What’s your current job?
I became teacher-librarian at Lincoln Trail Elementary School in the Mahomet-Seymour school district in 1989, following stints in similar positions in Champaign, Illinois, and Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. Lincoln Trail has 650 students in grades 3-5, and I see all of them each week, as well as serving roughly 50 staff members. My job changed radically last spring when my full-time assistant’s position was eliminated and my budget was cut in half.
Who is your greatest ally and why?
The building technology teacher is a great ally. Classroom teachers have each other but we are both solos in our building. We use each other as sounding boards and help troubleshoot technology problems. Both of us help teachers integrate technology into their curriculum and our areas of instruction overlap so it creates a great opportunity for collaboration.
How do you stay current (in technology, literature, instruction, pop culture, etc)?
I’ve been a long-time member of the American Library Association, the Illinois School Library Media Association, and Illinois Computing Educators, and I frequently attend their conferences and conventions. The Illinois Education and Technology conference is another I attend.
Journals are a major resource; I read School Library Monthly, School Library Journal, American Libraries, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, and Knowledge Quest.
I follow quite a few blogs. At the top of my “go to” list you’d find Doug Johnson’s Blue Skunk, Joyce Valenza’s NeverEndingSearch, David Pogue’s Posts, and John Schu’s Watch.Connect.Read.
Another way I keep current and connected is by subbing in the children’s room at the Urbana Free Library. . . and perhaps my most important habit is that I read . . . read . . . read children’s literature.
Regularly offering staff in-service sessions is a way to force myself to be at the top of my game on whatever topic I've chosen to tackle.
Oh, and another thing I should probably add here is that working regularly with practicum students and student teachers helps keep me fresh.
Think of your school library as an extension of the classrooms not your private kingdom. You are the caretaker of the space for the entire school.
How do you get the most out of attending conferences?
Attending a variety of conferences has been a main source of my professional growth. My school district only pays for one conference a year but I feel I need professional development in both the library aspects of the job as well as the technology aspects. So I have chosen to go to more than one conference a year, paying my own way.
I read the description of the programs very carefully and I rarely have been disappointed in the sessions I chose. By being active in a variety of professional groups, you get to know the names of the movers and shakers in the library world. I always seek out their sessions. I often look for sessions in my areas of weakness.
How do you defy the librarian stereotypes?
I like cute shoes and refuse to wear Birkenstocks!
Paper or digital?
I’m afraid paper. . . but I’m shifting as a result of being in love, love, LOVE with my iPad.
Where can you find Kathy?