Library Connections

Entries Tagged as library

Carl Harvey Discusses the Next Steps in Advocating for School Libraries

February 09, 2012 · 6 Comments

It’s been about two weeks now since we crossed the 25,000 signatures mark for the White House petition.  From ALA President Molly Raphael’s School Library Task Force to the ALA Think Tank on Facebook who bought ads on Facebook to the vendor community who sent out messages to all their customers to the librarians and their supporters who convinced their families to all sign the petition to the ALA divisions who helped pull in the entire library community to the other national organizations and associations that partner with AASL who spread the word through their websites and memberships as well, it truly was a team effort.   I think the reason we hit 25,000+ is because everyone worked together.

We now wait for the White House response.  There is no timeline given by the White House other than they will respond as quickly as is possible.  The response will be posted on the White House – We the People – website and everyone who signed the petition will receive the response via email.  There is no guarantee that the response will include any action from the White House.   However, the petition will help raise awareness of the issues facing school libraries today.

But, the petition is not a silver bullet.  As we work towards getting school libraries included in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, it will be important that we keep up the effort.  We need to be talking to Senators and Representatives, encouraging them to support the Skills Act.  On January 17, U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ, 7th), along with Representatives Rush Holt (D-NJ, 12th) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA, 6th) introduced the Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLS) Act. The SKILLS Act, numbered H.R. 3776 in the House, is a companion bill of S. 1328 that was introduced in the Senate by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) back on July 6, 2011.

The AASL Congressional Briefing in October, followed by the petition, have been great steps in advocating for school libraries at the Federal level.  But they are just steps in the journey.  We’ve not reach our destination, so we have to keep moving forward as we paint a picture for our legislators about what today’s school libraries can do for students and the importance for each and every student to have access to a quality school library program!

Carl is the librarian at North Elementary School in Noblesville, Indiana and the 2011-2012 President of the American Association of School Librarians.  He can be reached at or @caharvey2 on Twitter.  He blogs at Library Ties.


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6 CommentsTags: library · library advocacy

The Places Students Can Go with Destiny Quest

November 11, 2011 · 11 Comments

If you are unfamiliar with Destiny Quest, it is a library search interface for K-12 students.  Destiny Quest provides an online searching experience for students to:

•    See the top 10 books and new arrival titles
•    Search the library connection
•    Browse the scrolling carousel of bookshelves
•    View book covers
•    Link to details from any computer with an internet connection.

One of the sweetest features of Destiny Quest is the ability for students to share and post reviews, promoting safe social networking.  It is a K-12 student-friendly searching interface included with Destiny Library Manager, the comprehensive, award-winning K-12 library automation solution with familiar web-based technology that students embrace.

We scoured the Internet to see what Destiny Quest users are saying.  Here’s a few finds from our trip around the Web:

Top 10 Reasons for Giving your Students a login to Destiny Quest
Our first item is a blog post from Pine Glen Library and Technology’s Blog about the use of Destiny Quest in their school.  This post discusses why students should be given their own logins to Destiny Quest .  Above all reasons reasons echo this message:  “Students are excited about books and love using the library”.

Review:  Destiny Quest
This blog post is from Kristina Weber whose school recently rolled out Destiny Quest to the nearly 1100 students who visit their library.  It turns out that students are buzzing about Destiny Quest and all its cool social features.  As a result, their holds are increasing, their unnoticed materials are getting face time, and students are feeling more independent in their library searches.  Weber also makes some recommendations and observations for improvement of Destiny Quest.  We appreciate her feedback.

Branching Out
We were thrilled to learn from Tara, an ES Librarian, International School Bangkok, in Thailand in her blog post, about the book reviews these students were writing in Destiny Quest.  Click here to see the visual corkboard of their unsolicited literary critiques.  Thanks for sharing Tara.

We enjoy learning about the ways that students are using Destiny Quest and will continue to share these Destiny Quest journeys periodically on our Library Connections blog.  If you have a story to share please provide it in the comments below.  We would love to hear from you.

