ESEA and Defining Effective School Library Programs

Unfortunately, not many non-school librarians understand what an effective school library program entails. Why does this matter? The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is about to be voted into law by Senate on Tuesday, December 8. The new Education Act will replace the No Child Left Behind Act that was last authorized in 2001. The updated ESEA includes new provisions for school libraries. It will, for example, authorize local plans to describe how the Local Education Agency (LEA) will “assist schools in developing effective school library programs to provide students an opportunity to develop digital literacy skills and improve academic achievement.”

It’s easy to bemoan the fact that SoCal campus libraries are understaffed, underdeveloped, and under-utilized. But now is not the time to express bitterness about the lack of school librarian positions or to throw around quotes from the state-adopted, too often ignored, model library standards. Now is the time to clearly and simply define “effective school library programs.”

What follows is what I’ve been using with some success. Consider it my mantra.

Basically, school libraries serve three main purposes on campus.

1. Space – The school library is a student-centered space. All students should feel comfortable coming to the library to study, to read, to research, and to collaborate. In many cases, the library serves as a classroom and meeting space, not only for students, but for teachers and parents as well. Therefore, school libraries need to be welcoming and “transformative” – able to adapt to a campus’s ever-evolving needs.

2. Resources – The school library is a provider of resources. Its physical and online resources support the school’s curriculum, standards, as well as self-directed student inquiry… beyond Google.

2. Services – The school library is a provider of services. Library tours, live demonstrations, and/or online tutorials about how to access and use information independently and ethically help to build students’ 21st century digital citizenship skills. Author visits, crafting corners, or makerspaces offer students extended learning opportunities.

These three combined purposes create an effective school library (SL) program. Fully functional SL programs have been proven to improve academic achievement. It’s exciting to know that, after 50 years, federal legislation is finally authorizing the use of funds to support school libraries.

To learn more about the language about school libraries included in the new ESEA, read the ALA – ESEA Conference Overview (11-30-15). If you haven’t yet contacted your Senate Rep, consider doing so tomorrow (Monday, 12/17) right before they vote on December 8. Keep your fingers crossed.


LCAP and Meaninful School Library Stats

I recently witnessed how a school district is evaluated and scrutinized by the government. My takeaway from this experience was hugely revealing. I learned that if I can’t prove that my school library is meeting the student needs that have been identified in my district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), then my library has lost not only its purpose, but its funding as well! Continue reading


Deb Ford & New Beginnings

I was lucky enough to hear Deb Ford speak at the recent CSLA Fall Workshop in Pasadena. Both her keynote speech and break out session about social media inspired me. When I get inspired, I write.

It’s hard to find time to do so, though, because School Librarians have LOTS to do. Most tasks involve long term planning and tiny, incremental steps towards seeing the final fruits of our labor. It’s easy to feel like nothing gets DONE at the end of the work-day. Deb Ford’s keynote address reminded attendees that we are not alone in feeling this way. Continue reading

c/o Pixaby

School Library Job Interview Tips

I’ve just finished both participating in and conducting interviews for two separate school librarian positions. As I write this post, Edjoin includes 52 listings with “library” in the title. Based on what I’ve been hearing from some of my library colleagues, California may be getting a clue about the importance of the school librarian position. Continue reading


Eight Story Hour Suggestions

Attendees leave Story Hour, books in hand, empowered to dive into literacy on their own with ease, confidence, and enthusiasm. That’s all because librarians spark interest in reading and learning FOR PLEASURE. No other group is more devoted to their cause. Teachers are trained to teach students how to read. Educated parents may encourage the habit. But librarians are masters at demonstrating the FUN of exploring the written world. Nowhere else is this magical mastery evident then at a public library’s Story Hour. Continue reading

Brandy Melville – The Nitty Gritty Review

IMG_20150119_185523258Someone wandered into a Brandy Melville and purchased two sweaters for me for Christmas. Unfortunately, both were short-waisted, meaning a 6-foot gal like me could never wear either without some sort of disastrous social repercussions. Plus one of them had a hole in the collar. Therefore, I elected to return them both. That’s when I ran into problems.

Problem #1: Communist Clothes – The store itself is done up in beach-y and shabby chic pastels. That’s fine and all. But when ALL of the clothes are black, white, or grey in color, and “one size” fits all, one wonders if there might be a hidden agenda here. Continue reading

Time Tips from a Tabbed-Out Librarian

IMG_0001_NEWWhen you have too much in your brain to process during your work day, you are tabbed-out. Welcome to my world.

Many librarians are working in an understaffed library situations where most of the day is spent on the floor responding to immediate requests for assistance. Then, when all is finally quiet (like, when we’re supposed to be sleeping), our brain invents resolutions to problems and comes up with new programs to try.

One of my bosses gave me this note after I’d complained how little I sleep when I’m overly excited about work. It’s posted above my desk at home. Well, I’ve gotten tired of not sleeping! (No pun intended.) So, in honor of the New Year, I’ve listed some good habits that may help you and I both to manage our day-time schedules better and allow time for thinking… and, perhaps potty breaks as well. Continue reading