Friday, April 30, 2010

Stephanie Vance, the Advocacy Guru, Keynote Speaker at Fall Conference

Stephanie D. Vance, the “Advocacy Guru” of Advocacy Associates, LLC is author of Government by the People: How to Communicate with Congress, the guide, Get a Job on Capitol Hill, Citizens in Action and the recently released Advocacy Manual: A Practitioner’s Guide. She has over 20 years of experience in Congressional affairs, having worked in a prominent DC law firm, lobbied for National Public Radio and worked in various Congressional offices, holding positions as Legislative Director and Staff Director.
Her work on congressional communications stems from a deep and abiding belief that government is effective only when citizens are active participants. She has presented the concepts behind Citizens in Action at seminars and workshops around the country and she is a member of the National Speakers Association. Ms. Vance is also a member of the American Society of Association Executives and Women in Government Relations. Her website, has won a number of awards, and her work has been the subject of a variety of print media stories, including a column in the Washington Post.
A frequent guest on radio and television news shows around the country, Ms. Vance holds a Masters Degree in Legislative Affairs from George Washington University and a Master’s Degree in Liberal Studies at Georgetown University. She is the only advocacy trainer to hold the prestigious Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation from the National Speakers Association.

Stephanie Vance is the keynote speaker for the fall conference. She'll open the conference on Thursday, November 4, 2010.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Storyteller, Author Joseph Bruchac to Appear at Fall Conference

Author and storyteller, Joseph Bruchac will present sessions and speak at the storytelling breakfast on Friday, November 5, 2010, at the fall conference.
Much of Joseph Bruchac's writing draws on his deep connection to the Adirondack region of New York where he was raised and still lives and his American Indian ancestry. His ethnic background includes Abenaki, Slovak and English blood. He and his two grown sons, James and Jesse (who are also both published writers and storytellers) work extensively in projects involving the understanding and preservation of the natural world, Abenaki culture, language () and traditional Native skills and also perform traditional and contemporary Abenaki music together as The Dawnland Singers. Their most recent CD, HONOR SONGS, came out in 2009.
Joe's academic background includes a B.A. from Cornell, a Master's Degree from Syracuse and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the Union Institute of Ohio.
His poems, articles and stories have appeared in over 1000 publications, from American Poetry Review to National Geographic. He's authored more than 120 books for adults and children and his honors include a Rockefeller Humanities fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Writing Fellowship for Poetry, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Danger, Will Robinson!

I'm just now catching up on my blog feeds in my Google reader, so apologies to those who may have already read through Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk blog posting of April 21st, "Dangerous Statements for Librarians to Make". Some of the statements really do emphasize how we can be our own worst enemies when making our cases for our library media programs.

Here are some of my favorites:

But the school HAS to have a librarian/library. Really? So we don't think they could do without us and our programs?

If all we're doing all day is sitting behind the circulation desk and checking out books, then yeah, they can do without us. A paraprofessional, an assistant, even a parent can scan those barcodes to check out those books to the voracious readers that clamor through our doors.

With facilities budgets being cut and school populations growing, that space we call a library media center would convert nicely into about three classrooms. Just move in some portable walls and voila! More space for instruction!

Oh, we instruct, do we? Well, that reminds me of another favorite line:

Correct bibliographic format is absolutely critical.

If our instruction revolves around colons and periods being in the right place of a bibliographic citation, then we're feeding the stereotype of the anal retentive librarian, in my book. Why aren't we helping students evaluate websites? Or helping them craft a thesis based on the preliminary investigation they are doing on a topic of interest? Or working toward creating processes that will build foundations for their research?

Maybe here's our problem: The research proves that libraries improve student achievement.

Well, bully for the research! But we can show all the research in the world to our principals and our staffs, but if it's not data and research that DIRECTLY impacts OUR students and teachers, it's probably not worth a hill of beans. Do our teachers and kids really care about what happened in Colorado ten years ago? A resounding, "No!"

But our teachers do care about the fact that we've spent all year working with our students at one particular grade level to implement a process to improve students' research skills and access to information. They do appreciate the time we put in with them and their language arts students, helping to create rubrics and instructing those students in cool technology tools to enhance their multimedia book reviews. And those same teachers are probably excited that we introduced them and their students to blogging which they now use on a regular basis to deconstruct and flesh out content, ideas and concepts in their core content classes.

But ultimately our actions have to speak for themselves. What we do for STUDENTS has to be the focus of all that we do. We have to be ACTIVISTS.

And don't believe this statement for a minute: I can advocate for my own program. I don't need anyone else vocally supporting it.

In today's budget crunch, teacher lay-offs, and central office down-sizing, we need all the support and advocacy that can be mustered for employing strong teacher librarians. But that support has to come from our students and teachers and most especially our administrators.

