Creating a Transformative Library Vision: TASL Winner Talks to Us

by Renee Smith-Faulkner, Asst. Superintendent of Technology Services, Castleberry ISD; 2015 Winner, TASL Distinguished Library Service Award for School Administrators

Please share this post with any and all administrators and librarian colleagues who may not read this blog. Ms Smith Faulkner is truly our advocate. Use the tools she recommends. D.Hand, Editor 

I would like to begin the blog post by thanking all of the librarians, teacher-librarians, hybrarians, and Twitterbrarians across the state for the leadership and support you offer your campuses, teachers, students, and the community each day. Districts and administrators that employ you as a vital resource and recognize the potential return on their investment have the best opportunities for transforming student learning on their campuses. 

Since receiving the Distinguished Administrator of the Year Award at TLA last year, I have had the opportunity to meet some of the most dedicated librarians in the state via face-to-face, email, and through participation in the #txlchat. However, when I speak with them, I hear a common theme amongst them. Can you help change school administrators’ perceptions of the library program and educate them on the evolving role of the librarian as a 21st century campus leader? How do you begin the re-branding of a library program and implementing a transformative vision?

First, I assure librarians that although Castleberry ISD has some great things happening in their libraries, this can be the story of every school library. Administrators can develop a Transformative Library Vision and turn it into a reality by starting with these 10 strategies we implemented in our district.
  • Create a Shared Vision for the Library.
    • Create a Library Improvement Plan. Present the plan to the school board and report progress on goals and objectives. Without a district-wide plan, internal and external stakeholders might not recognize the library as an integral component of the school community.
  • Staff Your Library with a Full-Time Librarian.
    • Value their expert knowledge. With the exponential growth in digital information, it is more important now to have an expert that can assist students in deciphering the validity of digital information. 
  • Ensure Librarians are a Member of the Campus Leadership Team.
    • Librarians provide insight on the campus culture.
  • Involve Librarians in Planning and Facilitating District-Wide Professional Development.
    • Librarians can help others create a strong Personal Learning Network which provides individualized professional development based on campus and teacher needs.
  • Provide a Budget to Equip Your Library with Digital Resources and Technology Equipment.
    • Be careful, librarians are instructional experts and not meant to spend their day on technical support. Use them to transform the learning culture that encourages collaboration, communication, and supports innovation.
  • Schedule Meetings with Your Library Staff Regularly
    • Do your librarians have a scheduled time to meet collaboratively, plan, and create a common vision to bring about purposeful change and establish one clear voice?
    • Meeting regularly with the campus administrator helps build a positive relationship between the library and campus administration. These meetings can change how the library program is perceived.
  • Transform the Library Space to Accommodate Collaboration and Personal Learning Networks
    • Allow librarians to have conversations about what these spaces should look like and what tools should be available to support these learning spaces. Yes, coding, makerspaces, and gaming should be funded and implemented in the library.
  • Share Library Success Stories through a Hashtag Embedded on the District Website
    • Promote your library programs through the power of technology, and this can make all of the difference in your library program. If you don’t have a district, campus, or library hashtag, create one now.
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Risk
    • Don’t roll the dice and bet the farm, but instead be willing to put transformative ideas “out there” and don’t be afraid to present ideas that are outside of the box.
  • And Did I Say, Staff Your Library with a Full-Time Librarian
    • Librarians make a difference and impact student learning.

Personally, I can’t imagine what our district would be like without the leadership of our teacher-librarians. We meet monthly as a group to assess the progress of our District Library Improvement Plan, so necessary adjustments can be made to ensure goals and objectives are reached. In addition, technology coaches are often invited and planning for campus professional development and teacher support networks are established. Then, the teacher-librarian for each campus reports progress on library initiatives during campus improvement monitoring meetings held each six weeks with the campus principal, assistant principal, technology coaches, and myself.  During this time, standardized student resources are shared so all stakeholders can support key collaborative initiatives for the year such as the creation of student digital portfolios, student blogs, teacher Canvas classes, and flipped lesson resources.

In our district, it has become second nature for our administrators to view teacher-librarians as a vital member of the campus leadership team.  Our administrators embrace and advocate for creating and supporting libraries designed to accommodate a “collaborative” and “connected” learning pedagogy that elicits 21st century learning.

The transformation did not come easy or without a few bumps in the road. However, my experience has confirmed that an investment in your library program is well worth the return!

