Monday, June 30, 2014

Learning for Life (L4L)

AASL has a group of representatives from each of its affiliated state school library organizations who are responsible for helping their members implement Standards for the 21st Century Learner and Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Programs.  This initiative is called Learning for Life, or L4L. The group meets at each ALA Annual Conference and Midwinter Meeting to share the work they are doing in their states, along with achievements and challenges to their school library programs. MSLA's L4L Coordinator is Amy Short, Director of Library Media for the Boston Public Schools and also our Boston Area Co-Director on the MSLA Executive Board.

At the meeting at ALA Annual this year, we learned that we are not alone in our struggles to find qualified candidates for open positions and maintain school library programs, and that terrific work is being done in many states to promote the AASL Standards and Guidelines among affiliate members. L4L Coordinators have their own area on ALA Connect, an virtual meeting place where those involved in ALA and AASL initiatives, task forces and committees can collect and share information and support. L4L Coordinators use Connect to share the resources they have developed with their colleagues across the country.

Here is the report Amy submitted for today's meeting:
Successes in our state: We held the following L4L session at our Annual Conference. There were approximately 60 attendees at the session:  Learning4Life: Think, Create, Share, and Grow! What is ALA's "School Libraries @ the Core of Education"? Learn about this new initiative as well as how to navigate the American Association of School Librarians free tools, including the Learning 4 Life (L4L) Lesson Plan Database and the Common Core Crosswalk. Find out how you can use these tools to align your library program with the Common Core standards, collaborate for teacher and student success, and develop/implement SMART goals. Think, create, share, andgrow with L4L!

Bill S.1906 has been introduced on MSLA’s behalf by state legislators. Bill S.1906 establishes a commission to evaluate the status of school library programs in each school district in the Commonwealth in terms of staffing, materials, and program requirements or guidelines. The bill has been passed as an amendment to the MA House budget and prior to that, the MA Senate also passed it as a separate bill, so as soon as the Governor signs the budget, it will become official. Once that happens, the Guidelines will be referenced in developing long range goals for school library programs. 
MSLA has been working the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to develop a school librarian-specific performance evaluation tool. The committee working on this is creating an overlay document that adapts the teacher evaluation tool to make it more effective and specific and aligned with the Guidelines.

District-determined Measures (DDM’s) to be used for performance evaluationsare a hot topic in Massachusetts. The Tool for Real-time Assessment of Information Literacy Skills (TRAILS) ( is a MA DESE-approved DDM. MSLA holds monthly Twitter chats (#MSLA). One of our recent chats was about DDM’sIt was evident that from the number of chat participants and the even larger number of people who accessed the Twitter chat archive afterwards that our MSLA members are very interested in learning more aboutDDM’s. Therefore, we are planning a day-long professional development session around DDM’s for late summer/early fall, in time for school librarians to plan their SMART goals and measures for evaluation.

L4L Resources: Resources can be found on the MSLA website

Major problems facing our state: We are facing a major shortage of licensed school librarians to fill openings in Massachusetts; we have many openings and a very small pool of qualified applicants.

Next steps: One thing we might want to consider for the future is to recommend that librarians have one SMART Goal related to implementing the Standards or using the Guidelines. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

AASL Awards

AASL presented national awards Saturday morning and it was both a proud morning for Massachusetts and an inspiring morning for all attending.   MSLA members went early to cheer on Cathy Collins, librarian from Sharon HS, who was awarded AASL's Intellectual Freedom award.  However, we were stunned to hear about a second Massachusetts recipient from our state.  Rowe elementary school received a $50,000 grant from the More Than Words fund to rebuild its school library, which was destroyed by fire in 2012.

There were several other awards that were truly inspirational.
The Superintendent of Schools of Harlington County TX won administrator of the year for his remarkable support of libraries in his district where more than 90% of students live in poverty.  He told us that his mom was a library aide, and her commitment to seeing that her 6 kids were library users led to 3 of them receiving PhDs and becoming school superintendents in Texas.

The first Roald Dahl "Miss Honey" award for social justice award went to a remarkable librarian from Kansas who used "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" as a jumping off point to discuss child poverty with her elementary students.   Their culminating project was to sew blankets for babies born to female prisoners in Ecuador.  Kleenex were passed.

To read more about these people, as well as the bike mobile librarian, the school library program of the year and the amazing collaborators of Kutztown PA, look here: "AASL announces 2014 award recipients", American Library Association, April 22, 2014. (Accessed June 29, 2014)
And....figure out what awards you ( or your library hero) is eligible for!  There IS fame and fortune for great school libraries.

Friday, June 27, 2014

what happens in Vegas

Today is the opening day of ALA Annual meeting.  Our first day was a busy one.

This afternoon, Anita Cellucci and I attended a meeting of library consortia group discussing the various national projects, including the Massachusetts e-book pilot project.  It was clear from listening to Greg Pronevitz of MLS that Massachusetts is a leader in this area.  Greg provided an update on the pilot project, describing how Massachusetts used a hybrid model including public, school and academic libraries to provide a statewide e-book collection, including materials from Baker & Taylor purchased with a perpetual license, Biblioboard for Open Source and locally created materials, and EBL for short-term loans.   Greg mentioned that that state budget support will be required for successful statewide rollout of the e-book collection.  He is waiting to hear shortly about funding from the state legislature.

The opening keynote speech is now being presented by Jane McGonigle, who is talking about the benefits of online gaming to engage students, solve world problems, and building collaborative communities.   She talked about the many positive attributes of gamers.

Games are now being used to solve real problems

Whale FM helps scientists translate whale noises into

Fold it is a game that helps scientists figure out how proteins can be folded to cure diseases and create medications

Block by block uses mine raft to design real public spaces, such as a playground in Nigeria

Tonight...our first AASL meeting to discuss national concerns of school librarians