Tag Archives: reflections

Reflections: Year 1 of using ebooks

I know I’m a tech savvy librarian, but ebooks scare the living daylights out of me. There’s something about the terror of hosting costs, legal issues with how long you own the books (multi-user, can I download it, can I print pages?), and the feeling of diving into the unknown with someone else’s money. I’m easily overwhelmed by the thought of taking a leap into the ebook fray and investing in something that my student may not use.

For this reason, I avoided the ebook question for my first few years. At the time, I didn’t think my population was interested and more importantly, I didn’t know how to take the leap in a way that my population would respond to it. Then the PA ebook consortium idea appeared. I was cautiously optimistic as I tried to learn more.

As I did research, I was really happy with what the organizers of the ebook consortium and Mackin were offering.

  • No Hosting Fees
  • You had the purchasing power of the whole state
  • Focus on fiction/high interest titles
  • Mackin allows you to keep the books you purchase
  • They were asking for librarian input
  • Google Single Sign on

Now, it took a few months to get going but I did some heavy promoting of the ebook through various scavenger hunts and hyperdocs. We’ll see how the program progresses, but I’m optimistic. We’ve gotten several teachers onboard, promoted to students, and found a way to embed these resources in our lessons. I’ve been happy with the usage and how easy it is for students to access the ebooks. I can’t wait to try a few ideas for next year!

What IMLS Means to Me…

With all the budget cuts, its easy to think that Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) doesn’t have as much impact as other programs. Sometimes, it seems like the same libraries benefit and other libraries (school libraries, rural libraries) feel left out. But sometimes things is not as they seem. IMLS’ impact can be felt even if your library has not directly benefitted.


Let’s look at my library. I am in a small, rural, public school library. I have applied for LSTA grants multiple times unsuccessfully, I tried applying for an IMLS grant unsuccessfully. Even though I have not received money directly through them, I’ve benefitted indirectly from grant reciepients. One goal of IMLS grants is to move the library profession forward. Their strategic plan focuses on innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Many of their grants provide professional development for librarian professionals and educators.

I’ve had the privledge of participating in two mentoring programs at the state level funded by IMLS and LSTA. The first was Pennsylvania School Library Association’s (PSLA) Emerging Leaders Program. This program connected me with mentors, other strong librarians, and helped me grow a network of professionals that I still rely on. Rural librarianship has a tendancy to leave professionals feeling isolated and inadequate. I know that I would not be the same professional today if I didn’t access to this mentoring program early in my career. Working with other educators to see what they were doing acrss the state broadened my horizons and encouraged me to work harder for my students make sure they were as competitive as students from across the state. We were able to compare curriculum, technology, instructional strategies, library management, and programming ideas. Now I try and pay it foward and connect with other librarians face to face and online, promoting programs like the Emerging Leaders Program. As a young librarian, my goal has always been to keep myself centered and avoid feeling isolated. These opportunities have helped me flourish.


The second program was Pennsylvania’s ILEADUSA. This program did end up with grant money going toward my library, but the more important part came from the professional development that came with the program. This was an immersive program where we worked with a team to develop a project and expand our technology skills. These trainings opened my eyes to the great things going on in all types of libraries across the state.


I admit that I mostly speak to school librarians and view many problems through a school librarian’s lense. It was refreshing to see life through the eyes of a public or academic librarian. They had a different way of approaching problems and a different view. Although all three types of libraries promote life long learning, we all have drastically different ways of implementing it. In the school library, it is very direct. We give them lessons, maybe some clubs, but it is very structured. Academia is more hands off. Students are given a menu of options and very little structure. Public Libraries have to market themselves and develop programming depending on the needs of their community. Both public and academic don’t have a captive audience like I do. Talking with librarians from these settings made me realize that I could have a balance in how I encourage life long learning.

Programs led by IMLS give me a chance to grow as a professional. They help me think of new ways to service my students. They force me to step back and reflect on my school and my program and think how I can improve it. IMLS empowers me to be a better librarian and serve my community and my students in the best way I can.


Reflection on Part 3 of ILEAD USA

Last week we wrapped up ILEAD USA, which is a 9 month leadership/mentoring experience for librarians. This session provided technology training, but also gave us the chance to present our projects and appreciate each other’s hard work.

This experience was unlike any other that I’ve been involved with. I am so involved in the school library/education world, that I become unaware of what is going on in public, special, and academic spheres. While we have many similar issues, we also have different problems and approaches to those situations. It also helps us realize what resources are available at these other institutions and how to prepare our students to use public and academic libraries.



Our group presenting

In addition to presenting our projects, we had several techology workshops. Topics included Google Fusion Tables, Google Analytics, Marketing your library program and several other topics.

