Sunday, December 29, 2013

11 Questions (About Libraries) That Need Answers

While I've never been a fan of New Year's Resolutions, I understand the urge to make goals and aspire to something greater as one year folds into the next.  After all, if there's one sure sign of ineffectiveness, it's stagnation.  However, the flipping of a calendar page is not reason enough to make meaningful change, which is probably why most resolutions are forgotten by Ground Hog's Day.  Real change requires real motivation - something to help us keep our eyes on the prize even when the going gets tough.

That said, I was recently inspired by my friend Jayme Linton's response to the "blogging homework" meme that's been floating around the internet.  Instead of posting 11 random facts about herself, Jayme decided to post 11 questions (about education and teaching) that she felt needed answering.  I love this idea.  So much so that I decided to copy it. (After all, imitation is the purest form of flattery, no?) Of course, my questions have a decided library slant.  Further, these questions are the result of a year's worth of visiting libraries both in my state and around the country.  After visiting countless libraries in the last 12 months, I often find myself asking librarians some of, if not all of, these very questions.  Additionally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that these questions are also the fruit of seeds planted by the work of Joyce Valenza and Doug Johnson - who challenge and inspire me to be better and work harder almost daily.

The original meme requires tagging 11 people to reply to the post, but I'm going to skip that part. Rather, I'm going to humbly suggest that instead of setting some arbitrary professional resolutions this year, that we all spend some time thinking about our answers to these questions.  Not only do I strongly believe that these are questions that deserve our attention and that really need answering, but I also believe that your responses will no doubt result in several goals that will hopefully be both worthy or your time and will also have an impact on the students you serve each day.

In 2014...
  1. How will you make a difference for students?
  2. How will you make your work the answer to the priorities/problems that keep your principal up at night?
  3. How will you use student data to make instructional and programatic decisions?
  4. How will you measure success?
  5. How will you connect the dots between your work and student learning?
  6. How will you share this data with your administrators and community? 
  7. How will you ensure your diverse population sees themselves in your space (as well as in your collection)?
  8. How will you dispel negative/outdated library stereotypes?
  9. How will you grow your PLN?
  10. How will you help strengthen our profession by sharing your work beyond the walls of your school.
  11. How will you make sure everyone who walks into the library sees a focus on students (instead of stuff)?
PS: If you do decide to answer these questions on your own blog, consider sharing the link to your post in the comments.  That way we can all benefit from your ideas.

    Thank you Frazier for taking the challenge and tackling these questions.  I love the last line of your post "Boy do I feel powerful!"  Go get 'em, Tiger! 


    1. Thanks for the food for thought. I am coming up with my answers at

    2. I have attempted an answer at

    3. Great thoughts--especially #2 & #3! I definitely need to focus on those!

    4. Food for thought! l believe the key to dispelling stereotypes and keeping an updated vital collection is to market yourself professionally. Students should know their MCs name and feel comfortable sharing interests and seeking resources from them. We have to be caught outside the MC. Constantly soliciting "wishlist" items from my teachers and students keeps me in touch with what our resources need to be to meet the needs of the entire campus.

    5. I used your 11 questions for libraries at the 2014 School Library Association of Victoria (SLAV) (Aust) planning day. Those present had some very animated discussions and then put them up on the SLAV ning. Those present are going to take the ideas back to the branches they represent and we hope to have more input. We would love tor you to join the discussion. I will send you an invitation if you are interested.

    6. Thank you! I used your 11 questions at a VaASL/Potomac Conference yesterday. Some productive conversation was enjoyed by Administrators and Teacher Librarians. Linda Mitchell STMS/PWCS

    7. At our next district media specialist meeting, I plan to take a copy of these questions and ask each to answer them by the time we meet at the end of the year. Then, I would like to compile these answers on my blog once I have gotten responses from those who have chosen to participate. It will be interesting to see how our answer align (or not), and how we can use these questions and answers to make all the libraries in our district more viable resources for the students and parents in our community. Would you suggest I ask the answers to remain anonymous? Thanks again for your commitment to the profession.