School Library System
Week of October 7-11, 2019
News You Can Use
SLS Conference Scholarship
If your scholarship application is approved, you agree to attend all days of the conference in full and turn in (to the SLS Director) a report explaining what you learned at the conference and how you will use that information with other educators and/or students. You also agree to submit proof of your attendance at the conference so that we can reimburse you for the registration fee. You will be reimbursed once all items have been received.
Librarian Spotlight: Maureen King
From time to time we will shine a light on librarians in the area who are doing something unique in their libraries. To nominate someone for the Librarian Spotlight, please contact Kerrie.
This week we are shining a light on Maureen King, Librarian at Tamarac Elementary School, for her unique program with her dog, Baxter. Please see her interview below.
Maureen, please describe your background as a librarian.
I've been a librarian since 2011. I work at Tamarac Elementary School, in the Brunswick school district. I fell in love with library while volunteering at my children's school. I quickly decided to pursue a Master's, once I saw how wonderful being a librarian can be. I love technology, inquiry, primary sources, books, and the IFC. It is not unusual for me to jump into innovation and try something new, so it doesn't break from character for me to try bringing my dog to work every day.
How did you get the idea of bringing a therapy dog into the library?
We brought Baxter home 3 years ago. About a year ago, I felt he really needed something else in his life. It may sound strange, but he is a thinker. He seemed to be bored at home and hate having us leave him. The idea of bringing him to school was born out of a need to help him have a more fulfilling life. I knew the kids would enjoy it, but I was really focused on something he could do to use his charms and smarts.
Why did you decide to pursue Baxter’s certification?
I decided to start with beginner behavior classes. I told the group that first day that my intention was to pursue therapy dog certification, but the first step is really just seeing how your dog does in basic classes. We took an 8 week beginner's class, and it was clear we were in good shape to move on. The place we had brought him stepped you up from a beginner class involving sit, down, loose leash walking, come when called, and a couple of other basics, to a master's class. This class had a test at the end that required more connection with trainer and dog. The dog has to sit and stay for 1 minute (timed), lay and stay for 1 minute, let you walk away from them while they stay and then call them to come right to you, sit at your side and allow people to greet and pet you, and a couple of other more intense skills. You have to pass that test to move on to the therapy dog training. We actually took that class twice. It was 8 weeks each time. Baxter had to repeat because he couldn't manage to stay in the down position for 1 whole minute. The second time through, it was so much easier for him! After we passed the master's class, we were able to enroll in the Therapy Dog class. I highly recommend taking classes like these. Dogs are so ready to please. Sometimes they get into mischief because they need something to do.
It is good to note that there are different certificates out there. Therapy Dog International is the certification Baxter ended up with, but there are other options, like Bright and Beautiful. No matter which you choose, there are several things you and your dog have to be able to do to pass the test and become certified. Some of the 10 items are being comfortable around walkers, crutches, and wheelchairs, not reacting when children run by, sitting for greetings from other humans, being comfortable walking side by side with another dog and their handler, and the toughest for my boy, walking over a piece of hot dog without eating it. This was the one thing he did not manage to do on the first test. We took the therapy dog training and test at one facility, but when he didn't pass, we moved on to another place. The reason was simply that the next test at the original place wasn't for 4 months, and I didn't want Baxter to lose all of his great skills while we waited over the summer for the test to come up again. He took the class a second time, and he was top dog! He passed the test and I was able to send in the paperwork for certification.
In addition to approval from a certified tester, you have to take a written exam, make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccinations, and is licensed through your city or town.
What is Baxter's role in the library?
This has been a true surprise. I knew the students would love him and I was pretty sure he would love the students, but I never imagined the day to day positive impact he has had on our students. Broadly, he can put a smile on the face of any student, and most faculty and staff. But the individual interventions he has been a part of are where the true magic happens. From the child who is crying because she is new to the school and is scared, to the boy who has behavior issues due to tough home life circumstances and earns Baxter time for great behavior, to the group of kindergarteners sitting through their first lock down drill, there are daily surprises. I have a hard time leaving him at home, because we just don't know when he and I will be called on to help a struggling student.
In general, Baxter greets students in the lobby or hallway in the morning. During classes, he lays by my feet while I read and teach. During book exchange, he roams around checking on all of the students and collecting pats and scratches. When the students line up, he always squeezes himself into the line. He runs at recess and goes on deliveries with me.
During our training, Baxter and I became true partners. I can rarely leave his side without him coming along. Everything I do, he does with me, including attending meetings.
What is the best part of having Baxter in the library? What are the challenges?
The best part of having Baxter in the library is that everyone seems to be soothed by his presence. He adds levity and comfort and love to our space.
