slss comments & testimonials

Comments from the 2005 “Strong Libraries, Strong Scores” conference

Comments from the 2006 “Strong Libraries, Strong Scores” conference

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from two TWU professors who attended the 2010 conference:

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to attend the SLSS Conference. We would like to share our feedback on the event.
SLSS Strengths:

  • This is a critical initiative for school library programs in Texas.
  • It is proactive and has been effective in influencing administrators.
  • Brava for sharing scientific data, both quantitative and qualitative, that support the importance of school libraries; this is vital information for administrators. (The scientific descriptor is of particular value in this post-NCLB era, as that has been such a focus in K-12.)
  • If administrators attend this conference, they are already beginning to understand the importance of the school library. This is a constituency that is ripe for harvesting, and we can provide channels for these key players to carry the message to other constituents (and further their buy-in).
  • High-quality, complementary food for attendees is thoughtful. (Can some type of CE credit be offered as additional incentive–would this be an incentive or just extra work for the organizers?)
  • With the potential for school librarian job loss brought on by the recession, the Austin location for 2011 is perfectly timed.
  • This conference can serve as a focal point for school library advocacy in 2011.

Suggestions and Questions for Austin 2011:

  • On the agenda, the session was to begin with socializing but it didn’t happened. This could be further developed if someone is responsible for introducing EVERYONE in the room and making conversations happen among attendees. Key players need to be initiating and engaging the attendees in informal conversation during this time and introductions need to be made a priority.
  • All presenters should be from Texas.
  • One of the School Library Impact Studies took place in Texas and can (and should) be highlighted; with support from more recent studies in other states. We all recognize that what happens in Texas is important to Texans.
  • Invite legislators to be among the attendees.
  • Involve graduates of the SLSS program to present their successful school library programs. Melody Paschall, Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, Coppell ISD, who earned this year’s Administrator of the Year Award, attended this institute. Coppell could provide a panel with Ms. Paschall, a principal, library director, librarian, and classroom teacher.
  • Include actual library program integration and leadership experiences early in the conference to motivate and engage the attendees. Show students, classroom teachers, and librarians working together. Share student outcomes.
  • Instead of spending money on out-of-state presenters, spend it on providing hotel accommodations to the panel.
  • Present the Administrator of the Year Award at the event (as well as at the breakfast).
  • Follow up with attendees regarding what worked in the program.
  • Ask attendees what kind of incentives can be offered so people will follow through and attend.
  • Follow up with people who were registered but did not appear. Why not?

If we can be of assistance in organizing and facilitating this conference in 2011, please do not hesitate to call on us.

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from an administrator who attended:

It helped me see all the things a librarian could be and do…and helped me get over the guilt of asking her to do things I thought she was either to busy to do, might not be interested in, or might not have thought were part of her job. It allowed her to really grow in her job and become a leader on our campus. I enjoyed the administrators part of the conference, but also enjoyed the exhibit hall, and seeing just what it was she talked about when coming back from the conference in years past–story tellers, authors, vendors. It helped bridge the communication gap and strengthened our relationship and understanding of her role on the campus and how I could use her. Because of that experience, when I had to hire another librarian we were able to start a step ahead– I already knew the kinds of things I could expect, and I was able to ask more of her sooner than I otherwise would have. I wouldn’t recommend principals go every year, but every three-four would be good.

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Coppell ISD has been sending administrators to this terrific conference for about 5 years. When I came to Coppell in 2005, from a district that had an excellent nationally award winning library program, I was dismayed that Coppell did not have a library administrator, nor were campus libraries funded by the district. Our library software was antiquated, there was no Union Catalog or sharing of materials, nor was there much collaborating among librarians. I felt like I had gone back to the dark ages. That year, a few of us got together and nominated and sent our then Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction and my campus principal to the Strong Libraries, Strong Scores Conference at Texas Library Assn. annual conference. Upon her return, our Assist. Sup., created a Head Librarian position, and moved librarians from Support Services to Curriculum & Instruction. Her successor moved us forward by purchasing Destiny Library Manager which allowed for creation of a Union Catalog, and Interlibrary Loan, and purchased Gale Virtual Reference Library (a product that our high school librarians had lobbied for for several years.) Our current Assistant Sup. was named School Library Administrator of the Year by TLA last April, and we’ve continued to experience excellent support from our administrators. We are now ALL on flexible schedule, are invited to attend special workshops with others from the administration (we heard Bill Daggett yesterday, Bob Berkowitz came and trained a large group of librarians and teachers on Big 6 last week), libraries were included in a May 2008 Bond Election and received almost $2 million for renovations, new furniture, and a healthy materials budget for the next 5 years. Unlike many of our neighboring districts who are struggling with budget deficits and deciding that professional librarians are no longer needed, Coppell is library strong, our jobs are secure. Most of our principals have now attended SLSSC, and we’ll send the rest of them this year. It’s a day of library advocacy well spent.

