses, and use that information to grow into the leader you were meant to be. Use your expertise to stay abreast of legislation that impacts your work, use your technology skills to advocate in a variety of ways, and call on your personal network for advocacy resources and support.

2. When the going gets rough, remember how much you love the small things like your toothbrush, a soft blanket, or a hot shower -
Don't forget the things that make your professional life so special. Appreciate and enjoy the things that brought you to this profession in the first place... working with students, sharing your love of books, the fun of learning with technology, or helping others with problem-solving. Even when times are lean, we can still enjoy these simple pleasures along with the opportunity to be creative in the very best job there is.

However, there may come a time when holding onto the small things isn't enough. 
Sometimes when conditions warrant, players make a bold move to improve their standing in the game. In a state where site-based management is the norm, advocacy has to happen in your own local camp. The host of Survivor can't make the case for your program. Only you can do this. If or when advocacy falls short of your hopes, then swapping tribes, or making a change to a different school or district can bring new opportunities, recharge your professional engine, and give you new chances for staying in the game you love. From my own experience I have found that what is lean in one place may not be as lean in another. Different tribes organize in unique ways and value different skills and attributes. So, don't be afraid to explore your options and make a bold move if the time is right. And finally . . . 

1. The challenges are different every week -
One week the challenge is swimming and the next week it involves solving puzzles. Then it's on to launching coconuts at a target, followed by balancing on a moving platform. The best players prepare and step up to these challenges. They practice, take advantage of opportunities, and they don't give up. They dig deep because they know how important it is to win immunity. Just like in the game of Survivor, our challenges are different every week too. To stay in the game we need to be nimble, courageous, balanced, skilled, and flexible -- change is the only thing that stays the same!

In the game of Survivor, fire represents life. If your fire goes out at camp, you're cold and miserable without a way to cook food or purify water. At tribal council, when your torch goes out, you're out of the game and out of the money. In the library game of Survivor, your personal fire is just as important. Don't let others extinguish yours and don't neglect your own flame -- keep your personal passion for the work you love burning strong.

So, who knew that reality TV could be so helpful? Now, if only we could take home that million dollars... just imagine what we could do in our school libraries?!

Remarks by Kelly Brannock, presented at the ECU Librarian2Librarian Networking Summit on January 9, 2010.

Posted by Kelly Brannock at 5:41 PM
4 Comments

Managing and Leading

Do you see yourself as a manager or a leader? I recently heard some provocative assertions* about the difference between managers and leaders. Suddenly it got me thinking about my personal and professional comfort zone; it also had me pondering how others perceive my role of School Librarian. I challenge you to try these titles on for size and see what feels like a comfortable fit!

   * Managers plan and budget. --- Leaders establish direction and cast vision. 

   * Managers develop policies and processes. --- Leaders align people and resources to accomplish a vision.

   * Managers control and problem-solve. --- Leaders motivate and inspire.

   * Managers create predictability and order. --- Leaders produce chaos and change.

So, what do you think . . . what's the most accurate fit for you (and our profession)? Is the role that feels like a comfortable fit, the one you want to play? Is this the mental model of "21st Century School Librarian" that we want others to understand? And finally, what opportunities for personal and professional growth can you envision? 

Let's get the conversation going about where we are and where we want to be. Where do you cast your vision? I'm looking forward to your comments!

Don't forget -- Deanna and I invite guest bloggers to join us in our conversation as we "hang around the library". If you're interested in joining the conversation on this blog, please let us know.

Kelly Brannock
ncslma.kelly@gmail.com

*(comments on leaders & managers heard at a "Leading Beyond the Walls" presentation by Adam Hamilton)

Posted by Ms. Brannock at 7:34 PM
2 Comments

Boston -- Fame, Fortune and a "New" Name

Thanks to my trusty side-kick, NCSLMA President-Elect Deanna Harris, who faithfully blogged about our experiences pal-ing around together at ALA Midwinter in Boston last weekend. Yes, we really did see and hear Al Gore -- I even got up close for an autograph of his newest book, Our Choices. As you may have seen on this blog (and on Facebook), we had our picture taken with another celebrity, "Flat Sara", a life-size cutout of ALA Presidential candidate, Sara Kelly Johns. (Sara is a former AASL President & she's looking for support from AASL members when we vote for ALA President in the spring.) Out of obligation to our host city, Deanna and I slurped down some tasty clam "chowdah" and did extensive field-testing of their famous Boston Creme Pie. We can confirm that they know how to make a scrumptious dessert in Boston! 

