Francesca Mellin is the Head Librarian at The Pike School in Andover
In these turbulent times, I find myself looking for silver linings and “small wins” wherever I can. I am encouraged by the increasing number of Native folks serving in Congress and the recent commitment by a professional football team to change an offensive team name. The number of books published by Native creators is on the rise, and recognition of problematic narratives is generating much-needed conversation. Just in time for Indigenous Peoples’ Day on October 12, here is a selection of recent picture books that reflect a wide array of Native perspectives, identities, and activism.
Laura Beals D’Elia is the Library Teacher at the Armstrong Elementary School in Westborough.
Each year, ALA partners with the Sharjah International Book Fair and Sharjah International Library Conference in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates to send two American school librarians to present at the conference as a way to bridge cultures and share best practices. This past November, Andrea Trudeau @Andrea_Trudeau and I were honored to represent the United States as the two school librarians. We could feel the weight of this honor as we followed in the footsteps of school librarians such as Sherry Gick @sherryngick, Andy Plemmons @plemmonsa, Todd Burleson @todd_burleson, and MSLA’s very own Wendy Garland @dancelibrarian.
There is so much to say. Summarizing or condensing this experience feels impossible, yet I will try. In 1990, Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop wrote about the idea that books can be “Mirrors, Windows, or Sliding Glass Doors.” Once I stepped foot off the plane in Dubai, it was obvious to me that this concept could also apply to experiences and I wondered where I would find mirrors and where would I find windows?
Susan Harari is the librarian at Boston Latin School
and received a 2018 Super Librarian Award.
As I drove home from my elementary school library at the end of another busy day, traffic began to thicken. All Things Considered droned in the background as I mentally composed a to-do list for an upcoming third grade ELA project. A story about how libraries had moved beyond books caught my attention; a library that checks out fishing poles or tool kits, or ...people? Despite the brief description (and nail-biting road conditions), I caught enough to find the Human Library’s website later that evening, and read about Ronni Abergel and the project’s idealistic origins in Copenhagen. The Human Library describes itself as “a worldwide movement for social change,...designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue.” It sounded amazing…and also like something I could never pull off in an elementary school, so I filed it away.
Nancy Snow is the librarian at Bancroft Elementary School in Andover
and is a recipient of a 2018 Super Librarian Award
It is that time of year again. Fall, the beginning of a new school year. You can feel the excitement in the air, but in my library something is missing. Oh, yes. My fabulous fifth grade library assistants have moved on to Middle School and I have a serious lack of help. What to do? It’s time to start recruiting again.
Jennifer Kelley Reed is the Library Teacher at Mason-Rice Elementary School in Newton
and received a 2018 Service Award from MSLA.
It was my honor to receive the Massachusetts School Library Association Service Award this past spring. I’ve been thinking about this award that recognizes school librarian dedication and leadership at the state and national level and why I received it. I can sum up my thoughts in four words: because I said, “Yes.”
Because I said, “Yes,” I have had fabulous opportunities and experiences.
My “yeses” have taken me on some fabulous state and national leadership journeys: serving on the MSLA Executive Board; being an representative to the AASL Affiliate Assembly; presenting at local, state, regional and national conferences; writing articles for journals and publications; and, serving on the Schneider Family Book Award Jury.
Rachael Keller Bouhanda is the Library Media Specialist at Billerica Memorial High School
and received the 2018 Ellen Berne Pathfinder Award
Many of us are solo-librarians and perhaps have felt alone being in a unique position in the building. Personally as a mother of young children I have also felt alone and quietly suffered from postpartum depression off and on for the last five years. I have gratefully had many professional successes over the last few years, despite my personal obstacles. This topic tends to be taboo but, maybe you have also gone through the same situation or something similar; Know that you are not alone even though you may often feel that way. Realize that we are human and our physical and mental health are so important, remember to take time for self-care.
Courtney Ahearn is the lead elementary librarian for the North Andover Public Schools, working at both the Sargent and Thomson Elementary Schools and received a 2017 President's Award.
I have a sneaking suspicion that many elementary librarians have some kind of theater background. We’re a generally colorful bunch, we’ve got to have the drive to captivate an audience, and we tend to give every character in a story their own unique accent. While I’ve only ever dabbled in the theater, I do feel that one particular branch of dramaturgy has a lot to offer, specifically to library media specialists who are employed in districts who are working to rebuild library programs from the ground up, and that is improv.
Every September the school nurse at our high school announces that we have a new student with serious, life threatening allergies and that no food will be allowed in any classroom. We wonder who this student is so we can be mindful. This student could go into anaphylactic shock in the library. I’ve practiced plunging an epi pen into an orange just like everyone else, but I do not want to do this in real life.
When the announcement is made, we acknowledge that we have not officially allowed food in the classrooms for years, yet every year we have food in the classrooms, the hallways, in the library, in staff offices. Administrators stock large urns with candy to lure students into their gingerbread houses. We’ve seen our principal walk down the hallway with the urn in his arms, a smile on his face. But, no more. This year it will be different. This year we mean it.
Amy Fiske is the Librarian at Wellesley High School and winner of a 2016 MSLA web seal of excellence award
As I sit down to write this article, I am partway through a multi-year process to change the culture in our high school library. I am changing it in a direction that will surprise some, who may remember me presenting at MSLA on the subject of Innovation Centers in school libraries. However, not every new trend is appropriate in every setting. What I and my colleagues have learned in the last three years is that it may be far more effective to find the niche that is empty at your school...and then fill it.