Friday, October 31, 2014

The State of Iowa's School Libraries - Keep it coming!

Thanks to everyone who has been contributing to the Google map of school districts in Iowa and how many Teacher Librarians each employs.  

We are about 1/3 of the way mapped - 108 out of 348 districts reporting. Although we already know it, this map makes it obvious that there are big differences around our state.


 See the map here.


This visualized data can be very valuable for us as we continue to advocate for our students and their right to a quality school library program.  We will be able to clearly see how many schools in Iowa are meeting the "required" level of compliance with state code, which are stretching one professional beyond reasonable limits, which are making progress, and which, if any, are considered to be operating at "best practice" level according to state library program guidelines.




Please continue to add information to this map, and share the anecdotes you've shared with us with your local legislators.  



Thursday, October 30, 2014

SLJ Summit 2014

The 10th Annual School Library Journal Summit was held this past weekend at the beautiful St. Paul Hotel in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota.  Sue Inhelder, Alicia Patten, Christine Sturgeon, and Shannon Miller were four Iowa Teacher Librarians who attended the conference.  Here are some highlights:


The theme was "Fire It Up!" and what an apropos one at that.  We first got "fired up" listening to Dr. Mark Edwards, superintendent of the Mooresville (NC) Graded School District, who was named National Superintendent of the Year in 2013 by the American Association of School Administrators.  He has great respect for teacher librarians, advocating for his district TLs (many of whom were in attendance and spoke in a panel on their district's 1:1 program) and our field.
Check out this video from Capstone Publishing introduced at the SLJ Summit:



Another panel on Saturday was put on by "smart stakeholders" - the vendors who make the summit possible.  The companies represented were Follett, Baker & Taylor, Capstone, Junior Library Guild, Mackin, ABDO, LEGO Education, Rosen Publishing, Gale/Cengage Learning, Brain Hive, and Lerner Publishing.  The company representatives answered questions, including one by IASL Vice President/President-Elect Dixie Forcht, who asked about what goes into the cost of an ebook, and why prices differ so much from title to title.

Saturday ended with a panel by three nonfiction authors I have in my elementary library, Loree Griffin Burns, Joyce Sidman, and Elizabeth Rusch.
Sunday morning started earlier, so I'm glad I grabbed breakfast at my hotel in the suburbs.  I did a double-take when I saw a student from my school, also at the hotel in the suburbs!  (He was there for a wedding.)  Although I know the St. Paul Hotel was beautiful (and my god the lemon bars!), it was meant for me to be in the burbs and not downtown!



Stephen Turnipseed, President Emeritus of LEGO Education North America, was the Sunday morning keynote.  Some of the "bling" attendees received was a small bag of Legos, and we were instructed to make a duck.  After I saw others' examples on Twitter, I'm too embarrassed to put my duck here!  But check out my neighbor's (my neighbor being industry leader Christopher Harris!)

Turnipseed's message of creativity was an important one.  He stated, "Creativity will be the most important skill set of the future."
  
Next was a panel for those who hate panels, by Joyce Valenza, Doug Johnson, K.C. Boyd, and Michelle Colte, who each talked about who their animal represents their leadership style, and why.  There is a Padlet where attendees added their own:


There were so many words of wisdom and inspiration from this panel - more than I could keep up with on Twitter with my phone.  But here's one:
SLJ definitely saved the best for last, though.  Patricia Polacco, the prolific children's author of such classics as Pink and Say, For the Love of Autumn, and Thank You Mr. Falker, which tells the story of Polacco's own life, not learning until she was 14-years old that she had dyslexia.  The pièce de résistance of the entire weekend was when she read the book, The Keeping Quilt, and even show us her new keeping quilt (the original is on display in a museum).

That's not to mention all of the great connections that were made.  I saw old friends like Shannon, Sue, and Alicia, but made more, like husband-and-wife teacher librarians, Phil Goerner and Krista Brakhage, from Colorado.  It was great to meet strong leaders like Christopher Harris and Kristin Fonticharo and Andy Plemmons.

What a great weekend!





Wednesday, October 29, 2014

November is Picture Book Month

November is the time to Read* Share* Celebrate!




More information found here.

When I think of picture books I think of Molly Bang.

Pinterest reminds of other picture books that are amazing. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Straight from the Source : How to Advocate for Libraries

Friday at the ILA conference in Cedar Rapids, librarians of all types got to experience a rare type of primary source - state legislators!

House Speaker Kraig Paulsen and Senator Liz Mathis hosted a session on what legislators need to know in order to advocate for libraries.


How do I know who to talk to?

