Tournament of Books


Over the past few weeks, the kindergarten, first, and second grade classes have gotten to participate in a tournament of books, our library’s version of March Madness. They absolutely loved voting for each pair of books!

Each pair of books had a theme of sorts:

They All Saw a Cat and Big Cat, Little Cat are Caldecott Honor books.
We Dig Worms! and What Will Grow are non-fiction.
Chalk and The Lion and the Mouse are both wordless.
After the Fall and I Am Not A Chair! are librarian favorites. 🙂



And Chalk won! I was actually surprised, even though it’s a great book. I really thought After the Fall would win, but I think the humor went over the heads of some of the younger kids.

I’m looking forward to making this a yearly event!


Musings on School Library Design


I am currently working as a librarian assistant at Houston Elementary in Denton, TX.  The school was built in 1982 and was renovated in 2002. The library saw the addition of an “everybody” room, and a wall was removed to open up the space.
In reading through some articles this past week, I identified five factors that would be important to consider in the event that the library space could be redesigned.

  1. In the article How to Transform Your Library on a Budget, Diana Rendina talks about some of the low-cost, gradual changes that make a huge impact on her library. First and foremost, she weeded aggressively and removed large unnecessary furniture, freeing up lots of floor space for comfortable seating and wall space for a whiteboard and a LEGO wall. In my library, there are several large shelves that could be removed after some weeding, and there are a few desktop computers that are not used and could be removed (along with the huge desks they sit on). This would open up the space and create a lot more options for creating a learning commons.
  2. Margaret Sullivan is a long-time school library designer. In her article, Divine Design, she stresses the need to keep the library flexible with modular, easily movable furniture. Some small steps toward this have been made in my library. For example, wheels were added to the tables to make them easier to move. Of course, tables on wheels can create problems as well; kids like to lean on and across tables while working, creating more movement than is desirable, especially while groups are working on makerspace projects. Ideally, it would be nice to have light tables without wheels that are easy to move.
  3. Lorraine Maxwell and Raechel French, in their article Elementary School Library Design: Student Perceptions of a Learning Commons, explored the effects of changing a traditional library into a learning commons, open for collaboration. One of the positive outcomes was that there was more space to display students’ work, an important factor in increasing students’ identification with their school.
  4. Although there are many benefits to a learning commons, it is important to create a balance between collaborative, open space, and quiet, solitary spaces. I especially love one of the ideas of Ray Palin, mentioned in his article, Looking for Peace and Quiet. He created what he calls a “Walden Zone”, opening up his library to the outdoors. Students can read outside in lawn chairs, away from the hustle and bustle of the noisy library. Although I think this is a great idea, it would be hard to incorporate in my library, which does not have direct access to the outdoors. However, there is simply a hall between the library and the outdoors, and the hall contains a full wall of windows (and a glass door). It is feasible that the library could be opened up into the hall, which could then provide direct access to the outdoors from the library.
  5. As Meghan Harper and Liz Deskins point out in their article, Using Action Research to Assess and Advocate for Innovative School Library Design, it is important to “measure twice, cut once”. In other words, before making sweeping changes to a library space, it is necessary to research, question, collaborate, and discuss before coming up with a plan for change. It’s not enough to just create your ideal space; it must reflect the needs of the students, teachers, and community.

If I were able to redesign my library, I would weed out many of the old books, eliminating the need for several of the large bookshelves. Those would go to storage, opening up a lot of space in the library. The heavy wooden tables would be replaced with lighter, modular tables, and the chairs would be replaced with lighter, stackable ones. I would also have most of the desktop computers removed, leaving only one or two for circulation. This would enable the addition of a few comfortable reading areas and nooks. I would change the “everybody room” into a makerspace area, and I would create an open-flow plan that would enable the library’s use of the outside area.

Here is what the library looks like currently:

20190128_082351 (1)

Here is something like what I envision:

2019-03-24 (2)



Harper, Meghan, & Deskins, Liz. (2015). Using action research to assess and advocate for innovative school library design. Knowledge Quest, 44(2), 25-32.

Maxwell, L. and French, R. (2016). Elementary school library design: Student perceptions of a learning commons. Children, Youth and Environments, 26(2), 61-82.

