Archive for May, 2011

the view from inside….

May 10, 2011 3 comments

Adapting service strategies and the library collection to meet the needs of young adult patrons in a school setting.

What are the best resources?

What are the best practices for delivery of services?

There are no unequivocal answers. 35 librarians will give you 35 answers.

Then, how are decisions made?

It’s pretty much a balancing act.

A school library is like a little business. You have products (books) and services (help finding and using resources). You pay bills, keep within a budget, order books and non-books, fix stuff, pick up stuff and even take out the trash sometimes.

Add in: meet and greet with 520 students. As many as 100 per hour.

Add in: meeting and collaborating with faculty.

And, tailoring the collection for both personal needs (being an adolescent) and academic needs (getting stuff done for class).

But also, instruct in ways to avoid plagiarism, find good sources, use stuff ethically, consider copyright.

Do all of this in a constantly changing environment, technologically speaking.

Throw in keeping good relations with volunteers, parents and administration and you have the makings of a balancing act.

Know your environment.

Who are your students?

Boys, girls or co-ed?

What grade level? K-8? Middle School? High School?

Religious school? Private school? Public School? Special School (eg. High School for the Arts?)

How is your role defined?

Will you be expected to collect, organize and catalog?

Will you be expected to work collaboratively with faculty in developing research projects and writing assignments that involve research?

Will you help students create multi-media creative projects?


What are your administrator’s expectations?

Are they cutting-edge, pro-technology?

Or stuck in the 1950s?

Do they support your vision (or even know what your vision is?) (Do they know what you do every day?)

What are your expectations?

Who, exactly, are your stakeholders? Who do you serve?

Teachers? Students? Staff? Board of Trustees?

Get involved in “the network”

of librarians!

Listserves, blogs, wikis, Nings,

associations (ALA, CSLA, BAISL)


Develop your collection

Find out about trends in curriculum

(eg. History and movement toward experts and primary sources and away from encyclopedias)

What’s new (and sustainable) in technology

eBooks, eReaders,


Changes in educational philosophy

Copyright, fair use,

plagiarism (avoiding it, policies about)

And all manner of questions (and answers) about best practices and resources

Resources, links: at the end of this post.

Building a collection: it’s not like it used to be…..


Streaming video








Once you know what is appropriate for your setting:

Look at reviews

Start a book club (interest driven and exchange of ideas)

Look at other librarian’s blogs

Websites with teen reviews (and teen writing)

Non-fiction: need both interest driven reading (hobby, career) and life topics.

Consider each fiction genre: realistic fiction, horror, mystery, memoir, science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy.

Service strategies

  1. Advocacy

Find out what the student, faculty and staff needs are. “What would make your life/job easier?”

Get the word out that you are there to help. “You dream it, we do it.”

Get your sound bite ready: you have 30 seconds

Communicate actively with Administration: send articles, studies, anecdotes (sparingly)

Get students involved

Advantages: they are passionate

They are in the moment of being students and they know what they need

  1. Visibility

Market your library

Show up at events

Tutorials: make ‘em or “borrow” them

Target groups: LIBguides

Be approachable (get out from behind the desk)

New is fun. QR tags

Blog (regularly)

Join stuff. Groups. Go to local meetings. Just ask.


LM_Net (all purpose school librarian’s group)

CALIBk12 (another school librarian listserve with good advice and suggestions)

BAISL (independent librarian’s group, active and interesting -can get digest of listserve)


Joyce Valenza

Blue Skunk Blog Doug Johnson

Librarian in Black Sarah Houghton-Jan

Associations with good (or great) conferences, workshops and materials:

American Library Association (coming to Anaheim in June 2012)

AASL – the school librarian’s division of the American Library Association

California School Librarian’s Association (coming to Pasadena this November!)

Pasadena City College: sponsors a local librarian’s group

Book Reviews:

A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy

ALA’s teens top picks from YALSA (chosen by teens)

Printz Award from ALA (literary excellence in young adult literature)

Best Fiction for Young Adults from ALA

Good article:

Joyce Valenza and Doug Johnson: See Sally research: Evolving Notions of Information literacy

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