Prefigurative Information Politics – Strategies for Survival, Resilience, and Liberation – An FSU talk with Dr. Amelia Gibson

Prefigurative Information Politics – Strategies for Survival, Resilience, and Liberation – Not THAT sounds complicated, when I first saw the title, I was  like ‘”Whoa!”  But the note that Dr. Amelia Gibson made, that we find ourselves being in a unique space- criticizing institutions we are a part of, and grappling with our own complicity – the struggles – personally, socially, and as a community that have surfaced are real.  It also was well noted that these struggles were always there, just brought to light more of late.  That was pretty powerful to realize, and usually would not come up in conversation unless you, me, everyone made time to just sit and discuss and consider, like we all used to be able to do in graduate school 🙂

I was taken back to the controversy at Chapel Hill with “Silent Sam” as Dr. Gibson referenced the conflicts and decisions that were made over that marker of so many things beyond the physical statue.  The topics of medical eugenics, and the issue of marginalization, totally different than the issue of poverty was am examination well worth the mention.

Dr, Gibson’s mention of Tania Sutherland’s work as well shows the extensions of her research and the depth that it took  Emphasizing the point that there is much in responsibility that we need to learn, especially when there are so many individuals that latch onto a protest or issue without knowing the full – all-sided facets of all involved, well pointed out on her  part.

The distinction of coercion versus compliance as well was a GREAT avenue to examine and discuss.  Touching on cancelling culture in the same area, tying to Meredith Clarke’s work, and encouraging individuals to be just that, individually question informational systems and institutions in lieu of these issues reinforced the research she was diving into.  I appreciated the specific look and research Dr. Gibson had taken on, but also took the time to share the importance of what at first seemed a very, above-my-head scope of research, and yet in so many ways surrounds each of us in our daily lives.

I loved the observation Dr. Gibson made that many people don’t seem to “have the capacity” to work through these contemplations, issues, and ultimately discussion on these important issues.  Many simply feel it is not worth their time to look outside of their own knowledge base, and I do see that as a major downfall and cause of so many divisions in so many.  The observation that the anger directed at collective institutions often backfires when the marginalized communities are impacted negatively as a result.  There are so many comments, points made without a thought process of the implications on the intricate communities that make up who we are as the United States, not just own own interests.

Certainly a strong point was there are so many people that are  willing to accept actions based on seeing that this is the only way, or thinking that is the only way a system works, or has worked. In education, I certainly see that as a downfall, not willing to see a different approach than has ever been attempted, even a different viewpoint and giving that viewpoint a chance to take a different turn, a different attempt at changing education slightly and seeing if there is a “better” that results.  It seems so difficult for us to get to that point as a nation.

I loved the ideas Dr. Gibson began to reference as far as resilience, “Black Girl Magic”, referring to Megan Stallion,  (the clip that Dr. Gibson showed was great), referring to Black Boy Joy, and the fact of how marginalized communities always have to maintain a heightened sense of awareness.  I do not think we discuss or come across this train of thought enough.

Certainly this says much but what many do not realize?  With the  removal and decline of school librarian positions in schools, it will become even more difficult to be guided to see two sides of every issue.  Dr. Gibson’s research was refreshing in that it reminded us there does need to be time taken to take more than we can see and feel, into deeper consideration.

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Including Inclusion When it is Needed Most at FSU

Friday 7:30 PM  Session on Inclusion

Dean Larry Dennis, co-anchored with Dr. Chanta Haywood, showed the exciting and relative initiative FSU had the foresight to take on the important issue of inclusion. Throughout the whole session, I kept thinking of the  traumatic events covered by news, and how FSU is a great microcosm of movement to approach this problem of inequality, diversity and representation.  Dean Dennis referred to Dale Carnegie’s text How to Win Friends & Influence People  (and there is an edition for the Digital Age too!) connecting the similarities that the only person you can control is yourself.

The process as described by Dr. Haywood showed her expertise in level by level, addressing the issues that were relevant to be addressed, recruiting staff, using collaborative research, finding grant funding, enhancing the curriculum to match set goals, finding the strategic and ways to teach to this goal.   In finding how to address the needs to create awareness and open-mindedness of addressing equality and diversity in an age where those actions are often overlooked, it is refreshing to see how a systematic approach was put into action and is deemed a priority to the FSU campus. It was emphasized the student experiences as well as alumni experiences helped shape the best steps forward in meeting the challenges the world outside of FSU poses.  From synthesizing and analyzing reports, definite objectives, common themes, barriers, and focus groups were created to make this successful.

I asked How has the virtual arena challenged students in still being part of this initiative? and stated  I think this initiative is a backbone of any institution and always in need.  Dean Dennis did acknowledge the key factor that makes all of this work was communication, communication, communication. 

From the virtual event we found ourselves in, to the amazing job Dr. Kazmer did in guiding everyone through this whole process, insights that came out of this thanks to all the aforementioned professionals, allow the virtual walls to be torn down and almost feel as if you are in the same room with the same concerns.  The takeaway is, no matter the vehicle of communication, remote, hybrid, in person, there are always issues and topics we all have an interest and say in, despite agreeing and disagreeing, the most important aspect is having a place at the table!

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FSU says Innovate, Innovate AWAY! From Hub to Field, FSU Takes the Field of Innovation!

Friday nights sessions from the Friends and Family Virtual Event would not disappoint, examining the Innovation Hub from 7:00 – 7:25 PM

Mc’s by Dr. Paul Marty FSU’s Innovation Hub was highlighting the numerous and exciting developments of technology happening there!  Dr. Ken Baldauf begins telling how starting in 1996, the Innovation Hub began and started off to probably where they had no idea where they would be now, the area is like being lost in Disney!   I liked the fact that he said it is an area of intersecting concepts.  That should be in every school library’s mission statement and he indeed stated how the mission statement was vital, especially to the Innovation Hub.