This program took me out of my building for several days, which makes many people wonder if it is worth it. It takes a lot of effort and anxiety to develop sub plans and be out of the library, but the in depth trainings that this experience provided not only got me out of my comfort zone, but forced me to reflect on my program and think about how I can develop a future ready library. Professional devlopment helps take our programs to the next level, but only if it’s worthwhile. ILEADUSA was in depth and incredibly worthwhile, and I would recommend it to folks who are looking for a fresh perspective.

Libraries are complicated places that fill many roles, depending on the community need. For me this means that I am always looking for collaboration resources, technology, information literacy resources, ways to foster intrinsic motivation for learning, and ways to promote a love of reading. Doing programs like this force me to assess my program and think of ways to keep moving it forward.

Our project was based on information literacy. Our resources can be found at tinyurl.com/dinfolitwp and our youtube videos can be found at tinyurl.com/dinfolit. More resources will be posted as the year goes by.

team picture.JPG

Our ILEAD Team with Glenn Miller, Acting Secretary/Commisionner for Libraries. Team members include Ellen Stolarski (St Marys Area Middle School,  Peggy Tseng (Frank Sarris Public Library),  Bryan McGeary (Ohio University),  Angela Hegadorn (Newtown Public Library), and Lauren Pfendner (Indian Valley Public Library).  Not pictured: Group Mentor, Barb Zaborowski (Pennsylvania Highlands Community College)

Reflection on part 2 of ILEAD USA


Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure to participate part 2 of ILEAD USA. This session was all about hands on technology and how it can be used in your library. This session provided small group training that really gave a lot of room for reflection on how these tools can be translated back to our home library settings.

I think the biggest take away from this program was working with other professionals with different perspectives. If you keep working in your same corner of the universe, you miss out on different ways to approach a problem. Sometimes looking at something from another angle or reflecting on what the problem IS (instead of troubleshooting when issues arise) can be the thing you need to fix the problem. Having the chance to work with and talk with other people in different situations can be enlightening.

My Highlights

We also had the chance to listen to Paula Kelly talk about a program that her library, called the LEARN Bus. It has been an incredibly successful program, but it had it’s ups and downs. I like that she highlighted that problems aren’t solved in a day, and potential solutions need to be constantly evaluated and adjusted. Programming is an ongoing process, not a one shot event. Even if something is successful at the moment, it requires thought and effort to keep steering it to be effective. People look at success and only see one high point along that process. Use the momentum from the positive results to keep you looking forward, and don’t be afraid to try something new.

Sarah Frey provided us with a variety of coding resources, keeping in mind everyone’s diverse background and ability level. Coding is becoming a larger part of the world we live in, and the more we expose our students and patrons to, the more likely they are to become thoughtful users of computers and be more willing to tinker and develop their own codes. The more I look at different coding programs and activities, the more I realize that it’s much of the same logic that we’ve been doing in schools. Coding is a new tool for an old skill. As librarians, we do a lot with boolean logic, and search strings. This logic can translate into coding.


Until this session, I thought I was good at technology. I was willing to try most things, but there was a short list of items that I was afraid to try. This session forced me to step outside of my technological comfort zone. We learned how to program a Raspberry Pi and brainstormed potential uses, how Linux works, and got to experiment with virtual reality.

The education world is all about student centered libraries. One of our evaluation catagories on the Danielson rubric is “knowledge of students.” I thought Nathaniel Rasmussen’s section would be a reiteration of what we already knew. In school libraries we think of our teacher websites and web presence as something to do. We have some many other things to do, that we don’t think of how our students use our technology as deeply as we should. Our students look at our web presence as a virtual representation of our libraries. They have short attention spans. They want their information quickly. We have to think about not only content, but HOW they search. It can be hard when we wear many hats, but this is something that is worth our attention.


Reflection: Makerspaces Year 1

Every librarian struggles with imposter syndrome. We never feel ready enough, prepared enough, equipped enough. Imposter syndrome can keep us humble, can push us to find more professional development, to keep looking for more resources, BUT it can sometime prevent us from taking the leap when we want to try something new. This year, even though I didn’t feel prepared enough, I started my makerspace.

clean makerspace

Our clean Makerspace

Starting Slow…

I worked with one of the teachers assigned to supervise a study hall to outline our plan of attack. My activities were designed to be an incentive for students who finished early. They were a treat that didn’t have to happen everyday (depending on my schedule). I made sure that my first activity was a fun one that made them want to come (duck calls out of straws). I had a group of enthusiastic students who started a project so large, we had to work on it during lunch. This success during lunch motivated me to open it up to running a club for all during lunches.

