February 2018

President's Message

Dear Members,

I hope everyone enjoyed having President’s Day off from school and the time to recharge and recover from the demands of our libraries and the germ-filled students that we serve. Thanks to the support of NJASL, I had the opportunity to travel to the ALA Midwinter Conference in Denver from Feb 9-12. I was humbled to represent NJASL and it was a great opportunity to meet with other association leaders from around the country. ALA Midwinter was my first ALA conference experience and it was unlike any other conference I have ever attended. Unlike ALA Annual which is filled with workshops and PD opportunities, Midwinter is where the work of ALA takes place.

I attended two days of Affiliate Assemblies with our AASL representative LaDawna Harrington. The meetings are our opportunities to engage with AASL leadership and to bring concerns and commendations forward. All affiliates share similar concerns and issues, such as the loss of library positions and adequate funding for library programs. While the state of libraries in New Jersey may not be ideal, we are better off than many other regions of the country. I was pleased to see that NJLA received a commendation from AASL for their amazing advocacy program Unlock Student Potential. We are so fortunate in NJ to have NJLA as collaborative partners and advocates.

At Midwinter, I was also lucky to be able to attend the Youth Media Services awards and hear this year’s winners announced. I met many of the librarians who took part in the award’s committees and I was amazed at the time, effort, and dedication it takes to be part of these efforts. A Tennessee librarian on the Newbery committee told me about the over 400 books that she read and the 20+ hours of deliberation that went into her committee work. On the plane ride home, I met a Philadelphia librarian from the Caldecott committee who told me about the

books she reviewed and how her house was a maze of book piles. The dedication of all of the school and public librarians that volunteer for these committees is inspiring.

Finally, the highlight of ALA Midwinter was the keynotes. The opening session featured Black Lives Matter founder Patrisse Cullors and author of her memoir When They Call You A Terrorist. She was interviewed by Marley Dias, the thirteen year old activist behind the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign. It was an amazing dialogue on society and the impact our librariaries and books have on students. Marley was amazing, and her enthusiasm for life and literacy was a great way to begin the conference. I was also lucky that my meeting schedule allowed me to hear Dave Eggers and Elizabeth Acevedo speak. Dave Eggers spoke about his latest children’s book, Her Right Foot, and his 826 National program that offers tutoring services to underserved children. He was very inspirational and I can’t imagine how he finds time to sleep while working on all his amazing projects. The final lecture I attended was poet/novelist Elizabeth Acevedo. She spoke so eloquently about her life as the youngest child of Dominican immigrants and her journey to find her voice and create poetry. I can’t wait to have the time to read her new novel in verse The Poet X. There was no better way to leave a conference than to be uplifted by poetry and reminded about the power of words.

February coming to a close means the approach of March 2nd and the celebration of the birth of Dr. Seuss and Read Across America programming. At my school, Cherokee High School, we will be entertaining 500+ first graders from our sending district and hope to inspire them continue their love of reading. Good luck with all your Read Across America Programs and don’t forget to post on social media with the hashtags #NJASL and #NJASLAdvocacy. The more we share, the more we can learn from each other.

I hope to see you March 3rd at our NJASL Spring meeting and EDcamp. More than 150 librarians and educators have already signed up for this free PD event. Check out the details at if you would like to attend!

Happy reading!

Lisa Bakanas

NJASL President

Professional Practice & Development

Registration now Open!

The NJLA Conference is coming! Registration is now open for the pre-conference session cosponsored by NJASL!

Check out the image included and you can visit the website for more information!

NJASL Legislative Consultant

- Mary Moyer Stubbs

STEM Month

Is your school library planning a STEM event for March? If so, consider adding to the STEM calendar of events on the New Jersey STEM Pathways Network (NJSPN) webpage.

March is STEM Month in New Jersey, and the goal of NJ STEM Month is to celebrate New Jersey’s commitment to excellence in STEM programs and showcase them in each region of the state.

STEM Month co-creators, the Research & Development Council of New Jersey and the New Jersey STEM Pathways Network (NJSPN), are partnering to provide an opportunity for schools and organizations in New Jersey to showcase and celebrate their STEM work.

School districts and organizations can post STEM events and site tours to the STEM Month 2018 calendar by using the NJSPN Event Form.

Additional information can be found on the NJSPN’s STEM Month webpage.

Digital Citizenship Award

Do you have model digital citizenship for your staff and students? If so, consider nominating yourself (or a colleague) for the Digital Citizenship Award.