It was amazing to see the initial images of the space and how this space is being utilized currently.  Starting with 18 3D printer and now operating 40 printers, with services currently free to students, this is an amazing service and a place to learn and be amazed at the technology of 3d printers.  We have one larger one at the Library Media Center and it ceases to amaze students.  Additional tech that can be hands-on used is the  laser cutter, the programmable router/cutter, headsets for virtual reality,

Circuit board and robot development supplies, a developing recording studio, where all can begin to empathize, ideate, and build, as their mantra is seen all over the Hub. The applications manipulated in The Hub showed and extended to engaging social workers to help stretch the longevity of their careers (as you can imagine the turn-around rate is high due to the demands of the position), conducting virtual reality fairs, and now increasingly learning to earn badges to become an innovative scholar and recognized at graduation for such; all which shows built in assets that result from being IN the Innovation Hub, and what individuals can take OUT of the Hub. With the forum Teachers teaching Teaches and Paul Allison in New York with the concept of Badges, I see how over a wide spectrum the idea of badges can be used to increase the levels of challenge and creativity that can be found in technology, as well as in the Innovation Hub.  The use of post it notes almost to an extreme was awesome, as you can see constant byte-size creative projects represented as a result.

When Kirby Kander came on board and shows the leaps and the gains Seminole Productions made, you really obtained a sense  of what happens inside The Innovation Hub, does NOT stay in the Innovation Hub and you can see connections between what might not have been intended but how tech can affect the world outside. 

Having had experience in charge of park management at the Astro’s stadium, s sports director involved with NBC Sports, ESPN and now FSU, Kander brings a very exciting perspective to FSU.  He showed how they change sports broadcasting by having studios set up where the action is on campus, rather than having to have units go to the sports, the studios are set up all over campus to already be in position to cover the events that occur in the FSU campus. As a former intern for the Pittsburgh Pirates, I can easily compare where we have come since the 1997 season and how FSU and Kander uses the creativity found in technology, and enhance the sports world while enhancing the knowledge of FSU students, definitely a home run (or touchdown) for FSU.  The largest takeaway was showing that no matter what field, no matter what device, there is the element of creativity that can be taken and most importantly applied to the outside world, the real world, where so many parties can play a part in making such events happen.

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Communications Department at FSU Communicates “Behind the Scenes” to reality

One would think that would be a lot to take on and take on from the Communication Department but oh no, they were  just getting started J  When introduced to the accomplishments of Dr. Jaejin Lee and how FSU’s Arrowhead Advertising did so well – well, this well  –

one of the top 8 teams advancing to the finals of National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) sponsored by the American Advertising Federation (AAF). 

It is pretty exciting to see this happening in the middle of a pandemic, showing how versatile FSU had to be in a pandemic situation where so much had to be flipped virtually, and how Dr. Lee put this into practice as well as how FSU did this as well.  I do remember someone saying how she performed so much “behind the scenes”, which I am sure it true, but the accomplishments the advertising group were able to pull of shows how “behind the scenes” can become a reality. 

The takeaway again is showing how the field of communication can become so transferrable across so many mediums, that of competition, effectiveness, and how to put communication theory into practice.

Just when you thought that might be it – noooo, not even close!  The exciting rollout from Dr, Graves  revealing the documentary on WWII photographer Charlotte Mansfield – takes the whole idea of what communication can do to inform to a higher level!  I felt his statement of liking unknown stories and bring them to light to challenge our ideas about the past – I think that is a mission statement in itself of what the FSU Communication Department has done with these amazing reveals!  In looking at the teaser- ( you know there is going to be some amazing connections to Women’s History Month in March, and realizing that this would be broadcast over the next three years on over 290 public television stations? WHOA FSU Communications Department, you’re on FIRE! 

Being featured at the Jacksonville Film Festival as well – again makes the barriers between what is possible in the classroom and what extends beyond – the true education.  From the needs to raise funds for this project to more, it seems all involved received their career education with just this one project- and is priceless.  Already looking to the next project of The American Soldier – it is exciting how the past can be brought to the future with the right department, the right approach, the right creativity.

When asked in a few words from the Communications Department to sum up the department, all three seemed to capture it, from Dr. Lee’s observation of the department having good vibes, to Dr. Houck’s recognition that all are  pushing boundaries, to Dr. Graves recognizing that all are  providing cutting-edge work and  projects, it is easy to see all of these are  happening in the projects they introduced. 

The biggest takeaway I felt was the largest way you can who what influence you are making in the world is how you model what you are exposed to, and how to inform the world around you.  It seems FSU’s communication department has certainly modeled how communication and reach beyond the barriers the pandemic has laid before us.

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The Emmett Till Memory Project and archives at FSU

I have always been interested in communication and bending, shaping, and renovating communication to purpose that many never thought of.  I felt that was exactly what the Communication Department was doing and was super excited to see the cool, cutting-edge projects that were presented.  That is the odd thing, many people see Communications as a bland, and too general/vague of an area and the faculty that presented what they have been “up to” proved exactly opposite of that.

Dr. Houck presented one of the most interesting projects that I have heard or seen, and I am really interested in finding out more based on the Emmett Till archives  and the questions leading to how he became interested  revealed how engaging this projects has become at Florida State University.

In explaining how FSU research found its way in the Mississippi Delta, toured civil rights sites, one being the Bryant Grocery Meat Market and the shocking yet revealing truth behind Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie Till, forcing the casket to be opened; how she would go on to be a driving force much of what we know today (and to a point what people did not know) – is quite worthy of attention.