Finding Resources

Makerspaces have become synonymous with 3D printers and high tech tools. It’s very hard to ask for those things without an established program. We started our program with simple activities from straws, popsicle sticks, manila folders, beads, and yarn. Yet, with those tools, we covered binary code, morse code, the thought process behind anamatronics/muscles, potential/kinetic energy and a variety of other topics.

We then used Donors Choose to get a Makey Makey and a small set of Little Bits. The kids enjoyed them and we’ve actually been able to share our resources with a science class.


I was really grateful to do 2 Skype sessions for our students. In February, we Skyped with students who had a successful maker program. My kids were in awe of what this school had built their program into. In April, we Skyped with Michael Hayward from Schlow library who spoke about how to make an App. I really enjoyed bringing a fresh perspective to my students.

Moving forward…

Next year I am considering how I arrange my library to allow for a better flow. I think the makerspace will be moved to an area that has more storage for supplies and in-progress shelves.I also am going to think about putting procedures in place to make sure that I can have more students working independently on projects when they have time and to use our homeroom time.

Having conversations with other librarians have helped me so much throughout this process. Sometime the best resources are Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and face to face conversations with colleagues. We are all lucky to have each other. I am lucky to have everyone who helped me make my makerspace a great part of my library program.

Thoughts on Programming

I’ve been thinking about Eli Neiberger’s ILEAD keynote speech in regards to how I design programming for my library.

I am in awe of the great programming that they have been able to do, but it’s very easy to jump on the bandwagon and state, “but they are in a large system, they have a healthy sized staff, and they have a larger budget.” As much as I want to use that as an excuse to say that I don’t have time, or I don’t have enough resources, we have to look at the resources we have and make it scalable.

When designing programming, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Reflect on what you currently do: We all do excellent programming. What events are your most successful? Why is that? Is there a topic that is well enjoyed? Are you promoting it in a certain way? Taking time to appreciate what works for us, helps us find ideas for new programming. It also provides a lense for reflecting on programming that is not successful.

Your community need: Is there a topic that works well in your community?

Resources available: What do we have, and how can we use it effectively? Is there something we have that can be used in a different way? At ILEAD, Christopher Miller had us do an activity that really hit home. He had us take a deep breath. Before we exhaled, we had to take another deep breath. That second breath wasn’t useful because there was no room for it. Sometimes, in order to try something new we have to adjust our current programming.

How we market our programming to users and nonusers: Is there a way to market to the people who use our library and try and engage users who may not realize what their libraries can do for them.


Reflecting on ILEAD USA


Description of the Program

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in the first third of ILEAD USA (Innovative Librarians Explore, Apply and Discover). ILEAD USA is a nine month program that allows librarians to work in groups to solve a community problems. I am lucky enough to work with a variety of librarians to find ways to encourage digital information literacy. During this process, we are recieving a variety of training in leadership, technology, and other library skills.

My Favorite Presentations

It would be impossible to cover all the sessions that were provided over the course of 3 days. I just wanted to pick a few that I really got a lot out of.

Chrisopher Miller’s thoughts on Design Thinking-When we get bogged down in problems, we sometimes can’t see the woods from the trees. We get focused on quick fixes to our problems instead of looking at the problem. We keep imagining that innovation is a skill, and keep searching for people with that skill, but innovation is a tool that we are all capable of using.  As librarians, sometimes we need a fresh perspective. This program encourages public, school, and academic librarians to have a converation, and that is something that doesn’t happen often. When we are trying to fix problems, we have to be aware of the needs of our community, technology trends, and trends in the customer experience. This design thinking is a blend of culture, process, and skill.

Hadiyah Cleveland’s advice on grantwriting– Grantwriting is something I’ve been trying to improve on, and I found her advice clear and structured.

Eli Neilburger, Flatland: A statistical romance of many dimensions-This presentation was streamed in for us, but it was an interesting perspective on programming. It was great to see the depth of complexity involved in the programming in the Ann Arbor Library System. One thing I always am looking for interesting new programming that would be a good fit for our school. I was also impressed with his remarks on library branding and encouraging patrons to “love their library.” We are nothing without community support.

Michael Hayward, The App Development Process with Schlow Library-Many people think that a library app would just be the OPAC, but Schlow and it’s IT department thought about how people use apps, the library, and what they need most. They developed an app that stores library card information and works along with the library homepage instead of trying replace the library homepage. This program was interactive and taught me so much about a process I was unfamiliar with.

My takeaways

Technology, innovation, and design thinking are tools in our wheelhouse as librarians. They are not something that we have to do individually. They are supposed to be embedded in our lessons, our programming, and our library programs.

In addition to the workshops provided, I was grateful for the opportunity to work with librarians from other walks of life. We may have similar problems, but we all have different approaches, and it’s great to have a forum to start conversations about those issues.

We’ll see what the next few months hold, but I’m excited for what’s ahead!