November 2021

Volume 2.13

Welcome to the North Carolina School Library Media Association's Monthly newsletter!

Questions? Contact

In this edition:

NCSLMA Website


Cindy Sturdivant

NCSLMA President


I recently returned from Salt Lake City where I attended the American Association of School Librarians biennial conference. With the cost of travel, attending a national or state conference is quite a financial commitment which led me to reflect on why I feel it is important and worthwhile. 

First, there is always a good chance of getting freebies at conferences. Vendors often have Advance Readers’ Copies and swag they are giving away. I am always able to find a teacher or student who will take any of these freebies that I don’t want to keep; who doesn’t like something for free? 

The large number of participants at a conference provide a myriad of opportunities for face to face networking and support. It’s always enlightening to listen to and participate in the conversations which happen between sessions, in the vendor hall, over dinner, or in the lobbies. Since school library jobs are often solitary positions, it is frequently hard to feel support at work. These conference interactions are an easy way to grow my Professional Learning Network and develop that needed support. The number of people I follow (and who follow me) on Twitter always increases greatly during and immediately following a conference. This allows me to continue being supported and to continue learning from these professionals when I return to my school.

Probably the most obvious benefit of attending a conference is going to the keynote addresses and breakout sessions. It always seems like there are many more sessions I want to attend than I have time to. 

Even though all the socializing involved in a conference can be draining, especially for an introvert like me, it is good to get a break from the routine of school. I find myself returning from conferences tired but refreshed. 


Jennifer Abel

Conference Chair, Incoming President Elect

More information coming soon!


Jenny Umbarger

2021 Conference Chair

Thank you to all who helped to make our 2021 conference a success! We had 60+ presenters from all across the state who shared their knowledge and expertise through both live and pre-recorded sessions, and fabulous keynote speakers & authors who inspired us through their insightful words and thoughts. Thanks to our vendors and sponsors for your support, and a huge shout out to the NCSLMA board members and volunteers for your assistance in making this virtual conference a success.

It is not too late to participate in the 2021 virtual conference, as we are running a second chance registration! Visit the NCSLMA Events page to register. All of the recordings and slides will be available to conference registrants through September 30, 2022. Recordings of the live sessions will be available very soon.

While we know there was much disappointment that we were not able to Reflect, Refocus, Reconnect, & Rejuvenate in person for #NCSLMA2021, mark your calendars now for next year’s conference at the Benton Convention Center in Winston-Salem Oct. 6-8, 2022: We are not alone in the library! 


Bitsy Griffin, Immediate Past President

NCSLMA is participating in a federally-funded IMLS research project called SLIDE: The School Librarian Investigation: Decline or Evolution? with Keith Curry Lance and Deb Kachel, Antioch University Seattle. They are planning to interview 100 school administrators across the U.S. to better understand how staffing positions are decided for libraries, learning resources, and technology. In particular, they are gathering the factors, values, and priorities that key school decision makers consider when making staffing choices and whether positions are combining or evolving to meet district needs. They are seeking willing interviewees from districts in three categories:

  1. Gained school librarians since 2015-16

  2. Lost some librarians since 2015-16

  3. Lost all librarians since 2015-16

The one-hour interviews will be conducted via Zoom, be completely confidential, and occur sometime convenient to the interviewee during this school year. Do you know of a school leader who makes or made staffing decisions who would be willing to speak to one of our interviewers? (Retired administrators may also participate if involved sometime since 2015-16.) If so, either:

  1. Email them this info and ask them to provide their contact info at this link, or

  2. Send their names, emails, and position titles to She will contact them.

So far six states are participating. Let’s be sure that our state is represented in this national investigation. If you have questions, email Deb at

Thanks so much! 

Antioch University Seattle is conducting this nationwide study called SLIDE: The School Librarian Investigation—Decline or Evolution? Antioch’s Debra E. Kachel is the Project Director, and Keith Curry Lance of the RSL Research Group is the Principal Investigator.  This project’s goal is to better understand current realities, not to advocate for any particular position or staffing model.