Follett Software.

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11 CommentsTags: library-classroom connection · library

Librarians: What's your Mindset?

September 09, 2011 · 8 Comments

As we all grow older, wiser, and more experienced, it’s crucial for us to remember that the mindset of our students is changing.  The references we make in class can easily be misconstrued, misunderstood, or more likely just “go over our students’ heads”.  Putting things into a historical context as we teach will not only make the lesson more meaningful, but can also give us a way to liven up a lesson.

The unveiling of this year’s “Mindset List,” created each year by Beloit College’s emeritus director of public affairs Ron Neif and  English Professor Tom McBride, marks the “cultural touchstones that shape the lives” of students entering college this year.

The things that generally piqued my interest on these lists are those that have to do with language.

This year’s #6 is: “they ‘swipe’ cards not merchandise.” When did that change happen? I guess I wasn’t paying attention to the impact the invention of the debit card would make, bringing us all into the grocery store without cash or checks.

I am still among those who casually tell students to “dial” a number on the phone, but according to #32 from the 2003 list, students even then had never dialed a phone. The directive: “Don’t touch that dial!” [#9 this year] is met with a puzzled look and rejoinder: “What dial?”

#74: “PC” has come to mean Personal Computer, not Political Correctness. This has some poignancy for us all as Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, INC steps down from his position due to poor health. Because of his role in changing all our lives, we now have students who research using their small ‘smart’ phones anywhere and anytime.   We also have labs in schools with small computers that fit on our laps. 

And so, in honor of Steve Jobs, I went up into my attic and brought down our very first useable personal computer [I don’t count the TRS-80]: a MAC SE. I dustedstudents-mac it off, went through those funny old files from when my children were little and created things using Print Shop and hypercard, and took it to school to put out as a “hands-on” display. It sat on the circulation counter for the day and drew the attention of many students who stopped long enough to play "maze" or "bricks" or a number of other games that came with the original. Simple as they are, these games held the attention of many kids who challenged their friends and had a lot of good fun. They marveled at the square mouse with 'mouse balls' and the black and white monitor. 

We have a whole new set of ‘cultural touchstones’ to give to our youngest students who will go through the school system needing guidance and instruction by their school librarians on how to ethically and efficiently use those tools.

I’d love to know what references you’ve made in your classroom or library that has gone above your students’ heads or been misconstrued because you’ve taken for granted that younger generations understand in the same context that they do. We all have a few.

Please share your experience with me in the comments below.


Connie Williams is always growing older but possibly really never becoming mature...Which is an important trait for a high school librarian! You can contact her via email, or leave a comment below.  


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8 CommentsTags: Inquiring Minds in the Library · library

Welcome to the Sophomore Year for Emerging Tech

August 04, 2011 · 5 Comments

edWeb.netAs the founder of, a professional social network for the education community, I was struggling with how to build active and engaged communities on our website.

Then I attended Michelle Luhtala’s presentation at CoSN in March of 2010 on “Using Web 2.0 to Embed 21st Century Learning,” and I got an idea. Why not use Web 2.0 tools to spread the word about this to other school librarians?

Michelle (Head Librarian at New Canaan High School and winner of the 2010 School Library of the Year Award) uses many social networking tools and free collaborative technologies that are often banned in schools. After her presentation, I approached her with the idea of extending her presentation into a series of free monthly webinars embedded in a social networking community on She loved the idea.

We launched “Using Emerging Technology to Advance Your School Library Program” in July of 2010, and could tell right away that we were onto a good idea. In spite of our initial technical challenges with the webinar platform, the librarians in the webinar would say, “Hey, this is just what happens at school!” Michelle is a fabulous presenter with so many innovative ideas. Members love connecting with her, and with each other every month.