The introduction of the Emmett Till Memory Project and a smart phone app that enhances this knowledge is exciting as well as connected to the publication, all show what is possible and nonconventional about presenting communication in a technological-possible period.  This certainly does show the experiential learning that communication can take on,

A huge takeaway from this was realizing that certainly in a time and age during the pandemic so many many individuals have realized, some sooner than later, how vital quality communication among everyone, rather than divisiveness, will let us look into our American past, and learn more about who we a re as a nation, booth when we agree and when we disagree. I am wowed by the power that this project takes on towards that endeavor.

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“Google, who am I?”

Dr Marty!  6:00 – 6:30

Friday, February 5th, iSchool – 6:00 – 6:25 PM School of Information!

Dr Marty lived up to the legend I have heard he is, lol.  The energy, twists, as well as insights to the world we have seen around us certainly helps us understand and cope with the changes we see around us.  Unknown to me previously, the service and program Unroll Me was one of the coolest answers to mitigating the thousands of emails we subscribe, to, willingly and unwillingly, and I am curious to try it.  Aside from I think the name is hysterical and I made the comment I feel like saying this every Friday, lol.  Leading to the central question of Why Google does not charge for the services we use so much from them, and you might have some ideas on that already but the process that lead to that conclusion was a fascinating trip in how technology and the world has developed around us.

Obviously, our information is more valuable than us, which is a sad comment, and I would like to think that perhaps could be changed in the future. The fact that 2.7 billion people logging in at least once a month to Facebook, makes this number larger than any religions being “logged into” is one  of many staggering facts about how social media and technology easily becomes a staple around us.

I liked the point that new technologies on your own aren’t scary and that what is scary is when people do not realize how this changes plays a role in their lives – that is a great great point.  Also, the fact that technology has always involved trading old skills for newer skills, the ability technology has to change what it means to be human, I love that this question should be a mantra for all – What tradeoffs are we making and are they worth it?

I love that Dr. Marty addressed the point that , “No google is not making us stupid” and that the reliance on that technology is changing the world around us – and one of the most important aspects is for us to be alert, aware, and knowledgeable about how it is doing that.

There were MANY takeaways from this, but overall, the theme of being an involved participant in noticing how technology is changing the world, and us as humans, and being able to pick and choose your involvement, as well as being aware and willing to see as a spectator, as well as participant how technology influences and changes our lives?- I am proud to be at a university like FSU that emphasizes this type of knowledge and information and pushes students to be more aware of their role amid what can be often seen as chaos. 

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Authoring and “Rooting” to the Core of Our Being

Authors. ARCS. Building Worlds. None of these truly came to light or really hit home in importance to me in college. The biggest breakthrough was when I had taken a World Literature course Dr. DiMarco, Slippery Rock University, and it opened up volumes of worlds I never knew existed with books and authors from other countries, those I had never had the chance to explore. It was revolutionary!

Fast forward and thanks to the experiences afforded me at The American School Foundation, and the dreams and visions of a creative and very talented Repentino. staff, we began delving into bringing authors to campus to enlighten us on the authoring world, and it opened up the art of the story, both fiction and nonfiction to a wider audience.

Fast forward once again to Saturday, Classic Upward Bound, and thanks to a colleague of mine from those Slippery Rock University, and awesome author herself, Dr. Kimberly Miller, and information from Ms Mary McCoy, a workshop offering based on her past and upcoming books was offered. Something about it seemed to be powerful, and I just wasn’t sure, what it was, but based on the great experiences with past authors, this seemed to be a no brainer to reach out and try.

The most unique aspect of Ms McCoy’s workshop January 9th was the focus on each of us, the individual, the student, the person. Questions, topics, ideas that pointed back to us and who were were as individuals. This was unique, while an author, so far, little had focused on the author yet, and somehow, we were all engaged, Learning to discover and emphasize what our communication styles, but also verbalizing those styles among each of us as a group – I realized confidence seemed to be rebuilt in myself, and wondered if that was happening in others, as we talked about characteristics we were sure we knew about ourselves, the discussion and explaining of ourselves, verbally, with so much relying on so much visual with Zoom assignments, this made a difference. It was even better with having such an inviting, personable, and questioning author as we were finding in Ms. Mary McCoy!

By the end of this workshop, it had seemed as if we were not even in a zoom as known and expected based on the experiences we have been happening the last 11 months, it was exhilarating, motivating, and relieving to tie someone being an author, to our own lives, without having to get 100% at first into that author’s books! The ability to reach out and involve the average individual, and to do so with means in addition to their book, that is an art and an ability that many miss if they do not feel a connection with a book at all. Especially in this age of technology taking front stage.

During the course of this workshop that came across as realizing how personal our communication styles are and connecting these facts to the literary world, some amazing similarities and coincidences appeared to me on a personal level. I hope the same is true of other attendees of this workshop.

Ms. McCoy, was from the Butler, PA! YEAH! Not many people are familiar with the Grove City, Butler area, unless you originated there. Beginning are important.

If you are familiar with the book, The Library Book, by Susan Orlean, We were informed Ms. McCoy is referred to in a scene IN THAT BOOK! NO WAY! If you read the book, you’d understand, that was awesome!

Ms McCoy has indeed presented alongside Mr. Scott Westerfeld- and that is pretty notable to me, as Mr. Westerfeld was one of the first individuals to change the concept of bringing authors to a forum we created called Authors Among Us – great writers and minds hang together! Seeing Mr. Westefeld in 2019, years after our experiences in Mexico City, seemed like seeing a friend again after I had moved back to The United States. Authors that are able to capture your imagination, never fade from your mind through the years. Mr. Westerfeld is definitely in that league as well as Ms. Mary McCoy.

