Challenges and Censorship in the School Library

Last month I did a presentation in San Antonio about censorship and challenges in school libraries. I prepared a handout with some resources and suggestions. I find the statistics about why books are banned intriguing. One of the best ways to be proactive about challenges in the school library is to have a policy in place.


Resources for Building Leadership and Resiliency Skills

This week I will be doing a presentation on developing leadership and resiliency skills. One of my favorite tools for assessing my leadership skills is the Leadership Practices Inventory. I will be talking about it during the presentation. Here is the handout for my presentation.

Inexpensive Computers, Virtual Reality Adventures, and March 2016 Professional Development

This is a picture of a CHIP computer (Next Thing Co., 2015a)

I almost forgot to share my post from the AASL Knowledge Quest blog this month. While half of the month is gone, there are still some professional development opportunities that you can benefit from. Let me know if you have questions. I have also put a new page in the blog with some of my handouts.

This month I am sharing two notable finds and ten unique professional development opportunities. Let’s begin with the computers that I learned about while reading an article on (Kelly, 2015). The article was about a computer created by a… Read More ›Source: Inexpensive Computers, Virtual Reality Adventures, and March 2016 Professional Development | Knowledge Quest

Julie Todaro & February 2016 Professional Development Opportunities

It has definitely been awhile since I have posted something. I think that am doing pretty good if I have to post once a month. Here are the school professional development opportunities that I posted on the Knowledge Quest (KQ) blog for next month: You Are the Expert! February 2016 Professional Development Opportunities | Knowledge Quest.

Todaro Teaches 2Last month, in an auditorium in Little Rock, Arkansas, I listened to Dr. Julie Todaro welcome enthusiastic University of North Texas graduates to librarianship. Going into the event, I was excited that our ELMS (Educating Librarians in the Middle South) cohort would have the opportunity to meet such an esteemed guest. Not only is Dr. Todaro an agent of change seasoned in working with most facets of libraries, but as you probably know, she is also our incoming ALA president.

As I listened to Dr. Todaro’s speech, I wished that I had been able to record it. I think that you would have thoroughly enjoyed it. There were so many points in the speech that emphasized why our job is crucial, and sometimes it helps to hear it from someone else. All is not lost, however, for I have a few notes to share with you.

As Dr. Todaro spoke, she reminded the audience that librarianship is characterized as a supporting profession. Yet, librarians also provide valuable, critical services and need to assume leadership roles, as well as take the initiative to identify what those roles entail. Given our impact upon society, we should always endeavor to know what is trending out there, and part of knowing that is understanding where to get information.

That part of her speech was what I absolutely loved, for it is something that many of us forget. In Dr. Todaro’s words, “You are the expert in the room. From Day 1 in graduate school, you began to build your portfolio of expertise. Now, you need to let others know. Credential yourself. Position yourself. Be proactive about what you offer, what you are there for, and how you can help. Explain how you make a difference.”

I hope that you find this advice to be as reinvigorating as I did. Do you know what’s trending out there right now? How will you show your community that you’re an expert? To get started, here are some professional development opportunities for February 2016. As always, please contact me if you have suggestions for a professional development opportunity.

Title: STEM, STEAM, and STREAM… What Do They Have in Common? Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

  • Organization:
  • Date: Tuesday, February 2, 2016 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EST
  • Description: As school librarians you, too, have to learn to think, act and learn to teach information literacy within the STEM, STEAM, and STREAM context. In this webinar, Terry Young, a veteran librarian and science educator, will take us on a STEMulating discovery of STEM and NGSS. He will field questions from attendees during this live, interactive event. Librarians and teachers as well as school and curriculum administrators are invited to join in the conversation!
  • Link:

Title: Social Media and Volunteer Engagement

  • Organization:
  • Date: Tuesday, February 2, 2016 @ 2:00pm – 3:00pm EST
  • Description: Volunteer engagement is changing. What do you need to know about social media as a volunteer program manager? How can you use social media to promote your volunteer opportunities and recruit volunteers? This webinar will offer an introduction to including social media in your volunteer recruitment and retention plans. You’ll see examples of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages, as well as blogs that have been used to successfully draw attention to organizations and volunteer opportunities. 
  • Link:

Title: Enhancing Your Library’s Web Presence with WordPress

Title: Innovation with Gamification Level Up Your Learning!