We found the right tool ( so we can incorporate video, text chat and polling so Michelle’s presentations are very personal and interactive. Each session includes lots of time for participants to text questions to Michelle, which she answers “live.” After the webinar, the conversation continues online through our community discussion forums. Emerging Tech creates a sense of community and connectedness that you rarely get from webinars – and even from online communities.

Over the past year, Emerging Tech has grown to 2,400 members. We hear from members all the time about how much they appreciate the program. The archived webinar recordings are a great feature of the program. Librarians can join the program at any time and catch up by watching any of the past programs.

Our members asked for CE certificates for participation, and we’ve been amazed at how valuable these certificates have been even though we are not an accredited program. If teachers could receive accredited CE certificates for participating in online Web 2.0 programs, we know the use of this kind of Web 2.0 technology would spread faster.

Emerging Tech would not have been possible without the support of Follett Software Company. Their offer to sponsor the program for an initial trial of three months and willingness to support our Web 2.0 experiment was truly visionary, and we can’t thank them enough! Two months into the program, Michael Campbell, the Director of Marketing, called me to say that Follett wanted to sponsor the program for the full year, and now Follett is sponsoring the sophomore year of Emerging Tech.

When Michelle started a discussion thread in Emerging Tech – “What do you want on the syllabus next year?” she received 80 posts of requests for topics to address! In July, we launched Year 2 – the Sophomore Year of the program. And it looks like we have enough topics to keep this going for quite some time. Emerging Tech has become a model for other Web 2.0 PD programs we are offering on

Any librarian or educator is welcome to join Emerging Tech and can sign up at We hope to see many of you there!

Lisa SchmuckiLisa Schmucki is the founder and CEO of, a professional social network for the education community. is free for all educators and schools. Join edweb at

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5 CommentsTags: edtech · Professional Learning Communities · Social Media Tools · edweb · learning · library · school libraries · social networking in education

Social Media in Education

June 06, 2011 · 10 Comments

Social media brings excitement and interest to learning and empowers students to grow as global and digital citizens. One obvious example of an educator who is embracing this technology to engage students is Van Meter Community School Librarian Shannon McClintock Miller (@shannonmmiller). We were fortunate to have Shannon present her ideas on the Positive Effects of Social Media in Education at our New Leaf in Learning Conference, which took place in March. It was a standing-room only session that illustrated how this trailblazer's confidence in social media as a constructive learning tool is paying off.

The session was recorded and is embedded below – if you can’t see the video, click here.

As she makes clear in the video, teachers and librarians don't need to fear social media—they need to encourage kids to use it to advance learning and show them constructive ways to utilize the tools. Using social media in her school allows Shannon to connect with other teachers and classrooms well beyond her district, and her students are sharing, publishing, discussing, creating and collaborating with peers and other teachers around the world.

"Social media brings excitement, currency and engagement," she told us. "It gives kids a voice and enriches their learning experiences by letting them connect with individuals, groups and experiences around the world."

As audience members expressed concern about kids wasting time texting from their cell phones and reading Facebook posts instead of participating in class, this enthusiastic educator pointed out that a driven instructor can steer students toward using social media productively, so that they don't have time or desire to use it in the ways many teachers and parents fear. She also described how the administration at Van Meter was 'on board' with her use of social media because everything is transparent—there are no secrets—and she takes the time to teach etiquette and literacy so all students strive to use social media wisely.

But don’t take her word for it. During the session, Shannon made it easy for everyone to get ideas and see social media in action by letting her students do the talking. As a group of students appeared on the screen live via Skype, each student greeted Miller enthusiastically then told the audience about their individual projects using Animoto, Skype, Facebook, iMovie, YouTube, Flickr and others. The audience immediately saw the power of social media through the students' own stories.

What positive effects are you seeing by using social media in education? Share your stories below!