Debra

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Thank you so much for making this conference available for our administrators. In the past two years, we have had the opportunity to bring a teacher from each campus and our district instructional technologist to TLA, along with our 5 school librarians. Many positive things have happened because of this chance to network with our co-workers, including a standing committee that now encourages collaboration among teachers, technologists, and librarians. The LMaT (Libraries, Media, and Technology) committee even put together a media fair for our entire district during this year’s August in-service, which gave all of our teachers the opportunity to choose 3 concurrent sessions and hear our keynote speaker, Doug Johnson. This was a big deal for a little district, and none of it would have happened – at least not this quickly and successfully – without TLA.

So this year, when we nominated our assistant superintendent, she was thrilled to go where the whole collaboration started, and encouraged my principal to come with her. We enjoyed the opportunity to show them around the exhibit hall (they are busy reading their ARC’s), and took advantage of the chance to network again with our district personnel since we, once again, included teachers and technologists.

Our assistant superintendent and my principal felt that the most valuable thing that they got from the administrator’s conference was the information to justify the support that our district gives to the library programs. We (knock on wood) are lucky to have district administration that values library programs. With the uncertain economy that we are experiencing, they need research to show the school board when they continue to give us the economic support that we need. Although the studies have been published, and we have linked to them from our library webpage, hearing the person who did the research and drew the conclusions had a big impact on them.

They both told me very candidly that they didn’t get much else “new” from the experience. One of them suggested that most of the administrators who attend TLA are probably those who value and support their library programs. They want to know how we move to the next level, since we all understand that libraries are transforming, and that libraries and technology are no longer separate entities. She had been in hopes that she would have the opportunity to talk to other administrators about how they are putting district policies in place that support the new ideas, technology, Web 2.0 applications, etc. that we hear about at conferences like TLA and want to come back and put into place in our district. How do they deal with personal electronic devices? District and library Facebook pages, etc.? While she enjoyed everything, and it made her feel good about what we are doing, she thought it was a little “basic.”

They both agree that our challenge is how to get the message that you delivered so well to supportive administrators out to the districts who are not so lucky. And, of course, that’s not something that you can change for next year’s conference within a conference unless we can come up with a way to kidnap administrators from districts who are curtailing their library programs and force them to attend. (Hmmm, think about that one). As a new member of the TASL Legislative/Advocacy committee, I am, however, trying to think of ways we can build on the great job that you all did.

Thank you again for all of the work that you put into this conference. Thanks also, for the opportunity to give you feedback.

Ann

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Well, I got mixed reviews from my principal. She said that most of the sessions were very dry and focused more on problems than solutions. She did mention really enjoying the female speaker, I can’t remember her name off the top of my head.

I was really hoping that it would be the best conference ever to hook her in to library issues and student achievement, but I don’t think that happened and I don’t think she will go next year because of her mixed experiences this time. Although, with the conference being in Austin and convenient, she may give it one more try next year.

Thanks,

Keri

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I nominated my superintendent (new this year) and he did not attend. I quote him…”If this is so important how come I have never heard of it before?” He previously was in Sherman, TX. Fortunately, I enjoyed excellent support from the prior superintendent and we have a strong library program. I think we really must impress on TEA that librarians should be a required element and the exemplary rating for schools. It might also be helpful for superintendents who have attended and better understand the key role of the library to write articles and letters to other superintendents in their regions.

Georgia

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Yes, I have had 2 principals attend SLSS Administrator Conferences at TLA. The first one left our district that same spring so I’m sure he is a fantastic library supporter in his current position. Last year my current principal attended and loved some of the reading promotion ideas that were presented. She felt that our library program was up there with the best but she also wanted to help us promote reading. As a result, this year we had an all school read of a book by Jordan Sonnenblick and she paid for the books for our homeroom teachers to read aloud and paid for Skype visits with the author in 3 assemblies. Another result of her conference experience is she is allowing me to present professional development sessions for the teachers and she is including me on site based committees and curriculum meetings. I think all of our principals should attend the next conference.

