Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Annual librarian meeting teaches teachers

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The Oregon Association of School Libraries (OASL) held their two-day, annual fall conference at Taft High School Friday and Saturday, with close to 200 teacher librarians and support staff in attendance.

“OASL is a professional organization for school library personnel,” State Librarian Jennifer Patterson said. “This event is an opportunity for librarians and staff to come together and share ideas, learn from each other, share best practices and get ideas to take back to their schools.”

The event featured speakers, vendors, educational companies, authors, book publishers and food, provided by local caterer, Oceans Apart.

Oceans Apart Catering
Rice, baked beans and Kalua pig were on the menu provided by Oceans Apart Catering

“The purpose of this conference is to empower teacher librarians and support staff to support students and teachers across the state,” OASL President Laurie Nordahl said. “Our mission is to support strong school libraries in Oregon.”

AASL President Mary Keeling, left, and OASL President Laurie Nordahl
AASL President Mary Keeling, left, and OASL President Laurie Nordahl

“Oregon school librarians have a heart for their learners,” American Association of School Librarians President Mary Keeling said. “They know effective school libraries are managed by a team consisting of a full-time librarian and a full-time assistant. They are key in helping our learners become effective and discerning users and creators of information.”

According to Lincoln County School District’s lone Teacher Librarian and event organizer, Sudi Stodola, a teacher librarian is someone with a Master’s Degree in Library Science and who also holds a teaching degree. Due to budget constraints, the teacher librarian position — or certified librarian — has been drastically reduced since the early 2000s, in what is called by some as “the culling.”

Lincoln County School District Teacher Librarian Sudi Stodola
Lincoln County School District Teacher Librarian Sudi Stodola

Stodola said out of 210 school districts in Oregon, only 159 certified teacher librarian positions exist.

“When you’re the only one in your district who knows what you do, you look forward to an event like this every year,” Stodola said. “This is my chance to work with, meet with and network with others in my profession who have an idea of the important work we do with students.”

Teacher librarians teach students reading, digital and information literacy and research skills.

In 2009, the Oregon State Legislature passed House Bill 2586, which amended Oregon Revised Statutes, stating school districts will identify goals toward implementing a strong school library program. In December 2013, the State Board of Education approved updates to sections of the related Oregon Administrative Rule, to reflect the school library addition.

Teacher Librarian Michael Rocha said the event is designed “to learn and share how to teach our kids about information and digital literacy.”

The event was heralded as a success by attendees and interviewees said the networking opportunities were invaluable.

OASL mission:

To provide progressive leadership to ensure that Oregon students and educators are effective users of ideas and information, and to pursue excellence in school library media programs by:

  • advocating information literacy for all students
  • supporting reading instruction and enjoyment of literature
  • supporting the highest levels of library media services in schools
  • strengthening member professionalism through communications and educational opportunities
  • promoting visibility in education, government and the community

The following organizations attended the event:

ABDO, OverDrive Education, United States Census, Scholastic, Mackin, National Assessment of Educational Progress, Follett, GALE, Perma Bound Books, State Library of Oregon, and Emporia State University.

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Justin Werner
Justin Werner
Justin Werner is founder and publisher of Lincoln City Homepage and a journalist reporting news for the fine citizens of Lincoln City, Oregon and beyond. He's on a mission to seek out truth and isn't afraid to be the tip of the spear for freedom of the press. When he's not wearing his reporter hat, you can find him enjoying the Oregon Coast with his wife and three children.

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  1. An important goal with this conference was also to provide attendees with a real taste of what the coast has to offer, and catering was also provided by Side Door Cafe, My Petite Sweet, and Local Ocean in Newport. We also partnered with Surftides for lodging. We received donations from the Newport Chamber of Commerce and the Sylvia Beach hotel. We thank all of our sponsors who worked so hard to ensure that attendees would be excited to come back!

  2. Sudi Stodola coordinated the annual conference. I assisted with some of online technical needs of the conference. Other teacher librarians, assistants, and members of OASL contributed to the conference as well but Sudi made it happen.

  3. It was an amazing conference! I had a great time and learned so much. Lincoln City was beautiful. Great food from Side Door Cafe and others, nice to talk with library vendors, and as always I love seeing my colleagues. I hope that with Help from Student Success Act funds, more school districts can provide Oregon’s students with strong library programs.

  4. Thank you, Mr. Werner, for dedicating an article to the conference of the Oregon Association of School Libraries. The role of a strong school library program is often misunderstood by the public. Many people only know the storytime and book checkout aspect of a school library program. However, teacher-librarians, who are licensed teachers with a library media endorsement, offer standards-based instruction in vital skills like understanding how to successfully utilize the research process to solve information needs, as just one example. Most Oregon school libraries are staffed by educational assistants, and they do great things with students. However, by law, they are not allowed to teach, so the instructional aspect of the library program is very limited in schools with no teacher-librarians. University-level librarians and professors consistently indicate that freshman are not prepared for research. A 2016 Stanford study showed that 3/4ths of surveyed students could not discern facts from editorials or ads, and about half the surveyed classroom teachers couldn’t either. School library impact studies consistently correlate programs led by teacher-librarians with student achievement. Despite all of that, Oregon schools continue to support unproven programs, like buying quizzes about popular books to test student comprehension (answer low-level thinking questions and pass tests to earn rewards, despite evidence that reading for rewards does not develop strong or lifelong readers), and to increasingly invest in staff who do not have direct contact with students. With or without Student Success Act funds, investing in school libraries benefits Oregon students.

  5. We also received generous donations from the Newport Candy Shoppe, who kept our sugar levels up! We couldn’t have done this without our local donors.


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