School libraries are disappearing when students need them most

This story was originally published by Chalkbeat. Sign up for their newsletters at ckbe.at/newsletters.

In 2014, I got my first teaching job at a brand new high school in Detroit. The building had once been an elementary school with a fully functioning library. There was even a built-in card catalog. Now, though, it was empty, and the position of librarian didn’t exist. When we held a community book drive to fill the shelves, we ended up with a ramshackle collection of old, random, age-inappropriate books, some print encyclopedias, and an eclectic mix of cookbooks.

Two years later, that room had become a dumping ground for unused supplies, and the school football team frequently used it as a meeting space. The bookshelves were disorganized, their alphabetization long ago destroyed. In fact, not a single area school I have worked at in the past nine years has had a functioning library. …Read More

6 time-saving tech tricks for school librarians

Is there an educator on the planet who would turn down a bit more time in their day?

With time-saving technology strategies, school librarians can find ways to connect with their school’s teachers and students on a deeper level, forming relationships and helping with research and skill development.

During an ISTELive session, Kristina A. Holzweiss, a high school educational technology enrichment specialist librarian, shared her tips to help school librarians engage with students, support teachers, and make their school libraries dynamic and welcoming learning spaces.…Read More

What are your reasons to celebrate this school year?

We can all agree that the challenges we’ve seen in the last two years are unprecedented. However, when we consider all that’s happened and all that we’ve learned, there is also much to celebrate.

We can celebrate because students are back in school. We can celebrate the fact that libraries and librarians are in the spotlight. We can celebrate the fact superintendents no longer have to moonlight as meteorologists to call a snow day because we can deliver instruction virtually. 

We can’t forget specific challenges and controversies, though—we’ve argued about masks, vaccines, and books. Teachers are leaving the profession. Librarians are facing criminal consequences over their collections. District leaders are attempting to navigate an increasingly political landscape where it’s becoming nearly impossible to please everyone. …Read More

TeachingBooks Resources Available to 24 Million Readers with New Statewide Library Systems Added in 2021

CLEVELAND – February 3, 2022TeachingBooks, an online database of supplemental resources that enrich children’s and young adult books, had a busy year in 2021. In addition to being acquired by OverDrive in October, TeachingBooks announced the signing of four new statewide licenses and one territory license in 2021. TeachingBooks also was awarded the “Common Sense Selection for Learning” as a best-in-class resource for both students and educators.

With the addition of the new licenses, more than 24 million readers at over 55,000 schools, public libraries and higher education institutions can now access TeachingBooks’ curated educational materials. TeachingBooks deepens the learning experience by “bringing books to life” through their database of over 270,000 digital resources, including author interviews, video book trailers, discussion questions and literary games.

The five new licenses signed in 2021 represent more than 7,300 institutions and 2.6 million students. These library systems include:…Read More

3 reasons E-rate funding remains critical for school internet access

The federal E-rate program remains a vital and trusted funding source to bring “mission-critical” internet access to schools and libraries, according to an annual report tracking trends and developments related to the federal funding stream.

The 2021 E-rate Trends Report, from E-rate compliance services firm Funds For Learning, arrives as school systems work through COVID-related impacts, including the Homework Gap and on- and off-campus broadband needs.

Responses from a record-breaking 2,164 applicants indicate that E-rate remains essential, and network security is now an urgent concern.…Read More

A tale of three cities: Emerging from the pandemic…or not

New York City, New York. Cleveland, Ohio. Williamston, South Carolina.

In the height of the pandemic, nearly every community looked similar. Schools were closed.  Restaurants were closed. Families stayed home. 

As our world is emerging from the pandemic, there is a distinct division in our communities that was clearly articulated by the three librarians who participated in a recent panel for publishers who create content for schools and public libraries.…Read More

Gale Launches New Accredited Online Adult High School Program to Public Libraries

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. – September 11, 2021 – Gale, part of Cengage Group, today announced the launch of Gale Presents: Excel Adult High School, a new online accredited diploma completion program available to public libraries. In partnership with Excel Education Systems, the program is designed to help adults obtain their high school diploma entirely online, as well as prepare them for college and the workplace. This new program comes as the nation’s economy is working to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling libraries to provide their communities with education services that create economic growth through the development of future workforces.

Currently, there are an estimated 30 million American adults without a high school diploma.[i] In addition, the pandemic created the highest jobless rate since the Great Recession and unemployment rates were highest for those workers without a high school diploma. With Gale Presents: Excel Adult High School, libraries are providing local economic value through workforce development by helping adult learners reach their education and career goals.

“We partnered with Excel Education Systems because they are a leader in adult learning and have an exceptional focus on supporting adults who wish to re-enter the education system,” said Paul Gazzolo, senior vice president and general manager at Gale. “As a trusted partner to public libraries, Gale understands the importance of access to education, particularly for underserved and at-risk populations. With Gale Presents: Excel Adult High School, we are helping public libraries change lives. Earning a high school diploma leads to better jobs with larger salaries, attending college and most importantly, a feeling of pride that comes with achieving your dreams.”…Read More

5 must-haves for school makerspaces

School makerspaces have emerged as centers of creativity, problem solving, collaboration, and more. These skills–often referred to as soft skills, but also known as durable skills for their importance in the workplace–are a focus of 21st-century classrooms.

These days, school libraries often include makerspaces and librarians are becoming well-versed in the coding, robotics, engineering, and tinkering skills necessary to help students bring their ideas to fruition.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, students set up personal makerspaces at home, logging onto school-provided resources and gathering materials from their homes to keep their creativity going when learning moved online.…Read More

5 digital tools for school libraries

School libraries have evolved from strict, quiet, hush-hush rooms to more interactive spaces with flexible seating, readily-available edtech tools, and educators on hand to help with research, critical resource evaluation, makerspaces.

It’s in school libraries where students often discover and hone their love of coding and programming, create amazing projects via makerspaces, and where they develop important 21st-century skills.

As schools plan to return to full in-person learning in the fall, students will no doubt be eager to return to their school libraries and pick up where they left off.…Read More

“It Isn’t Enough to Not Be Racist.” ULC and Gale Call on Library Executives to Actively Embrace Anti-Racism’s Leadership Imperative

A New Urban Libraries Council Leadership Brief Highlights Action Strategies for Library Executives to Lead the Charge for Anti-Racism, Starting by Looking Inward

WASHINGTON & FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. – The Urban Libraries Council (ULC) has published a new Leadership Brief on Anti-Racist Executive Leadership for Public Libraries, sponsored by Gale, a Cengage company. This resource examines the deep roots and enduring harm of structural racism in public libraries and challenges library executives to take on a more active, intentional and accountable role in strengthening their libraries as anti-racist institutions.

Introducing the Leadership Brief is the following quote from Baltimore County Public Library Director, Sonia Alcántara-Antoine, “In order to make any progress as library leaders, we need to look at our own history with humility and have the courage to recognize that we can be part of the solution.” Alcántara-Antoine is a member of ULC’s Anti-Racism action team, which informed the development of the Leadership Brief.…Read More