Friday, December 12, 2014

School Library Media Specialists - The New Action Figures

Nancy Pearl is the real life library professional who inspired the original librarian action figure, but Wisconsin may need to create a librarian action figure series of its own. This summer Eileen Schroeder from UW-Whitewater and I were excited to join eight teacher librarians as they took their show on the road and shared their stories of what a library media specialist really does and how different every day can be. CESAs 2, 5, and 10 hosted day long workshops on  the Emerging Roles of Library Media Specialists.  Fifty participants attended and this group of "action librarians" received rave reviews. Their expertise, enthusiasm for the work they do, and the practical ideas they shared at each workshop made each of these a huge success.

Stacy Fisher (Waunakee library media specialist) provided the catalyst for the workshops. The idea came about due to the shortage of certified library media specialists in Wisconsin, the changing role of teacher librarians, and the need for more people to understand the impact a strong library program has on the learning environment in our schools. We knew that administrators were interested in the idea of "growing their own" teacher librarians from within their districts, which involves identifying and supporting good teachers who are willing to pursue their library media certification. From that base Stacy worked with DPI, UWSSLEC (University of Wisconsin System School Library Education Consortium), and CESA 2 to get the idea off the ground. Thanks to a pilot outreach grant from UW-Whitewater, support from DPI, and collaboration with the CESAs the stage was set. The group came together to brainstorm, plan, and orchestrate the workshops. Their collective wisdom and enthusiasm created an excellent template that we hope to replicate and expand on.

Pictures and Student Quotes from the libraries where these action librarians work speaks volumes about what's happening in many Wisconsin school libraries. Kudos to the action team from across the state. Included on that team (and being considered for future action figures) were Stacy Fisher (Waunakee), Peg Billing (Tomahawk), Greta McCarty (Osceola), Jeff Schreiber (Germantown), Teresa Voss (Verona), Vicki Santacroce (Green Bay), Holly Nelson (Milton) and Mike Slowinski (West  DePere). To sum up the reviews I will share a quote from a teacher who is now planning on becoming a library media specialist. She didn't want to give up what she loved about teaching. Following the workshop her comment was, "Hearing so many of you talk about how you use all I value about classroom teaching within the library made me rethink my perspective. I also really liked the energy and drive all of you had about what the library should be to its users, and how you make it a well used, purposeful space."