MSLA President Laura Luker is the Library Teacher at Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School in Hadley, MA.
It’s been a wild ride, hasn’t it? As this school year winds its way to a close, and as I write my final Forum article as President, I find myself looking back over the two years of my MSLA presidency with a tinge of disbelief, a ton of gratitude, and a good dose of humility. (And also a sense of humor - which has come in handy in countless situations!)
Reba Tierney is the Library Teacher at Waltham High School, in Waltham, MA.
Hello Forum Readers,
While working and living through a pandemic has been personally and professionally challenging for most everyone, Katherine and I felt it was important to strive for some constancy and support. Which is why we decided to publish the Forum on a regular schedule, even if we didn't have our usual number of articles. The articles that we do receive from our amazing contributors have been timely, valuable, and much appreciated. We hope you continue to find comfort and inspiration in the work of your colleagues, and value in the articles that we are able to publish.
Celebrating our wins seems more important than ever, and one win that I am pleased to announce is the debut of a new Forum column dedicated to Graphic Novels. I know you will enjoy Liza Halley's inaugural column. Liza is a Library Teacher at Plympton Elementary School in Waltham, MA, and has been an avid reader of graphic novels ever since she began reading Jeff Smith’s Bone and Kazu Kihushi’s Amulet series with her eldest son over 14 years ago. She reads every graphic novel for K-6th grader she can get her hands on (and is a big fan of Monstress, Hellboy, and Saga for adults). Liza began teaching PD around how to incorporate graphic novels into the classroom five years ago. She helped plan the panelists and organize the day of the San Diego Public Library’s concurrent teacher librarian Con during the 2018 San Diego ComicCon. She also helped plan the first and second annual Boston Kids Comic Fest (2018 & 2019) a free, kid-friendly comic festival filled with panelists, vendors, workshops and headliners. Welcome Liza! https://bostonkidscomicsfest.org/
And now, on a more bittersweet note, this Spring Forum is the last edition for the indubitably fabulous editor, Katherine Steiger. It has been a privilege and a joy to work with such a dedicated professional, and wonderful human being. Katherine took me under her wing when I came on board as a co-editor, and showed infinite patience as I learned the ropes of the Forum. (Which honestly...I'm still not sure I've got everything down. Thankfully, I know how to find Katherine!) We will miss her so much, but I am confident I can convince her to be a guest contributor every now and then. So, Katherine, I know I speak for all of MSLA when I extend heartfelt thanks and gratitude for all of your service. You will be missed!
Happy reading my Library Friends! Reba Tierney
Liza Halley is the Library Teacher at Plympton Elementary School in Waltham, MA.
In March, I was sitting on the front porch of a friend’s house, about ready to begin the Passover seder. We had a stack of all different kinds of Haggadot - books we use for readings, prayers, and images to go along with the Seder - when a fellow adult seder attendee grabbed Jordan Gorfinkel and Erez Zadok’s beautiful Passover Haggadah Graphic Novel saying, “I’ll take this one. I never learned to read anyway.”
Little did my new friend know, he was sitting next to a librarian who has made it her special mission to disabuse teachers, parents, administration, and students of this very notion: sequential stories - graphic novels, comics, graphic nonfiction - are really books that you read, and your brain is doing a ton of work while you read them. They are for all readers.
Deborah Kreiser-Francis is the Library Media Specialist at Falls and Community Elementary Schools, in North Attleborough, MA.
Libraries are my (very beloved) second career, and it has been a peripatetic route to get here. To make a convoluted story shorter, with my MLIS I was able to qualify for a provisional Library Media Specialist certificate, but needed to complete a teacher prep program to meet the DESE requirements to move up to my initial LMS K-12 certification.
So, although I have four years working as an elementary LMS, I still needed to enroll in an official School Library Teacher program. I chose Simmons, where I needed to complete a series of courses, in addition to a secondary-level practicum. Lucky for me, Diane McKamy, North Attleborough High School (NAHS) librarian extraordinaire, was willing to take me on as a student teacher this semester.
While reviewing the practicum requirements, I immediately focused on what Simmons calls the Major Project, a unit with a minimum of four lessons. Brainstorming a bit, I considered what would be most practical for our current learning situation. With North Attleborough Public Schools, along with many others, in hybrid or remote learning modes, it made sense to me to figure out how students could still access reading materials, regardless of their location.
Barb Fecteau is the Library Media Specialist at Beverly High School in Beverly, MA.
