Friends, colleagues, librarians, lend me your ears!
My writing usually takes a rather reflective bent. However, this go ‘round, my intents and purposes are of a different nature, and are threefold. First of all, I have an update and some news to report; second, I have a request to make; and third, I have a modicum of advice to modestly propose.
If you’ve happened to read my work every now and again, you may recall me referencing resilience and reading rather recently. In my post from early March, I also mentioned that I was thinking of applying for a grant that I would craft to center on that very subject. Guess what? I gathered my wits and went through the application process–my first time EVER undertaking such a thing, mind you–and, miracle of miracles, was awarded an ALA Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries grant! Surprised to hear that? Yeah, me too!
Here’s what prompted me to seek grant funding in the first place:
As I said, reading is ALWAYS a subject in which I’m interested, and lately the topic of bouncing back in the face of adversity has been as well. I’ve been thinking about the situations in which many of our students find themselves. I won’t go into detail, but suffice it to say that factors relating to students’ lives negatively impact their academic success, behavior, and overall well-being. This simply makes me want to go out and DO something, to be honest; and the feeling only intensified as the pandemic progressed. It was this, in combination with some library budget woes, that was the catalyst for my application.
While our library has managed to be somewhat successful in obtaining necessary funding for materials in the past, doing so is currently tougher and far less likely. Because of the pandemic, our financial resources were completely frozen for an extended period, and when the hold on resources was finally lifted, I elected to donate a chunk of remaining library funds for additional technology purchases necessary for maintaining virtual learning options. To put it another way: the three words that best describe our budget are as follows, and I quote: “Shrink, shrank, shrunk.”
Hence, I had to look for other ways to provide more classroom and library resources so that teachers could best nurture and mentor their students, and students could better understand and use the skills that foster resilience. I thought of applying for grants, but felt a little daunted by the prospect; that type of writing was foreign to me. Still, I started searching for ideas and tips, in the hope that I’d get pointed in the right direction. I got word of the ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities initiative, and when I saw that there was a component that focused on small and rural libraries, I figured that it might be a good one to try.
I did all this with the intention of utilizing reading as a major component of the undertaking (albeit not the only one), since books can provide both mirrors and windows for our students. It is widely acknowledged that resilience does not necessarily come automatically; it must be learned. My hope was and is that students would be provided with role models via literature, and that a ripple effect of growth in literacy and perseverance will take place if I cast this proverbial pebble into the pond. The benefits of the project–for faculty and staff, families, and students–could be significant, as we may be able to positively impact students’ reading habits while simultaneously addressing concerns and cultivating a culture of resilience in our learning community…and beyond.
While I’d already started looking hither and yon for texts and materials and resources while writing the grant application, I KNOW that there are plenty of things I didn’t discover…yet. This is where you all come in, folks. Do you have a favorite book or know of a particular title–either fiction or nonfiction–that features a character or figure who meets challenges head on, shows persistence, or perseveres in the face of overwhelming odds? Do you have any awareness of a program or resources that model and promote resilience? Have you ever applied for and subsequently administered a grant and related activities? You have? Well, then, I want to hear from you! Tweet at me (my Twitter handle’s below), or email me at email@example.com. I know how intelligent, inventive, and incredible school librarians are; I’ve seen evidence of it on social media and at every conference I’ve attended so far. I also know what generosity of spirit educators in general and school librarians in particular possess, so I am sincerely hoping that at least a few of you will drop some knowledge on me. (It’s said by some that flattery will get you nowhere, but I’m hoping for the opposite effect. Is it working? Seriously, though, I’m being honest; I’m amazed every day by the dedication and dynamism of the librarians with whom I interact. You sure raise the bar.)
Even though many of you are a great deal more experienced at all this than I am, I still want to offer you a “Helpful Hint from Heloise.” In fact, the advice would apply to newer librarians like me just as well. It’s a simple little suggestion:
Say “why not?”
What do I mean by that? Just this: instead of asking why you should do anything–apply for a grant, say, or ask a colleague at work to collaborate with you on a curricular unit, or advocate for your space and your students, or start a book club or STEAM program, or toss your hat into the ring for your local or regional or even national library/librarian organization election, or any number of other things–say “why not?” By all logic, there’s no way that I myself should’ve ever applied to be a blogger for Knowledge Quest, or hoped to be awarded a national grant…or even started being a librarian in the first place! Yet here I am, having done all of the above in under three years of librarianing.
We’re so often our own worst limiters. We might ask ourselves why we should bother to toss that hat or take a chance or make a leap of faith.
We think we might fall; but oh, my darlings, what if we fly?*
What’s that you say? We can’t fly?
*Borrowed heavily from Australian poet Erin Hanson.
Author: Lia Fisher Janosz
I am Regina Libris.
I’m…a Bibliothecaria Rebellatrix (“librarian…because Book Wizard isn’t an official job title,” at Sharon Elementary School in Alleghany County, VA) wending a way through the seven ages whilst geeking out over Shakespeare & sundry other stuff. I am rather like Hermione Granger and have “conjured” floating candles in our school library. I’m an admirer of Eowyn and would place myself somewhere in the middle of the shieldmaiden-healer spectrum. I am inimitable, I am an original, and yet I am totally #TeamHamilton (see what I did there?). I’m a graduate of the Longwood University School Librarianship program and an avid reader and lifelong learner (and, apparently, Mistress of the Obvious as well). Any rumors regarding me having a crush on either Stephen Colbert or Chris Martin (or Benedict Cumberbatch or Andrew Scott) are completely…irrefutable. That being acknowledged, I am the loyal consort of an unsung prince of Poland and very proud mother of a tornadic, talented, and talkative wunderkind girl and a happyhopper jollyjumper bouncyboy who has a memory like an elephant.