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Archived Posts

National Legislative Day 2015

VSLA Board Drafts Strategic Plan

by Linda McSweeney

On an unusually wild, rainy, and windy day in August, the VSLA Board was hard at work mapping the future of our association. Energized by last year’s successful campaign to reinstate library programs in the revised Education Quality Standards, the 2014-15 Board focused on identifying our mission and our goals for the incredibly important work we do for all Vermont students.

With help from State Librarian, Marty Reid, we examined VSLA’s strengths and opportunities (SWOT analysis); drafted a mission statement; and traveled ‘back to the future’ to envision VSLA in 2017. Additional retreat agenda items included VSLA’s role in implementing Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Vermont AOE consultants, Pat Fitzsimmons, Gail Hall,Kathy Renfrew, and Laurie Dolezal met with the Board and identified several collaborative opportunities for VSLA and the AOE. The Board also enjoyed a surprise Skype visitor--Chris Grabenstein, author of Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. Chris was charming, funny, and incredibly generous. He has graciously granted permission for VSLA to use Luigi Lemoncello’s chisel-worthy quote, ‘knowledge not shared remains unknown.’ 

Our new Mission Statement and 3-year strategic plan were unanimously approved at the September Board meeting. The simplicity of these documents, however, belie the thoughtful, focused discussion and intense collaborative work that created them. The Board’s next action is to release a VSLA School Librarian Job Description. Many VSLA members and school administrators have been asking for guidance about what it means to be a school librarian in 2014. A subcommittee chaired by Heidi Heustis with members Judy Kaplan and Denise Wentz have a draft job description ready for Board approval. Based on the AASL job description, but right-sized for Vermont, it will be ready shortly and shared on the listserv and website.

The stormy weather at our retreat rolled through and turned into one of those rare, clear, perfect summer days--the convergence of nature and thoughtful planning.

Ms. MacDonald Goes to Washington

...and represents VSLA at National Library Legislative Day along with Marty Reid, Vermont State Librarian.

Find out more about legislative impacts on libraries and see additional photos from the trip here.

802 School Librarians

  • Check Us Out!  

  • A Message from the President Message from the PresidentWhat a spectacular fall we have had!  I hope you’ve all had time to take in the beauty of our Green Mountain State, and that your school year is off to a great start.  No doubt you’ll be invited soon to a regional gathering of some sort by your VSLA regional rep.  Plan to go and bring a friend;  anytime we can gather with our colleagues and share ideas, concerns, and celebrations is a good thing!Over twenty librarians met at the Thatcher Brook Primary School on October 17 to get a dose of professional development.  We had a great “speed dating” session led by Linda McSweeney to explore some of AASL’s best ... 
    Posted Oct 30, 2015, 3:45 PM by Shannon DeSantis
  • Suzanne Irish Attends ISTE Conference Did you know that ISTE (the International Society for Technology in Education) has dozens of educator networks within it,  and that the school librarian PLN is among the largest? Did you know that our own Donna Sullivan MacDonald was president of this large PLN for the past year and will serve as Past President of the ISTE Librarians Network this year ? Well, neither did I, so this June I travelled to Philadelphia to the ISTE 2015 Conference this (June 28th-July 1st) to see for myself what Donna has been talking about.First off, if you love Dynamic Landscapes & Vermont Fest, and you thought that AASL 2013 was huge, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. This year, nearly 16,000 ... 
    Posted Jul 22, 2015, 8:57 AM by Shannon DeSantis

Showing posts 1 - 2 of 14View more »

"She's Leaving On a New Quest"

A Tribute to Grace Greene

Suzanne Irish Attends ISTE Conference

posted Jul 22, 2015, 8:57 AM by Shannon DeSantis

Did you know that ISTE (the International Society for Technology in Education) has dozens of educator networks within it,  and that the school librarian PLN is among the largest? Did you know that our own Donna Sullivan MacDonald was president of this large PLN for the past year and will serve as Past President of the ISTE Librarians Network this year ? Well, neither did I, so this June I travelled to Philadelphia to the ISTE 2015 Conference this (June 28th-July 1st) to see for myself what Donna has been talking about.