Membership Update

Laura Aldridge, Membership Services Director

At the NCSLMA 2020 fall board meeting, the board of directors agreed on a change to shift our membership calendar to January through December.  This change was prompted to alleviate some of the challenges members faced with trying to pay for dues around the start of a new fiscal year or over the summer.  We also understood the dilemma of slow school finance procedures and conference deadlines and Battle of the Books compliance.  Active members in the winter of 2021 saw their renewal date change from July to December 2021. A prorated membership is not currently being discussed as an option.  However, understanding the hardships of the past year, NCSLMA is extending grace towards those who renew or join (and make payment of dues) in 2021 by extending their renewal date to December 2022.

As a reminder our mailing address is 151 NC Hwy 9 Ste B #188, Black Mountain, NC 28711.  Please ensure that payments are being sent to Black Mountain as mail is not forwarded from the old Raleigh address.

This change is done manually by NCSLMA volunteers.  Please be patient as we make adjustments for those eligible

Book Programs Needs Your Help!!!

Stacy Hersey, Director of Book Programs 

I am excited to share that each level of Battle of the Books will be adding a 16th book to their lists next year.  This book will be the “Student Choice” winner voted on by students.  Encourage your students to nominate their favorite book to be considered for the list.  You can make nominations as well-the nomination form will remain open year-round.  Nomination forms for each level are located on their webpage.  

Each committee will narrow the selection down to three books and then students will get to vote on which one they would like added to the list as the “Student Choice” winner.  

Nominate your newest favorite today!!!

2022 Leadership Academy Applications

Are you a leader in your school or district and striving to do more?Are you interested in being more involved in NCSLMA? We are now taking applications to join the 2022 NCSLMA Leadership Academy! NCSLMA Leadership Academy members lead sessions during the cohort, present the Summer Learning Series, and participate in the annual Conference.

The application window closes on Sunday, November 7th. Click this link to apply.

Defending the Right to Read in Challenging Times

Dr. April M. Dawkins, Assistant Professor, UNC Greensboro Department of Library & Information Science
NCSLMA Intellectual Freedom Chair

Across the state, we have had a spate of challenges stemming from public statements made by political officials and coverage of these statements in the media. Additionally, conservative activist groups have received information about what to do to assert their “parental rights.” Some of these instructions are reaching into mainstream conservative media. What can we do about it? Be prepared!

First, remember why you became a school librarian. You want to work with kids and support them to become lifelong learners. To do this successfully, you must defend their right to read and access information. We are there to support ALL students. The books we choose to add to our collections may not be suitable for every child in our community, but there may be one child who needs access to that one book. Parents DO have the right to monitor their OWN children’s reading and even make decisions about what their child should read. BUT they should not make decisions about what OTHER people’s children are reading.

Second, locate and review your school or district’s selection and reconsideration policies. These should be publicly available on your district’s website (often found in the board policy manual). Make sure that you are familiar with the policies and how challenges should be handled. Then make sure your administrative leadership is familiar with the policies too. Make careful note of how challenged material is handled while undergoing the reconsideration process. And remind leaders that failure to follow district policy is what results in lawsuits. If you can’t find your policy, talk to your leadership. You need one! If your policy seems outdated, you need to revise it. The best guidance for developing or revising policy is the ALA Selection & Reconsideration Policy Toolkit

Third, don’t change how you are selecting books or decide to start removing books from your collection because you think you might have something in your collection that might be questioned. “A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone” (librarian Jo Godwin). You don’t know what might be offensive to someone, so follow your selection guidelines and make the best decisions you can about what to add to your collection. If you want to rethink something you have in your collection, follow your reconsideration process. It’s time-consuming, but it sets the precedent that anything that is being removed (other than weeding for outdated content, damage, or lack of circulation) must follow the procedures.