Of course, there were more substantive things that happened in Boston. One of the more intriguing moments was when AASL President-Elect Nancy Everhart described her plan to visit an outstanding school library in all 50 states! Nancy's excellent adventure (she'll be rollin' cross-country in an RV) might be the ticket to your fame, since Nancy is looking for an exemplary school library in NC to visit. I will provide her with our state's recommendation for this honor in April, so put on your thinking caps and consider nominating yourself or someone else. An "offical" NCSLMA nomination form will be posted on the website soon, but in the meantime here are the specifics that Nancy is looking for in her 50-state school library tour:

  • The school librarian is fully certified and a member of AASL
  • The facility and activities going on in the facility are engaging and visually stimulating.
  • The school library makes the most of the resources available.
  • Schools should be diverse and at various levels – elementary, middle, high, K-12, etc.
  • The school administration agrees to a site visit with media coverage which may include television, radio, and/or web coverage
  • Appropriate permissions are obtained which include photos, video and potential research
  • The school visit will occur on a day that fits Nancy's schedule
  • Evidence of learning will be provided
  • Tour schedule will be finalized in May and June and announced at ALA Annual in Washington, DC in June 2010.
Besides fame as a stop on Nancy's 50-state tour, there's fortune to be had as an AASL member. Several AASL awards are still up for grabs and we would LOVE to see an NCSLMA member bring home the money. The application deadline is February 1, 2010, so time is of the essence! For more information, including an application, go to http://www.ala.org/aasl/awards. Award winners will be honored at ALA Annual in Washington DC in June 2010. Given the current budget environment, there's no better time to showcase your library program, demonstrate your very best practices, and support the work you love by bringing home an AASL Award!

The other interesting news out of Boston is that AASL has officially adopted the professional title of "School Librarian" to describe the work we do. According to ALA's Cognotes, "a recent AASL survey indicated confusion, misperceptions, and inconsistencies about job titles in the school librarian profession." Affiliate Assembly requested that the AASL Board of Directors "choose a title for its professionals that is clear to other educators, administrators, and the public, and that presents a common nomenclature for all publications and advocacy efforts."

So, School Librarian may be an old name, but it's our new professional title for the 21st century. While most people are very familiar with this old new name, they are likely not as conversant with what it means to be a 21st century School Librarian. If we are at our very best, we're making this clear every day through the work we do in school libraries across North Carolina. (I don't know about you, but I wear this professional title proudly and make it part of my signature line.)

Happily back in NC (but still lovin' Boston),
your NCSLMA President and School Librarian
-- Kelly

connecting . learning . leading

ncslma.kelly@gmail.com
kellybrannock at Twitter
Kelly Brannock on Facebook

Posted by Kelly Brannock at 5:40 PM
1 Comments

And the Winners Are...

Well, Kelly and I were wimps this morning. We didn't venture out in the cold, wet freezing rain and snow to head to the convention center for the live and in-person 2010 Youth Media Award announcements. But we did manage to get logged on and watch the live webcast in the comfort of our hotel room (while still in our pajamas!) and enjoy some of the excitement of being the first to learn who the winners are.You can read the entire list of winners and the press release at www.ala.org/yma .

Newbery Award winner: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Caldecott Award winner: The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

Printz Award winner: Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Belpre' Award winners: Return to Sender by Julie Alvarez (text) and Book Fiesta! by Pat Mora, illustrated by Rafael Lopez (illustrations)

Siebert Award winner: Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone 

Posted by Ms. Dee at 6:14 AM

ALA Midwinter: Round and Round

Saturday was a great day for networking with librarians from all locations and backgrounds, but especially our fellow school librarians.

We started our day with AASL Affiliate Assembly roundtable discussions. The topic of this year's discussions was on setting and size of school libraries and the unique problems that arise with each. Kelly and I, along with Deb Christensen, joined the 'suburban' table since we both teach in schools that seem to fit that definition best. Other discussion tables included rural, urban, small, and large.

The folks at our table included librarians from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Alabama, and Delaware, and the discussion focused on issues that uniquely affect suburban schools. The main issue we reported out to the larger group is that in suburban schools we are starting to serve a wider range of students, students from the very poor to the more affluent. How do we make sure that we have the instructional strategies, the teaching tools, and the resources to meet the needs of that wide range of students?

And speaking of name dropping, we had the opportunity to hear Al Gore as he delivered the Arthur Curley Memorial Lecture. Gore discussed his latest book,Our Choices, about the climate crisis. This book is accessible to younger readers. Kelly got up close and personal with Gore when she had her book autographed.

Lots of librarians, including Kelly, are tweeting during the conference. So if you'd like more updates and information, you can search the tag #alamw10 for their comments and postings. 

Posted by Ms. Dee at 3:53 AM

ALA Midwinter: Pictures!

Here's Al Gore on the big screen. We really did see him on stage. We promise! It was just easier to take a picture of the bigger than life Al Gore than the tiny Gore on stage.
Here we are posing with "Flat Sara", the life-size cardboard display of ALA Presidential candidate, Sara Kelly Johns, former AASL President.
Kelly, Sandra Andrews - UNC-G and AASL Affiliate Assembly chair, and Deb Christensen - NCSLMA Past-President
Kelly and Deanna posing at the Backstage Library Works booth in the exhibit hall.
Kelly and Deanna "getting to know" Oscar the Robot, the Emery-Platt book distributors mascot.