Guess where Ms. McCoy works (YES SHE IS A LIBRARIAN!) – in the Los Angeles Public Library – see the above info about The Library Book.

Mary McCoy, Tabitha Lord, Dr. Kimberly Miller, Scott Westerfeld, David Lida, Violeta Orozco, Neal Shusterman, Adi Alsaid, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Luis Cotto-Vasallo, Jack Little, Dr. Robert Snyder, Zoraida Cordova, Osseily Hanna, Eric Smith, Justine Larbalestier, all are authors I have had the privilege of welcoming as guests that have changed many young readers and dreamers.

Moreso, the age of the pandemic, an age where technology invites those to be personal and yet isolated at the same time, reaching authors in unique ways now, leave a lasting impression. Even more, by learning to motivate ourselves to be proactive, authors that are able to reach out and reach is personally through their experiences, their writing, their lives, changes how drab and mundane life can be without someone, or experiences that can change that for us.

Ms. Mary Mccoy and her personal approach, as well as the great questions and observations the Classic Upward Bound students made during this workshop, emphasized this fact even more.

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The Resurrected Word or “Hide Your Wife, Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Mangoes”

Often, the now fluent word combination, Open Mic, seems pretty easy to fling around and causally refer to. This is not the way it used to be – and if you are lucky, you are still able to find the specific unique characteristics and ability an Open Mic can have to transform similar to Yoga and Mind Wellness Approaches. I have never found the “right” Open Mic to fail to fix what most people find they needed – when they did not realize it at all at first.

The first step to really having the best Open Mic experience is to remove all expectations you have, let’s get some fallacies out of the way:

-No, performing does NOT required and a necessity to be connected to Open Mic – ever – so lose that expectation – Open means open to contribute your performance as well as open to your receiving and openness to individuals, topics, themes, genres that you might not have been open to before, or being open to new views that in turn open you as a person.

-It is better to NOT be well versed and practiced, well-established, well-published, and well-off to have a great open mic. Think dead white guys as authors, meaning, they are not without their place in literary history, yet, they are not everything as well. When you are lucky enough to find a mix of the two crammed in between an unexpected cultural sandwich, you might have discovered a goldmine.

-Location- during a pandemic- works with being remote. While there is nothing like a warm, late, crowed Open Mic packed with individuals that represent all parts of the globe, all languages, all beliefs, look at all these previous characteristics and you will be able to see how they all transform the standard screen we find ourselves trapped to via Zoom, and that same screen becomes a connection to someone that reaches through the screen truly, for a brief period of time, has the ability to resurrect you through the written word and the emotional word. The ability to let you know- that screen is just a means for receiving what you need, thank to the people that decided to agree they needed a renewal of the written word as well.

So we found ourselves at the Titere Poets Open Mic, Friday, January 10th,

celebrating Violeta Orozco’s newest publication (The Broken Woman Diaries – and it can be purchased HERE!!!!!!) and being lost among the Titere Poets – and I think the amazing job the MC of the night, D Bird, says it best:

Folks,

just wanted to take a moment to thank Violeta Orozco for sharing an evening of poetry, community, and solidarity between our Puerto Rican, Caribbean, Mexican, and Central/South American peoples. We laughed, we cried, we reflected in solidarity with our Black and Afro-Caribbean brothers and sisters during this chaotic and uncertain time.But no matter the struggle, we are not free if we are not all free–and that starts with fighting anti-Blackness as foundational to our fight against anti-immigrant sentiment, cisheterosexism, and capitalist greed. Shout out to all the dope artists who shared the mic last night, and thanks again to my family the Titere Poets–especially our artistic director Isa Guzman and cacique in chief Mario J Pagán Morales–for trusting me with hosting duties. If you wanna catch up to all the awesomeness, here’s a link to the show on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RZkrpFei6Q

There would be SO much to say about this particular session, and much was discussed after the actual event in what you would say would be an, “after hours” celebration of each of the participants, but I think the following will suffice –

Familia is a standard when it comes to an exceptional Open Mic, and not every Open Mic has the ability to create this, in times we find ourselves in now where individuals are stretched all along a virtual highway, or when it is easy to come together in times when those that know what Open Mic’s can do for the soul, and yet, this particular Open Mic was all about familia, from all over the world.

The ability to create the feeling of familia is needed now more than ever, and is treasured even more when you are able to recognize the walk, the trek, the experiences even your participants have made to get to this point (this being in this case, Friday’s Open Mic).

Seeing/hearing Violeta Elena, and remembering how her words touched the very edges of the rough days, week, months that people had during the week, remembering the American Legion nights in Mexico City- priceless.

Sharing words with Louis Cotto after all these years and celebrating the photos, his experiences, his stories, his words that roll of your emotions like the waves in Puerto Escondidio– and being able to do so right in front of you – priceless.

Celebrating the path Violeta Orozco has made since leaving Mexico, and making her way from Ohio to New jersey and realizing she never left Mexico at all, she simply brought more of Mexico with her to those that appreciate it – priceless.

To discover the Titere Poets and find the power that Daniel Gaztambide, Isa Guzman, and Mario J Pagán Morales that lit the way for an amazing night of Puerto Rican, Latin American, Nuyorkian deep dives in 2 hours – absolutely priceless.

Thought I digress, it is completely disorienting to see how life comes full circle? Yes, The Nuyorican Cafe, the discovery thanks to Camila de la Parra back when we were pilgrimaging there as Repentino. from Mexico City, to then the inspiration of Open Mics at ASF in Mexico City, to the current Open Mic on Friday, January 8th – familia, period.

Rarely, do you find an Open Mic that transports you from one side of the globe to another, combines previous Open Mics into one and voila – here you are. This one definitely did on January 8, 2021, what a great way, the best way, to start the year.