Fourth, make sure that you have a functioning Media and Technology Advisory Committee (MTAC). Your MTAC should be created and chaired by you and made up of supporters of the library media center with representatives from departments, grade levels, students (if middle/high school age), parents, and administrators. The role of the MTAC is ADVISORY. It’s part of the title! They are not trained in selection. They can advise you on selection of materials and provide their input. But YOU are a trained, credentialed, professional librarian. The MTAC can also serve as your reconsideration committee if a formal challenge is made. As the chair of the committee, you should preside over the reconsideration process including informing the committee of their responsibilities, the selection process, and the importance of the Freedom to Read and intellectual freedom. It’s important that they understand that minors have rights that do not stop at the schoolhouse door. Consider sharing with them the ALA statements about the rights of students and minors.

Fifth, prepare for and practice how you handle an oral complaint about something in your library. Most challenges can be averted by having a simple conversation with whoever is concerned about your collection. Consider including four things in your response: (1) Give a positive acknowledgement of request / concern (not dismissive or angry) - “Thank you for being so involved…”; (2) Provide an action step on how you will follow up or ask what it is that they want to happen (some people just want to be heard); (3) Explain how books are selected for the library - mission / values / freedom to read (you might include information about connections to the curriculum and the role of the media center to serve everyone; and (4) Provide them with information on what the steps are to request a formal review.

Finally, know that you are not alone even if you are the only school library media coordinator in the building. Reach out to administrators, district media staff (if you have them), other SLMCs in your district. Plan together for how you will handle any challenges. Also, if challenges occur, get support from NCSLMA and ALA. Dr. April Dawkins ( is the chair of the NCSLMA Intellectual Freedom Committee and will talk with you about handling challenges, updating policies, and crafting media statements. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has staff that will also prepare statements for the media and assist you in the process. Kristen Pekoll ( is the assistant director and a former school librarian. She is an excellent resource. Please do not hesitate to reach out to either one. AND be sure to report challenges to ALA’s OIF and look at other resources on their website.


Submit your commendation for an organization that supports reading and/or NC school libraries!

NCSLMA Sections

Director: Faith Huff

Director: Crystal Joyce

Awards, Grants, Scholarships
Director: Sarah Justice

Book Programs
Director: Stacy Hersey

Director: Bitsy Griffin

Director: Laura Aldridge

Regional Directors:
Lead: Robin Rhodes

Social Media
Director: Alicia Luke

Director: Kristy Sartain


Virtual Collaboration vs. In-Person …what the students have taught me!

Jane Hudson, Media Coordinator Charles E. Boger Elementary School

The 2019 Covid Pandemic will certainly be in the history books in years to come.  As Media Coordinators we have all faced many challenges as we navigate through digital teaching and learning and new teaching tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Canvas to name a few. Collaboration among my teachers and colleagues became quite enjoyable as we planned and met virtually.  I wanted so very much to help my students connect as well.  As I explored many ideas, I chose a virtual Stick Together puzzle. I placed this in my Canvas Course, and I explained how it worked during our Virtual class time.  I chose 4th and 5th graders for this activity, and I limited them to a certain number of stickers.  We would talk about what the picture “might be.”  We did a little math by counting the number of students and the days etc. that it took for us to complete the puzzle.  I felt like this was a very good collaborative activity for them.  

When we started school for In-person learning this year, I purchased a new Stick Together puzzle and put the board up in the media center.  I decided to use this with 5th graders.  I started by asking who remembered the virtual puzzle and some did while others said remarks like “I didn’t do extra work during remote learning.” As I introduced our new in-person collaborative project I tied it in with positive behavior and responsible actions.  For example, if a student returned their books and had their name tag, they could choose 4 stickers and only 1 if they did not.  I was not sure how the 5th graders would feel about this, and I was a little concerned they may say it was for younger kids or be too noisy.

Wow!! I was surprised.  The students would come in and get quiet and be excited for their turn to choose and place their stickers.  Then over time I would randomly give them more stickers.  I was blown away by listening to their conversation.  Students were of course guessing what it might be.  Talking about how many stickers it would take to fill the puzzle.  They were helping one another as they chose the stickers. They were truly cooperating!

