The past few weeks I’ve been doing some serious reflection on my Professional Learning Network (PLN) and just how much of a force we are when we unite as one. I am the only school librarian at my school, and rarely get a chance to meet with the school librarians in my district. However, with the help of professional organizations such as AASL and my state association, along with the school librarians I’ve met through Twitter and other social media, I never feel alone. I often think of the scene from A Bug’s Life, where the ants finally realize that there is strength in numbers. When we feel defeated, need ideas, or just a sounding board, school librarians are a force when we work together. I turn to my PLN for help and they are always there for me.
A Twitter PLN
There are so many school librarians willing to help each other and working together can be transformative. I’ve found Twitter to be a wonderful place to network and share ideas with school librarians across the globe. I recently was inspired to create a lesson on primary sources by Tom Bober. Tom hosts the Primary Source Podcast and writes blogs on picture books and primary sources for Knowledge Quest. I was so excited about my lesson, which used photos showcasing groundbreaking women of NASA and the book Hidden Figures. Imagine my disappointment when it bombed. The kids were just not interested in the way it was delivered. I reached out to Tom and he helped me revamp my entire lesson. I re-delivered it based on his suggestions and it was a night and day difference. Reach out to your fellow librarians when you need a helping hand, because two heads are always better than one.
Speaking of uniting, I am in awe of the work being done by Texas school librarians and the #FReadom campaign. School Librarians are seeing a huge rise in book challenges and legislation
that could potentially hinder our students’ right to book access. The #FReadom initiative is facing these challenges head on by uniting school librarians to share the positive work of school librarians and provide resources to librarians, teachers, and authors. This campaign, while started in Texas, has unified librarians all across the U.S. and proven that together, school librarians are a force to be recognized.
A Win for One, Is A Win for All
It’s that time of year—awards season. Use these award announcements as a way to show we celebrate one another by sharing them via social media. State associations are beginning to announce their state librarians of the year, Library Journal will soon be announcing their Movers & Shakers, and School Library Journal recently announced their winners. K.C. Boyd was named as the 2022 SLJ Librarian of the Year and Andy Spinks and Pia Allende were named finalists. AASL will soon announce their awards and grants winners. A win for one school librarian is a win for all of us. Sharing school librarian success stories is a way to show we are one united force, highlight school library programming, and celebrate one another.
Ways to Connect
There are a plethora of ways to connect and band together. Visit the Community in AASL website to find links to the AASL Member Forum, AASL’s Knowledge Quest, and AASL’s social media links. In the AASL Member Forum, you can ask questions, read the discussion boards for tips, and access Town Hall and webinar recordings. Anyone can use the chat feature! You can also visit the AASL Town Hall website to register for future Town Hall events. These Town Halls have been a wonderful way to connect with school librarians and stay up-to-date on the latest issues involving school libraries. Consider volunteering for an AASL committee. All it takes is filling out this form. I’ve met so many fabulous librarians through volunteering with AASL. Also consider sharing your story for School Library Month. The more we share about the great things we are doing, the better we become as a profession. Join the Boss Librarian and Friends Clubhouse chat on Sunday evening to share ideas. Check out the School Librarian Learning Network, created by Dr. Steve Tetrault, to build connections and learn from one another. Alone in our buildings, we are just one, but by banning together and forging connections, we can be a mighty force.
Author: Amanda Jones
Amanda is the 2021 School Library Journal Co-Librarian of the Year, a 2021 Library Journal Mover and Shaker, the 2020 Louisiana School Librarian of the Year, and a 21 year educator from Watson, LA. She’s a teacher-librarian and certified reading specialist at a 5-6 grade middle school. She is Vice President of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians and is the 2019 AASL Social Media Superstar Program Pioneer. Amanda is an active member of several committees for AASL and is on the Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Awards Committee. Visit her library website at lomlibrary.org and/or find out more about her at http://librarianjones.com/.