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10 CommentsTags: edtech · library-classroom connection · Professional Learning Communities · Social Media Tools · library · library advocacy · school libraries · social networking in education · stories

Banned Sites Week

May 16, 2011 · 4 Comments

We seem to be at a critical juncture in the struggle against overzealous filtering in schools. Many administrators indicate that they are ready to unblock social media sites, but claim that network administrators and lawyers caution them against it. There is a lot of misinformation about federal regulation in this realm. To demystify the issue of e-rate funding and CIPA (Children’s Internet Protection Act) compliance, Tina Barseghian, of MindShift at KQED in San Francisco posted an interview with Karen Cator, U.S. Department of Education’s Director of Education Technology on April 26, 2011. A few weeks earlier, Lisa Nielsen (The Innovative Educator) and Tom Whitby (My Island View) address some of these issues in their co-authored blog post, The World's Simplest Online Safety Policy (April 3, 2011). In February, COSN (Consortium for School Networking) outlined recommended guidelines for Acceptable Use Policies in Web 2.0 and Mobile Era (February 18, 2011).

Students today lead dual lives – their interactive social life and their “receptive” academic life. At the end of the school day, young people log on and engage online with peers. They share resources, express themselves, opine on their friends' content and activities and the world at large. They are contributors in their social world. But in school, collaboration often begins and ends with “group projects” – which, in many cases, feel contrived in contrast to the organic participatory culture students experience outside of school. In order to inculcate that same participatory culture into students’ academic life, and channel it toward productivity, it is important to provide them with a wide range of online edu-social experiences. Unfortunately, portals for online social interaction are often blocked in schools. We are thus denying students critical learning opportunities about digital citizenship, collaboration and communication. If we are not teaching these skills in a relevant, real-world context, we are failing to teach them how to apply our lessons to their “other life.”

To highlight the importance of the First Amendment, the American Library Association (ALA) has a longstanding tradition of celebrating the freedom to read -Banned Books Week (BBW) – during the last week in September. Librarians are enlisted to feature frequently challenged books. This is a most worthy cause as it celebrates our freedom to access information and exposes censorship. At New Canaan High School, which is a free-range media/BYOD, public high school in Connecticut, we will extend censorship awareness week into a two week intellectual freedom celebration, prefacing Banned Books Week with Banned Sites Week from September 17-24, 2011, and feature sites that are commonly banned in schools – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Skype, Blogger, etc. We hope that other districts will join in this initiative. Got questions about CIPA compliance? Answers here. And for more information about using social media for instruction, please visit my blog at

Michelle LuhtalaMichelle Luhtala is the Department Chair of New Canaan High School Library, which won several 2010 awards including the National School Library Program of the Year Award. She also facilitate a 2,000+ member online professional learning community for school librarians called Using Emerging Technology to Improve Your Library Program at, where she presents monthly webinars (they are all archived online). Michelle is a regular conference presenter. She is co-authoring a forthcoming book, Relevant Librarian: a 21st Century Guide to the Responsive Library, and contributing a chapter to a forthcoming book called School Librarians as Leaders in Professional Development. She blogs at

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4 CommentsTags: library-classroom connection · banned sites week · library · library advocacy · school libraries

Guide to Cataloging for Kids featuring Ms. MARC

March 24, 2011 · 2 Comments

Does your job require you to organize materials for children and young adults? A one-stop guide for cataloging and organizing information for children is the fifth edition of “Cataloging Correctly for Kids: An Introduction to the Tools” published by the American Library Association. This handbook provides an overview of how to effectively catalog materials for children and young adults including topics such as copy cataloging, subject heading access using Library of Congress Children’s Subject Headings and Sears subject headings, classifying materials with the Dewey Decimal Classification system, cataloging non-book materials, cataloging for non-English speaking and preliterate children, cataloging using AACR2, MARC 21 and using the new cataloging standard of RDA.

A chapter titled “Automating the Children’s Catalog” by Follett’s “Ms. MARC,” Judy Yurczyk, provides information on the steps needed to automate a catalog, from the first step of selecting an integrated library system (ILS), to the creation of a high quality database via the retrospective conversion process with guidelines on how to prepare for this process, to the ongoing maintenance of the database once it has been created. Cataloging Correctly for Kids is available in print, e-book, and a print/e-book bundle from the ALA store.