Administrators, for more information, I encourage you to contact me using any of the following methods:
       Twitter: @faulknerr
       Office: 817-252-2087


  1. Our high school librarian has become such an integral part of enhancing the learning experience for our students. Teachers now use her to help design research lessons, extend learning activities, and create engaging opportunities for students outside the four walls of the classroom. Our newly designed library has promoted student book check-out and created an inviting atmosphere that facilitates a safe, secure and structured environment for all that come in.
    Rethinking how we "market" our library to our student body made a big difference in student and staff perceptions of what a library, and a librarian, can offer to the learning experience.

  2. The district librarians do an amazing job in supporting the learning in the classroom, as well as collaborating with our Instructional and Technology teams within CISD to foster the culture of Growth Mindset by facilitating professional development opportunities which facilitates risk-taking for our faculty and staff. In addition, our librarians have embraced the idea of partnering with teachers to create transformative lessons for our students by assisting in flipped classrooms, video tutorials, and providing support in our blended learning classes. I could not imagine our district without these great people helping our students experience success every day!

    John Ramos
    Superintendent - Castleberry ISD

  3. With a librarian like Sallee Clark, you can rest assured the instructional needs of students are being met. She is a key player on the leadership team ensuring technology is part of our digital learning environment. She collaborates with grade levels to demo apps and create instructional videos, distributes iPads, models the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model, holds UIL Club meetings, holds Maker Club meetings, etc. Bottom line.... Mrs. Clark is a versatile individual who values the importance of student learning. I am proud she is the librarian of Castleberry Elementary.

    Ricardo Montalvo, Principal of Castleberry Elementary

  4. Transformation...our Joy James Librarian does this inside and out of the library. April Scott plays an integral role with the use of technology and the transformation of the learning process on our campus. She is always there with resources but the support she offers our teachers and students is what makes the difference. She is always collaborating, co-teaching, modeling, exploring, researching, and most importantly laying foundations for us to create strong 21st Century Learners. Thank you to April Scott and Renee Smith-Faulkner for having a vision and helping us accomplish it here at JJE!

    1. Principal of Joy James Elementary
      Castleberry ISD

  5. Jace Daily, the librarian at Castleberry High School is an incredible asset not only to our students and staff but to other high school librarians that come in and visit our Café and library set up. She plays an integral part in her library PLN and learns and shares her ideas with our teachers and students. Thank you Jace Daily for challenging yourself professionally to provide the best possible learning environment for our students.

  6. Our teacher librarian, Sallee Clark, is sensational! She has expectations for her library that correlate with the current technological culture in which we live as well as the traditionally beloved atmosphere of a library conducive to a love of literature. She is innovative and incredibly resourceful. Our campus would honestly grieve her absence.

  7. At IMMS, our teacher librarian, Doeni Onco, does a wonderful job of keeping the campus and community informed on what is going on in the IMMS library. This sample from her October newsletter shows just what I am talking about. Thank you Doeni for being so willing to help with communication, posters, and even daily announcements to keep all informed!

  8. The elementary teacher-librarians are three of the most positive, collaborative, creative, and optimistic individuals in CISD. These three inspiring educators have transformed our libraries – they are now bright, collaborative, learning environments. You can walk the halls and quickly identify when a class is going to the library, the students walk down the halls with a pep in their step and exciting anticipation of what is to come. Our librarians work with teachers, students, technology department and administrators to ensure that they facilitate an environment to develop 21stCentury Learners.

    Thank you Sallee Clark, and Allison Fitzgerald and April Scott for ALL that you do and inspiring CISD to constantly grow to meet the needs of our learner.

    Jessica Batchko
    CISD Elementary Technology Coach

  9. At A.V. Cato, Allison Fitzgerald has changed the culture at our school to make the library a destination the students want to go to not just because of the books, but for an assortment of reasons - many of them just on the periphery of the books themselves. Every day, students who walk in to our library can expect to find an activity awaiting them - a scavenger hunt, a matching game, a word game - on everything from a scannable bar-code to a simple worksheet. These are all thanks to the talent and creativity of Mrs. Fitzgerald. All this while meeting classes daily to support Language Arts teachers and the standards they are teaching in the classrooms - everything from genre studies, to writing skills, to research projects.

  10. I don't even know where to begin! Our librarian, Sallee Clark, is AMAZING!! She is constantly collaborating with the teachers and coming up with fantastic lessons that reinforce what the teachers are doing in the classroom. For myself personally, she is someone I can come to at any time for advice, suggestions, and any kind of technology support. She has been absolutely wonderful and we are very thankful we have her as part of our team!

