Advocacy Works: Retired Librarian Remains a Champion for School Libraries

I had the pleasure of meeting Susan Yutzey, retired school librarian from Ohio, at ALA Annual in Chicago. Susan has had a varied career that led her to the school library world. After deciding that her passion was the school library, Susan returned to graduate school to get her certification….after having already earned a PhD. She worked many years in school libraries before retiring 5 years ago. Since then, Susan has embarked on a new career as a full-time school library advocate. Being retired allows her to pay visits to legislators and be the voice for the school librarians in Ohio.

She was at ALA this summer to receive the ALA Leadership Grant from ABC-CLIO. Susan’s grant proposal was to fund a Leadership Institute for OELMA members. The number of school librarians in Ohio is estimated at about 600, but not all are certified. About two thirds of that number belong to OELMA, the Ohio Educational Library Media Association. Their next conference is coming up in October.

Aside from discussing her plans for the Leadership Summit we also discussed some of her other projects such as the Popping the Fake News Bubble at Ohio State and INFOhio. INFOhio is a digital library that offers a variety of content and services—most at no charge—to Ohio’s 1.9 million PreK-12 students, their parents, and their teachers. The vision of this collaboration is to ensure that each Ohio PreK-12 student has equal access to high-quality digital resources for a successful education and future. Their mission is for INFOhio to transform student learning by providing equitable access to quality resources and cost-effective instructional and technical support for each student, educator, and parent in Ohio.

The achievement Susan is most proud of, however, is Reading ‘Round the Clock, a collaboration between OELMA, the State Library of Ohio, INFOhio, and the Ohio PTA. Reading ‘Round the Clock is an initiative of INFOhio to increase literacy by emphasizing reading by taking notice of their surroundings. These three videos were created to help educate parents and families about how they can help their children strengthen their reading skills by maximizing opportunities outside of traditional print books.

  • This video introduces caregivers to the many ways they can help children with reading skills while on the go, such as spotting all the places where you see letters and words in a city block, at a store, or on the road. Signs are everywhere. Children can find and point out words on a sign or talk about the meaning of signs. Using menus in restaurants, children can match pictures to words or make up a story about a food. Singing with children helps them hear each syllable because each has a different note.
  • This video introduces caregivers to the many ways that they can help children with reading skills while using handheld devices, watching television, or in front of a computer. Talking with children about what they see on the screen helps them better understand what they see. Turning on closed captioning encourages reading during screen time. With your help, children can access a wide range of books, reading apps, and free high-quality resources from public and school libraries.
  • This video introduces caregivers to the many ways they can help children with reading skills, whether reading for fun or to find information. Word lists from the teacher are great tools for building vocabulary. Children can sort the words by prefixes, suffixes, or syllables. Word games such as Sneaky Snake offer ways to engage children in reading, as does having them pretend to be a favorite book character, or creating their own artwork based on a book.

I was both delighted and inspired by Susan Yutzey and her tireless work for literacy in the state of Ohio. Follow Susan on Twitter @sfyutz23.


Author: Sedley Abercrombie

Sedley Abercrombie is the district digital learning and library media programs specialist for Davidson County Schools in North Carolina, an NCSLMA executive board member, and an adjunct instructor at East Carolina University.

Categories: Advocacy/Leadership, Blog Topics

3 replies

  1. Love this. Retirement does not define you or limit your ability to continue to contribute to the profession. Susan is our Lao Tzu. After years in the demanding job of royal archivist, the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu (6th century BC) retired. He left the city, the pressure. At the “Western gates,” a guard stopped Lao-Tzu, realized his wisdom, and asked him to write it down. Lao-Tzu sat under a tree and wrote the Tao-Te-Ching, a classic of spiritual wisdom. Thus what he did after retiring was more significant than what he’d done in his working life.

  2. Susan is a very devoted and enthusiastic library leader, no doubt. I have had the pleasure of being on the executive board for 3 years with Susan, it was truly an inspiring time. She works tirelessly for her profession and I have so enjoyed both our professional time and our “friendship time”! So proud to know Susan. Membership in a professional organization like OELMA and/or AASL provides many connections like the one I have with Susan Yutzey, what a blessing!

  3. I had the honor of working with Susan for many years in Upper Arlington City Schools. She has always been an incredibly strong advocate for students and libraries – both while working and in retirement. Susan is a true treasure for our profession.

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