Ms. MARCJudy Yurczyk assumed the role of Ms. MARC 10 years ago and answers many cataloging questions from school library staff just like you! In addition to writing "Tag of the Month," Judy is an integral part of maintaining Follett's Alliance MARC record databases. The author of Follett's past publications of MARC Bibliographic Format Guide and MARC Authority Format Guide, Judy has taught MARC workshop classes throughout the country. Judy received her MLS from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She is a member of the American Library Association (ALA), the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) and its Cataloging and Classification Section (ALCTS/CCS), and Online Audiovisual Catalogers (OLAC). She has served as a member of the Vendor Relations Committee and ALCTS/CCS Cataloging of Children's Materials Committee.

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2 CommentsTags: keyword research · library · MARC · school libraries

Plugged in… Wait! Let’s stop and smell the roses.

March 07, 2011 · 3 Comments

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m very lucky to get to walk to work, and living in California allows me to do so just about every day. When I walk I’m usually ‘plugged in’ to my iPod listening to the news, the stories on This American Life or practicing my Spanish. It’s a walk through a series of neighborhoods that border farmland hills. It’s been a little wet lately and just about everyone has been keeping a low outdoor profile.

But today was a fantastic reminder that Spring is on its way. On my way home I discovered that my batteries were too low to listen to anything, so I pocketed the iPod and walked on home.

…and this is what I listened to instead: The barking of the big [really huge] black dog that lives in the red house, and the responses of the many other dogs on the route. Many different birds singing. Wild turkeys gobbling. The rushing water from the creek overflowing its banks after the rain. A little boy screaming in delight on the swing in the park. The cows on the hills and some chickens in someone’s back yard. And the call-out from a friend riding by on her bike.

It all felt pretty magical and it reminded me to stop and un-plug myself now and then so that I can take advantage of the other kinds of communication that goes on around us each day.

And then this reminded me of how plugged in we are every day at school – computers, phones, video cameras, LCD projectors… They all compete for our attention and all our senses.

It reminded me about when I worked in the junior high school and the many times things would get just a little bit overwhelming… so I’d call a ‘time out’ and announce that the next Friday would be a “Read & Eat Friday.” Students were invited to bring their lunch and grab some reading material, and find a comfy spot to sit and read. No talking, no computers, nothing but quiet, relaxing reading time. It was a very popular event and students asked for them regularly. Watching kids sprawl on beanbag chairs, huddle between the stacks, sit at tables or lie down next to the window while they ate lunch and read was a delight. It’s great to think of ways to use the library space not only as the creative, dynamic space it often is, but also as the place to retreat, relax and enjoy a good read.

All this looking forward to Spring, relishing the reminder that it’s good to take stock and appreciate all that we have, and taking those deep revitalizing breaths allows us to gear up for some very cool events.

Next week is the Follett conference – it’s going to be an exciting few days of conference sessions, but what I’m really looking forward to is meeting up with other Follett Software users to compare notes and talk about how different schools and different librarians manage all the ins and outs of not only handling library and textbook resources, but to chat about how we can better serve our students instructionally.

Back into the plugged-in mode, on March 24th at 11:30 am Central Time, Follett Software is sponsoring a School Library Journal webinar on ways to spread the word about the good things that happen in the library. I’m one of the speakers and I’m excited to share ideas - some I’ve tried, along with some that I’ve been working on, and ideas I’ve heard about from others in SLJ, workshops, conferences, listservs, blogs and just hanging out with librarian friends… I’ve seen some of the slides that Carl Harvey is sharing – and he’s got some very interesting insights to share about what he’s been doing too. Do drop in – it’ll be great to have the conversation! You can register here.

Connie Williams is a high school librarian and an advocate for school libraries. Connie loves to read and loves talking 'story' with others. You can contact her via email, or leave a comment below. She also wants to see YOU this week in Chicago!

