Category Archives: Reflections

Learning Everywhere: The library space and lifelong learning

Though all the in person teaching I do is within the four walls of my little library where I work, our adoption of tech has made it possible for learning on the go with my students. All our students and staff are assigned their own iPad to use throughout the year for teaching and learning.  The classrooms are equipped with the tech they need to present lessons and student work. And our school even has a dedicated staff member to coach all the teachers on the use of their tech.  (Koff, koff — it’s me.  I’m the coach, the teacher, and the librarian.) I’m not just talking about me and my little school though. The schools throughout our network have the same setup and the same dedicated staff. Which brings me to my point:  I love learning.  I love it so much, that’s why I am here in the program with y’all.  

One of my goals where I work is to make my little library more accessible and comfortable for ALL and to make it a safe place to learn.  Not just the library skills I teach or the tech classes I teach, I want this space to inspire my students and show them that learning can occur anywhere and it really can be lifelong.  Mobile devices are ubiquitous.  Learning CAN happen anywhere.  During our lovely distance learning time last year and the year before, many kids were learning on the go.  Not out of want, but out of need.  I would teach classes and some of the students were at the Boys and Girls Club, the YMCA, or even their parent’s car.  I haven’t decided if this is good or bad, but it sure as heck happened anyway. 

So, now, in the present where I do have my students in person, I want my library to be a more comfortable and comforting place for them to learn. “What further differs the library from e.g. Google, Amazon or a bookstore [or my students’ parent’s cars] is the principle of free and equal access to culture, information and knowledge as well as the competencies linked to that. . . This is a key element of being able to learn all your life” (Lauersen, 2020). Librarians help make all this happen and when my students outgrow my school, I want them to know that all libraries can be places for inspiration and lifelong learning.


Lauersen, C. (2020). Learning, culture, community and diversity: New library strategy for Roskilde Libraries 2020

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New Models: Libraries are more important than ever.

“You can learn anything if you make it playful” – Pam Sandlian Smith

Libraries are places to learn and grow.  Libraries are safe spaces for everyone. This TED talk has really stuck with me these past few weeks. I’m a librarian and technology teacher at a K – 5 school, which means every student comes to me twice a week – one day for library and one day for tech class. I strive to make it as hygge and also as playful as possible while maintaining my school’s Covid-19 protocols. That being said, the above quote hit the nail right on the head for me. We can no longer be the cardigan-wearing, people-shushing types of librarians (though I still wear cardigans, but they’re pretty cool). We have to connect with our communities and provide what they need.  If my students need a place to be silly, they have it.  If they need a quiet space to learn, they have it. If they need a place to fall apart during an anxiety attack, or a place to tell me how sad they are because their older sister is dying of cancer, they have it.

“The great challenge is whether 21st century librarians can make themselves comfortable in that uncertain space where the community, not the library, steers an experience” (Paraschiv, 2017). We must adapt to meet the user where they are at.  We must also be forward-thinking with the tech we have and the new tech we integrate into the schools. But above all, we need to be sure to not only try to make learning playful, but to also make the library learning space as comforting as we can.  My Kinders and 1st graders don’t really know what it’s like to just “be” at school – they were quarantined for about a year and a half.  We joke that they’re all kinda feral, but what they need is lots of social emotional learning and comfort. As Pam Sandlian Smith said regarding the young homeless boy at her library, “He needed somebody to be on his side. Isn’t that what we all need?”


Paraschiv, P. (2017). Creating a voice for the library: storytelling, experience, and play.

Sandlian Smith, P. (2013). What to expect from libraries in the 21st century: Pam Sandlian Smith at TEDxMileHigh

Reflection Post #3: The Hyperlinked School Library

I believe the school library is at the heart of a school.  It is interesting that of all the other schools in my company, I have the only library (that I know of). Whenever the principal takes prospective parents and students on a tour of our campus, they always stop by my library, and they are always so happy to see it. It’s a good selling point for us because not only do all our students get dedicated time in the library with me, but they also come back to this space for technology class.  Typically, I have tables spread out, but due to Covid-19, I had to remove them.  I was told I’d have to travel to classrooms.  Um, no thank you.  I had small round cushions that I could space out safely on the floor and I purchased lap trays for the students to use while they worked.  Bingo.  Classes are back in my library.  Where the heart of my school is.  But the bigger point here is, the kids are thrilled to be there to learn and while reading the articles that went along with the hyperlinked school library CYOA, each one really spoke to me and I also thought back to the Library 2.0 text by Michael Casey and Laura Savastinuk.  “Your organization will keep the Library 2.0 momentum going by encouraging your staff and customers to be a part of the process on a continual basis” (Casey & Savastinuk, p.128).  Yes!  This is happening pretty much organically at my school!  Our Education Managers are behind this whether they know it or not by providing all the tech we need which I coach teachers and admin to integrate within core subjects.  And the kids are the winners here.

