Don’t Forget Your Emergency Plan

Aubree Burkholder
Epstein, S. (2016, October). Don’t Forget Your Emergency Plan. Retrieved from
This article enforces the need for all libraries, and personal homes for that matter, to have an up to date and accurate emergency plan. It goes on to outline the basic key steps to creating an emergency plan and the necessity to update information such as staff contact and emergency information at least annually.

I enjoyed this article because I feel that it serves as a great reminder to library staff to ensure that an emergency plan is in place and updated on a regular basis. I feel that having or not having an updated emergency plan could very well be the difference between tragedy and triumph in an emergency situation. 

Are Dewey’s Days Numbered?

Litzinger, Vicki

Kaplan, Tali Balas; Dolloff, Andrea K.; Giffard, Sue; Still-Schiff, Jennifer (2012). Are Dewey’s days numbered? School Library Journal, 58(10), 24-28, Retrieved from


This article explains the process from idea to conception of doing away with Dewey and creating a new system–categories, subcategories, order, call numbers, and labels–that met the needs of the users at Ethical Cultural Fieldston School in New York City. Two of their earliest questions were “Why are we using decimals in a children’s library, when they don’t learn that until fourth-grade math? And why are our picture books arranged by author, when most children are more interested in the content than in who wrote the book?” (p26) They turned to the work of Linda Cooper, a professor at New York’s Queens College Graduate School of Library and Information Science who studied the ways that children categorize topics and themes, and integrated students thoughts into the planning of the new system. They also developed three guiding principles to keep them on track. The new system had to be child-centered, browsable, and flexible. After two years of hard work, they have found that students, teachers, parents, and the rest of the community love the new system, and that they are “better able to collaborate and support the school-wide curriculum.” (28)

It was very validating for me to read this article and discovering that colleagues have had the same questions as I have. For instance, one of my primary challenges has been teaching decimals to students who haven’t learned them yet in their math curriculum! The authors explained the process, challenges, and opportunities thoroughly which would be very useful for others wanting to go through a similar process. They also mentioned the work of Linda Cooper, they also listed the URL for the website they created so others can share their ideas and work. Finally, there’s plenty of anecdotal information to use if needed when discussing these changes with teachers, students, and administrators.

Critical thinking and cognitive transfer: Implications for the development of online information literacy tutorials

Jones, Erik


Reece, G. J. (2005). Critical thinking and cognitive transfer: Implications for the development of online information literacy tutorials. Science Direct, 20(4), pp. 482-493. doi:10.1016/j.resstr.2006.12.018


Specifically focusing on how critical thinking skills and abilities will allow people to better process and use the information that they are given during class instruction or from an information provider, the core focus of this article describes how critical thinking skills can be used to better process and understand information. Knowing how to verify and authenticate information, how to vet sources of information, how to provide information are all necessary critical thinking abilities that information provides like librarians need to take into account before providing information to patrons. The same is true from the perspective of the patron or learner, knowing how to verify the information given to them will help prevent faulty or unreliable information from spreading.


As information literacy is the goal many librarians strive for when assisting patrons, it is essential that patrons have the critical literacy skills necessary to comprehend and make use of the information being provided to them. What point is there to giving information to someone who neither understand it or makes use of it? I enjoyed reading this article as critical literacy skills (critical thinking skills) are something I feel people should pay more attention to and invest more time in using throughout their daily lives. It would make things so much easier to accomplish and deal with for everyone.

Trust: A "Radical" New Way to Create Better Students

Johnson, Meghan


Schwartz, K. (2014). Why trust is a crucial ingredient in shaping independent learners. KQED. Retrieved from

Summary: This article by Katrina Schwartz discusses the need for trust in schools. Despite the fact that students are supposedly being prepared for the “real world” in high school, they have many restrictions placed on them ranging from the types of materials they can view to the tools they are allowed to use to approach problems. There needs to be trust between students, teachers, administrators, districts, and parents as well. While this is a scary prospect, Schwartz believes that this is ultimately the best way to create fully functioning and accountable students.