Watch, enjoy, and remember, despite the sea of chaos, conflict and consternation we find ourselves in currently, there are pockets of peace and celebration in Open Mics that exist, simply for the resurrection of renewing ourselves. Kudos to the Titere Poets who bring this home 🙂

The discussion on an essential Latin American Literary Cannon – AMAZING, some essential names to know here:

Julia Borgos, Sor Juana, Dulce Mar∑ia Loynaz de Cuba, Gabriella Mistral, Gloria Anzaldua, Cherrie Moraga, Carla Trujillo Ana Castillo, Sandra Cisneros; Boricua -Aurora Levins Morales, to name a FEW 🙂

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Some GREAT books that we discovered from this Open Mic:

The Broken Woman Diaries – Violeta Orozco

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Dreaming with Mariposas https://www.flowersongpress.com/books-1/p/dreamingwithmariposas#:~:text=Dreaming%20with%20Mariposas%20takes%20us,learned%20navigating%20childhood’s%20difficult%20terrain

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YOU HAVE to check out “I Don’t Mean to Be Rude but…” Victoria Banales

Journal X

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Susana Praver-Perez – More About Susana- Here!

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Samples of our Open Mic ASF Origins /Woodbridge Extensions

Painting an Open Mic – https://youtu.be/HBicIKbUBHU and

Ms Fetterman and Back in Time

February 26 2016 Open Mic

October 2013 Open Mic

November 2015 Open Mic

November 2016 Poetry Slam

January 31, 2018 Open Mic

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“It has the potential to be the heartbeat of the school.”

On December 28th, 2020, this question was posed in the Future Ready Librarians forum on Facebook:

“I’ve see a lot of various comments that have had me thinking and was wondering where people stand on these questions—1. How important do you think certification for a school librarian is?2. What did you learn in your certification program that you wouldn’t necessarily know if you didn’t get certified? My answer is in the comments.”

As some of you may or many not know, the struggle for validating a licensed school librarian, as well as justifying the reason for a licensed school librarian is real in the U.S. today. Not so in American Schools Abroad, they get it. A very small minority of schools are able to support and understand the power of a licensed, librarian, better equipped as a Library Media Specialist.

Disclaimer – I have a ton of friends who are para professionals in libraries – definitely they fill a need when there is no regard for a librarian at all in a district, but the grueling and difficulty of the MSLIS is REAL, and should be a definite requirement, as well as every school requiring a licensed Librarian in their institution to best support their students, as well as offering steps for individuals to obtain that licensing. From experience, the licensed librarian supports the school both in and out of school both on and off the clock, and the licensing program is the best tool to create that need.

See below for some amazing feedback and comments from individuals in the field – advocating and answering these above questions.

For the first question I think it’s very important. If it is required for other pedagogy then it should be required for school librarians. I firmly believe that school librarians teach a special set of skills as well as need a special set of skills to run an effective library program.

The second question I learned collection development is a special skill that takes time and research. It can not be done Willy Nilly if we want to have a diverse collection of materials our patrons will use.

The hardest class I had in my M.Ed. library science program was collection development. There is so much more to it than people realize.

It’s not just buying books. So much behind the scenes work involved. I teach this class now and it’s all about what your patrons want AND need. I tell students not to rely on vendors because honestly they are in it to make money.

Certification and degreed librarians, full time, with a full-time parapro to help with clerical tasks, should be the minimum.

Certification courses and my degree coursework helped me with lesson planning and collaboration. I needed a refresher course for middle school psych as well as my middle school methods course, which helped for those times that I needed to be an advisory teacher as well as being librarian.

Organization of materials taught me the basics of cataloging and materials description, as well as classification and materials organization. I know when to keep the suggested Dewey number and when to use a different one. I know why to follow “the rules” and when and how to break them.

My reference and kidlit and YA lit classes made sure I knew the history of both types of lit, as well as past trends and current trends and authors that might be in a library. I had a tech and marketing and media course that showed me the basics of promoting my library as well as how to do basic video editing and Publisher tips for posters and brochures. We had to spend 10,000 or maybe 25,000 on tech and media supplies, before makerspaces and greenscreens and 3D printers were things! I rounded things out with HTML and web design courses, so I know how to fix the code on the website or even within Schoology posts if I want to make it *exactly* right.

My state renewal of my certificate also *requires* continuing education hours related to my certification and my job duties. I have taken modules in Schoology to better understand and use it (our online platform). I have taken many courses in kid and YA lit, with an emphasis on *all* kinds of diversity including sexuality, gender expression, disability, religion, and economic status, not just “middle class but with a different skin color” or “Holocaust” or “slavery / Civil War” books. I know the benefits of hi-low titles and how they’re different from titles for reluctant-but-on-level readers. I know why AR and Lexile levels are NOT how books should be marked or shelved, but why that info is useful to have in catalogs.

I know Destiny very, very well.

I know how and when and why to weed, and how and when and why to market some titles instead, and how and when and why to buy a new edition of the same title with a new cover.

To get my certificate, I had to pass a test that asked me to consider when and why I might buy hardcover, library bound, rebound, or paperback titles for students. I was always asked what should be done to benefit students first, teachers second, and others after that.

And boy howdy, I learned how to create a local collection development and reconsideration process that works with our local but generic board policy for grievance / complaint / reconsideration of materials.

I think the only thing I haven’t gotten formal or continuing education on was how to run a library and book fair from the financial point of view… purchase orders vs purchasing card vs reimbursement accounts! Grant writing and documentation of grant activities! Balancing your LMC “checkbook” for 3 to 5 types of accounts (annual district books, annual district supplies, annual district periodicals, ongoing book fair / fines account, annual district state grant account, small occasional grant account), all of which had different pros and cons and purchasing requirements and send-invoice-to-this-person requirements etc. And that balanced with vendors that have free shipping and free replacement or exchange, versus those who have faster shipping and bigger discounts but who charge smaller shipping fees unless you need to ship something back to them. But some of that is difficult to put into a course or seminar!