One of the challenges is how tired I am. If you have had a newborn, you can probably understand this. While you are able to rest when they rest, you are also on constant alert. I am always aware that he is with me, and aware of who is entering a room and how he is interacting with them. The weekends give me a chance to share him with my family and get a break, and then I'm ready for another week of work with him.
Another challenge to consider is food allergies. We have a couple of severe cases here, including nuts, wheat, eggs, and dairy. Most dog foods have wheat or egg or even peanut butter flavoring in them, and a lot of treats do, too. From what I have learned, allergens can stay in saliva for 4 hours. We did not change his food at home, because our students who are allergic are in afternoon classes. But treats have been completely revamped. We have found a whole apple that is cored is a fun treat, and I also bought a brand new puzzle toy that I use with freeze dried chicken or simple chicken and apple treats.
We are fortunate in my space to have a courtyard off of the library for dog use. That hasn't been an issue for me, but you would definitely need a convenient space for outdoor time for the dog.
How did you convince your administrators to allow Baxter in the library?
To be fair, I am super lucky. My Superintendent is really pro dog. When I mentioned it to her and to my former principal, they were both on board. There is so much information about how having a dog in school is beneficial. If I didn't already have the support of administration, I would have been able to provide a lot of evidence of why it would work. I think I would have had to go slower with integrating him into my daily work schedule. It may be something that needs to be slowly done. For me, his temperament coupled with my administration and staff acceptance has been key to our huge success. Not everyone who works with me loves dogs. At first, I think there were a couple who weren't crazy about him being in the library. I think most everyone has now seen him in action with the students and knows what a great thing it is to have him here.
What advice would you give others who want to pursue this?
I would feel it out with the administration first. I made sure they were on board before I invested in the classes. It is a time and financial commitment, so you don't want to risk going through everything and then not having the school support. There are other opportunities for therapy dogs, even if your school isn't ready. It is still something to pursue if you would like to visit nursing homes or hospitals, for example.
You want to make sure your dog is up for the task. It can be overwhelming for them, with all of the students that come through in a given day. Dogs are dogs, after all, so you really want to make sure you have a really strong relationship with your partner and they trust and listen to you.
Send us your displays-- we love showing you off!
Big Library Read
You can think BIG with the Big Library Read. Join a digital book club that allows you and your students to connect with readers across the globe. No waiting lists. No holds. BLR is facilitated by OverDrive, so you can enjoy instant and consistent access to your book club read. This year the title is I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Gilly Segal & Kimberly Jones. Grab your copy by November 4th to join in. All you need is your Sora account.
Contact Amanda Karian with any questions.
$16,000 provided to Texas library to help students start their own home collections.
Media Literacy Week - October 21 - 25, 2019
With Media Literacy Week coming up soon you may want to highlight media literacy in your library. Some ideas include:
- hosting an event in your library such as a webinar about news literacy
- support media literacy legislation
- promote MLW on social media with this toolkit
- host a professional development on media literacy for teachers
For other ideas look a the Event and Lesson Ideas page of the MLW website.
Professional Learning Opportunities
Webinar Series - Databases
The schedule is as follows:
October 24th - Rosen eBooks and PowerKnowledge Science Suite (NEW this year)
November 18th - TeachingBooks.net (NEW interface and features)
January 23rd - World Book (more details to come soon)
If you have specific databases you would like to recommend for the monthly series, please contact Kerrie.
SLS Communication Coordinator/General Membership Meeting
Date: October 22, 2019
Time: 8:30 - 3:00 pm
Location: Questar III Central Office
Register BY OCTOBER 15th: https://www.mylearningplan.com/WebReg/ActivityProfile.asp?D=15197&I=3177433
Rosen eBooks and Power Knowledge Science Suite Webinar
Date: October 24, 2019
Time: 4 pm
Location: Zoom Meeting Only (Instructions will be sent before the event)
School Library Department Leader Workshop Series
Are you the official, or unofficial, department head of the library program at your school? Are you looking to learn how to juggle it all while also trying to complete your duties as a full time librarian? Wondering how to unite the rest of the librarians in your district toward a common goal? Or are you just curious to see how others manage to do it all? No matter what challenges you may face, there is help. Join us for this four part series of workshops that will focus on program advocacy, budgeting on a district level, working with other librarians in the district, and more.
This will be a four meeting series held throughout the year. The first meeting will be held November 19th at Questar III beginning at Noon. All other dates and times will be determined by the group at the first meeting so as to meet everyone's scheduling needs. Due to the fact that this series is largely based on discussion, if fewer than five people sign up, the series will be cancelled.
Register by November 12th: https://www.mylearningplan.com/WebReg/ActivityProfile.asp?D=15197&I=3177972
Questar III School Library System
Arts in Education Director
Odyssey of the Mind Regional Director
Amanda Karian, School Library System Specialist