First off, if you love Dynamic Landscapes & Vermont Fest, and you thought that AASL 2013 was huge, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. This year, nearly 16,000 participants packed the halls of the Philadelphia Convention Center (1,000,000 square feet). And still others attended via ISTELive and recorded sessions. Over 149,00 tweets were made to #ISTE2015 alone, not to mention those to #ISTElib and others. The conference mobile app made navigating this overwhelming experience very manageable. I found that the only tool I really needed was my iPhone; each session had a space for recording and emailing notes built right into the app.

The were four types of sessions based on learning styles and labelled as such on the app. This enabled participants to attend the right mix of sessions. What’s your learning style?

  • Listen & learn: lectures, presentations, keynotes, panels

  • Participate & share: forums, interactive lectures, “posters,” forums

  • Explore & create: playgrounds, workshops, bring your own device sessions, learning academies

  • Engage & connect: meetings, social events, birds of a feather, sponsor activities

The most popular events are the Keynote Speakers and the Ignite! Sessions. Ignite! Sessions are several 3-5 minute quick lecture presentations, and they can be highly inspirational. Posters are large halls filled with people sharing their real life classroom activities, PLNs for networking, students demonstrating their work, teachers sharing products and apps they love, etc. Similarly, playgrounds are filled with teachers sharing hands-on opportunities to try new things. The Librarians’ Playground, coordinated by Donna MacDonald and incoming president Sherry Gick, was hopping busy for three and a half hours on Monday morning. (I got a hug from Joyce Valenza there, too.)

Networking events ranged from Twitter, livechats, and blogs to breakfasts and dinners, Karaoke parties and receptions with live bands. There are opportunities to get licensed trainings onsite as well. There are also a lot of fascinating pre-conference trainings and unconference opportunities, notably the Hack Education forum the day prior to the conference opening. What’s not to love?

I attended a variety of sessions:  global connections, motivating reluctant readers,  maker spaces, after-school maker clubs, library playground and networking breakfast, keynotes and Ignite! sessions. The most provocative session I attended was “Is it time to give up on computers in schools?” where leading thinkers in Educational IT argued that schools have been turned into markets for technology tools without seeing real change in the teaching and learning process.  At the Librarians’ Network Breakfast, library leader Shannon Miller spoke on Student Learners, Student Voice: Social Media in Learning. She made giving students voice look simple and doable. I met students at poster sessions who showed me their LEGO stop-motion animations and green screen book talks. I brought home a list of new ideas, websites, and apps that could take me all year to explore. My favorite sessions were… all of them!

My biggest take-aways are that librarians have a big voice in the ISTE organization, that Twitter is a good tool for networking with those librarians, and that I should gather my courage and “just do it!”  whether it be maker activities, making global connections, or any other new venture. As I frequently heard around me, “These are my people!”

And most importantly, I learned that every school librarian I know must attend a national ISTE Conference in the near future. Hobnob with the leaders in the field and discover what a powerful force we are in the world of Ed Tech.  ISTE 2016 Denver, here we come!

Librarian Playground

ISTE Librarians Network Breakfast

ISTE Librarians Network Board of Directors June 2015

ISTE 2015 Fun

ISTE Librarians Network Dinner

Anna Bolognani's Reflections on Dynamic Landscapes

posted May 26, 2015, 9:29 AM by Shannon DeSantis

Blind Date with a Book

posted Apr 2, 2015, 10:35 AM by Shannon DeSantis

A couple of our wonderful members put together some amazing "Blind Date with a Book" displays for Valentine's Day last month!

