Hi Sherry! Welcome to The Librarian Lowdown. Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions...
How long have been a school librarian? Tell us a little about your school.
I am in my sixth year of being a teacher-librarian. I've been on staff at Rossville Consolidated Schools for 7 years: 6 of them in the library. (My first year at Rossville I was a special education teacher.) My school system is quite unique in that we have only 2 schools: an elementary (K-5) and a middle/high school (6-12) and both schools are under one roof! I can walk from one school to the next without ever leaving the building. This really comes in handy and I can often be seen speed walking (okay, usually I'm sprinting) down the hallway from one classroom or library to the next. We are a small school system with not quite 1,000 total students K-12. Our unique situation of being essentially a K-12 school allows for great partnering of various classes and ages.
What is the best part about being a school librarian?
This is a tough question! I've said many times that being a TL is the absolute best job in the world. There are so many parts of the job to love and every day, heck every HOUR is a brand new adventure! I love the variety of the job and seeing so many different students on a daily basis. I think the very best part of being a teacher-librarian is seeing the joy and excitement on a student's face when you hand them THE book they've been waiting to read. Or maybe the best part is getting them hooked on a book or a certain author. Or is the best part when you hear your students book talking books you've recommended to them to other students? The best part may be when a student returns to talk to you about a book you've recommended and then asks for your help in finding more amazing books. Fueling a life long love of reading is definitely a great perk of the job!
Your position has changed a bit this year. Could you please tell us what your new position is and what it involves.
For the past 5 years, I've supervised the elementary library where an amazing assistant teaches all of the daily classes while I stayed primarily in the middle/high school library. When I wanted to work with an elementary teacher/class, they'd have to come to my library or I'd have to shut the library down while I went to the other end of the building. During those 5 years I also taught various classes while running the middle/high school library. I taught 6th grade reading daily for 2 of the 5 years, a rotation class for 8th graders that I named 21st Century learners (a nice smash up of current technology sites, research, and coding) for 4 of the 5 years, and also supervised our peer tutors (HS students who work in the elementary one period each day).
This year, I have been blessed with a fabulous assistant in the middle/high school library who takes care of the day-to-day tasks. (She was always my substitute teacher when I had to be gone from school!) My new job also includes a new title: Library and Instructional Technology Specialist. It still has me supervising both libraries but now I am also responsible for instructional technology with our staff K-12. I arrange for technology professional development after school for our teachers 2-3 times each month. I'm also available to meet with teachers during their prep time to help them with technology issues or to help brainstorm new ways to integrate technology tools into their daily lessons and projects. Sometimes I even go to classes and help a teacher introduce a new tech tool or co-teach a lesson. This year I'm also teaching a brand new high school class: Video Production. I use the term "teach" loosely as I act as more of a facilitator for the class and my 10 talented seniors. My class is responsible for delivering the announcements daily to students and staff in 5 minutes or less via video. It has been a new adventure but one I wouldn't trade or give up to another teacher. Every day in my new position as a LITS is still unpredictable. Some days are busier than others but I still love being in my library and having the time to talk books with students. I'll never be too busy for that!
Your school's Battle of the Books competition is a huge thing each year. Could you tell us about it?
Our Battle of the Books competition is not an original idea but it's one of the programs I'm most proud of that I helped start at Rossville my very first year in the library. We started with a high school program and then expanded into the middle school grades the next year as well as into the other school in the county thanks to a grant I was awarded. We're in the midst of Battle of the Books right now! Our high school local competition was the end of February and our county competition the next week in March. Our middle school competition is next week before our spring break. I wrote in detail about our Battle of the Books program on the Nerdy Book Club blog this summer. Check it out at https://nerdybookclub.
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Congratulations on being named one of Library Journal's 2015 "Movers and Shakers". As you continue to "move and shake", what are your future goals for your library program?
Thank you so much! Being named to the 2015 class of Library Journal's Movers and Shakers is a dream come true! I am so proud to be included! Future goals for my library program are to continue to make the library a place where students want to be. I love having them in the morning before school and visiting all day long. As we move to 1:1 next year, I hope to make some changes in the physical library space by removing the lab of 30 computers. In my mind, I'm envisioning more collaboration areas, charging stations, and hopefully we'll even delve into beginning a Maker Space. I'd love to have an area where students can do more hands on explorations with making, creating, and tinkering. I would also like to expand our video studio to possibly include a small recording studio.
If you could have dinner with a book character (or a couple), who would you choose and why?
Kurt! Again with the tough questions! I would like to have dinner with a whole cast of book characters! I'd love to meet Ally from Lynda Mullaly Hunt's Fish in a Tree as well as Willow Chance from Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan. I think the two of them would have some very interesting conversations together! Throw in Harriet M. Welsch from Louise Fitzhugh's Harriet the Spy and we're sure to have an interesting dinner filled with laughter and fun.
Thank you so much, Sherry, for taking the time to visit my blog. I'm very excited to share the awesome things that are happening in your library!
You can continue to follow Sherry...
on Twitter: @LibraryFanatic
on her blog: the libraryfanatic.com