Evaluation: I found this article to be absolutely fascinating. I could see myself in the anti-trust kind of teacher described by Schwartz. It is indeed a terrifying prospect to look at entire student body and grant them a larger portion of responsibility for the success of their education. I believe Schwartz is correct, though, when she states that the likely benefits outweigh the potential negatives. She provided great details from a school called New Caanan High School where a system of trust in regards to cell phones and new technologies exists. These students seem to realize the benefits of maintaining this system of trust and honor it, which astounded me! As an academic librarian, though, I can see how this type of system is necessary. I constantly complain to my coworkers about how new undergraduates have no idea how to use certain tools (such as an online catalog) and don’t have any respect for the higher educational institution they get to study at. These are the students most systems are creating, though. Students who have it drilled into them that they cannot be trusted to know what they want to study and to determine which tools they need to use. I think Schwartz is right. Trust-based educational systems are the only way to create students that will succeed in higher education and in society.

VLC’s in the University

Johnson, Meghan

Experimental learning . Retrieved from

Summary: This screencast was created to tour the Virtual Learning Commons created for the University of Rochester. The goal of this VLC is to be a collaborative space for all students to contribute to. Students are encouraged to maintain the site on their own. Students can post photos, calendar events, and create their own Knowledge Building Center (KBC). This site is only lightly moderated by librarians, who post library events and create some base KBC’s.

Evaluation: This VLC for a university-level school seems like a great start for getting students involved in self-directed learning! It leaves the door open for them to guide their own education and follow their interests. I had always wondered if a VLC would be viable at the university level, and I think this proves it could be done. A few questions popped into my head as I was watching this video, though. The University of Rochester is a smaller university (about 10,000 students), of which about half are undergraduates. Would this type of VLC still work with a larger university and a larger range of majors and interests? I worry that features such as the calendar could easily be overwhelmed with larger numbers of students. I also wonder if there is any additional librarian moderation beyond what they discussed in this video. Is there someone who regularly goes through the VLC to ensure that appropriate content is posted? On another note, I thought that some of their labeling was a little less than intuitive. I think that this was a great start, though, to incorporating self-directed learning into the university level.

Visual and Media Literacy: Essential Components In A 21st Century Education

Bullard, Sherrie


Baker, F. W. (2009). Visual and Media Literacy: Essential Components in a 21st Century Education. Florida Media Quarterly, 35(1), 18-19.


The article focuses on the significance of media and visual literacy as vital components of education in the 21st century in the U.S. It notes that the annual curriculum skills maps of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills focus on geometry and science. The maps offer recommendations for media and information literacy. It points out that many educators point out that their teaching standards have not reached rapid changes in technology and media.


I agree with the author, that the standards cannot keep up with the rapid changes in technology and media. The author created the Media Literacy Clearinghouse web site ( because he wanted to provide educators clear and relevant examples of how media literacy could be incorporated into instruction. The web site includes readings, recommended texts, links to streaming videos, lesson plans and much more.

How tech can change the world for young people

Anusasananan, Chalida


Looking for the hidden genius within disenfranchised youth [Blog post]. (2014, March 3). Retrieved from

     Hidden Genius is a program in Oakland for Black and Latino males.  Here, they learn to code and ultimately use their skills to develop their own apps in a Hack-a-Thon.  Young people develop collaboration skills as well as tech skills while creating these apps.  Finally, the students pitch their apps to potential funders.  This program is developed to keep the young men of Oakland off the streets.  Many underserved communities, especially youth, are consumers of technology; here the idea is to make these young people producers of technology.  The tech entrepreneur who started this program, Kalimah Priforce says, “If we 
want to build an app that could have saved Trayvon Martin’s life, one of the best approaches is to 
make sure that Trayvon Martin is able to build that app.”  

     The young men interviewed in this program are so impressive.  In the midst of all the gentrification in the Bay Area right now pushing Black and Latino families and all working class residents out of the area, I find this program really important.  The tech industry desperately lacks diversity and what a way to help change the demographics of that field.  As a teacher librarian at an urban school in SF, I want to make sure all of my students have access and opportunity to the newest technology.  I also want to advocate for them to have these opportunities in the library and in the school as a whole.  

Teach and They Shall Find

Bang, Marisa

IL-Location of Information
IL- 21st century skills

Kuntz, J. (2001). Teach and they shall find. School Library Journal, 47(5), 54-56.

Summary: This article provides search strategies for elementary and middle school students. The author describes 4 internet research strategies and tips in the article that includes searching in various search engines and checking their spelling just in case because not all search engines automatically correct typos. The article emphasizes the importance of having a search strategy as well as learning discrete steps in retrieving information. The author also suggests that kids should use search tools designed specifically for kids, such as Searchopolis, Kids Click!, Ask Jeeves for Kids, Awesome Library, and Yahooligans!