Palin, Ray. (2014). Looking for peace and quiet. Knowledge Quest, 42(4), 16-21.

Paragon Furniture. (2017). Redesigning school libraries for the 21st century [Brochure]. Retrieved from

Rendina, Diana. (2015, October 27). How to Transform Your Library Space on a Budget [blog post]. Knowledge Quest. Retrieved from

Sullivan, Margaret. (2011). Divine Design: How to Create the 21st-Century School Library of Your Dreams. School Library Journal, 57(4), 26-32.

Curating Sources for Coding and Programming


Curating sources is something I have always enjoyed doing, for myself and for other people. It wasn’t until I read Jennifer Gonzalez’s article, Are You a Curator or a Dumper?, that I realized that I may need to fine-tune my curating abilities. I know that I tend to get carried away when I get excited about a topic. If I can focus on finding the very best items and making sure they are presented in an easy-to-manage, visually appealing way, they will end up being a lot more effective. I want to be able to curate sources for teachers, students, and the community that will help them find and use the information that they need.

I also want to teach students to curate sources for themselves. Jennifer Gonzalez’s article, To Boost Higher-Order Thinking, Try Curation, discusses how curation assignments can engage students at three different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy: Understand, Analyze, and Evaluate.


Gonzalez has several great ideas for using curation with students. She suggests having students create ranked collections of sources, justifying their rankings with explanations or scoring systems. Other ideas include having them create a shared trait collection, collecting resources and writing literature reviews on each resource, and creating video playlists, which sounds like something students would love to do!

I played around with some Gonzalez’s recommended curation tools. Elink was the first one I tried, and I love the look of it. I decided to look for information on coding and programming that I could use with students in the library.  Here is what I came up with:
I was disappointed that the elink web page could not be embedded into WordPress without a business account. So I then went to Pinterest, where I created a board for coding and programming teaching tools. I love how easy it is to pin things to a board, especially with the pin plugin.

Last but not least, I tried out Wakelet:

I like the way it looks as well, but I think elink is my favorite. I’m excited about all the potential uses of these tools, for myself and for my students.



March Book Display: Books Made Into Movies


For this month, I decided to make a book display for my upper elementary students with books that have been made into movies. I was surprised at just how many there are! The kids (and teachers!) have really enjoyed the books.


I made a sign using Canva. Feel free to use it!

if you loved the

Research in Peer-Reviewed Academic Journals


Research is creating new knowledge. – Neil Armstrong

Merriam-Webster defines research as “studious inquiry or examination, especially investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws.

Research is an important aspect within Library and Information Science. It is necessary for providing better service, solving problems, developing tools, and finding new ways to use and organize information. Although school librarians may not conduct formal research studies, they can certainly improve their services by keeping up to date with the current research in the field.

School Library Research (SLR) is the peer-reviewed research journal of the American Association of School Librarians. The purpose of the journal “is to promote and publish high quality original research concerning the management, implementation, and evaluation of school library programs.”

To have a manuscript published in SLR, authors must submit their manuscript to the editors, who conduct a double-blind peer review. If the manuscript is not accepted, the authors may be able to use recommendations to revise their manuscript until accepted. Manuscripts are posted for full board review and majority approval before being published online.

The SLR Editorial Board chair is appointed by the AASL President Elect for a two-year term, and editors are appointed in alternate years for staggered terms. They must have prior SLR Editorial Board experience. Committee members are appointed by the AASL President Elect for two-year terms. The SLR Editors’ authority is given by the AASL Board of Directors, and the AASL Executive Director directly supervises the content.

Some of the most interesting topics covered in SLR are related to teacher-librarian collaboration and online trends. In the latest (2018) issue, there is an interesting article about collaboration: School Librarians as Co-Teachers of Literacy: Librarian Perceptions and Knowledge in the Context of the Literacy Instruction Role, and in the 2017 issue, I was intrigued by the article School Librarians Fully Online: Preparing the Twenty-First Century Professional.

Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP) is the peer-reviewed, open-access journal published by the University of Alberta Learning Services. The purpose of the journal “is to provide a forum for librarians and other information professionals to discover research that may contribute to decision making in professional practice.”

Just as with SLR, to have a manuscript published in EBLIP, authors must submit their manuscript to the editors to undergo a double-blind peer review. Authors can monitor the progress of their submission, and editors have the right to edit submissions for length, style, and clarity.

