Wednesday, February 25, 2015

IASL Crisis Toolkit...Fighting for Our Jobs

As I ponder the future of school librarianship, I think that IASL needs a crisis toolkit (like the AASL toolkit) that meets the needs of teacher librarians in Iowa.

It is that time of year again with some experiencing uncertainty about the status of their jobs working as a teacher librarian in Iowa. 

The vast inequity between our positions affects us all. This problem is a huge challenge to solve. Librarians have been around since the ancient world. 

I have a feeling that awareness is key right now and that I need to tune in. 

Who is affected and where is this happening? 

What or who is getting in the way for us to become leaders in our library programs and the process of integrating technology?  We are known for being adaptable, flexible, and among the most educated in K-12 schools. Some of us being left out with our job titles/classifications/descriptions not evolving as tech integrationists concerns me.  

What can we do to help? How can we be resilient? Life can not be without difficulties, life is full of challenges.  We are resourceful and committed to our profession. 

Perhaps those of us in the boat of uncertainty need some help knowing more than best practices. We need to be able to hold on to fight another year and beyond. 

It is startling to me the lack of awareness in some of our educational communities ignoring our superhero abilities. 

I am inspired by the wisdom that surrounds us in our community but I am concerned that some of us may not have a future. 

In school librarianship that is.  Not all of us will survive the onslaught of misunderstanding our roles, perceiving us not as instructional staff, and the failure to embrace us as leaders. 

We are curious, value content and eager to share our knowledge creating a rich information rich society. 

It almost feels like an attack on our values that we hold true aligned with democracy. 

We need strength in numbers and I believe that our organizational membership numbers will be adversely affected. 

Our motto is equal access to information. Can we collectively create an IASL Crisis toolkit to support those needing help to reach their full potential as active participants in our profession? 

When it comes to fighting for our jobs I think that we need to be strategically positioned to help others in a formal way on record so we are prepared for whatever circumstances come our way. 

My opinion is that we need to create an IASL crisis toolkit. 

Thank you to everyone who supports IASL and all the people on the legislative front lines advocating for us!!!

A special shout out to Diane Martinson who inspired me to write this post. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Time to speak up!

Today is the day!  

Call or email your legislator about issues important to our patrons: Libraries!

Not sure what to talk about?  Find some talking points and our legislative agenda here:

Monday, February 23, 2015

Just Ask & A Librarian Will Respond

Like the Nike ad says just do it, I say just ask.

A recent slik-12 post inquired about establishing school library online help desks.  The Vision for Iowa's School Libraries states that we are strategically positioned to connect communities of learners in virtual and physical spaces.

I stumbled upon the web link in Florida called Ask a Librarian: The Human Service Engine. I am very curious about this type of service. Is it possible that regional Iowa AEA's could work together to create library online help desks? I think that this has best practice potential and shows that library learning extends past the physical walls. 

Since the Google chat option for students in my district has been disabled other than email or stopping by the library in person, I wonder what an online help desk would look like in schools. 

Any ideas? 

Just asking. :)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Next Tuesday! Contact your Representatives!

Tuesday, February 24th is ILA's annual Lobby from Home Day - be sure to contact your legislators about libraries and what we offer to our patrons!

But why not get patrons in on the action as well?

Here is a bookmark (Microsoft Publisher file) for you to personalize, post on social media, and print to give to your patrons to ask them to call your local representatives and say how important your library is to their lives.   

You can find your local representatives here:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

IASL T-Shirts For Sale!

Order your IASL t-shirt now!

Long sleeve, navy blue, cotton shirt with white IASL logo
$15 for orders picked up at IASL conference in Des Moines this April
or $20 to ship to your home or school
·         Total payment must be included with this order
·         Make checks out to ILA/IASL
·         Sorry, no cash, credit card, or purchase orders

Orders due by Friday, March 27, 2015 to:
Diane Brown                                                  
Central Middle School Library
901 Cedar St
Muscatine, IA 52761

ORDER FORM - Please print clearly                         Date:

Email:                                                                                                 Phone:


Size: S to XXXL

Fit: Regular or Ladies

Pick up at conference $15
or ship to this address $20:


The work of IASL highlighted on TL News Night

Monday February 16, the activities of the Iowa Association of School Librarians were highlighted during the monthly TL News Night live broadcast. Nikki Robertson emceed the program and representing our organization were: Dixie Forcht, President, Christine Sturgeon, Past President and Kathy Kaldenberg, Conference and Professional Development Co-Chair. Ian Coon, co-founder of the Iowa Student Leadership Institute also joined the panel.

Take time to watch this very informative chat! You might be surprised by the range of initiatives taken by your association on your behalf.

Check out the #tlchat hashtag for the online questions and discussion.

Here are the slides used during the hangout.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

IASL Member spotlight: Kate Lechtenberg

Thanks to Diane Brown for conducting this interview!

In 75-100 words, tell us who you are

I majored in English (UI 2002) and talked English for ten years because I’ve always been a story person, I became an English teacher because I love talking with people about reading and writing stories, and now I’m a librarian (UI 2011) because I’ve finally realized that stories are everywhere—and it’s a librarian’s job to help people uncover and connect all kinds of stories.  

