School Library Challenge

McNeil, Lauren


Harper, M., & Schwelik, J. (2013). School library challenge. Knowledge Quest, 42(1), 24-28. Retrieved from

This peer-reviewed article discusses the importance of Library Advisory Committees (LACs), particularly to collaboration and library advocacy. Meghan Harper and Jennifer Schwelik (2013) state that “LACs are established to gather input in the design and development of the school library program” (p. 25). These groups allow the librarian to make “informed decisions” that will have a positive impact on the school community (Harper & Schwelik, 2013, p. 25). The authors essentially outline steps to implement an LAC and aspects such as member recruitment and LAC tasks.

In that vein, the article helpfully offers practical advice for creating an LAC. For example, rather than forming one large LAC, in which some voices may be lost, the authors recommend smaller groups of just one type of stakeholder, which can discuss topics that are unique to them (Harper & Schwelik, 2013, p. 26). They also offer advice regarding types of LAC representatives representing all stakeholder groups and their respective numbers. Meghan Harper and Jennifer Schwelik (2013) assert that beyond school members, “Including community partners such as the YMCA, public library, or other social-service agencies who serve the youth population in the school can help the school library identify possible connections for sharing services or resources and maximize the flow of information and communication among the school librarian and LAC members” (p. 25). For teacher librarians who are interesting in creating an LAC, this article is chalk-full of applicable advice.

What to expect from libraries in the 21st-century

Kourtney Andrighetto


What to expect from libraries in the 21st-century: Pam Sandlian Smith at TEDxMileHigh (December 16, 2013). TEDx Talks. . Retrieved from

In this TED talk, Pam Sandlian views the evolving role of libraries in the 21st-century through the lens of empathy and compassion and supports the belief that libraries are more essential to build community than ever before. Sandlian Smith provides examples of how libraries are the hub of communities and encouraging patrons to create, innovate, and dream. She provides a brief tour of her library in Colorado and an overview of the various programs available to patrons in efforts to build a community of life-long learners.

This is truly an inspirational video to view and reiterates why libraries are essential in building communities of innovation and compassion. One crucial point that Sandlian Smith makes is how the mission of libraries is to create happiness before education. This idea can be applied to educational theories that support developing the whole child rather than focusing strictly on academic developments. If people feel unappreciated, ignored, and unsafe in their environment, how can learning possibly take place? I highly recommend this resource to anyone who supports this philosophy.

Political Ethics: Keeping Your Library Neutral

Aubree Burkholder
Hart, A. (2016, October). Political Ethics: Keeping Your Library Neutral. Retrieved from
Librarians like everyone else have opinions about politics and it can be very tempting to express those opinions in the workplace, but this is never a good idea.  Even if a librarian does not outright verbally express their opinions about politics, these opinions may still come through in various ways such as bias book displays. This article explains the librarians’ responsibilities to public and ethical codes that need to be followed in order to best serve the community.

I very much enjoyed this article because I feel that the political frenzy that is gripping this country at the moment makes it exceptionally difficult for librarians to refrain from expressing their opinions to the public. I feel that this article gives necessary tools to librarians to help them overcome this. 

Taking Your First Job: Where the Rubber Meets the Road and Starting Off: Where Not to Begin

Brandt, Alisa

Akers, A. (2016, July 14). Taking your First job: Where the rubber meets the
    road [Blog post]. Retrieved from Knowledge Quest website:

Akers, A. (2016, August 10). Starting off: Where not to begin [Blog post].
    Retrieved from Knowledge Quest website:


Anne Akers wrote these two blog posts about a month apart this summer and they both offer excellent advice to library students as they land their first school library jobs.
When asked by a former student after being hired for a perfect school library job, Akers is asked where to start? Entering a new library can be overwhelming and full of many projects from weeding to hanging up posters. Aker suggests not making any dramatic changes right away until you have the lay of the land. She recommends starting with small, easily accomplished tasks that give a sense of accomplishment. She also suggests setting the tone and vision of the library by posting the mission statement at the Standards for 21st Century Learners in prominent places in the library. All of her suggestions start with people and relationships.
In her follow up blog post, Aker explains further why she said to NOT start with the collection but instead to prioritize relationships. She says that to start those critical early days establishing yourself by focusing on the collection reinforces a certain stereotype (guardians of books) and does not build relationships. Schools need librarians who will be teachers and part of what takes place in the classrooms.

Evaluation: These two posts are so important for establishing how teacher librarians are perceived at what we can all do to change the stereotypes of libraries and librarians of yore. It means having a vision and confidently displaying it through the library environment and the actions of the librarian. I believe this is useful for librarians starting their first job and seasoned librarians who have been working in the same school for decades. Visions should adapt and while it takes a while to undo old visions, it is nevertheless an important task to take.

Physical Space + Thinking = Cultures of Learning

Brandt, Alisa

Lange, J. (2016, August 9). Physical space + learning = cultures of learning
    [Blog post]. Retrieved from Independent Ideas website:



This is a very short blog post about how physical spaces in a school (and library) should reflect the kind of learning activity that takes place there. Lange was inspired to write this post after attending a conference in which author Ron Ritchhart presented a session based off of his book, Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools. Richhart suggests that the activity in a classroom “shifts” from one in which the teacher presents material to the class to one where students and adults can work collaboratively. Richhart suggests that there are three kinds of learning spaces: “caves” (for individuals); “watering holes” (small groups); and “campfires” (large groups led by a “storyteller”).
The article continues with some suggestions for creating these spaces. Lange recommends displaying student work and surfaces covered in whiteboard paint so students can demonstrate their thinking. She also shares that she created a kind of Harry Potter “house sorting” book display for students to “sort” their summer reading into one of the three houses from the book. This demonstrates peer thinking in an open and shared space. And finally Lange offers another suggestion from Richhart to go on a “ghost walk” through other educators’ classrooms to get a sense of the kind of activities and what types of learning happens there and how that can be enhanced by the library.