Title: Earning Respect from Administrators

  • Organization:
  • Date: Tuesday, February 2, 2016 @ 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm EST
  • Description: In September of 2015, shared strategies to earn respect from students, parents, and colleagues. Webinar attendees had one driving question after the presentation – how do we earn respect from our administrators? Join middle school administrator Shannon Holden as he shares strategies that novices can use to earn respect from their administration.
  • Link:

Title: Developing a Leadership Culture

  • Organization: Info2Go
  • Date: Monday, February 8, 2016 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm MT
  • Description: Info2Go! offers monthly webinars featuring experts discussing current library trends with a focus on providing a platform for sharing knowledge and getting questions answered.
  • Link:

Title: Awesome Apps for Education from Google

Title: Easy Book Report Alternatives

Title: Using Technology to Engage the Reluctant Reader

  • Organization: School Library Journal
  • Date: Wednesday, February 17, 2016 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm EST
  • Description: In this free, resource-rich presentation, you’ll learn how to use online tools to instill a love of literature in new and reluctant readers. From virtual book clubs to the creative use of Instagram and Pinterest, this program will show how students can find the right book, share it with their peers, and expand their writing skills. An expert on the intersection of technology and literacy, Valerie Shinas, will provide added insight.
  • Link:

Title: Curation, Revisited: Aggregating Resources in 2016

  • Organization:
  • Date: Wednesday, February 17, 2016 @ 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm EST
  • Description: In this session, the presenter (Michelle Luhtala) will share an array of curation solutions, their strengths and limitations, and strategies to morph tools and create workarounds where services still need work. This webinar will benefit grades 3-12 school librarians, classroom teachers, curriculum leaders, and public librarians.
  • Link:

Title: Tips and Tricks for Using Microsoft Office for Mac and iOS

  • Organization: Simple K12
  • Date: Thursday, February 18, 2016 @ 2:00 pm – 2:30 pm EST
  • Description: Would you like to learn some amazing tips and tricks for using Microsoft Office on your Mac or iOS device and become more productive? Join Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Josh Davis as he shares tips and tricks for using Microsoft Office more efficiently on your Apple devices so that you can save time and spend the time you have on what matters the most – your students!
  • Link:

Title: Digital Storytelling on ANY Device with Sway

  • Organization: Simple K12
  • Date: Thursday, February 18, 2016 @ 3:00 pm – 3:30 pm EST
  • Description: Want to help students develop their most creative and innovative abilities? Introduce them to digital storytelling, regardless of their digital device! Students can use digital tools to create and share their own stories or experiences, or reflect on what they’ve learned. Join Robyn Hrivnatz as she discusses how digital storytelling can be used in the classroom. She will include information about how you can use Sway, a NEW innovative web-based learning tool that can be used on any device.
  • Link:

Title: Visible Thinking Routines and Primary Sources

  • Organization: Library of Congress
  • Date: Thursday, February 18, 2016 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EST
  • Description: Education experts will model how to use visible thinking strategies to enhance the power of primary sources. A wide variety of easy-to-use routines will be introduced. Participants will learn how to use the Library of Congress’ digitized collections to meet content and standards across the curriculum.
  • Link:

Title: Male Call: Bringing Boys to Books and Writing

  • Organization:
  • Date: Thursday, February 18, 2016 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EST
  • Description: International test results in 31 countries showed females outperformed males in reading, and concluded that boys are “the new disadvantaged.” In this webinar, discover why “gross engrosses,” the importance of using humor with boys, and book titles boys will love to read. Motivation (versus direct instruction) as a key to get students to learn will be an overarching theme in this webinar. Examples of books that engage male students will be shown and discussed, as well as how to use books as a springboard to get male students excited about writing.
  • Link:

Title: Flipping Your Classroom Using Free Resources

Title: Easy Book Report Alternatives

Title: Flipping Your Classroom Using Free Resources

  • Organization:
  • Date: Wednesday, February 24, 2016 @ 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm EST
  • Description: The practice of flipping classrooms is becoming mainstream now – so much so that several online platforms have been constructed to help teachers with this process. Join educational tech enthusiast Shannon Holden as he reveals several free tools to help teachers (including teachers with no technological skills) deliver digital lessons to students.
  • Link:

Title: Clear and to the Point: The Importance of Using Plain Language in Your Communications

  • Organization: Texas State Library and Archives Commission
  • Date: Friday, February 26, 2016 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am CST
  • Description: Technology is pervasive. It has even become part of our daily apparel. Your shirt can sense the presence of another of its kind. Your watch can track your vital signs. Your shoes can keep track of your pace. Your undergarments can track your heart rate. In this episode of Tech Trends with Tine, Tine Walczyk, independent library technology consultant with Trainers-R-Us, will expand your knowledge of smart accessories.
  • Link:

Communicating with Teachers: Tips for School Librarians

I was just online finding some professional development opportunities for school librarians. As I searched, I found one about the need for clear communication. This prompted me to think about some of my own strategies for increasing communications with teachers. I have put them into the poster below. I hope you find a strategy that you find helpful.