Jennifer Linck at Craftsbury Schools

Craftsbury Schools' Blind Date With A Book

Open Craftsbury Schools' Blind Date With A Book

Stacey Gonillo, Essex High School

School Library Advocacy Blog Post

posted Mar 9, 2015, 6:28 PM by Shannon DeSantis

Judy Kaplan wrote a great advocacy piece for the UVM Continuing and Distance Education blog! Read her post here.

How Donna MacDonald organized her school's hour of code!

posted Jan 12, 2015, 9:27 AM by Shannon DeSantis

Read this great blog post from School Library Journal recognizing Donna and her hour of code!

Megan Sutton's SLJ Reflections

posted Nov 24, 2014, 7:50 AM by Shannon DeSantis   [ updated Nov 24, 2014, 7:51 AM ]

SLJ Leadership Summit

by Megan Sutton

Over the weekend of October 24th, Donna Sullivan-MacDonald and I traveled to St. Paul, Minnesota to attend the 10th annual School Library Journal Leadership Summit.  This year’s Summit, titled Fire it Up:  Sparking Creativity & Motivating Students, did not disappoint.  The Summit, sponsored by Capstone, Follett, Lerner, ABDO, Baker & Taylor, BrainHive, Gale Cengage, Junior Library Guild, Lego Education, Mackin, Rosen, and Simmons, brings together 200 teachers, teacher librarians, school librarians, media coordinators, district librarians, district coordinators and other library leaders from across the country to connect, learn and hear from recognized leaders in education and the school publishing industry.  Saturday began with a welcome by SLJ editor Rebecca Miller followed by a keynote address by 2013 National Superintendent of the year, Mark Edwards.  He spoke about the changing educational landscape in Mooresville, NC as a result of their district-wide adoption of a 1:1 technology environment.  His inspiring talk was followed by a panel presentation featuring the Media Coordinators from his district.  Those presentations were followed by a panel of industry representatives, and then a panel of nonfiction authors.  Sunday featured an entertaining keynote by Stephen Turnipseed, President Emeritus of Lego Education International, North America.  Several of us inquired about the possibility of sharing/borrowing his slides, only to be told he was at the edge of copyright limits with the music and images in the presentation. Stephen’s presentation was followed by a stimulating panel that included Doug Johnson and Joyce Valenza. The event was capped off by a lunchtime endnote by Patricia Polacco.  She shared the story of The Keeping Quilt, including a reproduction of the quilt.  She is an extraordinary storyteller – I have never heard an author presentation quite like it. It was a perfect ending to an incredible weekend.  Donna and I both headed home with new ideas, renewed connections, and beautiful new books. Go to SLJ Summit 2014 for more information.  The Summit will probably be featured in an upcoming issue of SLJ as well.

Robin Bryce's AASL Reflections

posted May 10, 2014, 4:46 PM by Linda McSweeney   [ updated May 10, 2014, 4:48 PM ]

Vitalibavegamin Book Club

posted Apr 8, 2014, 7:34 AM by Linda McSweeney   [ updated Apr 8, 2014, 7:38 AM ]

Envision that classic 'Vitameatavegamin' episode in I Love Lucy where she has sampled a bit too much of her product--    

" Hello friends.

I'm your Vitameatavegamin girl.

Are you tired, run-down, listless?

Do you poop out at parties?

Are you unpopular?

The answer to all your problems is in this little bottle.


Yes, with Vitameatavegamin, you can spoon your way to health.

All you do is take a great big tablespoonful after every meal.


So why don't you join all the thousands of happy peppy people and get a great big bottle of Vitameatavegamin tomorrow!"

Join the peppy educators of Vita-Learn and the Vermont School Library Association in the first read of our new new virtual book club "Vitalibavegamin"  where the answers to all your problems can READ your way to health...and join thousands of happy peppy people and READ.

