New State Library Standards Update

We are moving ever closer to having our new Texas State Library Standards ready to roll!  At the time of this posting, our proposed document is with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and we eagerly await their comments and approval.

Much progress has been made since our first State Standards Revision Steering Committee meeting in November 2015. Creating vision and mission statements were the first challenges for the committee. We knew these needed to be strong statements, making the case for the necessity of certified professional librarians in schools to impact student achievement.

VISION: Texas school libraries are essential interactive collaborative learning environments, ever evolving to provide equitable physical and virtual access to ideas, information, and learning tools for the entire school community.
MISSION: Certified librarians and trained staff nurture a culture of literacy and inquiry throughout the school community. An integral part of instructional teams, librarians collaborate with teachers on curriculum design and delivery.  They maintain a professionally developed collection of print and digital materials and assist learners in locating resources that match their academic and personal interests. Librarians model and teach information literacy and digital citizenship, empowering learners to make ethical, informed choices in an increasingly complex and evolving global environment.

Once the vision and mission statements were in place, they were our guideposts in creating the core values, upon which the standards’ strands and dimensions have been built.
Core Values:
  • School libraries are essential, safe, and inviting centers for teaching and learning.
  • School libraries support reading for learning and pleasure which are essential skills for college and career readiness and for life.
  • School libraries provide access to information for inquiry including the pursuit, creation, and sharing of knowledge, and support for both student and professional learning.
  • School libraries promote information literacy requiring targeted instruction to efficiently locate, accurately evaluate, ethically use, and clearly communicate information in various formats.
  • School libraries are vital technology centers, providing access to devices and online resources, supporting personalized learning, and teaching digital literacy including privacy, safety, etiquette, creative credit, cyberbullying, and creating a positive digital footprint.
  • School libraries are effective when staffed by full-time, certified school librarians at every school, supported by trained paraprofessionals.

Subcommittees were appointed and worked tirelessly to create and flesh out each of the six strands and an appendix with additional data collection measures.  Upon completion, these documents were sent to outside experts in the field for comments and revision suggestions.  
It is important to note that the new state library standards create standards of practice librarians use to teach our content, much like the TEKS are used by classroom teachers to teach their content.

The co-chairs (Donna Kearley and I), along with Liz Philippi from TSLAC, pored over the documents taking into consideration the suggested revisions for both wording and format. This document was presented at TLA in April 2017 and then was posted for public comments for a period of 4 weeks.

Once again the team worked to update the document with the suggestions before presenting it at TASLA (Texas Association of School Library Administrators) in June. Comments were recorded and taken into consideration as the team once again worked to continue to shape the document.

Finally, this latest ideation was presented at TLA’s Annual Assembly.  Comments and suggestions were once again taken into consideration as the group prepared the document for final editing and formatting before being sent to the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

Once we have the green light from TEA, the document will be sent to the State Board of Education (SBOE) for approval.  We are hopeful that the document will move from “proposed standards” to “approved standards” before the start of the 2018-2019 academic year.

The proposed standards can be found on the TSLAC website by following this link.

posted by Sonja Schulz

Postcards Persuade

by Dorcas Hand, TASLTalks Editorial Board

While I was in Chicago at the ALA conference, I attended a rally at the Illinois state House – people, carrying signs, talking about what mattered to us in a place where others could hear. If they listened.

But the most brilliant element to me was the postcards.
As we look at the Texas Legislature’s Special Session in our rear-view mirror - and think we can ignore them a while - I’d like to propose exactly the opposite. Find a postcard template you like online and make yourself a series of postcards to send your local legislators about exciting things happening in your library as the year goes along. Help them feel warm and fuzzy about school libraries. Help them understand how strong school libraries support many literacies and academic achievement, even test scores. Persuade them that the teaching you lead in the library is every bit as important as what happens in the classroom; repeat several times over the year.

