NYLA SSL: Make, Learn, Inspire

I was fortunate enough to attend the NYLA SSL Conference again this year as a Laura Wedge Scholarship winner.

It is an honor and a privilege to share and learn from my colleagues across the state. I always come away with more ideas than I can implement in a school year.  This year was no exception.  I had so much difficulty choosing which workshops to attend.

I was so impressed with the librarians at the Localvore WORKSHOP I attended.  Librarian Gail Brisson and special education teacher Melissa Bryant collaborated to create a monthly teacher luncheon totally grown, cooked and prepared by the self contained ISS students.  I was totally overwhelmed with the extent of the student involvement, from creating an entire vegetable garden with materials donated by Cornell University.

I also attended the Copyright and Fair Use workshop by Jim Belair, SLS Director and Anne Dalton, Esq.

They simplified the teaching exemption to the Fair Use Laws by reminding us 1: it must be tied into teaching, don’t show a movie without a lesson attached, 2: material must be from a legal source, don’t use something you found on Youtube. and 3:it must be shown for display and performance only, not a money making opportunity.  Keep a record of the questions that you presented with the film to show that you were using it for teaching purposes.  They shared 2 excellent resources created by ALA:  The Fair Use Evaluator:  which will help you justify the material you showed as fitting under the fair use exception  and the Digital Slider which clarifies when copyright laws expire.

Programming Made Easy was another workshop I attended which gave me some fast, practical ideas for programming in the library.  Some of the ideas explained and demonstrated were a Battle of the Books competition run by  different middle schools in the area and culminating in a competition between the schools, a family reading night, coffee house days and poetry slams.  I was excited by the comments of the librarians about how the students look forward to the events from year to year and begin requesting specific programs as early as September.

Some of the resources are now available online.   More are to be added shortly.

I thank NYLA SSL for giving me the opportunity to attend the conference through the Laura Wedge Scholarship Award.

I encourage all my fellow New York State school librarians to become members of NYLA.    The dues are very reasonable and open you up to exciting programs and resources.  It is very easy to remain isolated when you work in a specific school, but when you become part of a larger organization, you grow your network of professional contacts and are able to learn and grow exponentially.



MyLibraryNYC and Learning About the Library

MyLibrary_light-blueThis past month we were busy with distributing new MyLibraryNYC cards to all our students at Flushing High School.   These new cards gave our students access to NYC, Brooklyn and Queens public library systems.  I compared the library card to a passport, with these cards our students can “travel” the world.   These cards permit our students to borrow books and other media from all three New York City public library systems.    They also have access to all of the databases that the NYC public libraries subscribe to.

It was very important to me to distribute the cards with great panache.  We  wanted students to take advantage of  the many databases, fun programs and materials available from the public library.  This lesson was given to all high school students.  We modified our lessons for different learning styles and grade levels.

A great introduction to the lesson was short ten minute film:  Libraries Now: A Day in the Life  , available for download on the NYPL site.


Depending on student interest and time allocation, I sometimes abbreviated the film and just had students view the first four minutes of the film, then went to the 8 minute point and showed the teen advisory meeting and the conclusion.

Following the film, I gave out postcards produced by the Queens Public Library and had students write their representative about why the library should be open at least six days a week.

The next activity was a short reading about library services.  I used 4 different handouts with the students:

  1. For ninth and tenth graders I used a handout “Library Services” from Your Taxes at Work, Community Resources. (8). Suter, Joann.  “Library Services”. Community Resources Student Worktext. Saddleback Publishing. (2011)
  2. For eleventh and twelth grade students, I distributed the article: Greer, Jeff. “4 Reasons Why the Library Should Affect Your College Choice.” US News. U.S.News & World Report, 17 June 2010. Web. 17 June 2014.
  3. For more advanced students, I also used the following articles:“10 Facts about Americans and Public Libraries.” Pew Research Center RSS. Pew Research Center, 24 Jan. 2014. Web. 17 June 2014.
  4. Performance Indicators: Queens  Borough Public Libraries:”Public Libraries.” page 9. Mayor’s Management Report. New York City Mayor’s Office of Operations, 2013.


I created question sheets for each document and had different groups of students analyze different documents. Below are examples of sample student answers:

4 quad worksheet












2 quad worksheet











For a final assessment students wrote answers with permanent marker  to the following questions on light bulb templates (see post below for example of student work).

  1. What have you learned at the Flushing High School library?
  2. How can a school librarian help you?
  3. Why are school libraries important?
  4. importance school libraries lightbulb2lightbulb3school