Welcome to Library Lions interviews. Raising a Roar for Libraries

Welcome to Library Lions interviews. Raising a Roar for Libraries

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

First Roar for 2011!

Welcome to Library Lions first roar of 2011! We Raise a Roar for Libraries and for the outstanding Librarians serving Children and Young Adults in Schools and Public Libraries across the U.S. Please Roar today’s guest Librarian Susan K. S. Grigsby

Susan has been a Youth Librarian for 15 years. She works at Elkins Pointe Middle School; Roswell, Georgia. I met Susan in 2009 when she was the President of the Georgia Library Media Association. It’s a delight to have Susan kick off our first 2011 LL post!

~Susan testified before her State Education Subcommittee on the importance of public school libraries and adequate library funding.

~She coordinates the Georgia Summer Institute professional development programs for librarians throughout Georgia.

~She will be presenting a concurrent session at this year’s Internet in Schools National Conference in Washington, D.C. March 2011.

The Skinny: What inspired you to become a librarian?
I was active in Atlanta’s audio/video industry prior to becoming a media specialist. When my second child was born I began to look for a more kid-friendly career and read about how Georgia needed qualified media specialists. I had no idea what that meant but I was intrigued and investigated what it would take to become one. I found out it was the new term for “school librarian” but when I learned about all the technology then available in the schools and how my background could be used effectively every day I jumped in with both feet.

I LOVE my job and feel very fortunate to find something that is such a perfect fit for my personality, my skills, and my life’s goals.

A Lion’s Pride of Programs:
March Madness
We start our March Madness Reading Tournament with a a big team "rah rah" Pep Rally in the gym. March Madness connects reading with sports so we show photos like the one below to get things started.

The Reading Tournament is run with "homeroom teams". We treat it like the March Madness basketball format. Students fill in reading logs and teachers create DEAR time that is logged on student accounts. Our tech specialist set up a database in which teachers can plug in the number of minutes read. We start counting the minutes each week in March, narrowing down to sweet 16, elite 8, and the final four - the final four get to come to the tailgate party in which the tournament winner (most minutes read) is announced.

We culminate the program with the March Madness Tailgate Party

Photo of Tailgate Party

I also have a themed reading program in which students are required to read at least one book from that month’s theme and one book from any other area in the library. It is based on The Dewey Decathlon developed by Kris Woods, a fellow Georgia media specialist. I took her idea and tweaked it a little for my own purposes using monthly themes like Realistic Fiction, Horror/Mystery Fiction, Biography, Fantasy/Science Fiction, Historical Fiction, etc. to help guide students towards a broader range of reading materials. Each month, every student that has read the two required books are invited to the library for Cafe Read-A-Latte –

I serve them Mocha Lattes or Vanilla Lattes with some home-baked treats and they get to hang out for 30 minutes and read magazines, play board games, or just visit with friends in the library while enjoying their treats.

Clapping Paws for Susan and her Library Programs!
~ I attended, and thoroughly enjoyed, your Café Read-A-Latte presentation at COMO!
(Conference participant)

~ WONDERFUL! Thank you so much for putting this together. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and had so many excited kids today with their books!! Thank you again!! (Teacher)

~ We are so lucky to have you!! Thanks for all you do! (PTA President)

~ When I get a chance I want to come by and get some reading logs for the historical fiction month…A.Z. ASKED to read his book yesterday….. sometimes mountains do move… Thank you partner for the support and assistance as we try to get these kids reading! (Reading Teacher)

Library Laughs:
In my first year as a media specialist I worked in a K-8 private school. I had a beautiful library collection in a brand new facility and prided myself on really knowing my collection. One day a little 1st grader came in and asked for my help in finding a book on dinosaurs. I confidently led the way to 567.9 and then asked if he had something in particular in mind. He replied that he wanted a dinosaur book that had pictures in it. I pulled a big, colorful book off the shelf and said, “How about this one?” He shook his head and said he really wanted a book that had pictures in it. I pulled another book off the shelf, and another. He kept saying “I really want one that has pictures.”

I showed him the pictures in the book and said “See? This one has pictures.” Again, he shook his head and looked at me like I must be the most dense librarian on the planet. “Pictures,” he said. “You know...pictures like you take with a camera!” Thinking I had the request nailed I pulled out a book filled with photographs of scientists digging up dinosaur bones with accompanying drawings of what they believed the dinosaurs looked like. “NO!” he said. “Pictures of the dinosaurs!” I slowly realized what he wanted, got down on one knee, looked him straight in the eye and said softly, “Cameras weren’t invented when dinosaurs were around because people hadn’t been invented yet, either.” “Oh,” he said. “Then that first one you showed me will be okay.” He happily checked it out and went on his way!

Author! Author!
We were fortunate to be visited by Laurie Halse Anderson in November 2009 just as Chains was being promoted.

Susan with Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson did an amazing presentation to my middle schoolers about how she did her research into the historical accuracy of her story. She made some beautifully poignant remarks about how finding out our founding fathers were slave owners rocked her own belief system and forced her to think about our American Revolution in a slightly different way. The students were mesmerized and so many lined up after class to speak to her personally - she looked every one of them in the eye and listened to what they had to say, answered their questions without rushing them, and signed their books if they had them. It was one of my career highlights.

Book Brag: What three books are hot this year? Why?

~The Hunger Games series (Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins).

~Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth.

~I’m just starting to get some interest in The City of Bones series, too.

~I know this makes more than three, my students cannot get enough Origami books. Is this some kind of new craze?

Library Lion’s Roar: ONE LAST BIG ROAR
I work with some of the best teachers in my county. It is an absolute pleasure to walk into my building every day and know that I will be collaborating with some of the most creative, dedicated teachers I’ve ever met. It is the collaboration that makes my program work. It takes effort, compromise, flexibility, and energy but it is worth every second when I see the results: improved student achievement. My principal is a smart leader who knows how to create a positive working environment without micromanaging the professionals in the building. This atmosphere of mutual respect has cleared the way for innovative and dynamic teaching to take place. I encourage anyone reading this to reach out to his/her staff and find a way to work together towards improved teaching, improved learning, and improved students.

Susan’s Links

Susan Grigsby Wordpress

School Library Website

Susan’s Website

Thanks again for the interview, Susan!

Love Libraries? Become a Follower of Library Lions! Give a Roar in “Comments” below.

Note to Librarians: If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Contact Janet at jlcarey@hotmail.com for an interview.

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