Top 5 Things I Learned at CSLA 2019

First of all, I learned way more than five things at the 2019 California School Library Association Conference, but I don’t have a ton of time to write, so…five it is.

Who does not love a good conference? There’s something about the feeling of collegiality and enthusiasm you get from being around people who are into the same things you are. I’m new to this library job, but I’ve already noticed it can be isolating. No one in the building truly gets what I do. I wonder if people think all I have to do is check books in and out. Then I wonder if I should constantly be displaying the other, numerous aspects of the job and this leads to me feeling overwhelmed. The annual conference is a good remedy.

There is an old saying in education: read it, write it, say it, do it. The basic idea is that students need to revisit the same content multiple times in order to learn it. This post is my way of revisiting what I learned at the conference, which was about a month ago now. My goal is to reflect, prioritize, and solidify my most important takeaways.

My Personal Top 5 Takeaways from CSLA 2019

These are not in order of best to worst or vice versa. They are basically in the order of my notes. My only wish is that I was able to get to more sessions. 

1) So What Is Information Literacy? (MaryAnn Harlan): 

  • Information literacy is complex. It is not a mini-lesson or even a series of mini-lessons.
  • When we think of information literacy we are talking about so many things…digital, critical, basic, social/emotional, financial, scientific, and more.
  • Who owns the media? What is their bias? The Media Bias Chart  by ad fontes media is a nifty way to illustrate the way much of our information is slanted toward particular points of view.

2) Student Driven Inquiry (Shelly Buchanan):

  • “You don’t learn to play baseball from a year of batting practice.”
  • Don’t forget the power of student choice.
  • Students can create actual physical artifacts to accompany research. The artifact may be ephemeral (e.g., a one-act play or a song).
  • Student Driven Inquiry (SDI) relates to self-determination theory, in which students experience intrinsic motivation through autonomy, competence, and “relatedness.” If I understand this correctly, SDI leads to students owning their own learning; they feel they can do it and that it is relevant to their lives.

3) Supersize your Graphic Novel Collection (Sara Smith):

  • Stan Lee said comicbook is one word. We are not talking about a book of ha-ha comic strips from the newspaper.
  • Use GoodReads to help you buy complete story arcs. Do not buy for the character because you will end up with different arcs.
  • Manga terminology includes isekai, where a modern person travels to a different world;  harem, where a male main character has multiple love interests; reverse harem, where the same thing happens with a female main character; shojo, written for an audience of teenage girls; and shonen, written with teenage boys in mind as the audience.
  • Use Kapco covers to support the paperbacks.
  • If it is too much money to buy a whole series, do it in chunks.
  • Check out the following resources for recommendations:

4) Survive and Thrive the First Couple of Years in a School Library (Elsa Ouvard-Prettol:

  • You are in charge. Make your desire for success greater than your fear of failure. You will fail and it is OK.
  • Keep the improvement cycle in mind: Plan, do, study, act. Over and over. When you plan, you consider your community needs and goals. During the study phase, look over notes, including observational comments and student feedback.
  • One of the most important parts of library advocacy is building relationships and that can take 3 or even 5 years. It is not a quick thing!

5) Create a Comprehensive Plan for Your School Library (Jenn Rousch):

  • Be a library advocate. A great infographic can do a lot to emphasize the positive effects of libraries in a school district.
  • Match the library mission and vision statements to the district goals.
  • Keep data to prove our value to stakeholders.
  • Make the library wishlist for next year before this one ends. That way, we keep (or even expand) the current budgets.
  • According to The California Model School Library Standards
    • TLs should spend 20 hours a week on instruction and 5 on management.
    • 2/3 of a library collection should be less than 15 years old.
    • School libraries should have 28 books / student, and the budget should allow for 1 new book per student each year.

In Conclusion…

As I mentioned in the beginning, I learned a lot more than 5 things at this conference. When I thought of writing this blog, I was looking for a quick, easy post to get me back in the habit of writing regularly. Looking back over my notes, I realize that there is so much more to talk about. Mostly, I am very grateful to have had the chance to listen to so many knowledgable, inspiring school librarians. Thank you so much for your presentations.

If anyone reading this blog attended the same conference, I’d love to hear your top takeaways. What did you learn or revisit or start thinking about based on your CSLA 2019 experience?


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