Use pictures of project outlines, colorful student projects (without names, of course), creative bulletin boards or online displays – anything that brings attention to the fact that you are leading your campus to stronger student growth. You can show students working without ever showing a face. You can reflect diversity, too. Get creative. Or ask your students to draw the images that reflect why they think your library is important every day.
IMHO, the biggest challenge is making the initial template – so I’ll give you one for the front and one for the back. Or download another from the all-powerful internet… You just mark your calendar to send a postcard to all your legislators ever 2-3 weeks all year. You can print a few copies of each card, even pre-load the addresses… Card stock, or pre-cut postcard stock, is easy and pretty cheap.

Just remember – postcards persuade!

Discussion question: What do you want to feature first? What project do you think will make your legislator feel great about your library program???

Texas Library Leaders

Written by Jacqueline Higginbotham, Middle School Media Specialist in New Caney ISD, TxASL Talks Editorial Board.

It’s August in Texas. The dog days of Texas are coming to an end. Educators, students, and parents are preparing for another great year of school (and some have even already started). Parents are cramming down the school supply aisles trying to check the last few items off their school supply list. Teachers are making multiple trips to the teacher supply stores and librarians are planning and preparing to make sure they get books into the hands of all their students. As an educator myself, I love this time of year. It’s a fresh start. A clean slate. Whatever didn’t get done last year fuels me to be better this year! As we prepare for the upcoming year, we often reflect on how we spent our summer days and set goals to the year ahead.

Every summer, the Texas Library Association spends four fabulous days with Texas  librarians as part of their TALL Texans Leadership Development Institute. 25 librarians from across the state and different library types are selected to participate in the institute each year. Led by Jack Siggins & Maureen Sullivan, these librarians learn about themselves and how to make a greater impact on their community through their jobs as librarians. They work with mentors, reflect on how they can be better, and set goals that they want to complete over the next year. During these 4 days all of the participants and leaders form long-lasting bonds that will help them to continue to grow over the coming years.

It is a true honor to be selected to participate in the TALL Texan Leadership Development Institute. And most graduates are proud to call themselves a TALL Texan! It is a badge of honor! The 2017 TALL Texans Class is made up of the following librarians. You can expect to hear from some of these folks this year:

Katherine Adelberg, Library Development, Texas State Library, Austin
Yolanda Botello, Youth Services, Mansfield Public Library
Rory Elliott, Collections Merchandising, Texas State University, San Marcos
Jacob Galindo, Library Instruction, University of Texas El Paso
Allyssa Guzman, Digital Scholarship, University of Texas at Austin
Chad Hetterley, Technical Services, Desoto Public Library
Claire Hogg, Central High School, San Angelo ISD
Janna Hoglund, Octavia Fields Branch, Harris County Public Library, Humble
Jennifer Jimenez, Reference, Del Mar College, Corpus Christi
Linda Kay, Ridgeview Middle School, Round Rock ISD
Bethni King, Children's Services, Georgetown Public Library
Laura Magana, Richland High School, Birdville ISD, North Richland Hills
Maurine Nichols, Technical Services, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston
Elizabeth Ponder, Instruction & Information Services, East Texas Baptist University, Marshall
Sara Pope, Children's Services, Houston Public Library
Danny Ramos, Padron Elementary School, Austin ISD
Alexia Riggs, Dean of Libraries, Howard Payne University, Brownwood
Lorraine Roussin, Judson High School, Judson ISD, Converse
Mellissa Sanchez, Highlands Elementary School, Fort Bend ISD, Sugar Land
Joanna Stone, Parr Library, Plano Public Libraries
Valerie Tagoe, Wilson High School, Dallas ISD
Theresa Tongio Holden, Director, Palestine Public Library
Beth Vizzini, Circulation, West Texas A&M University, Canyon
Hillary Volkmann, Black Elementary School, Aldine ISD, Houston