Here's the link to request an invitation on Good Reads:

Photo credit:

New Rowland Fellow, Jeanie Phillips

posted Mar 5, 2014, 9:17 AM by Linda McSweeney   [ updated Mar 5, 2014, 10:06 AM ]

Jeanie Phillips, Green Mountain High School librarian, has been awarded a Rowland Fellowship for the 2014-2015 school year.  The fellowship will allow Jeanie to visit schools and libraries, attend conferences, read, research, collaborate and reflect to deepen her understanding of creativity and innovation in schools.  She hopes to create new leverage points for engaging students in personalized learning in her district, school and library.  You can learn more about the Rowland Foundation by visiting  Congratulations Jeanie!  We look forward to benefiting from your research!

C'est Magnifique! VSLA Member, Meg Allison

posted Mar 3, 2014, 5:55 PM by Linda McSweeney   [ updated Mar 5, 2014, 10:08 AM ]


Watch Moretown Librarian, Meg Allison and  teacher, Pam Dow share Paris with their students in this wonderful all school immersive experience.  The two were awarded Global Teacher Fellowships and traveled to France and Italy last summer to study fairy tales.

    Link to WCAX video

VSLA Member, Kim Burroughs Rising to the Challenge!

posted Mar 3, 2014, 5:54 PM by Linda McSweeney

Kim BurroughsJericho Elementary School Librarian, shares her notes from AASL Hartford....

My first AASL National Conference: Rising to the Challenge was an amazing, enlightening, and enjoyable experience. Usually uncomfortable with crowds, I was completely at ease with over 2,300 librarians from around the world.

My vision for learning at the conference was --how to align my library program with 21st C Skills/CCSS and to hop on the collaboration wagon.  Keynote speaker, Tony Wagner (author of Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World) changed my whole outlook. He talked about the need for students to learn to think critically, be adaptable, and to work collaboratively in order to be successful in the future. As I listened to him, my philosophical view of the library program went from “What can I teach students?” to “How can I help students to learn/think independently?” It was a mind-shift for me and totally changed how I view the Common Core Standards.

I attended as many Common Core sessions as I could squeeze in!  It is impossible to relay all that I learned, but here are two of my big take-aways:

(1) Short, focused, group research can be done during a library “class” if collaboration isn’t an option. It piques student interest, gets them to work collaboratively, and provides the foundation for research skills.

2) Picture books are the gateway to nonfiction! Get them thinking critically by pairing a picture book with nonfiction.

I am not exactly sure when it happened, but my brain did reach the saturation point! Thankfully, attendee’s have access to conference presentations through AASL’s eCOLLAB. I can’t wait until vacation when I have time to browse around and refresh my memory. For those who were not able to attend, you can access eCOLLAB by signing up ($99) on the AASL website. Or, you could ask a colleague who attended --handouts and booklists were plentiful!

VSLA Members attend AASL in Hartford, CT

posted Mar 3, 2014, 5:53 PM by Linda McSweeney   [ updated Mar 5, 2014, 10:10 AM ]

Over 60 Vermont School Librarians attend the American Association of School Librarians conference in Hartford, CT.  VSLA members pictured below with ALA President, Barb Stripling and AASL President, Gail Dickinson.

Visit the VSLA AASL wiki created by Judy Kaplan to see many of the resources from AASL.

Christine Eldred Interviews Challenged Author, Tanya Lee Stone

posted Mar 3, 2014, 5:52 PM by Linda McSweeney   [ updated Mar 5, 2014, 10:13 AM ]

Christine Eldred  Interviews  Challenged Author, Tanya Lee Stone

 How Did You Know What My Life is Like?

Vermont author of A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl, Tanya Lee Stone recently faced a school library challenge in Currituck County, North Carolina.  After surviving challenges by a parent at both school and district levels, the county Board of Education voted on October 14, 2013 to retain the book in the library. Christine Eldred, Colchester High School Librarian, and VSLA's Intellectual Freedom Representative, recently interviewed Ms. Stone. Click this link to read the full interview including what it was like to have her novel under fire, her responses to the criticisms of censors, and why she believes sexuality is a more frequent target than violence when it comes to book challenges.
 On behalf of VSLA members, a big THANKS to Christine for this insightful and important interview.

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