The @DigCitPLN will give its first-ever PLN Award at the @iste conference in June! Please help spread the word. You can nominate yourself or any great digital citizen you know! has all the scoop.

Student Protests in Response to Gun Violence in Schools

March 14 - This is being called National School Walkout Day and is planned for Newark at 10 AM.

April 20 - anniversary of Columbine School Shooting

NJDOE Statement on Student Protests:

NJEA Statement - does not condone student protests that occur during the school day.

NJ Spotlight Article:

Check out the below materials newly added to the AASL Standards portal!


ALA Ready to Code Grant

by Danielle Arnold

In June 2017, the American Library Association and Google announced they were looking for 25-50 public and school libraries to be apart of Phase III of the Libraries Ready to Code initiative. Libraries Ready to Code, which began in 2015, was developed to promote youth computer science and computational thinking skills through the use of the library. The selected library programs would be rewarded with grants up to $25,000 for resources and support from industry experts to implement a youth coding program in their library.

This grant immediately caught my attention. I love technology and know that coding is one of the most important skill sets to have, but yet, not many schools teach it. The more I learned about the grant, I realized it was something different than a regular grant. Aside from receiving the funding and support, the winners would be apart of a cohort and assist with the development of a toolkit released by ALA so other libraries across the nation can begin to implement a coding program in their setting. I knew this was something that I needed to be apart of! About a month later applications opened, I contacted my superintendent and asked permission to apply (which he quickly said “yes” to), and I quickly began to draft my proposal, which was due by end of August.

The grant application was also different from a standard grant. Rather than write a lengthy proposal, this grant asked for a variety of questions, but wanted short responses. For example, “What makes your youth programs unique, innovative, and/or sets your library apart from other libraries? (up to 200 words)” and “Program description. Provide specific details about the program you will design and implement. (up to 300 words)”. Being limited to the the amount of words made it challenging to explain, but also helped me focus on exactly what I wanted to implement. There was absolutely no room for fluff! Over the next month, I devoted a few hours each day writing my grant proposal.

The cohort was supposed by be announced in early October, so just as I anxiously awaited the opening of applications, I now was anxiously waiting to hear the winning library programs. I checked my email, posted in the Future Ready Librarians Facebook group, checked Twitter, and searched Google almost daily for an update. By the third week in October I still hadn’t heard if I won (which at this point I assumed I didn’t) nor who the winning programs were. Then one day during lunch duty an email came through my phone, and for some reason, I decided to check it. The subject read “The status of your application” and when I opened it all I saw in big red letters was the word “Confidential”. I didn’t understand what could be confidential until I scrolled and saw the words “Congratulations, you have been selected”. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I stood there for a minute shaking and in utter disbelief. I won, I actually won! My small school of 545 students, in Belmar, NJ was going to be apart of a national coding pilot program sponsored by ALA and Google!

I came to learn that over 400 libraries applied for the Ready to Code grant. Of the 28 winning libraries, there are only 5 school libraries in the cohort and Belmar Elementary School is the only winning library in New Jersey.

I’m excited to begin my program, Coding Connects Belmar Elementary School, and share my experiences with each of you through NJASL Bookmark Newsletter. You can also follow me on Twitter @danidarnold for more updates and information!

Social and Emotional Learning Focus Group Report

NJASL Public Relations, Communication, and Publications Committee

February 24, 2018 Meeting

Submitted by Pat Massey

I attended a Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Focus Group sponsored by NJ Department of Education on January 23 at Middlesex County Education Office in East Brunswick. Although some districts seem to be more aware of SEL than others, this initiative was introduced in August 2017 and competencies will be integrated throughout grades K-12. According to the NJ DOE, “Social and emotional learning (SEL) involves the process through which children and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. The purpose of the SEL competencies is to provide schools with guidelines for integrating SEL across grades and subject areas.

During the focus group discussion attendees viewed material being prepared for distribution to districts, offered comments and suggestions, and brainstormed methods of sharing and promoting information in their schools/districts. I mentioned that school library media specialists (SLMS) are familiar with supporting these competencies even though SEL may not be a commonly recognized term. I shared the following examples of how SLMS support SEL competencies in their everyday activities: discuss feelings, different perspectives and outcomes during book discussions, emphasize problem solving and critical thinking skills, create a balanced collection of a variety of resources, teach appropriate use of technology, and provide a welcoming and safe environment. I also shared that students often initially share problems and concerns with their SLMS because of their judgement-free relationship. I suggested that because of their familiarity with the components of SEL, SLMS can serve an important role in helping their colleagues integrate SEL competencies throughout the curriculum.