TALL Class of 2017.jpg

As the Incoming Chair for the TALL Texans round table, I would love to encourage you to apply to be part of the 2018 class! You may have to apply more than once -- I did! Many applicants do not get in on their first try, but a teacher once told me, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!” I am so glad I did not give up! It really was a highlight of my career. Here are a few things you can do to learn more:

  • Check out the TxLA TALL Texans page.
  • Begin your application when it opens on October, 1st. It is due January 26, 2018. Reach out to former TALL Texans for help (I would love to hear from you, but you can also find a list of former TALLs on the TxLA webpage. You can also reach out to Ted Wanner at TxLA and he will be happy to help you).
  • Join the TALL Texans Round Table. Did you know you don’t have to be a graduate of the TALL Texans to belong to our RT? If you are interested in learning more, joining the RT is a GREAT place to start!

Let's Promote Libraries!

by Brooke King, Middle School Librarian in Humble ISD, TxASLTalks Editorial Board

As school librarians, we need to do a better job of promoting ourselves and all the amazing happenings in our libraries. Many stakeholders may not fully understand all that we do. The TxASL Legislative & Advocacy Committee wants to change that.

The Let’s Promote Libraries initiative is a monthly social media campaign to encourage school librarians to promote themselves, their programs, and their instruction. It is organized around the revised standards and each month’s topic is framed as a question. We might ask, “Did you know school librarians train staff?” or “Did you know we celebrate diversity in all its forms?”

On the 17th of each month, we’re asking school librarians to send a social media message about what we do. You can post on any social media outlet or even send an email to a stakeholder. We want to focus on local stakeholders first, and then at the state and national levels.

It’s easy to participate!
Step 1: Look at the current month’s question.
Step 2: Snap a photo and write your message.
Step 3: Post your message and photo on any/all platforms of social media.
Step 4: Be sure to use the hashtag #txaslleg along with other key hashtags. Step 5: Repost/retweet/share

How Principals can Support Libraries

This entry was written by Lucy Podmore, High School librarian in Northside ISD, San Antonio and TxASLTalks co-editor.

Outstanding NISD principals and library supporters,
Eric Tobias, Tracy Wernli, and Dr. Jerry Woods.
Ask any school principal in Texas if they support school libraries and I’d be willing to bet they would all say, “YES, 100%!”.  I believe it’s the follow up question, “ what does that support look like?” that may trip up some principals.  I have been fortunate in my career as a librarian to be in schools where that support is not only verbalized, but demonstrated.  As I reflect on my time in three school libraries, I noticed the strength of the library program was directly impacted by the kind of support I had with each of the principals.  The most successful programs enjoyed principal support in the following ways:

Inclusion on campus leadership team: The principals I’ve worked with have shown their support of the library program by welcoming me onto their campus leadership teams.  This is not only an invitation, but an expectation that I would actively participate in the discussions these campus leaders were having.  The opportunity allows me to hear the campus issues and department objectives of campus leaders so that I may then offer library resources or guidance to help them achieve their goals. Oftentimes it opens the eyes of many campus leaders to the notion that the library’s reach extends far beyond the physical space of the library.  Without a doubt, these meetings help me define my own goals for the library program throughout the year.  

Staffing support: In 2010 the State of Texas drastically reduced school funding and as a result, numerous positions across my school district were eliminated including library assistants.  At that time I was serving in a very active library with close to 1,400 students and I was devastated to know my ability to properly serve the students and staff would be significantly affected by this move.  My principal at that time helped me launch an active volunteer base who assisted with the numerous clerical duties of running a library, while I continued to focus on the instructional side.  A few weeks into the school year at my high school library, the principal  recognized the number of students visiting the library before school was consistently well over 200.  In recognition of the need for assistance, he reorganized the morning duty schedule to include a library station.  Both of these examples of staffing support not only helped me with additional hands and eyes in the library, it also provided more advocates for both of those library programs.  I now had parents and teachers talking about the popularity of the library and the numerous resources and programs available. It is important to note that these changes and actions came about because these principals were frequent visitors to the library. They personally saw that assistance was needed and did what they could to provide it.  Administrators view things through their own special lens and consider solutions based on resources of which librarians may not be aware. An open invitation for administrators to spend time in the library is always a good practice.