Mental Health in Books for Middle Grades

This week I had the opportunity to attend a wonderful session at the AASL 2015 conference. The speakers were excellent. I blogged about it for Knowledge Quest. Here the the direct link: . The information below is a duplicate of what I put on the Knowledge Quest blog.

Have you ever been in a situation when you felt that a child was in need of assistance? Did you have difficulty deciding why you felt they needed assistance? Sometimes our intuition tells us something is wrong. Then there are other times when we find a child that is:

  • Sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks
  • Engaging in behavior that is risky to themselves or others
  • Suddenly experiencing overwhelming fear
  • Experiencing severe mood swings that effect their relationships with others
  • Exhibiting extreme difficulty with concentrating that impacts their school work

These are just a few symptoms of mental illness that are listed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (2015). Yet connecting them with mental illness in a child is something that adults frequently have difficulty doing. While many cases go undiagnosed, mental illness is still prevalent among youth. If youth have not experienced some type of disorder, they are likely to know someone that has exhibited signs. In 2015, the NAMI reported that:

  • 20% of youth between the ages of 13 and 18 have or will develop mental illness
  • 11% of youth suffer from a mood disorder
  • 8% of youth have lived with an anxiety disorder
  • 70% of incarcerated youth have a mental illness

Mental illness is life threatening and can dramatically affect the quality of life that one can lead. For instance, suicide is the second most prevalent reason for death among youth ages 10-24. Half of the students 14 and older that have a mental illness will drop out of school.

These facts are the reason why the “Beyond “Issue” Books–Unpacking Mental Health Issues in Middle Grade and Young Adult Literature” session presented by Kristina McBride, Jody Casella, Liz Coley, and Natalie D. Richards provided insight on a topic that should not be ignored by any educator. As the session began, McBride noted that, “We don’t have the answers. We are just here to start the dialogue.” During the session, it was explained that students often want help, but do not know how to reach out or explain their needs. They can be quite secretive. Most students will not tell what their problems are. In fact, they may know that they have a problem. Although counselors can help, school librarians can be essential in helping students to heal through bibliotherapy by connecting them with books that are related to their issues.

The presenters challenged attendees to distinguish between Issue Books and Books with Issues. Issue Books have plots that revolve around a particular topic and how a character deals with the circumstances presented by the “issue” or problem. On the contrary, Books with Issues focus on a topic, and a character may just have an “issue” inside the story. The entire storyline will not revolve around the issue. For example, in Thin Space by Jodi Casella, the main character is grieving over the death of his brother. The main character in I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson is also grieving. Still, this grief is only mentioned briefly well into the book.

The presenters explained that sometimes it is more appropriate to give a student that is experiencing or knows someone experiencing a mentor health issue a Book with an Issue rather than an Issue Book because the Issue Book may present the topic in a manner that is too aggressive for the student. Issue Books are best presented after students are able to cope with the problem. Books with an Issue enable students to address issues with a “window into the problem” rather than “mirroring” issues that they currently do not desire to cope with.

There was so much presented during the session. I have only provided a brief summary. (Please excuse my typos.) I admire the presenters for addressing the topic of mental illness because there is not enough awareness about how mental health is affecting youth. Each of the presenters write stories that included characters that are experiencing mental illness. They asserted that there are many lists of books that are about issues. Yet it is difficult to identify the books that include the issues in subplots.

School librarians need to be able to identify both Issue Books and Books with Issues. If we are able to address mental health openly, then we as a society can begin to stop the marginalization of the youth that so desperately need our help. You can view a list of books compiled by the presenters by going to the following document:


National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2015). Mental health facts: Children & teens. Retrieved from

AASL 2015 Resources


Here are my resources for the 2015 AASL conference. I was pleased to be able to present with my children about virtual learning opportunities. Here is a handout that you can refer to in the future.

Here the beginnings of the virtual learning commons that I designing with my UNT students:

Here is a copy of the presentations:

Get a Free Leadership Practices Inventory Assessment (LPI)


If you are currently a school librarian, I would love for you to participate in my online study.  I am conducting a study to determine the relationships among the variables resilience, self- perceived leadership potential, self-perceived impact on learning, and school climates. If you agree to participate, it is expected that the process will take no more than 45 minutes to complete.  After completing the initial survey (20-30 minutes) on a Qualtrics website, you will receive an email with directions for accessing the Leadership Practices Inventory (15 minutes) within 24 hours.

If you decide to participate, you will be compensated for participating in this study by receiving a copy of your Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI)-Self score when the study is complete. This assessment typically costs $50.

Please go to if you are interested in participating. This website contains more information about the study. You can also complete the initial survey after reading all of the information about the study.

Thank you for your consideration…


Welcome to my new blog. I can not say that I am much of a writer. However, I wanted to share some of my experiences. I also needed a place to put my presentations for the conferences that I participate in. I am hoping to make a post a least once a month. We will see!

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