About a month ago I started painting our house, the outside of it that is. It is a decent size house and I, being a school librarian often start summer vacation with a list of projects I intend on completing. So, switching into determined DIY-mode, I “encouraged” my husband to join me in this project. His part, to remove and replace any fascia boards in need of repair. This also required taking down all the gutters. Did I mention our house is a split level and the ground around it is not level? Thank goodness for generous friends willing to loan out their scaffolding and my parents that never taught me there were things I just couldn’t do.
Today while wrapping up the project by painting the trim, I had plenty of time to reflect on one of the most engaging and inspiring professional development opportunities I have taken part in. Last week, I was honored to join the Idaho Commission for Libraries staff in the beautiful Sun Valley area for the Idaho School Library Summer Summit. We were lucky enough to be there for three days, with the first day just for school district librarians. The second and third day, I was technically working as a table facilitator, but I think I may have gotten more from the experience than the hard-working school librarians assigned to my table.
Our headliner for the summit was no other than, the Daring Librarian herself, Gwyneth Jones, and yes, she does look like her avatar. If you work in a school library and you don’t know who she is, you should. (Go ahead, Google her, I dare ya!) Gwyneth is an entertaining speaker, and addressed us three times. BONANZA! How lucky were we? Bits of valuable information including “don’t be a zombie librarian” and why we should be using Vine to make book trailers with our kids topped my notes from her Choose to be a Ed Tech Trooper presentation. And Gwyneth, I totally agree, you are what you teach but I’m afraid that means I have multiple personalities.
Tweet Like a Ninja, later in the day highlighted the Twitter skills we need to get our voice heard in the library world and by the way you can find me at @ldjo. I couldn’t have been any more proud than when Gwyneth retweeted on of my tweets even if it was a picture of a moose and her calf in the street behind our hotel. Yes, we were in rural Idaho and you don’t just see movie stars on the streets of Sun Valley. Something I haven’t been the best at in my tweets is creating relationships, as Gwyneth encouraged us to do. And, hopefully I can remember to talk, not stalk. Okay, I may stalk a bit, but in a completely innocent way.
Finally on the last day of the summit, the Daring Librarian spoke on using mobile media in the library. Last spring I asked to have wi-fi put into my library (thanks to Scholastic book fair funds) so now we are set to be mobile. And, although I get the idea behind QR codes, I don’t know that I can truly embrace them as Gwyneth does. Kahoot, on the other hand, was a blast and now there is a reason for all those middle school kids to have their devices out and in their hands while visiting me. Okay, I take the QR code statement back, despite the fact that it encourages users to take their mobile device to the bathroom, I still think QR codes on the back of stall doors will get people’s attention.
Now that I have gushed about Gwyneth, I must also point out that there were other timely presentations we needed to see. Staci Shaw gave us statistics about summer reading, its impact and why every child needs access to books. Did you know that 28% of Idaho school libraries have no book budget? From discussing budget situations with my assigned group, I found that most of them did not have book budgets either, but rather depended on book fairs and grandparent “extortion” groups that would donate books in their grandchildren’s names.
WARNING, THE FOLLOWING MAY BE CONSIDERED A POLITICAL AND POSSIBLY OFFENSIVE STATEMENT: How do we expect children to learn to read if they don’t have books to practice with? Fund your school libraries! Kids need books! High quality, accurate and authentic books! If you have 500 students and each student checks out 2 books a week, that’s a lot of books moving around, getting checked out and worn out.
Okay, rant over.
Also with us for the summit were Gina Persichini discussing Lili.org; Erica Compton and Gena Marker sharing wonderful ideas on creating maker spaces (ladies you have inspired me more than you know); Gregory Taylor with a vivid explanation on how shift happens (Idaho Core Standards shifts that is); and, Ann Joslin, our State Librarian, eloquently wrapping everything up. I presented too, on Nonfiction in the School Library, and I will admit that I awoke the morning I was to present at 4 AM, with the sudden realization that Gwyneth Jones was still going to be “in the house”. Luckily for me, all our attendees were good sports and dug into their assignment to evaluate their provided nonfiction books based on the provided criteria. Through the jigsaw learning activity I planned, they actually presented most of my session for me.
Considering this experience a week later, I realize how lucky I am to have attended, met amazing people all working for the better of our youth. And, Jeannie Standal, a million thanks for inviting me! In a shameless attempt to be invited again, I promise to help with whatever you need and if asked to speak again, I will spend less time painting and more time preparing before the next summit. And for those of you wondering about the house, it is almost done and now a lovely shade of August Moon.