School Parking Lots – What Do They Say?

Have often wondered if anyone notices the parking lots after school. Yup. No doubt about it….summer vacations are a perk. But the school year is INTENSE, and the total hours of a teacher, including before school, after school, and correcting papers at home, add up to more than most people think. And I doubt many folks think about how EARLY teachers have to get up (especially high school teachers) in order to be in their classrooms by 7, ready to meet those teenagers who show up in their classrooms.


Does a book challenge HAVE to be a big deal?

New librarians often worry about how to handle a book challenge, making sure they understand the full materials,challenge process and worrying how they might respond. I have always found that an informal, friendly approach has worked.

when one comes up, why not try to handle it informally first? Parents at my school sometimes sent messages objecting to a book either to the classroom teacher or to the principal. For some reason, they never sent them to me. The classroom teacher or principal would always pass it on to me and let me handle it informally. I usually sent a letter praising the parent for being invlolved and caring enough to be vigilant about reading material and reading with their child. I would promise to read the book, look over the reviews thoroughly etc. I would also include my initial opinions about the book, and let them know that I would certainly read it completely. If the book turned out to be a more appropriate choice for an older grade level, then I promised to switch its location to the upper library. We were a k-12 library for most of my career. In 30 years, I had about five such incidents. No one ever responded to any of those letters, or escalated the challenge any further, so I assume they were satisfied.

I guess I am just saying that if something can be dealt with quietly, it might be best to go that route. Then…make sure you have a policy in place that includes an informal letter/conference and then a more detailed policy when the informal route does not result in a satisfactory conclusion between parent and librarian.

Good luck!

PS. When I say dealing with a situation quietly, I do NOT mean making the book disapear. I mean I truly read it, decided where it wasmbest placed, and if it was a valuable addition to our collection. Sometimes I did move it to the upper level library, sometimes I left it where it was. I don’t recall ever removing a book completely.

Continue reading

Wandering, Moses, and Mentoring

I am mentoring new and “newish” librarians in my district this year. I am honored and excited to have this opportunity. My resolution is to write some blog posts based on the questions that my “mentorees” ask me, and the resources that I send their way.

I am also VERY excited for our district. From 1982 until 2009 (with the exception of about two years when the elementary school had part time librarians) I was the only LMS in the district. This even though by 2002 the district consisted of three schools.

In 2009, the district decided to hire a full time Middle School Librarian. So finally…there were two of us! In 2011 when I retired, they hired a wonderful replacement for me … a classroom teacher who was very near full certification. And now in 2012, they have hired an elementary librarian…albeit part time. So…for the first time in our district history, there is a librarian in every school. Yay!!

I feel a bit like Moses. I have advocated for this decision for decades. Pleaded, cajoled, gathered statistics, made board presentations and so on. Well…I have finally seen the “Promised Land”! And even though I was not able to step onto that hollowed land before I retired, It does my heart good to know that we have finally achieved the goal I had worked towards for almost 30 years.

I attribute the breakthrough to several things.

1.) Being a member of the curriculum committee where I could talk to teachers at all levels about what a librarian could do for their schools.

2.) The Common Core Standards which cry out for our expertise.

3) A superintendent who truly understands libraries and the role of librarians in education.

So…don’t give up hope! Keep advocating. Your dream may some day come true! Perhaps you will not have to wander in the desert for thirty years!!

What have been the greatest rewards & challenges of being a school librarian?

Last spring, an LMS student interviewed me via email.  I posted a link to the document earlier – but thought it might be good to use each question and answer as a separate post.  Also – I haven’t blogged in awhile – being terribly busy being retired!   This is the lazy woman’s way to show that I don’t spend all my time reading and sleeping!  🙂



The greatest reward has been my relationship with students.  I get to see them grow and develop over the years, and I love it when they stop and chat and I get to learn more about them, and what their passions are.  I am especially interested in the students who are NOT the shining stars.  The kids that don’t shine in other areas, the quiet ones and even the ones that are trouble makers often show up in the library as a “safe haven”.  I like to be able to find out what they love to do and try to encourage them to view school as the beginning of the road for them to spend a lifetime doing what they love.


The greatest challenge.  Hmmmm.  There are many.  Upon thinking of the many challenges (budget, lack of understanding of our job, schedules, discipline issues, lack of time etc) , I will have to say it is creating the balance that works best for kids and teachers.  An overly loose form of student and facility management results in an atmosphere where the library is a goof-off place and little of productive value gets done.  An overly restrictive atmosphere will result in an unwelcoming atmosphere that students and teachers avoid whenever possible.  When it comes to student management, I find the best approach is humor and consistency…and always being open to starting over fresh.  As for setting up the policies to make things best for the faculty, the best approach is to  find a way to say yes whenever possible – even making a “no” sound like a yes by offering alternatives, or promising to work on it as soon as you have time etc..  If the facility is just too full, offer to bring materials and computers to the classroom.  If a teacher has an idea for a project and you don’t think the kids are adequately prepared, ask for a little extra time and a copy of the assignment.  Then use the extra time to add some design tweaks to the assignment and meet with the teacher to make modifications. Etc. etc. Whatever you can do to make the library an attractive place for teachers to expand their students creativity and problem solving abilities.  Those are the abilities that will serve students the best when they go on to college and the work world.