Welcome to schoollibraryPALS: Parents Advocating for Libraries in Schools!

Welcome! SchoollibraryPALS is the only organization in Utah established with the sole purpose of actively supporting and promoting school libraries. We are a “grassroots” group dedicated to improving student achievement in Utah.

schoollibraryPALS goes to the Legislature 2016: A Report

This year our organization brought two budget requests, first to the State Board of Education, which voted both requests into the Board budget requests, and, ultimately, to the Legislature.

1) School Library Print and Digital Resources: One request was a follow-up to last year’s line item budget for school library resources. At the end of the 2015 Legislative Session, funding for these resources increased from $550,000 in ongoing funding to $850,000 in ongoing funding, plus $750,000 in one-time-only funding for a total of $1.6 million. Our request this year essentially was to replace the $750,000 in one-time-only funding with $750,000 in ongoing funding and maintain total funding, $1.6 million. School library resources collections support beginning and developing reader; all subjects taught in schools, including the STEM subjects; dual immersion programs for foreign languages; English language learners; etc.
The Outcome: While the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee recommended $750,000 again in one-time-only monies, somewhere between the Subcommittee and the Executive Appropriations Committee, the appropriation was eliminated and never was brought back into the Education Budget.
In the 2016-17 school year, our school libraries will share the $850,000 in ongoing funding that is designated for print and digital resources, including ebooks.

2) A Strategy for Change: A Demonstration Project to Measure the Impact of Certified Teacher Librarians on Student Achievement: Our second request proposed a three-year project/impact study to create a model of best practices for school library programs and the roles of teacher librarians.

Need: Over 60 studies[1], [2] confirm that teacher librarians raise student achievement. However, currently in Utah:
>There are only 224 certified teacher librarians employed for 1,000+ public schools;
>Only 3 districts offer full-time, certified teacher librarians in all schools;
>There are 13 districts with no teacher librarians.
>In the some of the remaining 25 districts, there are fewer teacher librarians than high schools.
>Almost without exception, there is no professional service from certified teacher librarians in the elementary schools of 38 school districts.
>There are many exceptional library assistants in charge of school libraries, but their training is not the same as certified, endorsed personnel.

Project overview: Twenty-five schools, currently without teacher librarians, would be selected from qualifying applications from districts and charter schools statewide. For a school to qualify, the district must agree to 1) share with the State, on a 50-50% basis, the salary and benefits of the teacher librarian; and 2) maintain the library assistant position to support the teacher librarian’s professional tasks. Integral to the project are professional development for best practices and ongoing, independent assessment, conducted by an experienced, outside assessment team for data-driven results.This form of assessment is considered fundamental, essential for accountability.The three components, personnel, training, and assessment, are reflected in budget request for $3.6 M in one-time funding, distributed over 3 years.

Expected betterments:
1) A model for school library programs and teacher librarians.
2) Students who:
  • Value reading for lifelong learning and recreation;
  • Are information and media literate;
  • Use technology tools effectively in their learning, choosing the best tool for each task; and
  • Are better prepared for college and career.

Support: Twenty district superintendents, so far, endorse the demonstration project/impact study proposal; the State Board of Education voted to include the request in their budget request to the Legislature; and several legislators spoke favorably of the project. (See our new brochure. The schoollibraryPALS Steering Committee supplied the information and Nate Gibby, of Serfwerks, provided the design.
Outcome: The Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee’s funding recommendation for the demonstration project/impact study was $900,000, but that initial funding support disappeared the final Executive Appropriations Committee budget for education.
The outcomes are disappointing, but school library programs still need support. Thank you to all schoollibraryPALS who helped by emailing your legislators to voice your support for the budget requests. We plan to continue our support. Please plan to join in when the time comes in the future.

Brochure: Support Strategy for Change: The Teacher Librarian Demonstration Project/Impact Study

[1] Debra E. Kachel, School Library Research Summarized, rev. ed. Mansfield University, 2013.
http://libweb.mansfield.edu/upload/Kachel/ImpactStudy.pdf (accessed June 25, 2015).
[2] Gretes, Francis, School Library Impact Studies: A Review of Findings and Guide to Sources, Harry & Jeannette Weinberg Foundation, revised, August 12, 2013.

Senate Passes Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)!

The ESSA uses federal funds for effective school library programs. Read the ALA article via the link below to understand how it supports school libraries.

