Questions and Answers – K - 6 Library Services
Below are questions and responses that were discussed during the parent Question and Answer session held on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 in the Octorara Intermediate School library. Present during this discussion were:
Board Directors: Brian Fox
Administration: Tom Newcome, Elena Wilson, Christian Haller
Library Staff: Polly McCullough, Sheryl Malinics, Lisa Budzik*, Mary Weaver
Teachers: Erika Lynch*
Parents: 14 Parents including two couples and the staff members* listed above
Children: 8 Children
Meeting lasted from 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
How has the library period been used in recent years? The library period in grades K-4 has been part of the unified arts block in the student schedule. This is the period when regular classroom teachers get their preparation period in the schedule. Since 2008, library in this schedule has been called “Book Exchange” and the Librarian has not been tasked with teaching during this time period. There were no prepared lesson plans required during “Book Exchange”. The responsibility of the librarian has been to coordinate book exchange and to provide a place for students to be supervised during their classroom teacher’s preparation period. There is no library curriculum.
In the OIS library time has been an extension of the ELA block and has been used for “Book Exchange” as well. Teachers go to the library and stay with their classes during this time.
How often will students be in the library? Students will be scheduled to go to the library once per six day cycle in Grades K-4 as part of the Unified Arts rotation.. Students will be escorted to the library once per six day cycle from ELA class at the OIS.
How long will students be in the library?The scheduled time period will be approximately 45 minutes in grades K-4. The scheduled time period in OIS will be approximately 20 minutes. There was lengthy conversation during the meeting around the short time students are in the library at the OIS.
How has this changed compared to the present library schedule for students? There will be no change in the amount of time scheduled for students to go to the library at any grade level K-6.
How do we envision the library time will be used going forward? Students will be taken to the library by their classroom teachers in K-4. The classroom teachers will be able to guide students in selecting books and provide time for independent reading. Teacherswill be able to use the time in the library for book selection, independent reading, read alouds, and research. Teacher, when not assisting students in book selection, may be conferencing with individual students or a group of students. Both the classroom teacher and the library assistant will be there to assist in book selection. When the ELA teacher takes students to the library, they will be able to help students connect what they have learned in the ELA curriculum and apply those literacy skills to library activities, thus reinforcing the learning that takes place in the classroom.
In the OIS, ELA teachers will continue the practice of taking their students to the library for 20 minutes once every six day cycle. ELA teachers will assist students with book selection along with the library assistant. Students who select their books with time remaining will have time for independent reading.
How will Book Fairs be coordinated in each building?Ms. Nina Thwaites will be coordinating one fall and one spring book fair in each building.The spring fair will probably be later in the year next year to allow students/parents to take advantage of buy one, get one free opportunities.
Note: Students order books through Scholastic throughout the year. Teachers initiate this through their classrooms. These sales help teachers develop their classroom libraries of books. This ordering of books through the classroom is separate from the two book fair events.
How will the book collection in each library be maintained? (Who will order new books and remove old books from the collection?) How will new books and authors be incorporated into the library collection?
Ms. Nina Thwaites will coordinate maintenance of the collection in each library. She will be asked to involve teachers and reading specialistswith the selection of authors and new books. We hope to more closely align the process of managing the collection with the needs in the classroom. One immediate task will be to assign all books in the library a designated reading level so that teachers and students are easily able to determine if students are checking out appropriatebooks. Next, we are looking to re-shelve the books according to genre to make them more accessible for students.
It was questioned whether Ms. Thwaites will have the time to organize and manage the collection. During the May 25 meeting Ms. McCullough described a six month process for ordering books. We believe the process can be managed efficiently and we are working out details to assure this to be true.
How will the basic skill of using the computer to find books be taught?Students at OPLC do not use the computer to find books. We have not finalized plans for instruction on utilizing the computer system for finding books in the grades 3-6. We imagine a mini-lesson and a refresher will be done in this regard at the appropriate grade level. Details on this will be developed.
How will students learn about different genres?This is part of the K-6 ELA curriculum. This is not taught in the library.
Will students have a Read Aloud as part of their library experience? How often will students experience a Read Aloud?Students at OPLC participate in Read Alouds in; ELA, reading block, REAL tutors, OIS readers, mystery readers, and GYRO rewards. Read Alouds are a standard part of the ELA instruction and there is no reason to believe that teachers will not use Read Alouds during some of the extended ELA time in the library for grades 3-6.
Will student reading skills and literacy be encouraged through the use of the library?Yes—teachers will expect and guide students in applying reading skills and strategies when they visit the library. In fact, library time will be MORE connected to literacy instruction in this manner than it was previously with a librarian. Each ELA teacher will be able to reinforce what has been taught and use the time in the library to continue with the ELA curriculum based on where they are in that curriculum.This can be a benefit for students and will serve to strengthen literacy skills. Currently, the librarian is not responsible for instruction; therefore there is not any expectation for classroom instruction to be connected to library time.
A specific example: students at OPLC will have targeted book selection with their teacher based on reading level, interest and coordination with ELA, which currently does not happen during book exchange.
