December 2021

Volume 2.14

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

Questions? Contact

In this edition:

NCSLMA Website


Cindy Sturdivant

NCSLMA President


We’ve been hearing news from Raleigh and across North Carolina districts about book challenges. In response to this, we shared Dr. April Dawkins’ article in NCLSMA’s November News & Notes, and we hosted her webinar, Book Challenges and You. As the Executive Board met to craft a position statement on Intellectual Freedom, we found the one from the Vermont School Library Association (VSLA) is so well worded that we wanted to share it with our membership. 

As Dr. Dawkins said in her article, we want to remember WHY we became school librarians. School librarians enjoy working with children, in fact these children are the main WHY for all educators, including school librarians. 

NCSLMA & School Librarians SUPPORT:

  • all students in their journey to become lifelong learners. 

  • collaborations that help students gain global perspectives. 

  • school libraries being a safe place where all children feel supported and feel they belong.

NCSLMA & School Librarians PROMOTE:

  • reading choices that will enhance learning.

  • developing collection management plans that represent a wide variety of interests, reading levels, and topics.

  • the library as a place that includes everyone and respects diversity.  

NCSLMA & School Librarians EMPOWER:

  • families to take ownership for their children’s reading and learning while allowing other families to do the same for their children. 

  • students to take ownership of their learning by curating resources for topics that are of interest to them. 

  • students to use technology and information ethically.

I want to close by wishing everyone a restful winter break. As our membership cycle runs through December 31, I will soon be moving into the Past President position and Jenny Umbarger will become President. When that happens, she will take over the President’s Corner and my newsletter posts will be less frequent. Thank you for the opportunity to be your President during this year!


Jennifer Abel

Conference Chair, Incoming President Elect

More information coming soon!


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.


Calling All Bloggers

NCSLMA has a small blog on our website. If you would like to contribute to it, please send submissions to We're looking for news items, stories about your library, fun events you have had, etc. Pictures can be included and are welcomed. There are no minimum or maximum length requirements. Share some of the great things going on in your library!

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.

NCSLMA DEI Survey—We Need Your Input!

NCSLMA DEI Survey—We Need Your Input!

Michelle Burton, Chair NCSLMA Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity Committee

Media Coordinator, Spring Valley Elementary, Durham, NC

The NCSLMA Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity Committee has created a survey to find out what is occurring in school library media centers across North Carolina with regards to diversity, equity, and inclusivity.  During our work, we found that the annual DLMI report from DPI does not give the necessary information as far as learning about the funding and diversity of our school library media centers. We know there are close to 2,000 school library media coordinators in our state, and we want to receive a large number of responses so we can have a good understanding of the state of our school media centers with regards to funding and inclusivity. We ask that you please complete the survey by December 20, 2021 so the committee can start analyzing the data in January. We also ask if you can share this survey with other media coordinators in your school district so we can reach the 2,000 media coordinators in our state. For everyone who completes the survey, their name will be entered in a drawing for a free one-year membership to NCSLMA.

Thank you in advance for completing the DEI survey and in supporting NCSLMA as we create a more equitable and inclusive school library media center spaces and professional organization.

Please click this link to complete the survey.

NCSLMA Membership Drive

We have entered into a season for gratitude and for NCSLMA membership renewal.  With your annual membership dues, you can be thankful for a professional organization that works to bring you relevant professional growth and advancement opportunities and support from a community of educators and librarians across the state.  Our organization could not exist without passionate, energetic members who champion library services and literacy.  Thank you for joining and renewing annually.

This year's membership drive runs from November 1-December 15.  All new and renewing memberships during this time are entered to win prizes from our new NCSLMA store, which includes water bottles and apparel, and one year of membership.  Raffle winners will be announced in next month's newsletter.

We have a new store!


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


Manteo Middle School Celebrates National STEM Day

By Carrie Houseknecht

Librarian at Manteo Middle School

Students at Manteo Middle School had the amazing opportunity to participate in National Stem Day. This school wide event was made possible by  a collaboration between the librarian, the Instructional Technology Facilitator, the AVID coordinator and the CDC coordinator. Mrs. Houseknecht presented to all of the individual teams at MMS about the benefits of participating in STEM day, such as collaboration, inquiry learning, and enhancing the students’ growth mindset. This presentation paid off with 100 percent of the teachers participating in STEM day in one facet or another. Teachers chose between a STEM designed interest grabber, a mini lesson or a full class period lesson that engaged the students in the design thinking process which is taught through CTE classes at Manteo Middle. Christine Fletcher said, “This was my first year participating in this and I thought it went GREAT! The students were engaged the entire class and asked terrific questions. Can not wait to do this again!”