At this point I began to realize that the virtual collaboration such as the online puzzle was good for students during remote learning because it was the only type of collaboration we had. I introduced this Stick Together puzzle to my students in remote learning and that could be what added to their excitement in person.  I am not sure.  However, I am convinced that my students are excited about working together in person and they are capable or cooperating with one another far more than we give them credit for some times.  

I know this lesson may not be unique or different, but I think the lessons I have learned about students’ need for choice, and time to work together and talk things over as they work is priceless for me.  I look forward to using the Stick Together puzzles as a yearly project whether in-person or remotely.

NC Big Map

The New Town Elementary Media Center welcomed the BIG MAP to our space recently!  Renee Cunningham, Media Coordinator, had used a large NC map several years ago and was searching for an opportunity for her current students.  Through some online searching and sleuthing she connected with the North Carolina Geographical Association and UNCG’s Graduate Geography Student Association. 

Students have participated in a landforms scavenger hunt, countries and capitals matching game, and a Simon Says style game of reviewing cardinal directions. 

The reactions of excitement and amazement as the students walk past the Media Center has been so fun to see, and any lesson you do in your socks is just more fun!  Our HAWKS  are definitely jazzed up for geography!   

If other North Carolina schools are interested in using the Big Map contact information can be found on this website:

Renee Cunningham is the Media Coordinator at New Town Elementary in Waxhaw, NC.  With 15 years in education she is always looking for new ideas and innovations to give students a learning experience. 

Scripps National Spelling Bee & The Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers invite you to register your school for the Scripps National Spelling Bee and your chance to qualify students for the Carolina Panthers Regional Spelling Bee presented by Bank of America!

The Carolina Panthers are excited to announce registration is open for the Scripps National Spelling Bee program and your opportunity to qualify students for the Carolina Panthers Regional Spelling Bee presented by Bank America.  The Carolina Panthers Regional Spelling Bee will be held on a TBD date on either March 12, 13, 19 or 20, 2022 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.  Final date confirmation will be provided by January 1, 2022.  The top four (4) North Carolina spellers and top two (2) South Carolina spellers from the Carolina Panthers Bee will advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. in June.  Interested schools/ districts can learn more and find registration information by clicking on the enclosed link:

Click here for a special message from Carolina Panthers Head Coach Matt Rhule!

A person holding a sign Description automatically generated with medium confidence 

Key dates to consider:

January 31: Deadline for schools to register with Scripps for this year's Bee program.
February 18, 2021: Deadline for school districts to submit winning students who have earned the opportunity to advance to the Carolina Panthers Regional Spelling Bee.
March 12-13 OR 19-20, 2021: Carolina Panthers Regional Spelling Bee for designated NC/SC school district winners. Bee will be held at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

Contribute to the next NCSLMA News & Notes!

We want to hear from you! Do you have an upcoming multi-school or district event, were you recognized in some way, are you involved in the coolest collaboration, or did you contribute in some other spectacular way that shows the value of school libraries and librarians? We know you did! So we want to share the fabulous things school librarians are doing across the state! Please submit links to articles, published materials, and/or graphics to Bitsy Griffin ( Materials should be "copy and paste" ready. Submissions will be edited and published at the discretion of the NCSLMA News & Updates Editorial Team.

Submission Guidelines Document


Continuing Ed Opportunities
Brought to you by the State Library of North Carolina



Facebook Page


Facebook Group


Would you like to contribute to the next NCSLMA News & Notes?

We want to hear from you! Do you have an upcoming multi-school or district event, were you recognized in some way, are you involved in the coolest collaboration, or did you contribute in some other spectacular way that shows the value of school libraries and librarians? We know you did! So we want to share the fabulous things school librarians are doing across the state! Please submit links to articles, published materials, and/or graphics to Kenisha Smith ( Materials should be "copy and paste" ready. Submissions will be edited and published at the discretion of the NCSLMA News & Updates Editorial Team.

Submission Guidelines Document

© NC School Library Media Association | 151 NC Hwy 9 Ste B #188, Black Mountain, NC 28711 |

NCSLMA is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization (W-9)

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software