Sandra

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The administrator from RRISD that attended told her librarian how much she enjoyed the program and thanked her for the invitation.

These were the positive and negative criticisms I heard:

One of the sponsors from Linworth/ABC-Clio was there and when Maribel recognized Follett as a speaker she did not ask if other sponsors were there. We must remember to thank all the sponsors and ask if they are there so they can be asked to stand and be recognized. She also offered to give free copies of books written by Marla and other speakers as door prizes for next year. This same sponsor liked your sign with all the sponsors logos, etc. She said it was great!

Karen Kahn went over on her time and some of the speakers were unhappy about this. She needs to make her presentation much shorter and confine it to thanking them for being there on behalf of the Commissioner.

I was told that one of the speakers unplugged and unconnected Keith Curry Lance’s setup and this caused him to be stressed out about his presentation. it was suggested that maybe everyone could send their presentation to the chair prior to the conference and these could all be loaded on a drive avoiding the need for everyone securing a separate setup.

I heard that the discussion sessions were very productive and that the administrators asked really great questions. This was from a moderator.

I heard that some of the administrators were confused about where the conference was being held. I’m sure that you sent all the email informing them where to go, but the fact is that many of them do not read it! We need to communicate with their librarians and insist that they talk to the administrators or their secretaries before the conference to make sure that they know where to go. Maybe also strongly suggest that they meet them somewhere preferably the general session so that they can deliver them to the SLSS location. I was told that some of them went to registration and stood in long lines only to be told by registration people that they did not know what or where this conference was! I am a co-chair for local arrangements next year, and we will make sure that all registration volunteers and information booth volunteers know what SLSS is!

Would you please note that it would be very beneficial to include Marti and Suzanna on the agenda so that they could show administrators where to find the ekit for administrators that outlines all the info on the K-12 Databases. Next year is a legislative session year and we could ask them to thank their legislators for these state-wide resources.

Because it will be in Austin next year, we should send a special email to the library directors in the area to encourage them to ask their librarians to invite their principals to SLSS, especially if they have a principal who is new. It’s been five years since we’ve been to Austin. Do we know who will be chairing the committee next year?

Thanks,

Carlyn

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My principal went several years ago. We had a student participating at conference that year, so it was convenient for her to attend the administrators’ conference while she was there. She was already pretty supportive before the conference, but after the conference I felt that she better understood the library program. In particular, I think she became even more supportive of flexbile scheduling and teacher-librarian collaboration.

Hope this helps!

Allison

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Several years ago (Houston) the Assistant Superintendent for Mansfield ISD drove to Houston and back in one day to attend the Strong Libraries conference. This man was famous (or infamous…) for saying that a library could be easily changed in 4 classrooms and all the resources found on a computer. Before he retired he spearheaded the distribution of some “extra” federal title money to libraries based on a book/student ratio formula that worked for him. It was a huge windfall for quite a few libraries in my district. He went on to request assistants for elementary libraries. While the assistants have not been approved even now, he did express the need.

Just a side note… one of the reasons I asked Dr. Cunningham to attend this particular conference was that his grandchildren lived in Houston. My reasoning was he would consider attending as a way to see his grandchildren. Imagine my immense surprise that this gentleman attended a late finishing school board meeting on a Tues. and then got up and drove to Houston to attend. He did not see his grandchildren on that trip.

That is my story… 🙂

Jennifer

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I was so excited for my administrator to attend. She really supports the library program anyway, but I was hoping for this presentation to be fabulous nonetheless. I was excited for her to hear Keith Curry Lance because I know he has such great research to share about what we do. Unfortunately, she said he was dry and not very interesting. 🙁 But she loved one of the other presenters and was happy to hear her, I can’t remember her name right now. I think having her attend the conference made me take those few “above and beyond” steps to hold myself more accountable for scores on campus, and in turn have her see me in that light.

Thanks,

Keri

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I nominated my principal the first year that I was at my current school. She attended and was blown away by not only the presenters and seminar itself, but how well-organized and massive the TLA conference was in general. My funding increased dramatically the next year. I was also asked to present a full-day professional development session on information literacy and the Big6 research model for my faculty the next fall. Off the record: She retired the following year. That was a sad day for the library. I have to give my new principal credit for leading our students and teachers to “recognized” status (even without TPM), but the support of the library has never been the same since.

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