Students in sixth grade had the opportunity to design 3 dimensional pyramids in social studies, design a container in math to reduce the impact of gravity on an egg dropped from a specific height, they constructed a barrier to stop a rolling pumpkin traveling down and incline plane in science, and worked on collaboration and communication skills in language arts to build the tallest tower.

 In seventh grade science students flew helicopters in a study of weight, lift and drag forces, math students competed to construct paper clip chains to hold the most weight, in ELA students built structures and competed to see whose could support the most weight, and in history students designed trails through a mountain pass using topographic maps.

Students in eighth grade science designed and studied elements that aided in the filtration of water, while others mined for ore in a  chocolate chip cookie.Math students built upon their prior knowledge of simple machines to design and create Rube Golberg machines, while Math I students created a scatter plot from data collected from their bungee jumping barbies.English teachers created a STEM lesson around their novel study of the outsiders, in which students create a drew a map to outline where important events in the story took place. Social studies students focused on inventions that were created in the renaissance era. Some even explored how mathematicians solved problems during the time period.

Exploratories also joined in on the learning experience as well. Students in physical education had to work together in teams using communication skills and engineering skills to put together a nine square in the fastest amount of time. Students in CTE imagined, designed and tested sailboats to see which one would travel the fastest in a container of water powered by a fan. In AVID students were challenged with planning with a partner the best way to make the longest chain with a single piece of paper. In band, students explored how temperature can affect the tuning of instruments. In art, students designed and created sun catchers.

 “I had a chance to really talk about how students should take the chances to improve when offered, because no STEM person or Scientist gets "it right" the first time,”stated Ms. Edwards. Students were heard saying I wish everyday could be STEM day. They loved being able to do hands-on activities all day. This was a great opportunity for the staff to come together to provide students with hands-on engaging lessons that incorporated the schools’ goals of incorporating the AVID WICOR (writing, inquiry, collaboration, organization and reading) strategies school wide.

2022 Leadership Academy Cohort

Congratulations to the members who have been selected to be the 2022 Leadership Academy Cohort., which will be lead by Kelly Carlson Friday!  

Lynne ChristensenWiley International Studies Magnet Elementary

Jennie GreenwayEast Rutherford Middle School

Erika Henderson, Mills Park Middle School

Ashley McVey, Mills River Elementary School

Gretchen Parker, Porters Neck Elementary School

Jeremy Radford, Eastern Wayne High School

Robyn Register, West Craven High School

Marisssa Sherman Deziel, Clyde Elementary School

Julie Stivers, Mount Vernon Middle School

Robin Williams, East Mecklenburg High School

LAUNC-CH Conference Proposals

The Library Association at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (LAUNC-CH) Conference Committee invites you to submit a proposal for the virtual LAUNC-CH Conference, scheduled for Monday, March 14, 2022. Registration fees for this year's conference have been waived.   

The 2022 conference theme is:   

Great Expectations: Building Unity and Strengthening Community with keynote speaker Sofia Leung.

The conference committee is calling for presentations, workshops, and posters that examine how we approach expectations of ourselves, our work, and our coworkers in a hybrid world. Tell us about your successes and failures so that we can learn from one another. 

We are particularly interested in 20 or 40-minute presentations and workshops that cover:     

·        Creating new expectations for ourselves, our work, and our coworkers  

·        Reinventing ourselves and how we do our work - being proactive instead of reactive 

·        Rethinking our definitions of productivity 

·        Unity: How do we maintain connections in a hybrid work life? How do we build community in and outside of work in this hybrid time? 

·        Work-life balance strategies 

·        Best practices for work from home while setting boundaries 

·        Advocating for workplace culture that supports mental health, belonging, and flexible ways of working  

We also invite posters that feature research or work related to the conference theme.   

Please submit your presentations, workshops, or poster proposals at:  

If you have any questions, or if you’re wondering whether your topic fits the conference theme, please contact Alison Barnett:     

Preference for presentations, workshops, and posters will be given to proposals that match the conference theme, although other topics will be considered. We welcome proposals from library employees at and beyond UNC-Chapel Hill. We strongly encourage submissions from public libraries, special libraries, and academic institutions outside of the Triangle.  

Please submit proposals by January 6, 2022.  

LAUNC-CH is committed to making this conference accessible for all attendees. Once we accept a proposal, we’ll ask that all presentation materials (slides, documents, images, etc.) meet WCAG accessibility standards. For best results, provide material in Word or PowerPoint, utilizing the accessibility checkers and correction tools those applications provide. For guidance please visit: A conference liaison will be on call to help you if you need assistance.  

We look forward to hearing from you. More details on the 2022 LAUNC-CH conference will be posted to the LAUNC-CH website in the coming weeks:

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


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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

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