UPDATE! President Obama has signed ESSA into law.


Utah Legislators Niederhauser, Adams, and Gibson Recognized

Sen. Wayne Niederhauser.jpg

Sen. Stuart Adams.jpg

Rep. Francis Gibson.jpg

Sen. Wayne Niederhauser
President of the Senate

Sen. Stuart Adams
Majority Whip

Rep. Francis Gibson
Majority Whip

SchoollibraryPALS presented "Friend of School Libraries" Awards to three legislators. The recipients are Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, Senator Stuart Adams, and Representative Francis Gibson. The legislators were recognized for their personal ongoing support, but especially for their efforts to increase the 2015-16 school year the line item for school library books and electronic resources from $550,000 to $1.6 million.

PALS Friends of School Libraries Awards.JPG
(Photo by Gwen Knight)

Representatives of the schoollibraryPALS Steering Committee met in the Capitol to honor the three legislators who earned the organization’s “Friend of School Libraries” Award. Pictured from left to right are Sarah Herron, teacher librarian at East High School in the Salt Lake School District; Lori Komlos, teacher librarian retired from Highland Park in Salt Lake; Fawn Morgan, teacher librarian, recently retired from Layton High in Davis; Sharyl Smith, former State Specialist for Library Media; and Barbara Smith, Davis School District Board of Education and Director, Utah Family Partnership Network. Gwen Knight, former school library aide at Truman and, later, Fox Hills Elementary Schools in Granite and library clerk for Salt Lake County Library.

Legislative 2015 Update - Great News!
The School Library Books and Electronic Resources line item wins!!

Thanks in good measure to your emails, school libraries will have an additional $1,050,000 in the line item for School Library Books and Electronic Resources, bringing the total to be shared across the state to $1,600,000! School libraries have not seen a number like this since the 2009-2010 school year, when the appropriation was $1.5 million.

Please check out our new Legislative Update page to read the latest on Utah School Library Funding. We are featured in School Library Journal! And please do not forget to thank our legislators with a brief note. You will find their e-mail addresses on the Legislative Update page as well.

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Have you heard of the Kiss The Book blog? In 2006, Cindy Mitchell, South Jordan Middle School librarian created a webpage entitled Kiss the Book, dedicated as a resource to school librarians to aid them in selecting books for their classes and libraries. Over 1000 books in the entire K-12 spectrum are reviewed each year on the blog. Click on this link to read the complete article - Kiss the Book

schoollibraryPALS at the UT PTA Advocacy Conference - October 2014

In October, the Steering Committee of schoollibraryPals hosted a session on media strategies to create effective advocacy messages. Click on the image below to see the presentation.


News: schoollibraryPALS Membership Growing!
Every year, schoollibraryPALS sponsors a booth at Utah PTA Leadership Convention. This year was no exception. On May 15th and 16th, 2014, Fawn Morgan, Barbara Smith, and Sharyl Smith, all members of the schoollibraryPALS Steering Committee, greeted prospective members, described the connection between quality school library programs and student academic achievement, and explained our mission to improve school library programs across Utah. Barbara, Fawn, and Sharyl found scores of receptive listeners, including many who share their passion. Therefore, as of the May 15-16, schoollibraryPALS has grown significantly. We added 108 new members and now number 744 members! We encourage new members and visitors to this wikispace to check out your local school library, but, first, visit the “Building Partnerships” page on this website for a checklist of things to look for. Be informed and help us to improve school library programs in Utah.

Welcome to all new members!
Barbara Smith (right) and Sharyl Smith along with
Paddington Bear, encourage PTA members to join
Fawn Morgan catches a bite to eat between explanations
about the Utah Library Core Curriculum and the need for
students to be information and media literate.

Average Age of School Library Collections:Statistics from a Recent Sample SurveyFebruary 2014

An informal sample survey has been conducted to determine the average age of Utah’s school library resources collections, based on copyright dates. Two classifications of the nonfiction sections were surveyed, the 500s, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and the 600s, Applied Sciences and Technology, as well as the age of entire collections. To date, statistics have been gathered for 235 schools from 21 districts. The newest school surveyed opened last fall, and newer schools tend to have newer collections. Conversely, the data show that a surprising number of schools house collections with science or technology classifications dating from between twenty and forty years ago.