EBLIP has a large editorial team consisting of several editors, editorial advisors, a communications officer, indexing support, copyeditors, an evidence summaries team, a writing assistance team, and a myriad of peer reviewers. Since EBLIP is a non-profit, open-access journal, all positions are voluntary. Editors are elected for three-year terms and are expected to be well-versed in evidence-based practice and research.

Many of the articles seem geared toward public and academic libraries, but much of the information can be applied to school libraries as well. There are interesting articles about social networking, e.g. Visualization of the Scholarly Output on Evidence Based Librarianship: A Social Network Analysis, and about expanding the library’s use to include things such as music or photography, e.g. Through the Students’ Lens: Photographic Methods for Research in Library Spaces and Connecting Music and Place: Exploring Library Collection Data Using Geo-visualizations.



Bedi, S. & Webb, J. (2017). Through the students’ lens: Photographic methods for research in library spaces. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (12)2.

Doi, C. (2017). Connecting music and place: exploring library collection data using geo-visualizations. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (12)2.

Reed, K. & Oslund, E. (2018). School librarians as co-teachers of literacy: Librarian perceptions and knowledge in the context of the literacy instruction role. School Library Research (20). Retrieved from

Santos Green, L., Jones, S., & Burke, P. (2017). School librarians fully online: Preparing the twenty-first century professional. School Library Research (20). Retrieved from

Vahed, N., Gavgani, V., Jafarzadeh, R., Tusi, Z., & Erfanmanesh. (2018). Visualization of the scholarly output on evidence based librarianship: A social network analysis. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (13)4.



Harbor Me Book Trailer


Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson is one of the best books I have read this year. There is so much to unpack; topics covered include everything from bullying to racial profiling to losing a parent.
I made the following book trailer for one of my classes:

Learning Theories: Guided Inquiry



Kuhlthau, C. C. (2010). Guided inquiry: School libraries in the 21st century. School Libraries Worldwide, 16(1), 1-12. Retrieved from


School libraries are essential for transforming schools into 21st century learning environments. Although the Internet, mobile devices, and Web 2.0 tools have changed our lives for the better, there are negative aspects as well. It is hard to tell the difference between good and bad information and between what is quick-lived and what is long-lasting, and choices made can have a long-lasting impact on every aspect of our lives. It is not enough to teach students how to use information technology tools; they must be able to use them in creative and meaningful ways.

Because technology is always changing, teaching students to use the latest technology is counter-productive. Guided inquiry is a research approach to learning that enables students to use various sources of information to gain a sense of understanding and perspective that can be used in an ever-changing technological world. This is not something that teachers can achieve on their own; school libraries must become guided inquiry learning centers with school librarians working as primary agents, collaborating with teachers to teach students how to find, evaluate, and use information in meaningful ways.

Guided inquiry’s foundation is constructivism, and it is planned and applied intervention through the Information Search Process, or ISP. The ISP consists of six stages of inquiry: initiation, selection, exploration, formulation, collection, and presentation. Without guidance, students will focus only on collection and presentation and will acquire little knowledge in the process. Teachers and librarians must monitor students’ feelings throughout the process and must ensure that guided inquiry connects to their world to maximize motivation.

Guided inquiry requires a flexible team approach that utilizes school and community resources. At minimum, a guided inquiry team should include a teacher and a librarian. Assessment is an ongoing process as students progress through the inquiry process, and there is a SLIM Student Learning Inquiry Measure for this purpose.

There are five kinds of learning accomplished through guided inquiry: information literacy, learning how to learn, curriculum content, literacy competence, and social skills. This makes learning through guided inquiry an extremely efficient method of learning. To start implementing the change, it is important to have some teacher and administrator support, a plan of action, and a support system for sharing both problems and success stories.


Guided inquiry learning is an effective way to prepare students for the modern world, in which technology changes constantly and information is everywhere. Students must be able to take information and use it in creative and meaningful ways, and inquiry teaches them how to do that. School librarians must be an active part of guided inquiry and must collaborate with teachers throughout the process. This article is a great overview of what guided inquiry is and how to implement it, and it would be something a school librarian could show to school administrators and teachers to build support for change.