School Library Report

Blue Valley North High School Library

School Library Visit Welcome

Physical Description of Library

In an ideal situation, the school library/media center would be in the center of the school, symbolizing that it supports all facets of learning that occur in the school. Even though building constraints and budget guidelines prevent this design for most schools, including Blue Valley North, schools can still metaphorically make their libraries the hub of the school. Blue Valley North does just that.

Stacks Arranged According to Genre

Evidence of Teacher/Librarian Collaborative Practices

Both librarians actively seek out teachers to collaborate with and willingly take requests from teachers to collaborate with them. In there collaborations, there is no specific structure or format; instead, they informally discuss the roles that the teacher and the librarian each will take, plan the resources that are needed, and create the rubrics that will assess student performance. Snethen claims that "the best lessons are when the LMS and the teacher are truly designing the lesson and teaching together."
Blue Valley North Library Website

One of the most tangible evidences of collaborative practices present at Blue Valley North is the library website that Snethen created when she first started her job as the school librarian.

The Webliographies section on the website most closely resemble traditional LibGuides, and each webliography is listed according to the name of the assignment, so students simply find the name of their assignment, click on the link, and the content/help they need is immediately available. The Webliographies clearly demonstrate collaboration between the librarians and the teachers because the teachers want students to see that they can use the librarians and the library itself as a resource to help them succeed on assignments. To a lesser extent, but still clearly evident, the librarians collaborate with the administration and the counselors by posting student links on the library website that range from bullying to general school news to grades access to college and career planning.

Interview with Librarian

Terri Snethen was recommended to me as a librarian who focused on developing a collaborative atmosphere in her library, so I researched her before I interviewed her and found that one of her best accomplishments is receiving the National School Library of the Year Award in 2009. She has also written many grants to facilitate learning and new technologies in her library.
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The Blue Valley North librarians collaborate with most every department in the school every year. Most of the collaboration and co-teaching lessons focus on components of the research process. The following are examples of collaborative activities that she has done this year:
  • Philosophy: The new philosophy teacher wanted to do something other than lecture about world religions, so she asked the librarian help her to come up with a more creative approach. They made cards with words on them that could be associated with the different religions. Students had to try to match the words with the religions to see what they already knew. Then, the librarian took the students through some research concepts to help the students find out more about the religions.
  • Pre-Calculus: The pre-calculus teacher wanted to create a finance project in which students had to work with a given salary and a set of family circumstances in order to set a budget that would ultimately result in buying an appropriate house for their given situation. Students presented their work on smore, an online presentation software that allows users to create online flyers. In the past for this project, students presented their findings on physical posters, but Snethen encouraged the inclusion of more cutting-edge technology.
  • Special Education: Students with Asperger's syndrome do a variety of jobs for the librarians, effectively serving as their aides. Also, n the library, there is a Focus Room where students with Down's Syndrome and other severely mentally disabled students can work and research. The librarians borrow elementary school resources and encyclopedias so that those students would be able to read and comprehend information at their ability levels.

Interview with Collaborating Teacher

Brenda Colwell is a PreCalculus, Algebra I, and AVID teacher, and has benefited from collaborating with the librarians in the following ways:
  • PreCalculus: See the section above for a detailed decription.
  • Algebra I: The librarian and Colwell collaborated on a transformation project where students used a TI Inspire calculator or computer software program to create their transformations.
  • AVID: Librarian gave a few practical ideas to enhance the AVID college search assignment. Students used Google Maps to find a college that matched individual student-generated criteria (cost, major, proximity to home, etc.) Students mapped out a college road map with the route they would take to get to each college.
  • National Board Certification: Librarians have given Colwell resources to help her be successful in the process and have taped classroom lessons for her.

Assessment Procedures

The librarians always ask for specific feedback from teachers after they collaborate, teach, and grade together to determine if their lessons are effective and what they need to change or improve. Sometimes, the librarians receive the feedback because they grade the students’ products, so they can determine whether or not the students understood the material. The librarians usually have two types of grading they will do: on the spot grading of presentation or grading the MLA components of a research paper.

Library Media Evaluation Rubric

Works Cited Page (content, format, and punctuation)

  • 5-6: Attempts were made to create a works cited page, which contained multiple errors with regard to punctuation, citing sources, as well as how the order of information was presented
  • 7-8: Works cited page had more than a few punctuation errors; a few sources were improperly cited and the order of information contained some errors.
  • 9-10: Works cited was completed with very minor punctuation errors (no more than a few) and sources were cited properly with correct order of information.

Internal Documentation (content)

  • 0-1: In-text citations were improperly formatted, or in some cases omitted
  • 2-3: In-text citations had minor errors in format and/or placement.
  • 4-5: In-text citations were used correctly and formatted appropriately.

Consistency (whether internal documentation and works cited page match up)

  • 0-1: In-text citations did not match works cited entries in most cases.
  • 2-3: Some in-text citations pointed directly to a works cited entry. Others did not.
  • 4-5: All in-text citations pointed directly to a works cited entry.

MLA Format (correct titling, font, spacing, margins, running headers, etc.)

  • 0-1: MLA format had major mistakes with regard to headers and font. Spacing, margins, and titles had major errors.
  • 2-3: MLA format had minor problems with regard to headers and font. Spacing, margins, and titles had occasional mistakes.
  • 4-5: MLA format was closely followed with regard to headers and font. Spacing, margins, and titles were also correctly formatted.

TOTAL POINTS:________________

Personal Assessment


The Blue Valley North High School community benefits greatly from the collaborative efforts of its two librarians. Snethen and her colleague’s work in the library falls into all four levels— cooperation, coordination, collaboration, and data-driven collaboration—of Toni Buzzeo’s (2008) Continuum of Instructional Partnership, but they lean most heavily towards collaboration. I was very impressed with the level of involvement the librarians had in all facets of the school. Of course, the Blue Valley School District is blessed to afford its high schools two librarians and two library clerks. Most school librarians would love to collaborate more often with teachers, but they lack the time to do so because of the library administrative responsibilities they must also complete. It would be interesting to see if each librarian at Blue Valley North would be able to continue her level of involvement if one of the full-time librarian positions was cut. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that this library is truly the academic hub of the school: mutually edifying partnerships occur between teacher and librarian and technologically rigorous assignments force students to become critical thinkers and problem solvers.

Suggestions for Improvement

  1. Create a more visually appealing and organized website. Use WebCheck to help redesign the website and to help teachers "evaluate websites to be included in instruction" or to help students "assess websites to be used as resources for assignments or projects or of personal interest" (Small & Arnone, 2014, p. 62). Use LibGuides instead of Webliographies for better organization.
  2. Create online forums or instant chats to collaborate with teachers who do not have time to come in to the library.
  3. Create formal lesson plans to ensure alignment with the Common Core State Standards and to be able to share the products of collaboration with teachers/librarians in other schools.
  4. Focus on connecting literature and nonfiction texts with STEM concepts.