Here are the results to date:

Number of schools reporting: 235
Number of districts represented: 21 districts, or 51% of the total number of districts
Average age of the 500s Natural Sciences and Mathematics: 16 years
Average age of the 600s Applied Science and Technology: 15.1 years
Average age of the entire collection: 16.7 years
*The data are derived from the “Reports” function of the automated catalog software.

These survey results emphasize strongly the urgent need to update the print and electronic school library resources that our students need to able to read for information and recreation and to think critically about the information they use to complete homework assignments.
Financial support for these resources varies widely from district to district. The line item for School Library Books and Electronic Resources is the only money from the Legislature that is designated for school library resources only.

Representative Stephen Handy (Layton, Utah) is the sponsor of a proposal to increase the amount of the line item from $550,000 to $1,050,000. Please support his efforts, as well as those of members of schoollibraryPALS, by emailing the members of the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (listed below). The next step is up to them and they will vote during the week of February 10th.

Update on Ogden District
After a reduction in force last spring removed 20 certified teacher librarians from all Ogden School District’s 20 schools, parents, librarians, teachers, and students voiced their objections and concerns at school board meetings and through local newspapers. As a result, the school district found money to rehire seven teacher librarians to develop a new library program that would include supervising 40 part-time library clerks (two per school) and developing innovative research opportunities through collaboration with classroom teachers. Following the lead of teacher librarian Shelly Ripplinger and using resources from the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), the District Teacher Librarians (DTLs) spent the summer months and early Fall creating a new vision for the District Library Program. The program’s emphasis is on innovative collaboration with teachers through research projects that build transliteracy skills in students and that are guided by the New Utah Core Standards and the Standards for the 21st Century Learne­­r.
The District Teacher Librarians (DTLs) assume three roles as information specialist, co-teacher, and program manager. As information specialists, they participate in workshops and trainings in available resources such as Google Apps for Education to help prepare teachers and students for the challenges of the 21st century. As co-teachers, the DTLs collaborate with classroom teachers on research projects—the DTLs are the process specialists, teaching skills for the process of research, and the teachers are the content specialists. They work together to design a two- to four-week unit of study using content from the Utah Core Curriculum, emphasizing research skills and guiding students through multiple projects synthesizing their new knowledge. As program managers, they train library clerks on topics such as circulation software, creating a positive library environment, and developing literature activities. When the library clerks undertake these tasks, the certified teacher librarians are able to focus on the professional activities that require their training and experience.
The DTLs have been reaching out to grade-level teams and departments at each school. They have completed several projects at the elementary, junior high, and high school level and have many more on the horizon covering various topics such as explorers, ancient civilizations, planets, weather, and more. Visit this link to the Standard Examiner for a story of a successful classroom co-teaching project: http://www.standard.net/stories/2013/10/29/ogden-students-learn-how-research-and-write-legislation?channelId&channelListId&mediaId=9af5e8eb20fa4137835c3c1a81ea19d8

Despite best intentions to develop a program with strong impact on student learning, the DTLs recognize gaps in the new multi-layered plan. There are expectations from many in the school community, for example, that the library clerks will perform the same types of instruction under the same circumstances that certified techer librarians did. Some schools are not fully staffed yet, and there has already been turnover of library clerks. Some schools' libraries are not open every day during school hours due to the unique schedules of the part-time clerks. And, while co-teaching has been challenging and exciting for the handful of classes reached so far this year, DTLs recognize and continue to promote the need to have fulltime teacher librarians back in each school to have the greatest impact on all students in Ogden School District.

Read what parents accomplished when all certified librarians were to be cut in their school district

November 1, 2013
Last spring, I was shocked when I heard that the Ogden School District was about to pass a budget that would cut all certified librarians in my children's school district. One day my children came home from school saying, “Mom, we need to save Mrs. Jamison’s job!” My children had developed a great respect and love for their librarian as a result of the hard work and personal attention she had given them and the other students. I knew that I had to do something to try and save the librarians in our schools.

With about a month left before the final budget vote, I worked with other moms from the district to figure out how to make sure our voices were heard by the school board. Another mother of children in our school district, Amy Church, organized a community bake sale where over $700 was raised in less than 2 hours. This check was presented to the School Board as compelling evidence of the willingness of our community to support our librarians. We started a change.org petition to reach out to other community members who wanted their voices to be heard to retain certified librarians in Ogden School District. In less than two weeks, we had over 300 signatures and by 4 weeks we had over 550 signatures to submit to the school board.