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3 CommentsTags: Inquiring Minds in the Library · library · reading · school libraries

Save the date: $100K Follett Challenge

January 12, 2011 · 7 Comments

$100K Follett ChallengeStarting February 1, 2011, Follett will be accepting applications for the first-ever $100K Follett Challenge. Mark your calendars and start planning your entry now!

Recognizing innovation
Follett believes that librarians are finding ways to help students perform better in school. In recognizing the strong link between library programs and student success, the Follett Challenge’s goal is to find the best innovations in school libraries.

The contest advocates for the role librarians play as champions of school programs that drive student achievement. How can a librarian actively championing an information literacy-based school program for students enter?  

  • An online entry form will become available on February 1. Questions will uncover how the library program makes use of technology and content to improve student engagement, as well as how the program could be improved and/or expanded.
  • Produce and upload a 3-to-5 minute video describing the program.
  • The judges, comprised of library and educational professionals, will be looking for schools that do the most outstanding job of applying technology, content and creativity in ways that engage students, foster literacy and critical thinking.

What can you win?
There are six chances to win. Five prizes, including a $35,000 first place prize, will be awarded by a panel of judges. A sixth $10,000 prize will be awarded based on online voting for the best video. These prizes will be good toward Follett products and services.

Applications open February 1, 2011 and close on June 1, 2011. Popular vote begins June 23, 2011. Good luck, and keep checking back to for updates. Or, Like the Challenge on Facebook.

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7 CommentsTags: Follett Challenge · follett100K · grant · library-classroom connection · funding · library · library advocacy · school libraries

20 Percent Time: How would your students use it?

November 12, 2010 · 10 Comments

In my last post I talked about the library as a “third space” – that space where students congregate to complete homework, chat and otherwise occupy themselves as they relax from the daily pressures of the classroom. In thinking about how to make this physical space enticing, I think it’s important to equip it with the tools students need. The big question is: what would this place look like if it were to be the place students wanted to be?

In interviewing people for our audio journal “Circulate This! Stories from the School Library,” Storyteller Joe McHugh asked Glen Warren what he thought were the challenges facing students today. Glen replied that they needed a place to create, to think, to search for the answers to the questions they had and the interests they wanted to pursue.

He reminded us about “20 percent time.” At Google, employees are encouraged to spend 20% of their time working on personal projects or join in on projects that others have designed. Applications such as Google Earth were created during 20 percent time. Google staff has all the resources of the Google plant – including staff partners – at their disposal. The freedom to go after projects or ideas that interest you allows you to really think through the process. Gathering experts in related fields allows you to develop a more complete product.

What if we allowed our students to carve out their own 20 percent time? What would they create? Think of the incredible possibilities that would emerge.

In this day and age of test bombardment, we easily forget that often our best productions come from “down” time – when we have the moment to drift off and jump out of the proverbial "box" and see things a little bit differently from a different angle.

I’ve been thinking of converting a particular space in the library and calling it the “20 Percent Room.” I’d like to fill this space with computer access and excellent online applications, paper, markers and other creative tools. Then, during lunch or tutorial, students could make use of the room to work on projects of their own interest. Giving students the tools, the time and the space might be all that they need to show us their greatness. One of my favorite quotes comes from the book Bel Canto [by Ann Patchett] : “It makes you wonder. All the brilliant things we might have done with our lives if only we suspected we knew how." If only we were all given this gift of time and support.

Wouldn’t it be great to have our own space and designated time to complete that novel, painting or garden design? I think we could all use some 20 percent time, don’t you?

Connie WilliamsConnie Williams is a high school librarian and an advocate for school libraries. She likes to use her 20 percent time to think. About BIG stuff. Connie loves comments; you can also contact her via email.

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10 CommentsTags: 20 percent time · Inquiring Minds in the Library · library · library advocacy · school libraries · stories