What is a good new book to read? How do I use the OPAC? How do you use MackinVia? What is a good website for finding information on magnetism? What is a good book for read aloud? How can I integrate the Maker Space into my lesson? How are you supporting the curriculum? Why does my child keep talking about a digital footprint? I lost the paper about the Summer Reading Club, can you send me the information?
If you are a school librarian, you are probably bombarded with these questions from your students, fellow staff members, administrators, and parents throughout the day.
All school librarians find themselves dreaming of being able to replicate themselves so that they can keep up with all of the many tasks of keeping up a well-run library. Since that is not a possibility, even with today’s amazing advances in technology, school librarians might want to consider keeping and subscribing to librarian blogs. In my search through the many library blogs out there, I found that each one fits into one of two categories: for the school community or for the teacher/librarian community. The blogs written specifically for the school community tended to have resources geared toward students, teachers, and parents. These types of blogs allow the librarian to have all of her most useful resources in one place and can be used to help answer many of the above questions. The other type of blog is one written and maintained specifically for teachers and teacher librarians. This blog has resources and links and reviews of the latest educational innovations and technologies that teachers can use in their classrooms or libraries. The focus is usually on new useful websites, book reviews, and lesson ideas. Here is a closer look at a few of them:
Type #1: Whole School Community Blog
One school librarian blog that does this quite effectively is the Curtis Elementary Library blog, maintained by Shawna Ford.
This blog has a few well-organized sections. The first is for the librarian to post pictures and write about the things going on in the library. Anyone in the school community, but especially parents, can go here to see all the wonderful things going on in the library. It is great PR for the library and another way to advocate for the school library program. The librarian posts everything from descriptions of her lessons to pictures of what the after school Maker Space club is doing.
Another section focuses primarily on resources for teachers. There are webcasts showing teachers how to use various software and explaining different databases. There are also links to websites that the librarian found and thought would be useful for teachers. One such website is ThingLink , where students can make an image interactive by adding links, images, and music to it.
Another page on this blog is dedicated to book reviews. This can be useful for students, teachers, and parents looking for good books. The librarian picks new books to read, summarize, and rate. When someone asks for a good book to read, the librarian can direct them to this page as a start. Mostly likely, if she has reviewed a wide variety of books, she can cut down greatly on the amount of time she spends with students and teachers looking for books that suit them. Overall, this type of blog is very useful for the librarian to share her ideas and resources with the community. It can be a bit time consuming to build and maintain, but it would be worth it if it can address some of those questions that she spends so much time each day answering.
Type #2: Teacher/Librarian Blogs
Shannon McClintock Miller is a teacher librarian with a vast background in school librarianship. She is an educational consultant for Mackin Educational Resources and Cantana learning and consults around the country on education, librarianship, technology, and social media topics. Her blog The Library Voice has won many awards.
This blog focuses mainly on inspiring busy teachers and librarians, providing ready-made ideas and resources. When a friend asked her for penguin resources, McClintock Miller went to Twitter to find opportunities from zoos, authors, and publishers. She wound up finding a penguin program through the Calgary Zoo. The zoo has an extensive website and they also wound up doing a virtual tour of the penguin exhibit through Skype. McClintock Miller explained the process in her blog (she searched for “zoo on Twitter” and found a bunch of zoos to choose from) and posted pictures of the Skype event with the students.
Also on her blog, she finds resources related to holidays and posts them for teachers and librarians to use. Not only does she post the links for the resources, but she describes in detail how they can be used. Think about how much time you could save weeding through all of the Black History Month resources out there and coming up with lesson plans too. She also has posts explaining how to use different new technologies available, like the website Storyboard That where she had students create Valentine’s Day Cards. This blog is like your one-stop-shop for fresh ideas and useful resources. Busy librarians should definitely subscribe to this blog and others like it. And if you find yourself with some extra time on your hands, it would be great to “pay it forward” and put your own ideas and treasure trove of resources into a blog that others can use.
A Media Specialists Guide to the Internet is another really great blog chock full of ideas and resources for the busy librarian. Julia Greller did a stupendous job gathering resources and organizing them in this blog. There are pages based on grade level and topic. A 5th grade teacher can go to the Grades K-5 tab and find literally hundreds of resources organized by topic such as Earth Day, Poetry, and Lesson Plan Sites. If you are an ESL teacher, there is a page for you. If you are a new teacher, there is a page just for you too. If you are looking for graphics, or a Web 2.0 tool for concept maps, or a Health lesson, there is a page for you. On the main blog page, Julie Greller discusses her favorite apps, posts video tutorials, and posts the latest resources she finds. One great resource she shares is a site called Busy Teacher where among many useful things, you will find 700 free worksheets to use for free. Every teacher and teacher librarian should subscribe to this blog for great ideas and easy to find resources.
As you can see, library blogs can be very helpful to a busy librarian. Not only can a librarian use them to communicate to her school community, but she can be a part of a support network of other busy librarians by subscribing to a multitude of useful blogs maintained by other librarians. Maintaining your own blog with library and teaching resources will not only help others, but it can also be a way for you to organize all of the ideas you find throughout the school year. Getting time for staff development to share new technologies and ideas with the teachers in your building can be difficult. A blog is a great way to share your ideas and expose teachers to the latest technologies you have found.
Mixed Race woman using laptop on library floor. Photography. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 30 Jan 2016.