Open Communication: Librarians and administrators share a common goal of helping students and staff succeed. When ideas are created on how to achieve those goals, it’s impossible for one person to understand various perspectives to attain that goal without communication. The most successful principals I have worked with have been great at giving me time to share ideas and plans with them. This time and open dialogue provides an opportunity to strengthen ideas by looking at multiple viewpoints.  I believe these principals understand the campus wide impact the library can have and saw the benefits of taking the time to ensure the success of various programs by looking at them with critical, yet supportive, eyes.  To be able to have those frank conversations is something that needs time to develop.  I am so thankful the principals with whom I have worked have allowed me the freedom to try new ideas with the knowledge that they supported my efforts and would be there to provide valuable insight to improve upon those ideas.

Staff Development Support: Being a school librarian can sometimes be a lonely position. There is no one else on campus who can truly understand and relate to the various issues we tackle daily.  Attending district, regional, state, or national/international conferences designed specifically for librarians is an opportunity to hear and learn from librarians outside the school district about their successful campus strategies and also helps us build our own PLCs.   I have enjoyed the support of principals who have generously paid for registration fees, assisted with accommodations during out of town events, and/or treated the absence as a "excused school business" absence.  In return for that support, I have always made it a personal expectation to share with staff and students the new information I learned while attending these events.  My principals have provided opportunities for me to develop and present staff development for staff showcasing library resources, technology instruction, and teaching ideas which helps me gain additional access to teachers. There are some teachers who may see the library and librarians as resources specific to certain content areas. Being in front of the entire faculty helps me demonstrate tools, ideas, and resources that are useful for all educators and helps build more relationships with my campus colleagues. By broadening my target audience beyond students and specific content areas, I am able to help even more students and educators.

I know being a principal is an exhausting job with multiple focal points. To run a successful school and library program, you need to create a team of hard-working people committed to your vision. I've been fortunate these principals have recognized me and the library program as valuable members of their team. The librarian can be a powerful partner in building a successful school, but we need principals who are willing to allow that partnership to blossom as well as librarians who are eager to accept the demands of such a partnership.

What does support look like on your campus? Are there areas in which you could develop a stronger partnership? What has been an effective way for you to gain additional support from your principal?

Happy August! Welcome to a new year with TxASL Talks.

Happy August Everyone!
Welcome to a new year of the TxASL Talk blog.  We are excited to be joining you for a new year of sharing stories, information, and advocacy tips.  This year there are some changes coming to the TxASL Talk blog.  Since the TxASL Talks blog began in 2014 it has be run single-handedly by Dorcas Hand.  This year though, Dorcas will have an editorial board to help her.  The members of the editorial board include:

Dorcas Hand is a retired librarian of 38 years at all K-12 levels, 26 at her last school - plus 3 years as an elementary classroom teacher. Currently she works in advocacy efforts for AASL and TASL. As co-chair of the TASL Legislative and Advocacy Committee in 2014, she began to plan this TASLTalks blog which she has been editing ever since; she is thrilled to have an Editorial Team to join her now. She also co-leads Students Need Libraries in HISD, working to raise awareness on the HISD school board of what librarians could do for district student achievement. Check out her SNL Facebook page as well. Her personal advocacy website is StrongSchoolLibraries, and her Twitter handle is @handdtx.

Lucy Podmore is a high school librarian at Tom C. Clark High School in Northside ISD in San Antonio.  She is currently serving as secretary for TASL and has formerly served on the LoneStar Committee as both a reading member and administrative assistant. Lucy has presented at various district, state and national conferences on library tools and roles. She was named as TCEA’s Library Media Specialist of the Year for 2014-15. You can find Lucy on Twitter at @lupodmore where she co-moderates the Tuesday night Texas library chat #txlchat at 8pm central.

