Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Librarian Lowdown: Nancy Jo Lambert

Welcome to the third edition of The Librarian Lowdown.  You are in for a treat today.  I was honored that Nancy Jo Lambert, teacher-librarian at McSpedden Elementary School in Frisco, Texas agreed to come visit my blog. I have not had the pleasure of meeting Nancy Jo in person, but she is definitely on my list of PLN members that I need to meet.  Enjoy!

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

It is absolutely my pleasure to get to be on your new Librarian Lowdown blog series!

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

This is my 5th year as a librarian and my 10th year as an educator. I am at a brand new school this year. My district in Texas is a very fast growing area, and we recently enrolled our 50,000th student! We open new schools almost every year. McSpedden Elementary School is the school I opened this 2014-2015 school year. It was a great opportunity that I knew would be challenging, but also a lot of fun!

I hope that the McSpedden Library, or #MSELib on social media, is a place where students can come to read, learn, connect, create, and imagine. I post to our Instagram account, Library Facebook Page, and Twitter to the #MSELib hashtag.

I am on a fixed schedule with kindergarten and 1st grade where I see 1 class of each every day for 30 minutes. Then, I am on a flex schedule for grades 2-5. In order for their classes to come to the library, they have to collaborate with me on a curriculum lesson. Sometimes they come as a whole class for a quick checkin and checkout, but they do not have a regular day or time. We also do Reader’s Workshop at my school, so each teacher has 3 library passes on lanyards. Our thinking is that we want the students to come to the library at point of need, instead of because it is library day. We want them to take on the habits of genuine readers. Genuine readers go to the library when they need a new book to read. Our grades 2-5 students can come every day to the library if they need to or once a month if that is when they need to.

I love that in our library we have a Makerspace. Our Makerspace items came from a $5,000 Canvas Grant I received last year from Instructure. We also had some consumable items donated by a parent. We have Maker Mondays, Minecraft Clubs, and a Raspberry Pi Club that all utilize the Makerspace materials. I have been able to connect the curriculum with the Makerspace a couple of times, but that will be my goal next year. I would (ideally) like to connect each grade level once a semester with the Makerspace.

Also this year I was excited to create goals for the library. I was inspired by Andy Plemmons and the goals he outlined for his library. It greatly inspired me to create goals for my library. I have worked hard to communicate those goals to everyone on our campus and then make sure that everything we do here in the library aligns with those goals.

What is the best part about being a school librarian?

The best part about being a school librarian is the kids! I am passionate about being a good educator and serving the students and teachers I work with. I love it when a student is excited about a book, or anxious to do inquiry, or thrilled with a creation! Those are the moments that make all the work worthwhile for me!

I know that this is your first year in your new library. What are the exciting opportunities involved with starting over in a new school.  What are the challenges?

I have a wonderful principal who provides the absolute best in leadership for our school. We established our motto of “Inspire one. Inspire many.” as a staff last spring. I have carried that motto into the library. Since I opened the school and the library, I got decide on how to decorate and set up the physical space and how to set up the collection. I have also had the opportunity to choose a lot of books for the collection and build it to meet the needs of this new campus.

One of the biggest challenges for me was having to work with the furniture I was given in the new school. I was able to move some of the shelves around, but not all. I also wish that my brand new circulation desk was shorter. When I work with a range of ages of students, I wish that the circulation desk was shorter so I could see my littlest ones.

Also, when I walked into the library it was a blank slate! I had to add signage, put procedures in place, teach the procedures to the students, and none of it happened quickly! It was hard at first, but by the end of the first semester everything was in place.

You are such an inspiring, active member of your PLN.  How have others inspired you to continue growing as a librarian.

Well thank you! I work really hard to share what I do for several reasons. I want to advocate for my place in my school every day by showing how I contribute to student achievement to all my stakeholders. If the students, teachers, administrators and parents all know what I am doing, no one will ever let me go! Also, I feel we are better together! If I share everything I do and it helps even one educator, then it was worth it! I will never charge for sharing my lessons because I want to contribute to the field of education every way that I can. However, it should be said that I am a huge advocate for all educators to share their stories (#tyslib= Tell Your Story Libraries and #TITL= Today In the Library). If we are sharing the stories of the learning happening in our schools, then that is the best advocacy we can do. Since I share what I do, my hope is that other educators will also share what they do to help and inspire me! My greatest source of inspiration and help comes from the many educators I know whose blogs I follow and who use Twitter to share and connect. I would not be nearly as an effective and powerful educator as I am without my PLN!

What are your future goals for your library program?

For me, as long as I am always learning, there will always be a new goal! I am learning constantly from others about how I acan make the library a better learning environment for my school. I don’t have anything specific in place right now, as I feel like I am still working to further meet the goals I outlined for the library this fall. I always want to make sure that our library program is tailored to the needs of my teachers and students and that any goals that I have, have them in mind.

And finally...

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

Oh my gosh! You may as well have asked me to pick my favorite book (which I absolutely cannot do!)

So because you asked such a difficult question I am going to have to break the rules and pick more than one!

I would love to have a dinner party with the following book character guests: 
Edward and Bella Cullen
August "Auggie" Pullman
Will, Jem and Tessa (From the Infernal Devices Series)
Deuce (from the Razorland series)
Harry Potter, Ron and Hermoine, and 
Geronimo Stilton

I think that would be a very lively dinner party!

That it would, indeed!!!

You can follow Nancy Jo and her library happenings:

Twitter:  @NancyJoLambert