What is the difference between library sciences (what a librarian provides) and just checking out books.For this discussion the question is almost not relevant. The library science part of the position has not been in place for years. The period in the student schedule has been identified as “Book Exchange” since our last reduction in the program. That being said, the difference between library science and just checking out books includes but is not limited to the study of research, understanding what is factual data, exploring a topic of interest, taking care of books…all of which are embedded in the ELA, math, science, and social studies curriculum.
This question was visited in many forms during the discussion on Wednesday, May25, 2016. For many parents it was the first they considered the cuts made five years before and the effect these cuts had on “library science”. The fix for this concern would include not only the return of this position to the budget but also the return of at least two librarians to the District.
One aspect of “library science” which was discussed included the question of “when will students learn about the card catalogue?” It was discussed that books would be re-shelved according to genres and training in the use of the card catalogue would not be done. This was characterized by several parents as “dumbing- down” student use of the library. Another point of view is that this re-organization of libraries will make the books more accessible to students. Many libraries today, especially college libraries, are moving to digital formats in which students learn to use search tools and not a card catalog to access materials online without having to enter the brick and mortar library.
Why was the librarian identified as a possible cut? The administrative team was tasked with looking at the entire budget and identifying items that would have the least impact on students if reduced. A document was given to the Board of Directors on March 9, 2016 which identified twenty-five possible reductions. These reductions were classified into two categories described below:
- The items highlighted in blue will reduce the amount of programming and thus may affect the quality of programming. However, these possibilities will not eliminate a program for students. The total of all items highlighted in blue is about $548,000. There are some variables involved with a few of these which could impact the implementation and in turn could affect the amount of reduction.
- The items highlighted in yellow will reduce the amount of programming, affect the quality of programming, and eliminate some programming for students. The total reduction for these items range up to $5,390,000 – but the further from zero we get with these possibilities the more challenges are presented.
Additionally, this document stated:
These items are not presented as recommendations. We believe all these options will diminish opportunities for students. However, given the task of delivering a list of spending reductions which will provide a substantive fiscal impact, we are delivering this list as the list that will diminish the program the least.
It was also shared that the administrative team did not identify a rank order for the reductions but based on the extensive discussion the team had related to these items the order on the page was fairly representative of the order the administrative team had discussed.Eliminating the librarian at the K-6 level was 20th on a list of 25 potential reductions. The Board Directors have identified nine items on the reduction list on which they have formed a consensus.
During subsequent conversations with the Board Directors the administration was tasked with identifying challenges with moving the library position from yellow status to blue status,where no programming would be eliminated for students. We believe this is the case at this point and that no programming will be eliminated for students.
What plans are being made in the budget to bring the library position back in the future and who is the point of contact in charge of developing this position for future budgets? There are no plans to return this position back to the budget at present time. Review of this position for future budgets will be based on the experience we have with this programmatic change. The development of and presentation of the budget to the Board of Directors is the responsibility of the Superintendent of Schools. So, the person responsible for the review of this position is the Superintendent of Schools.
What extra burdens will be placed on classroom teachers?We do not expect extra “burdens” to be placed on classroom teachers. There will be some changes for classroom teachers but we believe these changes will enhance the ELA program. Students will be going to the library with their teachers and teachers will be able to help students with choosing “just right” books to enhance their reading experience. Additionally, teachers will be able to use the space and the resource of the library assistant to conference with students, to supervise student independent reading, and to allow for Read Alouds. Teacher preparation time will not be eliminated from the daily schedule in order to accommodate Book Exchange in grades K-4.
Books will continue to be checked out by the library assistant and re-shelved by the library assistant. Teachers will need to learn how to access the computer system so they are able to assist students in finding books – this is primarily done in the upper elementary grades.
Parents questioned being with the same teacher all day and having Reading “shoved down the children’s throats”? Parents expressed that they were concerned that Reading is being pushed too hard and going to the library with their classroom teacher is too much of the “same-old, same-old”. Presently, library looks a lot like we are proposing and it is centered on reading. Except for the teacher in the library it looks the same.
How will this reduction impact test scores? It was stated during the May 25 meeting and the question has been raised in multiple venues on data that shows that schools with vibrant library programs have higher test scores. The question that has not been answered related to these statements is whether the change in test scores is caused by the reduction in library programs or is it correlated to reductions in library programs. What else is going on in a district where scores drop? Is the reduction in library services the only factor influencing this drop in test scores? Every component within a district is potentially part of the cause for drops in test scores.
Are there not other things that could be eliminated/reduced? Yes, and they have been. Please see document updated June 1, 2016 – REDUCTIONS.
Can parents raise the funds to support the librarian salary? In theory yes – in practicality no. This is a yearly expense including benefits that is in excess of $100,000.
Can parents raise funds to support the library? Yes. The administration would be happy to help a group that specifically wanted to work on support for the library. However, there is a PTO that already supports many functions in the District that need financial assistance. Working within the structure of the PTO would be most effective – and most appreciated by the small group that works to keep the PTO viable.