I went to work contacting other schools in the state that had gone through similar changes before, to ask them about their experiences and outcomes. I met with our superintendent, Brad Smith, and spoke with him about my concerns and research findings. After 2 weeks of getting the word out, we had so many people show up to the school board meeting to voice their concerns that there was not enough room at the district office to hold everyone.

The school board’s final decision was to institute a new librarian program including 7 certified librarians and qualified staff assistants. Parents were told by the superintendent that as funding becomes available in the future, certified librarians may end up being reinstated in each of the schools. Right now our certified librarians are focusing on project-based learning with our teachers and are available for co-teaching opportunities. The staff assistants in my children’s school library are educated and caring individuals working hard to provide quality experiences for the students.
While the school board decision left room for disappointment, losing so many of our certified librarians, overall I am pleased that our voices were heard and that dialogue between parents and the school board has been opened. Throughout this experience, what really surprised me is how in the dark so many parents (including me) felt about the decisions being made for our children's schools. A fellow parent, Melissa Marlor, created an organization called Focus Ogden that will help to remedy this problem going forward and help parents stay informed about what is going on in the district.

We are hopeful as we look forward to a future of collaboration among parents, educators, school board members and our superintendent to carefully consider the best and long term interests of our amazing students together. This way we can continue to improve children's learning outcomes across the district, which is the top priority for all of us.

Heather Turner

Watch this!! Teacher Librarians at the Heart of Student Learning
Click on the image below to watch a video that highlights the essential role teacher librarians play in information and technology literacy instruction, reading advocacy, and information management. Produced by Washington (State) Library Media Association. [Good talking points here.]



The school library isn't your mother's library anymore!
"Preserving and expanding school libraries are essential to our success in this information-intensive age. The school library isn't your mother's library anymore. Today teacher librarians play a vital role in helping students understand the internet and the information that is available at the touch of a finger."
Dr. William A. Sederburg, Former Utah Commissioner of Higher Education
School libraries are essential to educate children in researching knowledge
"School libraries are an essential to educate children in researching knowledge. The modern Internet has added to, and not supplanted, the skills required to locate information. Enabling students with the abilities to search not only digital records, but traditional stores of knowledge is the charge of teacher librarians and school libraries. School libraries and teacher librarians should be supported as the heart of every school."
Pete Ashdown, Founder and CEO, XMission

Students in schools with endorsed librarians score better on standardized achievement tests
Check out this new infographic based on two decades of research. School library impact The results consistently show that endorsed school librarians are linked to improved standardized reading test scores. What does the research say has more information on the impact of school libraries.

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Former Rocky Mountain Middle School Teacher Librarian (and 2012 District Teacher of the Year!) Shares One of the Joys of the Job:Teacher Collaboration

Amanda Porter is the 2012 Wasatch County School District Teacher of the Year, in honor of her work as teacher librarian at Rocky Mountain Middle School. For schoollibraryPALS, Amanda writes about her role as a central member of the faculty and a collaborator. In doing so, she discusses the first two of the five roles of a teacher librarian--Teacher, Instructional Partner, Reading Advocate, Information Specialist, and Library Program Manager. (See Note below.) Here, in her own words, Amanda Porter shares insights about her work as a Teacher Librarian. She begins with the concept of collaboration with teachers:

An innovation in education that is sweeping across the nation is the implementation of PLCs. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are getting teachers collaborating, looking at data, doing systematic interventions, extending learning, and enriching curriculum. Richard DuFour, an expert on the PLC concept, writes, “The very essence of professional learning community is a focus on and a commitment to the learning of each student.” (Learning by Doing, 2006). Unfortunately, many school librarians have been left wondering what their role is in the PLC model. The answer is clear, an effective library is the heartbeat and center of the school, therefore, an effective teacher librarian should be an integral part and leader in the PLC of the school.

When I go into a departmental PLC, I ask three questions: "What are your upcoming units? If you could add one element to that unit what would it be, media, technology, cooperative grouping, a reading and writing component, research, etc.?" Finally I ask, "Can I help you find any of these elements or come and help teach in your classroom?" Let us be honest, at first classroom teachers don’t know exactly what to say in response to these questions. To start with, I first find the teachers resources to support the teacher's instruction. From there we can move into combining our curriculums and team teach.