Good question, I’ve thought about this a lot.

1)I think that certification is very important. I think it helps to legitimize our profession – just like any other (teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc.) However, I understand this comes with limitations and a great deal of privilege. I started my teaching career in Virginia where are no MLIS programs. My options were to go online (very $$$) or move to another state (also very $$$). I was fortunate to be able to be unmarried, childless, young, and flexible and I moved to go to school full time with a tuition waiver. I think in a lot of situations, experience can replace the degree, but I do not think that experience as an ELA teacher alone is comparable to a librarian. Just as we should not be the “gatekeepers” of information, I don’t believe this profession needs to be limited to those who can pay for the degree. I believe that there could and should be some financial assistance programs.

2) I went to a very traditional MSLIS program where ethics and the Library Bill of Rights were drilled in. These were key in the foundation and theory of a library program that I did not know or understand as a classroom teacher. However, the best classes I took were those by current or former librarians that gave me real-world applications: writing a response to a book challenge, creating a collection development policy, putting together a materials selection proposal, creating a budget. I do find myself giving gentle reminders to my ELA teachers about confidentiality and censorship, so those stand out as key points I’ve learned. I also made a network of professional librarians from my library program that I can talk to on a regular basis about library-related matters.

I would like to add that, given how administrators don’t always understand the value a school librarian adds, it’s easy for them to believe that having a parapro in a library isn’t any different than having a certified school librarian. While it might be possible to learn how to do many library-related tasks well with experience over time, I think that certification helps us and the school district uphold basic standards for what a school library is and does. Letting districts call anyone working in a library without any particular credential a “librarian” lets them off the hook, IMHO. School libraries serve a function in terms of elevating literacy and achievement, and if we recognize their full purpose, the need for a trained professional is a given.

I second those above who have said that collection development was important. Where to look to find new books and how to determine their appropriateness, and how to adhere to a collection development policy that anticipates book challenges, etc. — there is a lot of value in all of that.

School librarians are specialists in pedagogy and librarianship. One without the other is completely different job. If you do not want to be a teacher then become a librarian at a public library. If you are a teacher and do not want to get your certification then go back to the classroom.

I think a teaching credential is critical, as we are teaching students how to find, process, and evaluate information. However, I taught English for over a dozen years before moving into the library, and there is so much about librarianship that I did not know before getting my library endorsement. Collection development and collection management — skilled weeding as well as building a diverse and engaging collection; I learned more about media literacy than I did for my initial teaching license; I learned more about dealing with censorship and book challenges; I learned more about literacy challenges K-12. There is so much more to a quality library program than just about anyone outside of a library is aware of. I also completely agree that a team is necessary — I could not do a fraction of what I am able to if our library assistant were not there doing all of the important work that she is also doing.

I have a masters degree. I think it’s very important to at least of a certificate. I can’t even go in to what I learned, I was in school for over two years earning my masters in library science after a degree in elementary Ed.

The amount of leadership classes is what I think sets it apart, the amount of administrative work that is always behind the scenes… I can go on

Very important.

Even with many years of library experience at the university level(not certified/MLS) and a teaching degree, I felt it was important to get certified for school libraries. It is a professional occupation/Career.

You will never wish you did not get the certification. In other words just do it! It’s challenging, but so worth it.

There may be scholarships through library organizations.

Very important. It’s one of those jobs that people think it deceptively simple. But it’s a profession, not a hobby. You learn the history of the profession and ethics. Collection development for different types of libraries. How information is organized in databases. How to ensure information is made available equitably. The tech side of the profession, such as cataloging, and different theories about that, again for ensuring equity and diversity. And especially for school librarians, how to integrate a school library into a curriculum, particularly if you were not previously a teacher. I think the only way to ensure the profession’s future is to value the professional training. It exists for a reason.

*Food for thought——-I’ve given this one a lot of thought. I do think the education/certification piece is important but I also am not thrilled with how incredibly difficult it is in some places to even be considered “qualified” and enter into the profession. I personally started out in the library side of things rather than education and I deal with so much discouragement from teacher librarians telling me I should just do something else and I’m wasting my time even though I am passionate about school libraries. I get a lot of flack because I’m getting an alternative credential and i’m made to feel like I’m cheating my way through even though I’m just trying to have a solid TL job before I’m 30 because I’ve worked in a library for 10 years and make $20 grand as a library paraprofessional 😑 I’m now in my 3rd year of schooling (masters and teaching credential programs simultaneously) with 1-2 years left to even be invited to take the entrance exam for a local school district. There’s a lot of elitism that I’ve experienced with little guidance for people entering the field (other than just “be a classroom teacher and hope a position opens up for you”)

*-And A supportive response to the above:——I’m sorry but people should not discredit you just because you didn’t have a teaching career before transitioning to the library. I had no education training or experience before going for my MLS and becoming a certified library media specialist. I studied English in my undergrad and people would always ask if I was going to be a teacher, I said hell no lol. I come from a corporate career before transitioning to librarianship and I’m never looking back! The library is where I’m supposed to be…and in my personal experience (not saying this applies to everyone, just some of those I’ve met or worked with), a lot of those who came from the classroom, while they may be better at lesson planning and curriculum and teaching, they are not always good at the “behind the scenes” library stuff. This is also why the MLS is important. Librarians wear many hats and particularly in schools, they do so many things and most often without help (i.e. a paraprofessional or clerk)… If you want to be a school librarian, do it! Sometimes it’s hard, waiting for someone to take a chance on you, but it’ll happen. have faith and be open to any potential positions. Don’t limit yourself. When I was first looking, I applied to any and every school librarian position within 100 miles of where I lived. I got a lot of interviews and while I ran into the “you don’t have enough experience” wall a lot, I eventually got two offers and then had to make a choice and I’m so happy where I’ve ended up.