It all started with a not-altogether-undeserved reputation as a fan of liquor. Hey, bourbon is delicious, prove me wrong. At an early conference committee meeting, I believe it was our esteemed president Laura Luker who decided, “We need a signature cocktail for this conference!” But who had the extensive knowledge to craft such a thing? Several people zoomed me a side-eye as my name was mentioned. It was going to take a lot of research and a lot of drinking, but I felt up to the task.
As it became a weekly inquiry - “How’s the cocktail coming, Barb?” it occurred to us that [a] it might be time for an intervention and [b] we all had a hunger (or thirst, if you will) for the more social aspect of the conference.
Margaret Kane Schoen is a Library Teacher at Newton South High School.
One of the long-standing jokes in my house is that Mom knows everything - or if I don’t, I can find out the answer to everything faster than anyone else. Of course! That’s one of the perks of being a librarian - we’re good at searching for information, whether it’s in a database, or just out there on the web. And whether you have been using search engines since the days of Alta Vista, or have grown up in the age of Google we can all use more tips and tricks to become better searchers - and preserve that librarian mystique of “best Internet searchers”.
Felicia Quesada Montville is the Library Teacher at Charles E. Brown Middle School in Newton, MA.
While we are still in the midst of what feels like a never-ending year, September will be here before we know it. The optimist in me sees a blur of back-to-back library orientations, a flurry of check outs as students select their first independent reading books of the year, and sessions training student library helpers. Banned Books Week (September 26th through October 2nd this year) so often sneaks up on me, but at least ALA’s amazing graphics make it easy to put up an engaging and informative display.
Carrie Mathias is the High School Librarian at Silver Lake Regional High School in Kingston, MA., and is the recipient of the 2021 Ellen Berne Innovator Award and Virtual Influencer designation.
I recently had the opportunity to answer questions from a colleague who was thinking about making the move from her current position, into that of a librarian. She asked me, based on my experience as a high school librarian (and former elementary librarian) what my typical day looked like, what my responsibilities were, and what did I think she needed to know before she decided to make the leap?
In answering these questions (while there is no typical day, though I do have daily responsibilities), what kept coming back to was that being a librarian is about more than just finding information and resources or a good book to read, it is about creating a culture that becomes the heartbeat of your school.
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.
Our district (K-8) is kind of a mess with some of the elementary librarians completely doing their own thing so students arrive at the middle school with really varying knowledge. (I think each librarian needs to respond to the individual needs of their own building, but there are some basics every student should have as part of the library curriculum) We have no library director and per usual, no one in the district administration really knows what is happening in the libraries. Some of us think it would make sense to have the middle school librarian also take on the additional role (with increased pay of some sort) of curriculum director. How do you suggest we best present this so administration can see the benefit?
This is a great question and an all-to-familiar scenario. Without anyone to lead and coordinate the library program at the elementary level, it is very obvious that students will arrive at the middle school with a wide variety of knowledge. This is, of course, not what happens in the other academic disciplines, and this is one of the arguments you need to make.
Patsy Divver is the School Librarian at Millis Middle/High School
and a recipient of a 2021 MSLA Service Award.
I was so honored to receive the Service award this year. Since the announcement, I have been reflecting on the idea of “service” and how it can make a difference in our lives and for those we "serve’'.
So, what is “service”? The Oxford Library definitions include “the action of helping or doing work for someone... supplying a public need… performing routine maintenance…” I thought of the summer I waitressed at Howard Johnson’s, learning first-hand about the food service profession. I remembered my grandparents service station where everyone came for gas, car repairs, a cold soda, and gossip. We consider people in the military and armed forces as serving our country, those who assist in churches as altar servers, store assistance as customer service, attention to the needs of people as social service. There’s also a really cool Twilight Zone episode entitled “To Serve Man” (spoiler alert: it’s a cookbook!).
Reba Tierney is the Library Teacher at Waltham High School in Waltham, MA.
Full disclosure: I was a member of the 2021 Conference Planning Committee, and I also joined the Fun Committee subgroup, so this article may be biased!
One of the highlights of my MSLA membership has always been the annual conference. And although the keynote speakers, presenters, and sessions are clutch, it’s also the chance to network and connect with my colleagues that really elevates the conference experience to the next level. I also work in a district that does not pay for me to attend the conference, so it has to be worth my while, especially since I am paying out of pocket. With all this in mind, I was a little apprehensive about an online conference, but I had attended some great online PD, so I was willing to give it a chance. And, I am so glad that I did.