Here is an example: I went to the Health Department’s PLC and came back to the library and ordered for them two videos and a couple graphic novels. One of the health teachers, a 30-year veteran, came down a few weeks later and asked if I could help him come up with some ideas for an upcoming unit. He felt his students might be plagiarizing (yes, they were) and wanted to see what could be done. We worked together and created a genre research paper and I co-taught for two days with him. We later created a grading rubric together. This positive experience has now led to multiple additional units that we have worked on together and used the library's resources.

When the librarian is a certified teacher, the classroom teachers have trust and confidence and will use the resources in the library and allow the teacher librarian into the classroom more frequently. The teacher librarian is an expert in literacy, technology, and digital citizenship, all of which are the foundation of learning and should be taught across all content areas. Richard DuFour writes, “The reason teachers are organized into teams, the reason they are provided with time to work together, the reason they are asked to focus on certain topics and compete specific tasks, is so that when they return to their classrooms they will possess and utilize an expanded repertoire of skills, strategies, materials, and ideas in order to impact student achievement in a positive way.” (Learning By Doing, 2012). Teacher librarians provide the expanded repertoire of skills and strategies. Our school libraries are filled with additional materials, and our expertise can impact curriculum development. Libraries and teacher librarians are the heartbeat of a school and should move to be an imperative part of the Professional Learning Communities process.

About the author: Amanda Porter graduated from Utah Valley University with a degree in Secondary English Education and began her journey in education teaching ninth-grade Language Arts. After five great years in the classroom, she pursued a Master’s Endorsement in Library Media Science and transitioned to the library. She currently is the teacher librarian at Rocky Mountain Middle School in Wasatch County School District. While in the library, Amanda created a schoolwide Lexile-based reading program. With data and research in hand, she began working with each PLC in the school to implement the Language Arts Common Core in the content areas with the library as a primary resource. She enjoys co-teaching in the content areas and enriching classrooms with literacy, research and technology. She was a presenter at the 2011 UELMA conference about the importance of the library being the heart of the PLC movement. This school year she is currently leading the schoolwide professional development plan for technology integration in preparation for one-to-one implementation next year. Amanda is currently getting her Master of Education with an Administrative license from Southern Utah University

Note: Utah's Library Media Curriculum includes the skills and concepts of 1) information literacy, enabling students to find, evaluate, and use information effectively; and 2) media literacy enabling students to analyze advertisements and other messages, to communicate effectively with many media formats, to be safe on the Internet, etc.. All these skills and concepts are more meaningful to students when they learn them along with classroom curriculum content. As a Teacher and Instructional Partner, Amanda collaborates, that is, with her classroom peers, she co-writes curriculum, team teaches that curriculum, and shares in evaluating instruction and student learning. In this way, she not only supports classroom teachers' instruction, but also works to integrate the library media curriculum with classroom curriculum.

From the Utah State Library:

Working Together Strengthens Everyone

Greetings from the Utah State Library!

Right now, we are gearing up for summer reading. Many libraries in Utah are using the Collaborative Summer Library (CSLP) Program's themes this year. For children, it is "Dream Big--Read" and for teens, it is "Own the Night".

CSLP encourages public libraries to work with school libraries to promote the summer reading program. This is a great way for schools to help youth get excited about summer reading. It can also help prevent the "summer loss" many children experience when their reading drops off. When children are able to read books they find interesting and challenging, they will retain more of their vocabulary and comprehension skills, giving them an edge when they return to school in the fall.

School libraries are also a great partner for public libraries. Public librarians can work with school librarians to share information with students and teachers about programs, resources, and events that are happening at the public library. School librarians can keep tabs on upcoming coursework and let public librarians know that students will be coming in to get a particular book for an English assignment, or that a science teacher is asking her students to create a project for the upcoming science fair.

One of the most striking things I've noticed over the past two years is that we have very talented librarians in both school and public libraries in Utah. In particular, I believe that school libraries are leaders in using new technology and public libraries offer leadership through fantastic programs. Ongoing partnerships are the best way to take advantage of those strengths, and cross-promotion is an excellent way to raise interest in all libraries.

The State Library is a resource for all libraries in Utah, and if I can be of any help to your library, please let me know.

Matt McLain
Youth Services Coordinator
Utah State Library

Watch the following video from KSL on twenty-first century school libraries:

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

On December 16, 2010 KSL's Nadine Wimmer reported on school librarians and school libraries. You can read her report here: School librarians still play important role. The footage above comes from this report.