Evaluation/Opinion: I was unaware that there were search engines designed for kids. This article is really helpful in providing practical tips for helping students search the internet. Thus, I would highly recommend this article for teachers and librarians to read.

Library Website Redesign Process

Jack, Gordon
Becker, D., & Yannotta, L. (2013). Modeling a Library Website Redesign Process: Developing a User-Centered Website Through Usability Testing. Information Technology & Libraries, 32(1), 6-22.  Retrieved from:
Most library users begin their information search using search engines rather than library websites.  In an attempt to drive more users to their Hunter College Library site, Becker and Yannotta redesigned their website with the following goals in mind:  
  1. Users should be able to locate high-level information within three clicks
  2. Eliminate library jargon from navigational system using concise language
  3. Improve readability of site
  4. Design a visually appealing site
  5. Create a site that was easily changeable and expandable
  6. Market the libraries services and resources through the site

The authors describe their redesign process and place emphasis on the importance of small, iterative user focus groups to provide feedback.  In the study, the authors observed users “thinking aloud” as they performed the following tasks on their site:
  1. Find a book using online library catalog
  2. Find library hours
  3. Get help from a librarian using QuestionPoint
  4. Find a journal article
  5. Find a reference article
  6. Find journals by title
  7. Find circulation policies
  8. Find books on reserve
  9. Find magazines by title
  10. Find the library staff contact information
  11. Find contact information for the branch libraries

By following user feedback, the authors were able to redesign the library website to increase users ability to successfully complete all areas listed above.
I found this article helpful in describing a process for library website redesign.  As we try to make our sites adhere to the Virtual Learning Commons template, it is important to beta test these changes with our users to ensure they help them find the information they need.  Simplicity, both in language and in design, seems critical here.  Excessive graphics, while visually appealing, may slow down page download times.  Library terminology (e.g. “LibGuides” instead of “Research Guides”) also seem to make it harder for users to find information quickly and easily. 

Flippin’ out

Shapiro Brian


Tucker, B. (2012). The flipped classroom: Online instruction at home frees class time for learning. Education Next, 12(1), 82-83. Retrieved from

Having read several articles about flipped classrooms, I decided to review this article because it functions well as a quick, concise overview of an introduction to flipped classrooms. It begins with a brief history; five years ago, two science teachers in Colorado, Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, decided to record some of their lectures to support students who missed class. As is often the case in education, something new grew from this original goal. The teachers received feedback that other students were using the recorded lessons as a way to reinforce the concepts from class, entirely by choice. Since then, these educators have written a book about the flipped classroom and the Khan Academy has posted over 4000 educational videos. Ted TALKS are also a popular choice for online videos that may introduce, or more thoroughly explore, a subject.

Flipping a classroom can be very effective for presenting content—in forms of lectures, demonstrations, etc. If students are watching (at their own pace and with the ability to go back and re-watch as is needed) these lessons as homework, then they can practice the skills in class, with individualized support of the teacher. Teachers also have reported that it is easier to provide remediation and differentiate for advanced students this way. But teachers are careful to point out that it is not the lessons themselves (though they need to be thoughtfully created or chosen) but the way that they are integrated into the classroom that is key to the success and the improvement of practice. Also—that individual teachers should not be expected to purchase the technology needed, except by choice.

Despite the positive experience many teachers and students are having with varying degrees of flipping their classrooms, the article reminds the educational community of several aspects to consider with this revolutionary way of changing classroom practice. The article cautions, “And, in today’s highly polarized political environment, it also runs the risk of being falsely pigeonholed into one of education’s many false dichotomies, such as the age-old pedagogical debate between content knowledge and skills acquisition.” It is something to keep at the forefront of the discussion—that it is another option for creative, effective instruction—not a fix-all. It may work better for some subjects and some lessons within a subject. Also, it is not something to leap into, but to change in incremental, thoughtful ways. Schools need to consider the access to technology that their students have outside of class, as well as how something engaging and special could become tedious if it’s what every teacher is doing, or if the videos are not engaging or of high-quality instruction. The bottom line is it is an exciting practice that teachers/librarians should continue exploring and using in a measured and creative way, combined with the other best practices we are already doing.