a newsletter of the Montana Library Association

[ October 2016 Vol. 34 Issue 5 ]



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From the Editorial Desk

Hello Dear Readers,

Now that autumn has descended and the back-to-school season is well underway, I thought it appropriate to turn our focus toward our wonderful school librarians. It is always such a pleasure to hear from these colleagues. We linked some their comments & advice in this issue in an effort to highlight the value they bring to our association.

As I thought about these SLD members I couldn’t help but recall some of my own experiences with school librarians. While I don’t remember all of their names, I distinctly remember how they each made me feel as a student.

One afternoon while the big kids were at recess a stray basketball exploded through a large window in my kindergarten classroom. Glass rained down everywhere. Thankfully no one was injured, but it wasn't safe to stay in the room. Our class was moved into the school library for the rest of the week while the window was repaired. Our librarian rose to the occasion- she read stories, helped us choose books to take home, fed the class gerbil, sang songs and even helped me button up my coat. When our class was disrupted it was the librarian that helped make the library feel like a safe and fun place to be.

I can remember being delighted in 2nd grade when my librarian took me right to the spot where the books about whitetail deer were shelved. I thought that was magical - how did she know exactly where to look among the hundreds of books on mammals I wondered!

As a middle-schooler I always enjoyed ‘library day’. Our librarian would visit each classroom to share a book talk or give a brief lesson before we headed down the hall. She found interesting ways to engage us. Sometimes she brought guests on her visits, such as a guitar player or an illustrator. This librarian also helped pave the way for my future vocation when she invited any interested student to apply for a library assistant position by writing an essay. As a 5th grade library assistant I enjoyed stamping due dates, gathering materials and decorating the library bulletin board. If I only knew then what was to come!

I still feel indebted to my high school librarian for unlocking the mystery of the green Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature. In an era before expensive full-text databases and Google were the norm, those green books made a world of difference to me as I prepared research papers.

I appreciate my school librarians and hope you enjoy getting to know our Montana School Librarians & Media Specialists better through our newsletter. Got a fun school library memory to share? Drop a line in the comments section below. I'd love to hear about your experiences!


Caroline Campbell


My school librarians shaped my life in unexpected and incredible ways simply by providing a safe haven from the hazards of a world where I felt thoroughly alien. Growing up is hard work in any case, but growing up abroad left me feeling constantly at sea—until the bell rang for morning or afternoon tea, those thin but precious slices of my day when I could slip into the library undetected and find refuge in my Hergé, Cervantes, and Farley. On the day the towers fell in New York, when my Australian classmates were cruel in ways only teens can be, my school librarians were kind enough to let me stay past the final bell, huddled into a corner with a pile of books and a blank journal. I won't forget the security they gave me ... or the looks of total and utter disappointment whenever they caught me climbing the stone walls behind the children's nook.

Now, as an adult mostly past her climb-everything phase, I understand a little more of what it means to be a school librarian—here, and across the pond. The work you do, school librarians, changes lives. It may even save a few. Every display you put together, every addition to your collection, every battle for funding, and every child you listen to is a radical act. It's future-making.

One newsletter could never be enough to contain even a fraction of all that you do, but we want to thank you. We wouldn't be the people we are today without our school librarians!

Warm regards,

Kendra Mullison



Montana Library FOCUS

[ISSN 1076-352X]

The FOCUS is an official publication of the Montana Library Association (MLA), and is published in collaboration with the members which it serves. You can look for new issues six times a year: in February, April, June, August, October, and December. With an online readership of over 500, the newsletter works to reflect, inspire, and give voice to the vibrant communities that exist in and around Montana’s libraries.

The FOCUS welcomes your input! To submit feedback, articles, reviews, inquiries, and ideas—or to place an ad or provide sponsorship—please contact the editorial staff directly:

Please send address changes to:

Debbi Kramer (Executive Director)

Montana Library Association