  11. When growing up 20-30 years ago (or longer), saying that you were going to the library was seen as a label that branded students as nerds or some other form of derogatory epithet. Libraries like the ones in CISD are completely eradicating that false stereotype. Students want to be in the libraries. They have quickly become for many the most popular place in the school. Students who never before would have graced the doorsteps of a school library are gravitating to these spaces of learning and discovery. The previous model of dusty tomes are no more. Now, students and teachers are not struggling to find reasons to go to the library. More accurately, it is trying to find more reasons to stay out of the library because there are an abundance of ways that this teacher could use, and have used, and will continue to use the CHS library and Jace Daily as a resource to reach, engage, and invigorate students in what they are learning in my classes and improve myself as an educator.

    1. I forgot to mention, or emphasize, that spaces are great, but it is the people who are available whenever they are needed that make the library a place where anyone can make magic. Without them, the lifeblood of creativity would be on life support. Libraries are the heart and soul of a school, but without librarians like Jace Daily, that heart would not beat as efficiently or as productively.

  12. Oh, and the data is in to support Ms. Smith-Faulkner's point, "Staff Your Library." According to the study, "states that gained school librarian positions between 2005 and 2009 experienced larger increases and no decreases in National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) reading scores for 4th grade, while states that lost school librarians experienced smaller increases or decreases in reading scores."

  13. To sum up what our librarian April Scott is to the Joy James Campus could be said in one word...indispensable!!! She is a constant resource for both teachers and students. As an ELA teacher, she is a part of all planning that goes on in my room. Whether it is her knowledge of technology, or her knowledge of the books she packs in the library, she always has something to take the kids deeper and increase their experiences. We have collaborate with many projects throughout the year We have done book talks, blog posts, Google slide collaborations, learned about researching tips, and created books trailers using the iMovie app. The library is not just a place to check out books anymore, it is an extension of the students regular classroom now. The library is an exciting place for students, both before and after school. It is the day that the students can't wait for and when it is time to leave, it is hard to get them to go. April Scott has made the library the heart of our school.

  14. Our librarian, April Scott, is an undeniable asset to this campus. The vast amount of resources, ideas, and support she provides to each and every classroom is immeasurable. She not only integrates technology into her lessons and teaches the students how to use technology, she also takes time out of her day (lunch and learn) to teach the teachers and staff as well. My students cannot wait until library day each and every week. Mrs. Scott and her library are definitely the focal point of our campus!

  15. The librarian at CE, Sallee Clark, has been a resource we have been able to use for all lessons. She incorporates what each grade level is working on and helps to reinforce skills being taught.
    One lesson that really stands out is the Makey Makey lesson. Our students created a model of the solar system in the classroom. In our Coding class, Mrs. Clark went down and guided them through the coding program, Scratch. The students typed in three facts about five different planets. Then we went to the library and set it up with the Makey Makey and tested their coding program. It was such a great lesson that our students will never forget.

  16. The librarian at our school, April Scott, is our biggest asset at Joy James Elementary. Whenever I need a sounding board for a project or an activity I collaborate with April. April also checks in with us to ensure that her activities are reinforcing the activities that we are teaching in the classroom. Going to the library for my class has become a huge treat. My students are just as excited about going to the library as I am. Having additional times in the library that classes can sign up for in order to do hands-on activities is one of the many ways that the students' learning is enhanced. April also offers up a time during lunch where teachers can ask for any kind of assistance they may need especially with integrating technology in to their lessons. With the help of April my class has been piloting a new app called Wonderbox and it has really put the learning into the hands of my students. I'm excited about our next activity which we are teaming up with third grade to do our research projects and then presenting them. April also has the library open on Wednesdays after school for the students and families to come and try different activities. The library is buzzing with excitement and definitely the "cool" place to be. I can't wait to see what April comes up with next.

  17. Sallee Clark is amazing at helping classroom teachers integrate technology into our lessons. We have used Scratch to write code about our Solar System, she has had students use the Makey Makey to go through that code, and has worked with us to present fun interactive science activities to reinforce learning in the classroom. She has helped us set up our Weebly's to have students respond to each others blogs about various topics in the classroom. This districts librarians are experts at helping classroom teachers integrate technology into our lesson plans!