Evaluation: I am very interested in reading Mr. Richhart’s book after reading Lange’s post but I have to say that I see some underwhelming examples of how to use the author’s suggestions. I would be curious to know more about Richhart’s thinking about physical spaces and how they create cultures of learning. Certainly displaying student work gives an example of a particular learning culture and it becomes a way to echo and reinforce those cultures. But I would also like to learn how to create those spaces in my library. We have already seen that our group study rooms from individuals or small groups works well in addition to our open group study areas. We also have two classrooms for a “campfire” space. But I think it would be great to be able to learn how to help individuals more.

Seven Surprising Benefits of Maker Spaces

Brandt, Alisa

Barron, C., & Barron, A. (2016, August 2). Seven surprising benefits of maker
    spaces [Blog post]. Retrieved from School Library Journal website:

ET – Maker Spaces

IL – Motivation

This article reveals the seven physical and psychological benefits of maker spaces in libraries beyond meeting curriculum standards.
Focusing on making brings people into the present moment giving them a break from focusing on the past or future too much. Making is physical and gets people moving, stretching, and standing, which gets blood flowing. Making is dependent upon self-directed engagement and gives people motivation to complete a task rather than having to do a required task. This means that people are learning what interests them and leads to a greater sense of satisfaction. Making uses hand-based activities which gives people a deeper connection to their brain and the development of skills such as visual thinking and problem solving. Making improves mood, giving people a boost of happiness. Maker spaces in libraries create a sense of community and connection which can prevent loneliness. Making “prevents the habit of wastefulness” by salvaging old materials and creating something new (Barron & Barron, 2016).

Evaluation: We are all familiar with the ways that makerspaces in schools enhance student learning and help to meet curriculum standards. It is also helpful to understand the ways in which making, whether it is simple or complex, provides so many mental and physical benefits to makers. In a time when people are increasingly disconnected from others and from the physical and mental processes that keep humans healthy, making provides an opportunity to gain some of this back.

How do we do PBL – Project Based Learning?

Gabrielle Thormann 


Weyers, M. (2014). PBL Project Planning: Matching Projects to Standards.  Edutopia, retrieved from:

This article is the third article of a series of articles about how to implement project-based learning (PBL) in a middle school.  Before discussing this article, it’s useful to mention the two previous articles and beyond:  a stream of articles comprises a journal of implementing PBL.  In Minnesota a group of educators started with a reflection on current teaching practices that developed into a District Strategic Plan.  The teachers took the plan to their administrator with their mission statements with one being: “Byron Public Schools will leverage real-world tools and skills to develop in students a passion for learning.”  This particular public school is its own small district, and thus as part of a state mandate this public school partnered/”integrated” with other public schools.  It took time and steps to create the Project Based Learning program.  When they were ready, teachers introduced the program to parents and students.  Key points of the philosophy behind the program were presented.
This third article is useful in that failures are pointed to and rethinking begins. The success of a project based on is noted, as two PBL sites and resources were used, and parent involvement and collaboration is spoken of.  Taking a glance at the next article, the focus is primarily on the development of real-world projects:  one again based on The Kiva Project, one on a local environmental nature center, and one entrepreneurial project based on a TV show format. 

By following the next arrows on the bottom of this article, one can continue seeing the development of their program.  I appreciate this series of articles as a journal and reflection of how teachers created and implemented a program they had never done before.

Creating Community Support for the School Library

Gabrielle Thormann

Stewart, K. W. (2015).  How to engage your community in the school library.  School Library Monthly, 31(7), pg. 16-18.


This brief straightforward article lays out a ground plan for involving most members of community in the school library.  This school librarian had been happily collaborating with teachers, and after attending a training session at Harwood Institute sponsored by ALA, he decided to create community engagement and collaboration.  He did so by creating three basic questions and with the approval of administration began the process.  He created ground rules for meetings, started by meeting with students and then with others in the school, and finally parents.  He collected the responses and created a kind of forum for all to see the responses.  Then the responses were organized and analyzed for themes.  The themes/responses were displayed which generated new discussions and ideas.  From these discussions a five-year plan emerged for the school library.  As of the writing of this article, the school is about halfway through the plan, and the author reports that the goals have almost been reached, and largely because the community supports the plan for the library program.     

Divide with innovation

Shibrie Wilson


Matthews, K. (2016, January 27). Are we creating an innovation divide? Retrieved from 21st Century Library Blog website:

Summary: When imagining the word “innovation” we typically have a colossal perspective at to what it consist of. Innovation in technology contains many distinct facets. Innovation is not based on a particular concept, being that individuals and organizations have different notions. Kimberly Matthews, reviews grants and noticed commonality of how organizations stat their contributions to expounding upon innovative technology in their communities. There is often a variety of candidates, unfortunately some libraries do not receive funding because their idea is perceived as not “innovative enough.” There needs to be a balance in funding because libraries are at different stages of innovation in which adhere to their communities. In field of librarianship we are dedicated to providing equal services, Matthews states that persons approve grants should have that same approach to innovation grants. Assuring each community and library has opportunity to receive funding and support is vital so that there is not a subset of libraries in which lack. 

Review: Intriguing article to read and learn about division within technology. As librarians and perspective candidates of officials to decided if organizations receive grants we need to be thoughtful. We are suppose to provide support to all communities, but such is not occurring when we choose to compare libraries on different spectrums. Hopefully, Matthews vocalizing here opinion will reset current ramifications for grant approvals.