If we aren't being ACTIVE, relevant, innovative and information-savvy TEACHERS for our students, then how can we expect anyone to support and advocate for librarians in our schools?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Conference Author Luncheon Speaker: Lisa Yee

Born and raised near Los Angeles, California, Lisa Yee always loved to read. As co-owner and creative director of Magic Pencil Studios, a strategic creative company, she has done everything from writing and directing original projects for Fortune 500 clients to leading creativity seminars for dairy farmers. Lisa has also penned her own newspaper column, and written TV and radio commercials, as well as menus that have been read by
millions, jingles for waffles, and television specials for Disney.

With the publication of Millicent Min, Girl Genius, Lisa realized her lifelong dream of becoming a book author. Winner of the prestigious Sid Fleischman Humor Award, the book has over 250,000 copies in print. Lisa’s second novel, Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time, was published in October 2005 and her third book, So Totally Emily Ebers, was published in 2007. Other books include Absolutely Maybe, Boys vs. Girls (Accidentally), and Geektastic, an anthology

Lisa will present at the author luncheon on Friday, November 5 of the fall conference. For more information on her, visit her website, .

Thursday, April 22, 2010

School Librarians, Where Do You Hang Your Hat?

At my library media learning team back in August 2009, we looked at the beliefs that are the cornerstone for the standards in library media programs using the book, Standards for the 21st Century Learner in Action (AASL, 2009). First, we looked at the nine common beliefs through our own eyes, as library media coordinators.

If we had to hang our hat on just one of the beliefs, where would we hang it? What did we see as our focus in our library media programs?

  • Reading is the window to the world.
  • Inquiry provides a framework for learning.
  • Ethical behavior in the use of information must be taught.
  • Technology skills are crucial for future employment needs.
  • Equitable access is a key component for education.
  • The definition of information literacy has become more complex as resources and technologies have changed.
  • The continuing expansion of information demands that all individuals acquire the thinking skills that will enable them to learn on their own.
  • Learning has a social context.
  • School libraries are essential to the development of learning skills.

We were split between two of the beliefs: 'Reading is a window to the world' and 'School libraries are essential to the development of learning skills'. Some of us felt that reading was the main focus of our programs and our work with students while others took a broader approach to seeing themselves and their programs as the place, environment, and access to all. No real surprises there.

But when we looked at the beliefs from other perspectives, we began to see how others view the library media program and how this affects our work. We asked ourselves which belief our principals would hold up as the hallmark for the media program. What would our students say is the most important belief? And what about our parents and PTA? Where would the superintendent or the school board member hang her hat on these common beliefs?

That's when we realized that we have to consider all perspectives about library media, our influence on others, and the advocacy to promote our entire program.

If a teacher views the library media program as a place for reading and that's it, will he ever begin to incorporate instructional technologies or encourage educational and social networking with his students? If our principal sees our program as the place for students to improve their technology skills, will we ever get a budget to purchase the latest and greatest fiction? If the superintendent is most worried about and focused on ethical behavior in use of information, will he recognize the need for inquiry and critical thinking skills within the framework of learning?

We as librarians know that these are a set of beliefs and one does not necessarily outweigh another. It's important to understand the perspectives of all our users in order to meet their needs, build influence and advocate for out total program.

However, our hat rack may tell a different story if we tend to hang our own hat on only one or two of the beliefs instead of wearing the many different hats of our profession.

Friday, April 16, 2010

School Librarians Cut in Wake County

Wake County Public Schools has made proposed budget cuts for the 2010-2011 school year that include $2.9 million in cuts to media specialist allotments. In real terms that equals 40 school librarian positions that will be lost.

Yet the News and Observer is reporting that with the WCPSS proposed cuts no teaching positions will be lost. The last time I checked, media coordinators in the state of North Carolina are certified teachers and the school libraries and media centers that they teach in are their classrooms.

The proposed budget cuts create a new formula for serving the students, staff, and parents of schools, no matter what the size of the school: 1 media coordinator at an elementary school, 1 media coordinator at a middle school, and 2 media coordinators at a high school.

To say that no teaching positions are being cut is misreporting of this budget information. Every day media coordinators, teacher-librarians, implement the information literacy curriculum: teaching students search strategies for gaining information, teaching students to evaluate print and electronic resources, teaching students to think critically about information, teaching students to select appropriate reading materials.

In Wake County, 20% of the school librarians are National Board Certified Teachers. They hold a certification recognizing them as accomplished teachers in their curriculum area. It is wrong to state that no teaching positions are being cut: WCPSS administration is proposing a cut of almost 20% of those teachers of information literacy.

It's not only a sad day in Wake County for media coordinators, it's a sad day in the state of North Carolina for all media coordinators. But ultimately, it's a sad day for all teachers.

Deanna Harris, NBCT