Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Librarian Lowdown: Matthew Winner

Welcome to the first installment of my new blog series:  The Librarian Lowdown.  Each week I will feature an awesome school librarian.  We will learn about the happenings of some amazing school libraries!

I am delighted that my first guest is Matthew Winner.  Matthew is the Library Media Specialist at Ducketts Lane Elementary School.  I am thankful to Matthew for his willingness to participate in this series.

Hi Matthew.  Welcome to The Librarian Lowdown.  You are my first guest.  Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions...

How long have been a school librarian?  Tell us a little about your school.

This is my 10th year teaching and 8th as a school librarian. (I taught 4th grade prior.) My current school is Ducketts Lane Elementary in Elkridge, MD. It's a beautiful building and it's brand new. I was part of the opening staff last year and had the great pleasure of opening a brand new library, including building the collection from the ground up. Our school is located just west of Baltimore and our student population is currently around 850, PreK thru grade 5. 

Second grade students enjoying a Skype visit with Kate DiCamillo.

What, do you feel, is the best part about being a school librarian?

The kids, without question, are the best part of being a school librarian for me. It's because of them that I bring my A-game each and every day, and it's because of them that I model meaningful failure, the pursuit of understanding through play, and the emphasis that each of us has a unique skill we bring to understanding the world better. They are a constant reminder of why I entered the teaching profession and I am blessed in my position as school librarian to get to watch them grow from pre-readers just starting school to readers who can articulate reading preferences, synthesize information into new understandings, and be passionate about reading and good books every step of the way.

Can you tell us about something new that is happening in your library this year? 

There are a lot of new things happening at every grade level, but one of the things I'm most excited about is studying simple machines with our 1st graders in order to participate in the Global Cardboard Challenge. Being able to mesh curriculum objectives with play and exploration is something I always look forward to, and getting messy on a project that will extend over consecutive weeks with 5 and 6 year-olds is amazing. 

 What are your future goals for your library program?

I've been contemplating a unit on webcomics recently and I'm nearly ready to start seriously planning something out. Logistics and access to technology resources has held me back a bit, but this is a publishing medium I'd like my students to be aware of and I think that it's a resource they'll run with as soon as they find out it's out there. I guess most of my future goals are in a similar vein: continuing to push learning beyond the brick and mortar walls of our library and our school building.

 Please finish this sentence.  School libraries are... trouble, but through intentional acts of awesomeness, transparency, and enthusiasm, we ALL have the tools to save them!

I am a HUGE fan of your Let's Get Busy Podcast.  Can you tell us about how you came upon the idea of doing the podcast and what the experience has meant to you?

I pitched the idea to Travis Jonker of 100 Scope Notes at a hotel bar at an ALA Annual conference in Chicago, citing how much I love the podcast medium as well as these candid moments we get at library conferences to speak to talents of children's literature beyond their publications. Travis' excitement over the idea was the push I needed to get started. I recorded the very first episode of Let's Get Busy within the following week.

Let's Get Busy means so much to me mostly because it's something I pour my heart into that gives back in equal or greater returns. It's incredible to get to talk to these authors and illustrators and educators whom I admire so much. And when we chat, I seldom think beyond the conversation I'm having right there. Of course, when it's over the conversation is sent out into the great unknown that is the Internet and ends up taking roots in any number of countless and surprising places. When I hear back, whether through word of mouth or Twitter or an email, about where the podcast is reaching it makes me dizzy to witness that these conversations are impacting others the same way that they're impacting me. It's incredible and I hope to be doing the podcast for a very long time.

And now for a little fun...

If you could have dinner with one book character, who would you choose and why?

I would choose to have dinner with Rabbit Cece Bell from El Deafo, because real Cece Bell is one of the nicest, kindest people on the planet. And also because if I was a kid rabbit with Cece, I could see us getting into a whole lot of memorable trouble using the Phonic Ear's wireless microphone and a little make-believe. Plus, I think I'd make a pretty awesome rabbit friend.

Thank you to Matthew for taking the time to share with us today. 

You can follow Matthew on Twitter:  @MatthewWinner  
Check out his blog (The Busy Librarian):  
His AMAZING podcast (Let's Get Busy):

School Library Blog:
School Library Facebook Page:
School Library Twitter:  @DLESlibrary