MSLA President Laura Luker is the Library Teacher at Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School in Hadley, MA.
As I write this, I am looking out my window onto a snowy and frigid landscape, longing for warmer weather and the ability to be outside more often. When the pandemic began last spring, I remember thinking to myself “thank goodness we’re not dealing with this in the depths of winter!” At that point, no one would have ever guessed how long it would last and how deeply we’d be affected. However, now that we are in fact dealing with it in the depths of winter I find myself admiring the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity. I think it’s helpful to sit back and take stock of two things: first, that we have persevered so well and second, that we have come so far already.
Francesca Mellin is the Head Librarian at The Pike School in Andover.
If flexibility is the order of the day, then humor is the “secret sauce” for success in these times. In my reading life, I find myself turning to lighthearted fare to counter all that is weighty elsewhere; hence, the focus on humorous picture books for this column.
Jennifer St. Michel is the Library Media Specialist at the Dr. Kevin M. Hurley Middle School in Seekonk, MA.
Being a school librarian means wearing many hats. We manage our libraries, create engaging learning opportunities for our students, curate high quality resources for our teachers, and promote the ethical and appropriate use of technology. Our services have been primarily offered to our teachers, students, and administrators. When the pandemic became widespread in March 2020, my school quickly pivoted from a traditional face to face delivery model to a fully online curriculum. With this change in delivery, I found a new hat to wear: a new audience in need of assistance - parents.
Margaret Kane Schoen is a Library Teacher at Newton South High School
and a winner of a 2020 Super Librarian Award.
When our library team learned that our high school would be starting the year fully remote, one of our first concerns was how we would introduce ourselves and our services to our incoming ninth graders. Normally we do a full class orientation, where new students get a chance to meet us, explore our space, and get familiar with all we have to offer. Limiting that to a website and a Zoom made that difficult! The whole situation was making us feel trapped, so we thought, why not lean in, and design a digital escape room activity to welcome the new students?
Michael Caligiuri is the school librarian at the Florence Sawyer School in Bolton, and a recipient of a 2020 MSLA Super Librarian Award.
Alphabet books have been around for a long time. The first hornbooks designed to teach students the alphabet can be traced back to the 15th century. Alphabet books have come a long way since, “In Adam’s Fall/we sinned all.” I teach in a K-8 school where, in normal times, kids attend a library class once a week. Of all the alphabet books on my shelves, there are a few I read with classes every year and they never get old. They are among my most engaging read alouds.
Anita Cellucci is the Library Teacher at Westborough High School and K-12 Department Head for Libraries at WPS,
and a 2020 recipient of the Peggy Hallisey Lifetime Achievement award.
Michelle Raszl is the Librarian at Mt Everett Regional School (6-12) in Sheffield, MA (Berkshire County).
"As you start to walk out on the way, the way appears." - Rumi
Our small, rural, predominantly white school district in Western Massachusetts has its share of racist and homophobic incidents. And like many other educators, I took these on headfirst, trying to find some common moral ground with students, trying to appeal to their humanity before referring them to the Dean. And then Covid happened. And our ongoing social uprising. For summer enrichment I organized a Community Read of Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi and the remix Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by Jason Reynolds. Concurrently, I was approached by a couple of students who were disgusted by the injustices that they had been seeing perpetrated across our country and dismayed by curricula that neglected to represent the full scope of American perspectives.
Callie Graham is the Teacher Librarian at Burlington High School
and a 2020 recipient of the MSLA President's Award.
Why Do Schools Need Social Emotional Learning (SEL)?
Struggling with a global pandemic, an economic recession, and racial injustices and disparities, today’s students and teachers face overwhelming fears and anxieties that negatively influence mental health and learning (CASEL, 2020; Cipriano, Rappolt-Schlichtmann, & Brackett, 2020; Shafer, 2020). Consequently, “the compounding traumas of this crisis call for schools to rethink what it means to educate the whole child and invest deeply in SEL” (Cipriano, Rappolt-Schlichtmann, & Brackett, 2020, p.6).
Academic Column: School Library Teachers: Becoming Leaders of Online Teaching and Learning Best Practices
Dr. Georgina Trebbe is the Information Specialist/Librarian at the Minnechaug Regional High School.
Whether engaged in full or hybrid online teaching and learning, Massachusetts school districts pivoted to emergency online learning during COVID-19. Emergency online teaching and learning required all-hands-on-deck. The emergency nature of online teaching and learning lead to the challenging of traditional educational practices and perceptions as educators needed to determine what works. During COVID-19 school library teachers were especially challenged with threatened position cuts and reassignments (Witteveen, 2020). Through these challenges, school library teachers creatively determined safe methods for providing traditional services, utilized their technology expertise for instructing K-12 educators and students how to use and apply new online tools (AASL, 2020; Witteveen, 2020).
Laura Harrington is the Library Media Specialist at North Andover High School, and a recipient of a 2020 MSLA Super Librarian Award.