Sonja Schulz is a high school librarian at Nacogdoches High School in beautiful Nacogdoches, Texas. She is currently YART Councilor and Co-Chair for the Texas State Library Standards Revision Committee.  She has formerly served on many TLA committees, including the Lone Star Committee and the Spirit of Texas Middle School Committee, as well as serving as Secretary for District 8 and TASL Resolutions committee as both a member and Chair. She has presented at various district and state conferences on all things librarian and she is one of the moderators for the weekly librarian Twitter chat #txlchat.  You can find Sonja on Twitter @sonjaschulz.

Jacqueline Higginbotham is currently the media specialist at White Oak Middle School in New Caney ISD. She is the Incoming Chair for TALL Texans Round Table and serves on the TASL Legislative and Advocacy Committee. Jacqueline has been working in education since 2000 (and as a librarian since 2006) and is passionate about libraries and literacy. She knows that having a certified librarian on campus will lead to creating more lifelong readers, 21st century learners, and higher student achievement. You can find Jacqueline on Twitter @jhigg38.

Brooke King is the librarian at Atascocita Middle School in Humble ISD. She has been a librarian since 2008 and was an elementary language arts teacher for seven years before moving into the library. She is currently serving on the TASL Legislative and Advocacy Committee. Previously, she served as the webmaster/social media chair for the Texas Bluebonnet Award Program Committee. She has presented at local and state conferences on library programming. Brooke is a YA bookworm, library advocate, technology integrator, and passionate about personalized learning. Find her on Twitter @bookwormbrookek

Dr. Rebecca Novotny is currently the librarian at Hopper Middle School in the Cypress-Fairbanks ISD.  She has been a librarian for 10 years and before that she was a middle school English Language Arts teacher.  She is currently a Lead Middle School Librarian for the district.  She also is a Lead Librarian Mentor and participates on the district Destiny Training Team.  She has just completed her dissertation and has graduated with her Doctorate of Educational Leadership from Sam Houston State University.  You can follow her on twitter at @msrnovotny.

Some other changes will include a renewed focus on advocacy for school librarians.  This year at the end of each post, there will be tips to help you incorporate advocacy into your practice.  We know that advocacy for our programs and professions is important, and we want to give you tools that will help you be the best advocate and leader that you can be.  We will also be grouping the blog posts into themes.  The themes will include:
-Campus and Good news
-Targeted Advocacy (Campus Admin, District Admin, School Board, and/or Elected Officials)
-Instructional Ideas
-Collaboration Ideas
-Legislative Information and/or Updates

This blog is for you and we want you to be a part of it.  We would love to hear your ideas for blog posts, who you would like to hear from, and what information you find most helpful.  As well as advocacy tips and probing questions with each of the blog posts, there will be a chance for you to comment.  We would like you to write posts for the blog as well.  Here is a link for the TxASL Talks Blog Submission form:   
We have created a set of guidelines for blog posts.  
Blog Guidelines:

-500-800 words long
-include a picture/graphic
-Ensure your article addresses one of the following topics:
  • Campus and Good news (Have you or your library been recognized? Have you been awarded a grant? Has an initiative been wildly successful?)
  • Targeted Advocacy (what ideas do you have or have used successfully to advocate your library to specific stakeholders: legislators, board members, principals, parents, teachers, students?)
  • Instructional/Programming ideas
  • Collaboration ideas (think campus based or community based)
  • Legislative information or updates

Everyone on the TxASL Talks blog editorial board is excited for the year and we hope that you like the changes that are coming to the blog.  We cannot wait for you to join us on this journey and we cannot wait to hear from you.

What topics would you like to see us discuss, even if you aren’t ready to write the post yourself?