News & Views

Morris County School Media Association

From the President

Welcome Back Everyone,

2020 has been the most unique year in my teaching history and likely yours, too. Many of us started the year with the knowledge that plans can change quickly depending on circumstances related to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Schools are facing situations where the learning is happening 100% in-person, entirely online, or a hybrid of in-person and online. As school librarians, we have had to reimagine the ways we provide services to our school communities.

No matter how your school is working to ensure the safety of the staff and students, you still want to welcome your students. I’m sure you are excited to share how to use all the valuable resources you and the library provide and help build a sense of community.

The first lesson we can count on for the start of the school year is orientation to library services offered to students and staff. When I was an elementary librarian, I reviewed how to take care of books, how to look for books on the shelf, how to check out a book. We can eliminate when books need to be returned in the digital realm, as the books will never be late or missing.

As a middle school librarian, I have shifted my attention to digital mini lessons on the eBook collections and databases available from home and school. I promote independent reading by sponsoring virtual book clubs and center my program on integrating digital literacy into content area projects and lessons.

I’ve never been a high school librarian, but I do have the camaraderie of those in this group and I am aware they are pivoting to distance learning resources available to students - eBook and audiobook platforms and databases. Orientation has included information about how and when to access the library, how to seek help with homework, book clubs, and more.

I wish you all the best and hope for your health and safety. Hopefully, the ideas above can help as you try to reimagine your role and navigate the best ways to enhance your school community during this novel beginning to a most unusual school year.

It was a pleasure virtually seeing many of you all at our Distance Learning Technology showcase in May. I hope more of you can join us for our one of our upcoming programs:

  • Thursday November 12 (free to members) “ELL & Your Digital School Library” workshop with the Bergen County Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

Please log on to our website and renew your membership today.

Looking forward to seeing you all soon,

Tara Collins

President, MCSMA

Digital Storytelling With Adobe Spark (Zoom Meeting)

Thursday, Oct. 22nd, 4:30pm

This is an online event.

Learn how your students can create digital stories from start to finish!

Our facilitator will be Barbara DeSantis, who is a Tech Integration Trainer for Sayreville Public Schools. She is a Certified BrainPOP Educator, Google Education Trainer, and a STAR Discovery Educator. She runs the award-winning Tech Tools blog, keeping us up-to-date on technology, and has done presentations for many NJ groups.

This event is free to members.

Click here to register

Seeking Grant Money with Candid and the County College of Morris by Lynee R. Dokus

Are you interested in applying for a grant for your library? There may be money available, and the County College of Morris can help you with your research.

The County College of Morris is a partner in the Candid (formerly Foundation Center) “Funding Information Network” and subscribes to the Foundation Directory Online database. Foundation Directory Online is an easy to search, comprehensive collection of grants and grantmakers. In the past, our patrons had to travel to the CCM campus to search the database on the library’s computers. Candid is offering our local community remote access to Foundation Directory Essential, a limited version of the database, until December 31st, 2020.

For more information on accessing the Foundation Essential database, please reach out to for a link and password.

It is easy to learn how to search this new, free online tool. The New Jersey State Library has created very short instructional videos for

Accessing Foundation Essential, at ,

Searching Foundation Essential, at

and Evaluating Grantmaker Profiles, at .

The state library has also recorded a free hour-long webinar about Foundation Essential at

While Foundation Essential provides information on grants, non-profits and foundations, it contains only a small portion of the extensive Foundation Directory Online Professional database. A CCM librarian can conduct an extensive, full database search by appointment. Visit the homepage to contact a librarian about your specific research needs.

Researching grants and foundations is just a first step. Candid also offers live and on-demand training, often for free, on many topics in fundraising, proposal writing and nonprofit management. Check out the current training schedule at . Some of the upcoming free workshops include “Introduction to Project Budgets” on September 23rd and “Introduction to Fundraising Planning” on October 14th.

Candid also has an extensive library collection. If you are interested in further reading on Advocacy, Fundraising, Innovation, Proposal Writing, or Nonprofits check out an e-book and audiobook titles at .

If you are looking for CEU credits, you can further your knowledge about fundraising and grantwriting with five short non-credit courses at the County College of Morris. CCM also offers a Grant Writing Certificate which provides professionals with a comprehensive overview of the grants process. The courses provide hands-on experience with expert panel discussions. Professional grant writers and local foundations evaluate student proposals and provide feedback. Fall 2020 courses include “Prospecting for Grants”, “Grants Researching and Proposal Writing Workshop”, “Interactive Proposal Writing” and “Ethics in Grant Writing”.

All courses are online this semester, and meet 1- 4 evenings. Contact for more information.

The CCM library has partnered with other local organizations in a recent IMLS grant proposal. We continue to seek new opportunities and partners for future grants. Please let us know if you would be interested in becoming a K-12 grant partner someday!

Follow Morris County School Media Association on social media!

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A Review of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, By Nancy Bosch

After the huge reception of the Hunger Games trilogy, who wouldn’t be anxious to read the newest installment of the series: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes? I was so enthralled to learn whatever became of Panem. Would Jennifer Lawrence get the chance to play Katniss again? While this is set slightly in the future (only ten years or so after the war) Suzanne Collins has flipped the cast making President Snow’s grandson the main character. The games are on again and he is tasked with a new role in the games: a mentor for a tribute. This time we are looking at the games from inside the Capitol, although the Capitol is not nearly as rich and splendid as it had been during the original games.

For those students who loved the Hunger Games, this novel will most likely be met with as much thrill and anticipation as they did the sequels to the first book. My nephew (a high school senior) couldn’t wait to read the book and apparently loved it as much as he did the original series. Unfortunately for me, I think I may have come to this book anticipating too much. I was hoping for a society that had learned from its mistakes, that had longed for peace and prosperity for all (perhaps comparing to our own current events too much) and instead I got a rewrite of Hunger Games with a set of characters possibly even more lacking in morals than those in the our own White House currently.

Yet, can I blame Suzanne Collins? She had success with Hunger Games, a series written for the YA reader, resulting in a trilogy of movies, why not do more of the same? But I truly wish that she had used the opportunity to create a better society (of course it would still have its issues, she needed a new conflict and resolution) and show our youth that peace is possible, that the fight is worth the struggle. With any luck, maybe that lesson will come in the not-so-distant future from real life events. Here’s to hoping!