Karen Gavigan teaches the Charleston Cohort

SLIS Update on School Library Program

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Greetings Friends,

I just wanted to send an update on some activities of your knowledge school. This month has been a lot about school libraries and the librarians that make them effective. SLIS had a great presence at the South Carolina Association of School Librarians (SCASL). Heather Moorefield-Lang presented an amazing keynote address to over 500 South Carolina school librarians. She got a well-deserved standing ovation. As you can imagine, it was peppered with some great one-liners.

We are also having a great response to the Library Scholars program that partners with school districts to transition teachers to certified school librarians. Our first cohort started this spring with the Charleston County School District. We were able to bring all 10 students to SCASL and they proudly showed their Garnet colors. We are in the process of signing up the Florence 1 School District for the Summer and are in conversations with 4 other districts! Here’s a story on the Charleston cohort: http://www.sc.edu/study/colleges_schools/cic/library_and_information_science/news/2018/slis_launches_library_scholar_program.php

In other fantastic news, our own Lucy Santos-Green co-authored an amazing piece of research with Melissa Johnston. The article published in School Library Research – a highly respected school library academic journal-is titled Still Polishing the Diamond: School Library Research over the Last Decade and provides a terrific overview of research in the field.

Our dedication to school librarians as agents of transformational change and student success is also seen in our hiring. I am thrilled to announce that Valerie Byrd Fort is joining the faculty. Valerie has a distinguished career as a school librarian and has taught many classes with SLIS as adjunct faculty. Starting in the Fall she will come on as a full-time instructor and will lead Cocky’s Reading Express for us. We are also searching for a new tenure-track position in school libraries, and the Augusta Baker Chair in youth literacy and diversity. Where other LIS programs around the country are shrinking or even closing their school library programs, we are investing in ours.

This is also a perfect time for our investment in the school library program, as there is an acute need for school librarians in South Carolina and the Southeast. If you didn’t see the article on the need for teachers and school librarians in the State newspaper, here’s a link to the article and quote I’d like to draw your attention to:

Effort to keep S.C. teachers in the class after retiring moves forward

Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/the-buzz/article206103649.html#storylink=cpy

Here’s the quote:

“Just in nine (school) districts in my neck of the woods, 75 percent of our library media specialists are within five years of retirement,” Fanning said Thursday. “There’s only one library media program in the state of South Carolina — and that’s at USC (the University of South Carolina) — and they’re not cranking out enough even for my nine districts.”

Fanning, is Senator Mike Fanning, D-Fairfield

For me this story emphasizes the need for our school library program, confirms the importance of our cohort program, and gives us an opportunity to reach out to the legislature. 

So, to our school library students and alumni, thank you for your support and continued feedback. The work you do is vital to our communities. Know that SLIS is there for you and wants to be a partner in the success of educating the next generation. We heard a lot of great ideas at SCASL and are already following up (think student teacher orientation).

The mission of the knowledge school continues.