In one or two sentences, tell us what your current professional position.

As the teacher librarian at Northview Middle School in Ankeny, Iowa, I spend my days working with 8th and 9th grade students and teachers on research, information literacy, reading, and more.

Your current job

How do you know if you have made progress?

I know I’ve made progress with students when they start asking thoughtful questions or start talking about connections between skills and content in other subject areas.  I know I’ve made progress with teachers when they come to me and say things like “Can we talk about authentic audiences for my students’ next inquiry project?” instead of “Can you pull all the books about rocks?”

Advice and Inspiration

What is a cause or issue that is important to you in librarianship?

The freedom to read is extremely important to me, but just as important is the need for open communication between librarians, teachers, students, and parents.  As librarians we can’t just trumpet the freedom to read and create cute displays during Banned Books Week; we have a responsibility to use the library to create a safe space for conversations about both the questions books raise with us and the parts of ourselves that books reflect and illuminate. The freedom to read is nothing without the freedom to discuss the ideas we find in books.

Just for Fun

If you could have one visitor to your library for a day who would it be and why?

I’d bring John Green to my school because I think he’s basically the whole package—for teachers and for students.  Through service work like the Project for Awesome and educational YouTube channels like VlogBrothers and CrashCourse, John Green and his brother Hank are reaching the best parts of young people in a vibrant, intelligent ways that makes me smile, cry, and strive to be more like them.  If John Green came to our school, we would be reminded that thinking is cool, books are awesome, and helping people comes naturally from learning.
Print or digital materials?

Print.  I love holding books in my hand.

If you would like me to link to your or your library’s website, please provide the link.

You can reach me out.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Teacher Librarian Program: Catalyst for Student Success

This article from University of Iowa Graduate College School of Library and Information Science newsletter features IASL member, Chris Kolarik.

Republished with permission. 

Lobby from Home Day - February 24th!

Tuesday, February 24th is ILA's annual Lobby from Home Day - be sure to contact your legislators about libraries and what we offer to our patrons!

But why not get patrons in on the action as well?

Here is a bookmark (Microsoft Publisher file) for you to personalize, post on social media, and print to give to your patrons to ask them to call your local representatives and say how important your library is to their lives.   

You can find your local representatives here:

Monday, February 9, 2015

2015-2016 IASL Book Lists

With voting for your favorite books from the Goldfinch, ICCA, IHBA, and the Iowa Teen lists just around the corner, here's a sneak peek at the titles for next year's lists. 

Iowa Goldfinch 2015-2016

Iowa Children's Choice 2015-2016

Iowa Teen 2015-2016

Iowa High School 2015-2016

Instilling a Life-Long Love for Reading

In our K-12 library worlds, how can we generate creativity and support curiosity for the written word?


During this week when love is highlighted on Valentines Day, I hope that the love for reading is expressed daily.

Reading is Tweet - library bulletin board inspiration

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Book Review: No Place to Fall, by Jaye Robin Brown

Amber lives in a little podunk town near the Appalachian Trail, and she wants to escape.  Not because she hates her small world, but because she just wants to sing.  She loves singing more than anything, but she doesn’t think she’ll ever get away and reach a bigger audience than her church on Sunday morning.  She’s known as a “good girl,” but she somehow she becomes entangled in a web between her sister’s no-good, drug-dealing husband, the new boys in town that might know too much about her, and an old friend that may become something more.  When an opportunity comes up to audition for a select music school, Amber jumps at the chance.  But will her web of bad choices prevent her from making the move she wants most in the world?

No Place to Fall, by Jaye Robin Brown, is about a good girl who makes all the wrong choices.  She has lofty dreams, but the choices she makes do not seem to be leading towards a happy ending.  No Place to Fall is appropriate for teen readers (some mature content), but overall will appeal to readers of Sarah Dessen, Susanne Colasanti, Jennifer Smith, and other young adult writers of realism/romance.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Busy Librarians, Blizzards, and Books…Oh My!!!

My experience at ALA Midwinter (Kristina Hart)


What an amazingly fun and overwhelming experience for a first timer to attend an ALA conference.  I just knew I was in the company of great people when everyone I met recognized my scarf as Harry Potter’s Gryffindor instead of Iowa Cyclones!  It was also amazing to be in the presence of so many librarians, people who support libraries, and so many forward thinkers!

Exhibit Hall

There is no way I can describe to you how HUGE this place was.  I was so excited to go in that I was actually 1st in line.  Apparently the photographer thought that was pretty funny.  He asked me if I was more interested in the books or the food- I had no clue, I was just happy to be there.  He kept taking my picture and the crazy lady next to me.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised we made the front page of the ALA newspaper the next morning.  Yes, that would be me with my Iowa shirt and Harry Potter scarf!

I had 5 bags totally full of free books within the 1st 10 minutes of the opening of the exhibit hall.  I made many, many trips.  Getting these free books is HUGE!  Especially since the library budget in both my schools was eliminated!  When I left the conference on Monday, my little car was packed to the brim with new books (almost 12 boxes full!)  That, in itself, would make the conference worthwhile.  They also have food, posters, bookmarks, etc. 