Very important! As per what many have already said, it’s a highly specialized area and if others in education need a certification, why not also school librarians? We have a hard enough time getting recognition for what we do, I think it’s important to be able to say “hey I have my masters and am State certified, this is my area of expertise.” It’s not right to just call any body in a library a librarian, when so many of us have worked hard for our degrees/certifications. It takes away our value if you can just call anyone a librarian. I was a loyal library user my entire life but there’s so much that goes into being a librarian and maintaining a library that you wouldn’t know without proper training or experience.

Of course there are certain things you can learn on the job over time and under the guidance of other librarians, but there’s specifics you wouldn’t know without going through a program. I think it depends on the program too, I am fortunate that where I went for my MLS, Queens College, has always been accredited by the ALA and is a rigorous program taught by librarians in the field who offer real-world assignments. I have used so many of the things I did for school in my actual job.

I was working in a public library as a librarian trainee while going for my Library Media Specialist certification, and while some things are the same, a lot is different (between public and school libraries). I think the mandatory observation hours and student teaching hours for my state made a difference too.

This is a great discussion and full wonderful reminders. 😊

I’ve been reassigned to teach digital students this year. As I sit in my office, I can hear the parapros that have taken over circulation/shelving responsibilities. As incredible as they are, there are so many interactions that make me cringe – “This book is WAY too easy for you… Why do you always get this book…you’re just getting this because of the bad word…”

YES. There IS a need for certified MS in every school!

In my opinion school library positions should require the person to have the MSLIS & certificate. This is no slight to ppl doing the job without those credentials, I’m sure many do a very good job and try their best. But the job is a teaching position as well as a library management position nits complex and there’s a lot of aspects that need formal training, foundational knowledge, pedagogy, etc. I use the things I learned during my program every single day. I wouldn’t be as good at it w/o these credentials. Instruction, collection development, program development, budget management, etc etc are difficult to do.

I also think it’s wrong that so many school districts hire non credentialed ppl for the job, and then pay them minimal $ while expecting them to do the same amount & quality of work as a credentialed professional would do. But for so much less money.

At minimum every district should be required to pay for the person they hire as school librarian to get the credentials. And then pay appropriately when the credentials are earned

If you’re going to work as a librarian in schools, collaborating with teachers, it seems right that you’re certified as a librarian and in a teaching area of discipline. I have both and a MLIS. I am certainly a librarian, but I am a teacher at heart – that is the key to being Future Ready.

Understanding the needs and demands of our youth, as well as the standards in an area of discipline for teachers, makes us stronger as school librarians when it comes to collaboration – it also bridges the gap between the library world and education. Many educators and students don’t see us as teachers and leaders – this is one way we illustrate our pedagogy and skills are the same as teachers – for we are teacher librarians.

Teachers with extra oomph 😊

In a recent conversation, I learn about certification vs MLIS programs from Dr. Moore. Both do an incredible job preparing students for their libraries https://apple.co/3guP8at

I learned about copyright laws, how cataloging can be different for the same book and the reasoning behind it, way more about research tools and how to co-teach research, make sure you have a procedure for book complaints, how to advocate for library needs, how to build your collection, how to defend your budget, plan your budget, promote your library, ….I could probably come up with more but it has been 16 years ago since I got the degree.

The media center is a like a business in the school and a classroom and there to meet the needs of teachers. It is also a place where volunteers are involved with book fairs. For many students, it is a safe haven in the school. Adults and students alike, bond over books. It has the potential to be the heartbeat of the school.

What a great question! I spent a year in a library as a paraprofessional last year. I LOVED every minute of it, but left because I understood that I didn’t know anything. I’ll be graduating this summer from my program (I was working on it part-time previously) and the things that I have learned and [will learn during my practicum this spring] have shown me that I was right. I didn’t know anything about teaching. There’s a big difference between being a librarian and a teacher. They are not one and the same. I’m grateful for the time I had in the library because I learned a lot about the rhythms and flows of a school year, how to interact with students, etc, but I couldn’t have known what I know without my program/degree/certification.

I think it’s super important. I also know I learned a lot more in my masters program than I did in my undergrad when I got my teaching degree.

I learned stuff in my MLIS that I use daily.

I like that in my district, they make you get at least half a master’s in library science in order to be a media specialist. That way, they can take the important classes. There were definitely a few classes I could’ve eliminated from mine.

Just because you love books does not make you automatically qualified to be a librarian. I student taught in a media center and have been a certified elem. media specialist for 26 years. I’ve had wonderful paras, but I’m tired of training people to do my job that I paid money to learn how to do. We don’t do this with Gen Ed or Admin but with media it’s ok? I’m not ok with that.

MORE Great advocacy tools for Library Media Specialists here:

https://whatchmacalit.wordpress.com/articles-materials-involving-librarians/

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What Survives Christmas 2020?

Looking back at how many blog posts I write this year – versus last year – yes a super low threshold number – however, 2020 has been a heck of a year, eh?

There are definitely a few take-aways that many probably will let slip by. There a few characteristics I have seen that have separated individuals from being caught up in a blur of a year (easy to do) to making the year something memorable despite the heartache.

Ownership. In hearing the very specific story about the Purdue family being held for 8 million dollars liable – yet stating they didn’t realize in looking at this current scenario what they could have done different. I can offer some insight into that.