One of the many things I teach to students in my library is digital citizenship.  What I struggle with was exactly spelled out in the Livingstone article, Digital Natives or Naïve Experts. “The main dilemma this research presents is the disconnection between the children’s familiarity with a range of internet-related concepts, and their possession of the practical skills these concepts refer to” (Livingstone 2019).  There is a gap.  The kids all know the difference between personal and private information and what should be shared and what shouldn’t, the trick is filling that gap.  I think all I can do is move forward and teach and lead by example.  Parents really do need to be partners here as well, but I feel that I can make a difference in my little ol’ 2.0 K – 5th grade school library.


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Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service. Medford, N.J: Information Today.

Livingstone, S. (2019). Digital Natives or Naive Experts?

Participatory Service in the Elementary School Library

Whenever I dig into any of our readings, I find myself trying to make connections to the library where I work.  I’m a K – 5th grade librarian (obviously not credentialed yet…) and technology teacher at the small private school where I work. It’s a for-profit private school and I am the only librarian in our company.  In fact, there have been times in my company/school, in their push to enroll more students (students = $), it was rumored that they would take my library and turn it into a classroom.  As in, remove all my books and materials and have no library whatsoever in lieu of more small bodies on our campus.  I’ve had to fight to keep it and my principals have always had my back, but it’s exhausting.  The thing is the company sometimes loses sight of what this library brings to our students.  It’s not just books that they want, they want space to just “be” and create and innovate. I’ve been planning a huge weed soon to make room for what the students really want.

They want more time with the 3D printer.  They want more time for collaborative art. These are the things I’d like to focus on this school year. Three items in Schneider’s The User Is Not Broken: A meme masquerading as a manifesto popped out for me (Schneider, 2006).

  • The most significant help you can provide your users is to add value and meaning to the information experience, wherever it happens; defend their right to read; and then get out of the way.
  • Meet people where they are – not where you want them to be.
  • We have wonderful third spaces that offer our users a place where they can think and dream and experience information. Is your library a place where people can dream?

I want my library to make my students feel like it is a place where they can dream, create, and ”be”. I want my kiddos to value their experience in my library. My school’s theme for this month is ”Everyone has a story. Make yours worth telling.”  That’s what I want and I love that our course readings inspire all kinds of ideas that I can use! As Erik Boekesteijn says, ”libraries should keep stories, share stories, and make stories” (Stephens, 2019 p. 92). As I mentioned, I’m planning on a big ol’ weeding which will create space for the stories the kids want.  I’m going to share out a Padlet to them so that they can share what they are reading or doing to inspire others and to create stories of their own to share. Yay for the participatory library!


Schneider, K. (2006). The User is Not Broken

Stephens, M. (1019). “Telling Stories” in Wholehearted Librarianship p. 91

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Reflection Blog – Foundational Readings

Library 2.0 Word Cloud

Prophetic is a bit of a strong word when it comes to the Buckland text. Perhaps relevant and meaningful are more accurate. As I read, I couldn’t help but think of my local library system, the King County Library System here in Washington State. It was a pretty magical place to visit when I was much younger (heck, my Kindergarten teacher even worked there). My 8 year-old self would have never dreamed of what is available and accessible now.

I ended up reading the whole Buckland text and found it perhaps more relevant now than when it was originally published in 1992. In the Foreward, Michael Gorman, who was the Dean of Library Services at Cal State, Fresno, states “The use of digital electronic documents can go well beyond that of simply reading a text or seeing an image. This flexibility (conferred by the ability to edit, merge, add to, make subsets of, rearrange, etc., electronic documents) will have profound, and not invariably benign, effects of libraries, library users, and library service” (Buckland, 1992). Yes, yes, yes. Library 2.0!

Furthermore, this has not only had profound effects on library service, which by the way I appreciated Buckland’s focus on the user, but educational technology as well. I couldn’t help but make connections between this text and Dr. Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR model. Without going into extensive detail, SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. Integrating technology into library service and education has changed the whole user and student experience. Substitution would be simply reading an electronic book instead of a paper one. Augmentation would be perhaps doing a book report PowerPoint with videos embedded. Modification would be the same presentation the multiple students could collaborate on at once. Redefinition would be all of the above, but maybe the author has been invited to collaborate via video real time. Redefinition essentially is working on a learning task that would be inconceivable without the use of the tech tools available.

This is all great, but we must also consider equity and accessibility issues that go along with the advances in technology, but fortunately there are information professionals like us who are able to keep this at the forefront.


Buckland, M. K. (1992). Redesigning library services a manifesto. American Library Assoc.

Word cloud created with Word Art

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