Senator Mathis and Speaker Paulsen both stressed the importance of forming a relationship with the legislators in your district. Find them here. While they of course appreciate feedback from people who aren't their direct constituents, legislators are more likely to make a move if they hear from those in their own district. If you are consistently updating your legislators about what you and your library program are offering to your patrons (their constituents), they will come to recognize you as a trusted source of information. Both Senator Mathis and Speaker Paulsen have "go to" librarians they call first when a library issue comes up.  Be prepared with data, anecdotes, and information to share with your legislator when you become their source.

What do I talk about?
Legislators will only know about your program and how state policies affect it if YOU tell them. Let them know what a Teacher Librarian is expected to do and how your current teaching assignment actually looks. Use anecdotes and statistics to illustrate your point. Always tie it back to how policies are affecting their constituents - what advantages or disadvantages do our patrons/students face because of policies currently on the books? Give them something that will stick in their mind. 

What if my legislator isn't on the appropriate committee for my issue?
Even if your legislator isn't on a committee dealing the policies or legislation you are communicating about, you can always ask them to speak to their colleagues on both sides of the aisle about your issue.  Senator Mathis stressed that conversations in the caucus go across party lines, and legislators are willing to talk to others when it effects their own constituency. Speaker Paulsen reminded us that most issues dealing with libraries are non-partisan, so talking to both sides is effective.

When is the best time to talk to my legislator?
Make contact frequently - emails, notes, Tweets, and calls are welcome throughout the year. However, if you have an issue that could become a bill, the best time to get that information to your legislator is between May and December. Bills that are drafted before December can be fast-tracked into committees and are more likely to get traction.

How should I contact my legislators?
In person, on the phone, email, or Twitter! They like it all. If you aren't sure if your legislator is on Twitter, check this spreadsheet compiled by the IASL board. Send quick updates about what your program does, anecdotes about how your patrons are affected by specific policies, and statistics about your program's effectiveness. Keep it short and to the point. Tell your story, include your stats, and say what you want to happen. Repeat.  Remember, legislators are dealing with hundreds of issues and thousands of constituents. Remind your legislator frequently about your issue.

Do you send out a newsletter?  Add your legislator to the mailing list. Senator Mathis uses bits and pieces of newsletters sent to her to inform the rest of her constituency about what's happening around the district. She stressed that the people who read her weekly newsletters are politically active and a great audience for your issues. 

What else should I know?
Remember to be aware of any policies your school district may have about political action. To be safe, send messages and make phone calls outside of your work day and from your own personal email. Sending general information about your program (like newsletters) is safe to do from your work email - it's just information and not a push for policy change.

Don't be afraid to talk to your legislators. Their job is to listen to us and make Iowa a better state. We have a lot to say, so we might as well say it to those who can help us make positive change!


Book Review: The Geography of You & Me, by Jennifer Smith


If you are meant to be together, will distance make a difference?  In The Geography of You and Me, by Jennifer Smith (The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight), Owen and Lucy’s story starts in an elevator in New York during a black-out.  Their meeting is completely coincidental--although they live in the same building, Lucy’s well-to-do family has lived there her entire life, and Owen and his father have just arrived from Pennsylvania to take a job as the building manager after Owen’s mother passed away.  They are both alone during the black-out, with their families out of town, so they spend the evening on the roof, talking and gazing at the stars that are surprisingly visible in the sudden darkness.

But once the blackout ends, circumstances rip them apart.  Owen’s dad loses his job and they set off on a road trip across America, looking for work and a place they can call home.  Lucy’s often-absent parents decide to move to Scotland for a job opportunity, and Lucy actually gets to accompany them this time.  While Owen travels, he sends postcards to Lucy, and Lucy replies through email.  But can their tenuous relationship withstand time, distance, and the distractions of life?

The Geography of You and Me is a well-written, light-hearted story, with several serious themes, including finding a place where you belong, absentee parents, and grieving the loss of a loved one.  Although the storyline is a little predictable, you are still invested in both Lucy and Owen as characters, and want them to come together in the end.  The premise is slightly unrealistic, but weirder things have happened in love stories.  Recommended for readers who like Sarah Dessen, Susane Colasanti, Jenny Han, and other young adult romances.

Your Connections to the Iowa Library Association Conference 2014

Subdivision mtg @IowaASL #iowatl


-Stay tuned for more information about the conference.
-Thank you Kathy Kaldenberg for supplying us with this information!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Iowa Teacher Librarians represent at SLJ Summit



ILA Executive Board members attended SLJ Summit this weekend.
Left to right
Dixie Forcht, Vice-President/President Elect; Christine Sturgeon, President; Alicia Patton, Awards Committee Chair; Sue Inhelder, Secretary/Treasurer