As I sat in Barbara Mahoney and Kim Claire’s workshop, Game of Tomes: An Independent Reading Collaboration, at Teen Library Summit X, I broke out in goosebumps. The day before, October 3, 2018, the head of guidance at my school, North Andover High School, sent out a call for new course proposals.
I immediately emailed Christy Morley, a NAHS English teacher who had been increasing her students’ independent reading time. I enthusiastically supported Christy’s ideas to restructure her class time, providing students reading time in class and trips to the school library for book shopping. I had a feeling that Christy and I might be able to make an Independent Reading elective a reality at our school. She replied within the hour later that she wanted to have a meeting the following day.
Liz Cammilleri is the Library Media and Technology Integration Specialist at Venerini Academy In Worcester, MA
and a recipient of a 2020 MSLA President's Award.
Teachers are under so much pressure to increase testing scores, and to justify all that is done in their classrooms by showing a correlation between scores and curriculum. The library is not exempt from this, and it can feel like our best practices, and the heart and passion in learning can fall at the wayside. There are things that so many of us do in our libraries that we know are right, but I wanted to be able justify what I do and why. I decided to investigate if there was value in building reading communities in order to increase achievement. I wanted to leave the idea of achievement vague, as it can mean anything from increased test scores, to simply learning to love reading. I would venture to say that while these two things may be on the opposite ends of school based assessment, that they are linked to one another. I am a school librarian, and my life is about teaching students to love reading. I truly feel that reading is the key to lifelong success and by researching this question, I can better help my readers. We begin our early days learning to read, and then at about 3rd grade, it switches to reading to learn. Knowledge comes from reading. Success comes from knowledge. And humans are social people. I wanted to find out how reading affects achievement, and if social reading plays a role. I focused my inquiry mostly in two areas, looking for data to show that reading does affect achievement, and then what and how reading communities encourage reading.
Valerie Diggs is a former President of MSLA and currently works as a Senior Visiting Instructor at Salem State University, where she also serves as the Graduate Program Coordinator of the MEd Library Media Studies program.
I work in a public high school. I was surprised when I stumbled upon the Bible in the religious section of the stacks. I wondered if other schools have the Bible in their collection.
Should the Bible sit on the shelves of a school library? Whether you are brand new to a school library and just trying to figure out what is on the shelves, or a seasoned professional, questions concerning religious materials on the shelves of a school library are not uncommon. As professionals, we need to hit the pause button here and ask why. What is it about religious materials on the shelves that elicits such concern?
Patsy Divver is the School Librarian at Millis Middle/High School and the MetroWest Co-Area Director.
If there has ever been a time for creativity and imagination around schools and libraries -- this is it! Over this school year, school librarians have been exploring so many innovative ways of connecting with students: virtual libraries and classes, remote and curbside book circulation, online games and book groups… the list goes on!
Yet with all the focus on student and teacher interaction, very often the School Librarian is - again- a singleton in search of support! Joining the zoom of 100 staff members does not necessarily give you that encouragement needed. So many of us are finding, with the multitude of tools and platforms now available (and expected) for our use, it’s as if we were all “newbie librarians.”
One solution: our MSLA Collaborative Connection! The listserv is always a vital resource for assistance and information -- ask a question and get the wisdom and expertise of numerous answers! Still, to help with the isolation that is now a daily part of COVID, and often a regular part of the school experience, why not try “attending” a VIRTUAL Area Meeting?
Maria D'Orsi is the Teacher/Librarian at Medford High School and a recipient of a 2020 MSLA Super Librarian Award.
When I consider the Covid Era, what comes to mind is a list of changes none of us were prepared for; school and library closures, remote teaching, supply shortages, business closures, event cancellations, lost jobs (and lost stipends!), social distancing and mask wearing, to name a few.
And then there are those other, more personal things; fear of Covid, fear of any kind of illness, testing positive (something I have managed to evade so far), loss of family and friends, coworkers and neighbors (something I have NOT been able to avoid), isolation, screen fatigue, weight gain (yup!!), vaccination anxiety, etc.
Kathy Lowe is the former (and now happily retired) MSLA Executive Director and School Librarian.
I certainly touched a nerve when asking what your title is and what you call your space! Thanks to the many colleagues who responded to these questions. The short answer is overwhelmingly in favor of Librarian/School Librarian and Library, with Library Media Specialist and Teacher Librarian, and Library Media Center/Media Center in distant 2nd place. Included below is a spreadsheet with all the responses so you can see the wide variety of titles and place names used. I've also included shared some of the comments I've received.
One constant remains - Regardless of what AASL has decreed, or the verbiage in our contracts, DESE licenses or signs outside our doors, we continue to have differing opinions among ourselves in the profession about what we and our spaces should be called. This makes me wonder if using titles and place names other than the traditional Librarian/Library helps to clarify or confuse our roles and the services and resources we provide