After the meeting one of the attendees expressed interest in the ideas I had shared and asked why every school doesn’t have a school library media specialist. The district where she works has no SLMS and neither does the district where her children attend school. We discussed how SLMS do much more than checking out print books are are actively involved in promoting learning. Our conversation reminded me yet again that we must continue to explain why students benefit from having a full-time SLMS in their school and eliminate the antiquated perception of a school librarian.

Please review additional information available on the NJDOE website and NJASL’s comments on SEL. This is an excellent opportunity to speak up and demonstrate how SLMS are valuable educational leaders. Please volunteer to introduce and promote SEL competencies in your district.

Battle of the Books 2017-18

Don't you love Battle of the Books? It's so much fun for your students to read, team up, and compete.There is nothing more rewarding than to hear from your kids about how much they loved specific books that they would never have read if they hadn't participated in Battle of the Books.

Be part of the fun by helping us pick next year's titles! Our once a year meeting is scheduled for Saturday, March 10th. Please contact Elizabeth Ullrich if you are interested in joining!

Battle of the Books questions and lists are now LIVE! You can locate them here or find them under the Members Only section of the NJASL website. Special thanks to the committee members for all of their hard work retyping and creating new questions.

-Elizabeth Ullrich

NJASL Affiliate News

Villy Gandhi Leadership Training Scholarship

All NJASL members are invited to apply for the Villy Gandhi Leadership Training Scholarship. Villy Gandhi scholars participate in the AECT Annual Convention in Kansas City, Missouri on October 23 -27, 2018.

AECT- Association for Educational Communications and Technology- promotes scholarship and best practices in the creation, use, and management of technologies for effective teaching and learning. AECT is an International affiliate of NJASL. Learn more about AECT at

To become a Villy Gandhi Scholar, you must be a certified library media specialist currently employed in a New Jersey school library media center. The scholarship will be based on these criteria: the applicant agrees to attend an AECT Fall Conference, attend NJASL Board of Trustees meetings and implement for NJASL at least one idea obtained at the AECT Conference attended. The scholarship provides up to $1,000 to help cover transportation, lodging and registration fee for attending this AECT event. After attending the event, the person will write an article for Bookmark describing their experience, assist at the AECT Booth at the NJASL Fall Conference, participate on some of the School Media Technology Division Board calls and prepare a webinar or similar form describing your experience at AECT.

To apply, provide the following information: name, home and school address, home and school telephone number, grade level responsibility, number of years as a SLMS, resume, and a short biography. To this cover sheet, attach supporting evidence of qualifications for the award. These should include statements on experiences in educational media, statements regarding volunteer experiences with NJASL and its affiliates and information on pertinent materials the applicant may have published or produced. There are 3 questions to answer and applicants should provide 2 letters of reference. It can be from administrators, and/or supervisor and one from a colleague will also be accepted.

The deadline for this application is March 15, 2018. The recipient will be notified by May 1 and a Plaque will be given at the NJASL Fall Annual Conference in December, 2018.

Please send the completed application by EMAIL to Leslie Blatt at

Librarians Collaborate

Thursday, March 8th, 8:30am-12pm

Lawrence High School Media Center, Lawrence Township, NJ, United States

Lawrence High School Media Center Library is inviting you to participate in our first ever collaborative meeting between middle/high school librarians and college librarians. During the meeting we will talk about our library programs, their challenges, expectations and the college readiness of high school students.

Contact: Ewa Dziedzic-Elliott

Media Center Library Specialist

Phone: 609-671-5510 x2660

Database Vendor Day

Tuesday, March 13th, 8:30am

Bergen Community College, Room C-211 400 Paramus Rd, Paramus, NJ 07652

BELS Event: Check out here for more information!

Morris County School Media Association

Thursday, March 15th, 4pm

Parsippany Public Library

Nerd Camp NJ

Saturday, April 21st, 8am-3:30pm

255 Lafayette Avenue

Chatham Township, NJ

THANK YOU! Looking for submissions...

Don't forget that we are always looking for entries from ALL membership. I will also be adding a Future Ready Librarian section moving forward to show off how we all already are "Future Ready". Please share articles with me at the email address. You can check out the Future Ready Indicators to inspire you!