Meeting Authors 

Hopefully, you can all appreciate the enormity of this, but I got to meet Mike Mullin.  Not only did he sign my book and take a picture with me, but he talked to me for 15 minutes!  He was very excited when he heard I worked in Anamosa, Iowa.  So, guess what?  He said he would LOVE To come to Iowa to do some author visits!  So, if any of you are interested in having him come, maybe we can split the cost ($600 per day plus expenses).  Feel free to contact me at:
 I am hoping to get him next fall.  He was such a sweet and funny guy!

I also got to meet Tom Angleberger.  Another personable guy!  He also signed my books, took a picture with me, and gave me Origami Yoda stickers that smell like pickles!  He even drew a rat in my book for me.  Such a nice guy!

Listening to Levar Burton

One of the biggest highlights was listening to Levar Burton (from Reading Rainbow and Star Trek) speak.  He is one of the most eloquent and inspirational speakers I have heard.  You MUST get his new book. Right now.  It is called “The Rhino who swallowed a storm.”  He read it to us and I totally cried.  He talked about the importance of books that help children to deal with obstacles or tragedies in their lives; that is ok to talk about depression or sadness.  He talked about his mother and said she didn’t just read to him, she read IN FRONT of him and that her love for reading impacted him in a huge way.  He also talked with great respect about those who paved the way for him like Fred Rogers, Alex Haley, and Nichelle Nichols.  He did a question and answer session as well.  I could seriously sit and listen to him all day. 

What else?

How about technology you can wear?  Great ideas on makerspaces and gaming in the library!  And so much more!  My only regret was not having a chance to meet Cece Bell in person and have her sign my book L  The line to meet her was always really long.  Maybe next time?

Funny Moments 

1.  Trying to use my secret stealthy ninja skills to take a picture of Cornel West when I saw he was on the escalator behind me and then I promptly tripped as the escalator ended and this is all I got…hopefully he got a good laugh out of it.

2.  You know you read too much (actually is there such a thing?) when you discover a huge mini-mall under your hotel and the 1st thing you think of is "if the zombie apocalypse happens right now, I am set!"  Then, as you peruse said hidden mini-mall, you go out into the blizzard to get Jimmy Johns subs only to find that the door is locked and now you must run outside in the blizzard, without a coat, in tennis shows, in 10 inches of snow, to get back into the hotel…


I met and connected with people from ALL over: Dallas, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Missouri, Kansas, etc.  We talked, shared ideas, swapped business cards…it was amazing to meet so many people just like me!
I highly recommend attending.  It is worth every minute.  If you need some ideas on how to make your case to attend, use this website: ALA: Why You'll Be More Valuable .  The view was gorgeous (view from my hotel) and it is well worth your time!

Thank you to Kristina Hart for this blog post! 

Monday, February 2, 2015

A Blizzard of Activity at #alamw15

One of the biggest snowfalls of all-time in Chicago did not put a damper on the ALA Midwinter Conference there this weekend. Librarians from all over the world converged on the Windy City to meet and discuss issues key to librarianship and literacy.

As Iowa's delegate to the American Association of School Librarians,  it was my responsibility to attend two Affiliate Assembly meetings. It was exciting to meet representatives of many states who are dedicated to helping AASL fulfill its mission to empower leaders to transform teaching and learning.

Especially exciting this year was the announcement of a new advocacy campaign. Buttons that say "Ask Me How School Libraries Transform Learning" were distributed to state leaders along with business cards with talking points. These talking points can be used in an elevator speech or walk down the hall. I will touch on these individual talking points in an upcoming post.

A couple other highlights include:  
* Teaching through Games is another great initiative of Roger Rosen and Rosen Classroom. A key member of this program is Christopher Harris, an outspoken librarian on the role games play in learning. It would be great to get the Iowa AEAs to purchase class sets of some of these games. Take a look at for more details.

* Swag. Newcomers to ALA events may be overwhelmed by the amount of freebies offered to librarians at conferences such as ALA Annual and ALA Midwinter. Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) of books not yet published, bags, pens, bookmarks, buttons, posters, chocolates and candies are just a few incentives vendors offer to enter their booths. 

* Makerspaces. With so much time in meetings, I did not explore the vendors as much as I have in past years. This was probably the most interesting section of the exhibit hall and YALSA has an excellent handout for librarians who are interesting in creating or expanding makerspace in their school or library.

To learn more about ALA Midwinter, check out the hashtag #alamw15 back channel.

ALA Midwinter Chicago, ALA Youth Media Awards & Twitter Updates

Instead of catch the wave catch the snowdrift. 

American Library Association

Catch the latest information and news at ALA Midwinter in Chicago.


American Library Association Youth Media Awards

Discover recent award winning titles to potentially update and/or diversify your library collection ALA Youth Media Awards.
For more information visit ALA webcast & I Love Libraries


Be sure to catch Twitter updates from Becky Johnson our IASL AASL Delegate with hashtags #iowatl and #alamw15. 


Stay warm and stay informed.