Posted by Ms. Dee at 6:58 AM

ALA Midwinter: Who's Who from NC

Kelly and I arrived in Boston Friday afternoon. (We hope our friends in NC enjoyed the warmer temperatures on Friday because it's cold here!)

Our afternoon was spent organizing ourselves for the weekend -- registering, finding our way around, locating the rooms for our meetings. We attended the Exhibitor's Reception and roamed around looking for some familiar faces, and it's a veritable "Who's Who" from NC in Boston.

NCSLMA Past-President Deb Christiansen and Piedmont Director Catherine Barone are just two doors down from us. Deb currently serves as past recording secretary for AASL Affliate Assembly, and Catherine is on the YALSA Teen Read Week committee.

We ran into a couple of folks from the hometown universities -- Sandra Andrews, Chairperson of Affiliate Assembly, and Linda Gann from UNC-G and Linda Teel from East Carolina University. (We'd also already seen Sandra Hughes-Hassell from UNC-Ch on our flight to Boston.) These ladies were enjoying the clam chowder at the reception and making their way around to find those deals at the exhibitors.

At dinner at Legal Test Kitchen (very yummy!), we conversed with Kevin Cherry, NC native and former State Library of NC staffer, who now works with ILMS.

We're off to brave the cold this morning as we head back to the convention center for our roundtable discussion! Watch for pictures and more postings!

Deanna Harris, NBCT
NCSLMA President-Elect 

Posted by Ms. Dee at 4:34 AM

Affiliate Assembly, Here We Come!

Kelly Brannock and I are headed to Boston this weekend to represent the association at AASL Affiliate Assembly at ALA Midwinter. The purpose of Affiliate Assembly is

"...to provide a channel of communication for reporting concerns of the affiliated organizations and their membership to the AASL Board of Driects; to facilitate discussion of activities and concerns of AASL as reported by the AASL president, Executive Direction and Board of Directors; and to report the actions of the AASL to the Affiliates. (AASL Bylaws, Article XI, Section 2.)"

As your representatives, we look forward to discussing the status of school libraries and media coordinators in our state with other delegates. As a member of Region 4, we will meet with delegates from Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Keep checking the blog this weekend for updates about what's happening with our national association and the issues that affect school libraries!

Deanna Harris, NBCT
NCSLMA President-Elect 

Posted by Ms. Dee at 1:52 PM

Professional Resolutions

Each year lots of folks make new year's resolutions: lose ten pounds, start exercising, stop smoking, attend church more regularly, stay in touch with friend and family more often. Most of the time the resolutions are centered on improving their personal lives, getting healthier, being more spiritual, or just plain being more positive about life.

But how often do you make professional resolutions?

January is a great time to make professional resolutions! It's the perfect time to reflect on the fall semester, half the school year, and determine what's working and what's not working and what in the world you need to resolve to improve with your library media program!

So, calling all you school library media folks! What professional resolutions are you making for this year, or at least the rest of the school year?

Deanna Harris
NCSLMA President-Elect 

Posted by Ms. Dee at 11:54 AM

2020 Vision: Future of School Libraries

It was in the fall of 2000 that the North Carolina School Library Media Association became a reality! Born out of the desire "to provide professional and educational connections, opportunities, and support for North Carolina school library media personnel", the organization has provided an annual statewide conference and various programs and grants to meet the stated purpose of the association.

Our first conference in the fall of 2001 saw some incredible speakers and authors: Christopher Paul CurtisStephen KrashenSuzanne Fisher Staples, and others. We were energized and enthusiastic about our new association and extremely excited about our first conference. School library media specialists enjoyed strong, well-funded programs and were afforded the professional luxury of attending our conference to network and learn with colleagues.

What has happened in school librarianship in the past ten years since the beginning of our new organization?

Technology obviously is very prominent in our daily lives and especially our schools and libraries. Who could have imagined students using wireless laptops to navigate online databases for a research project? Or students collaboratively planning projects and preparing presentations through wikis and blogs and other collaborative applications?

For years, futurists have talked about the books going away. The invention and increased usage of eBooks and devices like the Kindle have made some books more accessible, but they haven't necessarily completely displaced the books on our shelves in our school libraries.

In the past ten years, we've seen school library media specialists move more into the role of teacher leaders. We've become National Board Certified Teachers. We've embraced our role as professional development facilitators. We've worked to be more comfortable at advocating for information literacy and our media and technology programs.

As we look to our conference in the fall of 2010, what do the next ten years have in store for library media coordinators and our media and technology programs?

What's your 2020 vision for the future of school libraries?

Deanna Harris, NBCT
NCSLMA President-Elect 

Posted by Ms. Dee at 5:15 PM