1, Hold weekly meetings with local, national, and international medical experts to

discuss possible concerns about addiction and the risk of addiction, and finding

alternative solutions and funding to help reroute this potential problem.

2 Meet with families that represent a portion of growing individuals needing

medication and look for patterns of problems that are tied to the issuance of

prescriptions.

3. Pay attention to the NIH, CDC, health journals and research the news-worthy

articles about drug addictions concerns.

There are many more suggestions and PLENTY of room where – while many could say, that is not MY job to do so, well dear millionaire from prescriptions and Pharmacy sales, at SOME point the public will see that your priorities for those around you versus your own self interests will hit the light and where your values lie.

This is one isolated case of how , during a pandemic or any time, one can choose to be as selfish as is humanly possible (this is alot) and never think about those that make up this world. Alot of of us COULD and do say, THAT IS NOT MY JOB – (you think we hear that as educators much?) – however, if a handful of us, shrug that reality off and do indeed take on something that is not really our responsibility, and give something that is not expected – things change in the very face of naysayers and those that refuse to see anything but the negative and refuse to take any positive action.

The most memorable person, group or society is that one that leads by positive example, and that example in embracing others, and supporting others’ needs while fulfilling your own. It will drive you forward instead of keeping you stuck in a cesspool of selfish desires and no concerns for anyone else.

Walking through stores and seeing so many plastic – PLASTIC cheap gifts/ toys, cheap, overpriced and so many people simply buying a toy or item to simply fulfill a quota of gifts, it is so easy to simply look at this holiday as just another carried out holiday. There is a superficial element to the holiday that is anywhere you want to find it. Finding and carving out your own niche to escape from that particular side of the holiday, and giving something to someone unexpected, starting a new tradition, and building an event to make it meaningful to another – that is your escape route.

Yet, I have been lucky to see individuals, from, athletes, to students, to faculty and more, take their worst possible day and put their head down, force themselves through the very motions that others can’t or won’t do, and come back faster, smoother, and more successful than they were ever before. That is my tribe – the strongest, bravest, and most creative individuals that leave the complainers, the hypocrites, the lazy, the selfish simply – behind.

The year 2020 has had some of the GREATEST night skies ever when I was walking my dogs at all hours of the night. There are so many unspoken and unrecognized gifts 2020 has given, many have not yet recognized. Many gifts simply exist if we choose to look for them. Alot in nature, and more in how to choose to shrug off the ugliness so many are willing to provide so freely.

Political, defiant, more concerned with arguing than doing things that will make positive change, walk away from these people. Do not waste any words or time in that arena when you can be doing things that will change negatives to positive, it’s worth your time way more.

Bad and challenging days will come, how you handle them will make all the different in the world. Let’s take Wriggley –

Yesterday- 11:30 AM vet visit for getting some staples out of Wriggley’s paw that he refuses to leave alone after a scuffle with others over food – fine, we do the cone of shame. Getting him to the vet – he comes out, he has a second area of concern – back on with the cone of shame – halfway to Rehoboth Beach I notice the canine has managed to lose his cone – by putting his head out and pulling the cone of ad voila! GONERS! LOL – on the way back, taking the same route, no sign ANYWHERE – stop as a Petsmart, purchase a new one. 1 third of the way home, Wriggley strikes again, pushes head though and pulls hard enough on window, poof out the window! – Turn back, rescue the less than 2 hours old cone from the middle of the road, cracked majorly along the side. Hit the local Pet Smart (second time!) new cone, windows closed, dogs hate it, arrive home, third cone still on him and intact – supporting Petsmart alot yesterday 🙂 Certainly at times taking 5 steps back for every step forward EVEN WITH being at the beach with the hounds…

The above, while seemingly unbelievable after the first time, and imagine the second time… makes me feel the exact same way being an educator, being in a highly divisive political and social country and year, and YET – pushing every single negative that comes your way aside and making a positive- NO MATTER WHAT- that is the game changer.

Seeing students, athletes, parents, colleagues, family, friends, and more – defying the odds – motivated on their worst days and turning it around – it gives them hope- it gives me hope. 2020 has MUCH negative that will stick in alot of peoples minds, but thanks to those that believed in the positive over the ugly narrative, we were able to complete tech delivered to needy students, create over 20+ memorial trees in memory of those we lost AND have some amazing plaques and tech tied to let people know from future generations what those individuals did, acquire double the technology to reach student’s creativity and make our school library one of the most ultimate maker and learning spaces, rise from next to last in the state to 12th in the state at the Cross Country state meet- and I could go on, and on and on, and it sounds like bragging, right?

Good, because that bragging is showing how some individuals will have so many bright spots in 2020 amid so much ugliness, they chose this route, while others were completely consumed by the ugliness and never had another to help them even retain one shred of a memory they are proud of. It should not be that that and doesn’t have to be.

It is your decision to decide what will be a best day for others and for yourself and separate yourself from how others mistreat others verbally, physically, mentally, socially, and being the individual that can turn it around for yourself and for others. There is so much negativity and putting down of others from leaders in our world, and wow, I have noticed how liberated, and much more influential people are that do the opposite, and make the change they want to see in the world, by not arguing, not sitting out the couch and bad mouthing, but by DOING. So yes, one could say the year 2020 was a year to remember, but hopefully, everyone walks away with seeing how good things can be by ignoring the naysayers, the mean, the ugly in heart, and being doers and changing the paradigm that some people simply are okay with being used to.

Christmas Eve and Christmas 2020 is about turning your back on the naysayers, and reaching to those willing to show the positives that are all around us, day in, day out, no matter what happens around us, but making use of opportunities people did not even realize were there. I love individuals that do the same, and are capable of resisting so much selfishness and ugliness in the world, they are the real leaders that will take us to a better tomorrow!

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