Priorities, Projects, and a Pandemic by Angela Wojtecki
It has been a while since I have written a blog posting for OELMA and while I may be a little rusty at this kind of thing, I also am excited to share with you a little about what is happening in my library at Nordonia High School in currently cold and snowy NE Ohio. I was recently selected to be the February (2021) Rosen Publishing Ohio School Librarian of the Month, which is truly an honor for me and I wanted to share a little about my project which was highlighted as part of this award.
If you were not aware, the Rosen Publishing Ohio School Librarian of the Month recognizes one school librarian a month who designs, develops, and implements a collaborative lesson plan and/or programming that empowers student learning. This is a wonderful example of how OELMA’s partnership can truly benefit and advocate for the important work that we do in our schools and communities.
We all know that this year has probably been the toughest year of our careers due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and all the changes we have had to implement as a result. Some of us are teaching hybrid in our schools while some of us may not even be in our libraries this year-instead at home teaching and working via Zoom or Google Meet. I have had to “pivot” by teaching remotely, hybrid classes, and daily with all students, and can really share with you that while it has been challenging at times, it has also been an opportunity to truly reflect on the work that I do and what priorities I need to make happen. For me, this meant that I needed to focus more on finding the time to update my nonfiction collection at my high school and enhance my collection to include more diverse authors and titles. I took a graduate class this summer and there were a few discussions on the importance of adding more diverse authors and topics in our school library collections and analyzing collections on a routine basis. There are so many great, new nonfiction titles by some amazing authors and I really wanted to focus more on bringing them into our library for students to hear their stories and learn new perspectives.
I started the deselection/weeding process in September and found it to be a very “therapeutic” experience amidst all the Covid chaos making room for new nonfiction titles that our students would be interested in reading for enjoyment in addition to research topics. I was able to box up 80 boxes (yes, 80) filled with outdated, worn, and untouched/dusty nonfiction books and order some more diverse titles focused on nonfiction content and a few that students have requested too. We finished up in December. I had our high school library ambassador students help with this process and eventually we had the whole process down to a science which was helpful in saving some time. It was also so great to see the room on the shelves for our new nonfiction titles.
Here are some of the titles that we added as part of this project which was either selected by my high school students or through my own collection development process:
This is What America Looks Like by Ilhan Omar
The Last Girl by Nadia Murad
Being Jazz by Jazz Jennings
Call Me American by Abdi Nor Iftin
It’s Trevor Noah by Trevor Noah (YA Edition)
The ABC’s of LGBT+ by Ashley Mardell
Mamba Mentality by Kobe Bryant
African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song by Kevin Young
Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton
To wrap this post up, let me say that I am so proud to be an Ohio School Librarian and an OELMA member in the year of 2021. Now, more than ever, networking and sharing ideas is critical for the work that we do in our schools and with our students. Keep doing what you are doing, OELMA, and we will all be stronger and wiser as a result!
*If you would like information on how to nominate an Ohio school librarian for The Rosen Publishing Ohio School Librarian of the Month Award, please visit our page at: https://www.oelma.org/rosen_ohio_school_librarian_of.php