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  19. Joy James Elementary is extremely fortunate to have our librarian Ms. Scott. She has transformed our library from just a room full of books to a 21st century learning community. It has been such a pleasure to work with her over the years because she has such a positive impact on my pre-k students. They adore her and they don't ever let me forget our library time. The reason for their affection and admiration of Ms. Scott is simple. She creates engaging activities full of technology and hands-on experiences for our kids. For example: When we read "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!", we followed the book with a SmartBoard activity, where students had to vote on whether the would let the pigeon drive the bus. Or when we read about snowmen, Ms. Scott then had the students create their own snowmen on the iPad. And these are just two examples out of many! Besides her lessons, Ms. Scott also as an incredibly collaborative teacher spirit. Every Wednesday she hosts a "lunch and learn" for teachers, where teachers can seek guidance on a myriad of technology infused lessons. She also offers activities in the library once a week after school, where parents can come and participate with their children in all the exciting things going on in the library. This year my class and Ms. Gore's bilingual class have done book buddies and science buddies in the library. This has helped our 3rd graders build their self-confidence and leadership skills and has also allowed my pre-k kids to become more self-confident, talkative and independent. Her innovative ideas and belief that all kids are capable establishes a strong foundation for our children. Not only do they become more proficient in technology and literature but they develop a life long love for reading and learning.

  20. The library has surely change since I started teaching! Our librarian Mrs. Clark is simply awesome. We collaborate together on lessons to reinforce what the students are learning in the classroom, she is a great person to get ideas on how to incorporate technology and she does it all with a smile on her face! The library is not a quiet place, it's a place to learn from each other, to talk about topics of interest and to share the love for learning.

  21. Our library has grown in many ways over the years. It still has the thousands of books for students and teachers to choose from, but even that is growing. Our librarian, Sallee Clark, adds to our books every year. She gets to know our students and what they like so she can order books that they will want to read. Not only does she stay current with text, she also keeps our school current with technology. The kids were able to create a Makey Makey with their information about planets that they had researched about. Sallee also creates collaborative lessons to help support what is being taught in class. For example, my kids just finished learning about area and perimeter. She created a lesson based off of the Minecraft idea. The kids had to create a structure that would protect their character. Once they figured out their structure they had to find the area and perimeter of it. What a great way to keep the kids engaged in a fun and current lesson. We are such a lucky school to have this type of library!

  22. Tech-savvy Teacher Librarians truly help our classrooms to flourish. I enjoy being able to take an infant idea to Sallee Clark and see the magical ways she cane make the technology come alive for our students. Need to compare and contrast two texts? Let's collaborate across classrooms to partner up and create Tellagami videos to detail our texts! Such creative ideas help us as teachers to take repetitive lessons and breathe fire and FUN back in to them through creative technology usage.

  23. Our librarian, Sallee Clark is more like a co-teacher than a librarian. She comes to grade level meetings to learn and collaborate about the curriculum we teach. She then takes our curriculum and specifically incorporates it into her library lessons. My students especially love collaboration Fridays! Mrs. Clark hosts collaboration Fridays as a way to extend our classroom lessons. Our favorite collaboration Friday is hosted in the spring with our life cycle unit! Our students learn about the life cycle of a chicken and we hatch our very own chickens! Mrs. Clark always extends this lesson by inviting local farmers to come speak with our students. Mrs. Clark also incorporates IPADS, SmartBoards, and various apps to help extend this awesome life cycle lesson. Of course, the farmers think it is really awesome that 1st graders are able to extend their thinking and learn collaboratively through technology!
    We thank you for all you do Mrs. Clark, our students know the joy of learning and reading because of you!
    -Cheyenne McMillin
    1st Grade C.E.

  24. Thanks to Sallee Clark for all you do at CE! She's awesome! Coming from another district previously, I had no idea what I was missing! I love the weekly lessons she provides to my students, the collaboration Fridays, and technology support! We are so lucky! My favorite lesson she did with my students was when she invited us to a very special, "Pigeon Party!" Sallee found an interactive app that helped the kids to create their own version of the story, "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus." It was so fun, and silly. The kids loved it! I'm so grateful for all the fun ways that the library enhances our learning!

  25. I have learned so much from collaborating with our librarian, Mrs. April Scott. She has been an inspiration of patience, risk-taking, and innovation. Our library is a positive, trusting environment where teachers, students, and administrators are free to explore, wonder, and share.
    The 3rd grade students in my class, with the guidance and support of Ms. Scott, have learned how to use and actively engage in technology as an everyday part of their lives and learning. It is authentic engagement at every level. What a joy it has been to have a mentor like April to encourage myself and students to challenge ourselves in order to make our learning more meaningful.