This article is a shortened version of an AASL article by Georgina Trebbe (Minnechaug Regional High School) and Deeth Ellis (Boston Latin School).
MSLA jumped into action, developing the Massachusetts Virtual School Librarian (VSL). The goal of VSL was to immediately fill the anticipated information and reading literacy needs of all Massachusetts students, educators, school administrators, and families. Members of the Massachusetts School Library Association’s (MSLA) Advocacy Committee, along with board leadership, immediately asked ourselves, how can we directly provide both informational and reading literacy sources, along with instructional supports that reach all Massachusetts students, educators, administrators, and families?
MSLA President Laura Luker is the Library Teacher at Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School in Hadley, MA.
Dear MSLA Members,
I don’t believe I’m overstating things when I say that we are now working through one of the toughest challenges our profession has faced. All educators are being asked to innovate at breakneck pace, exhibit grace and flexibility on a daily basis, and to keep education moving along for our students. School librarians specifically are faced with the task of figuring out how we fit into the bigger distance learning picture, knowing we need to continue to educate the students and adults we consider our patrons despite all the challenges thrown our way.
I am proud that we are all doing our best to keep information flowing to those we serve. I’ve seen many of you agonize over how best to get reading material (physical or virtual) into the hands of your students. How to distribute devices to those who might not otherwise have access. How to make sure that students can connect and that teachers have the skills they need. And you’ve done all of this while balancing the needs of your own families, your own communities, and yourselves.
Felicia Quesada Montville is the Library Teacher at Charles E. Brown Middle School in Newton, MA,
and the winner of a 2020 MSLA Web Seal of Excellence.
When I sat down to write my first Forum article back in January, I brainstormed a list of topics, settling on two for my winter and spring articles. Little did I know that my first article’s topic, using social media to connect with students, would suddenly become even more relevant as we moved to connecting with students solely online. Nor did I realize that my second idea would need to go right out the window — what help is an article about genrefying a collection when no one can access their libraries? Back to the drawing board it was.
And while there’s no shortage of pieces out there highlighting the amazing things people are doing from home, life in quarantine is simply all I could wrap my head around. What does middle school librarianship look like from home? Much of our time connecting with students in school is during unstructured extension blocks — the library is the heart of the school, a gathering place in addition to a classroom. How do we recreate that safe space online? And while our libraries are about so much more than the books and the lessons, there are also the books and the lessons! How do we ensure that our students keep reading and learning important information literacy skills?
Francesca Mellin is the Head Librarian at The Pike School in Andover.
If you’re like me, you may find yourself glued to your laptop on a certain Monday morning in January, cheering gleefully (while others in the library wonder what in the world you’re watching)! The Youth Media Awards, announced at ALA’s annual Midwinter meeting, are undoubtedly a major event for book lovers. The Newbery, Caldecott, and Coretta Scott King Awards have traditionally been at the forefront of media coverage... and can sometimes outshine the other awards. ALA itself has been gradually giving increased recognition to awards given by its affiliates. In the past two years, announcements of literature awards given by the American Indian Library Association, Asian Pacific American Library Association, and the Association of Jewish Libraries have been made at the Youth Media Award breakfast, welcome news indeed for those of us promoting multicultural and inclusive literature in our libraries.
The picture book honorees for 2020 represent a wide array of experiences and themes, expressed through stunning art coupled with engaging text. Let’s take a closer look at some of my favorites.
Margaret Kane Schoen is a Library Teacher at Newton South High School
and a winner of a 2020 Super Librarian Award.
What can you do when you can’t get into your library? It might seem like this is a time when projects can’t get done, after all, we don’t have access to anything in our libraries - no books, no displays, no maker spaces. But any quiet time you have right now can be an excellent opportunity to tend to digital projects that require mostly your attention and a computer.
You won’t necessarily be able to finish all of these - some are starters for projects that you can work on once you’re back. But getting all the online drudgery out of the way now means you’ll be able to focus on the fun part - the students and the books! - once you're back.
(And of course - some of us have no quiet time. Everyone’s home work space is different right now, so don’t feel guilty if you can’t get to these.)
Jennifer Mason Stott is the Library Teacher at King Open School in Cambridge, and a recipient of a 2019 MA Super Librarian Award .
Students come to school with a wide range of experience, some joyful, some traumatic. In 2017-2018, I took a course on trauma-informed practice and thought about the role of the library. While librarians are not therapists, we can provide experiences that help students feel cared for and important. After seeing my first grade students’ response to the book Extra Yarn, I turned an author-illustrator study of Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen into an art-making collaborative. We would yarn-bomb the recess yard! The result: the King Open Art Fence.
Ms. Samantha Silag is the Library Teacher at Manchester Memorial Elementary School.
Remember the good old days…back in February? At that time, I wrote an article for the Winter Forum about how important it is for parents to know us Library Teachers by name. At the time, I had no idea just how true, almost prophetic even, my message in that piece would prove to be just a few weeks later when MA schools closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Now, as we are in the thick of remote teaching/distance learning (call it what you will), I find that the ability to reach out to K-5 parents and make it stick to their overloaded radar is critical to keep the “school library” present and participatory during these overwhelming times. And, to keep our school community connected and comforted by the familiar.
Remote Learning Resources
Crowd sourced by your excellent MSLA Librarians, compiled by Reba Tierney.
It is so easy to become overwhelmed with all of the online resources available right now. This column is a space to share some ideas and favorite resources. We have a few suggestions from our MSLA members, but if you are using something that is working well for you, and your students, please share in the comment section.
Virtual School Librarian
This resource is a collaboration between the Massachusetts Library System (MLS) and the Massachusetts School Library Association (MSLA). This site ensures that all students and teachers have the services of a school librarian to find high-quality information, tools and strategies to continue developing media literacy and research skills. This page includes digital resources available to each person in Massachusetts either through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners or through the Boston Public Library with an e-card. There is also a virtual "Ask a School Librarian" service.