Guest Post: Visibility Works!

So many school librarians around the country are doing excellent and exciting work in their libraries without anyone but the students they impact knowing about it. Visibility is one of the important parts of a deliberate promotion and marketing campaign that every school librarian needs.

Below is a guest post by a school librarian, Rebecca Ekstrom, who uses Animoto (links below) to show evidence of the difference a school librarian makes for students and to document what learning looks like in Algonquin Middle School, Averill Park, NY. Her school community knows why the school library and the school librarian matter!


Last year was the first year I had tenure as a school librarian at Algonquin Middle School in Averill Park, NY. This meant that my annual evaluation would be based on goals I chose for the library program and myself. It wasn’t easy to pick a single goal, but I finally focused on one: keeping building and district level administrators up to date on classes, events, and other things that were happening in the library even more than I had in the past. I wanted them to know what was going on beyond our library doors and to highlight student work. I wanted to use an approach that would make my reports interesting and maybe even a little entertaining. In the past, I saw Animoto videos that other school librarians had put together for their own library programs. I already had used Animoto to make videos for students during book talks and to make my own book trailers. I thought making an upbeat Animoto video for each quarter would be one creative way to achieve my goal.

Students immersed in the library's magazines.

Throughout the quarter, I took photos of students working in the library, had teachers photograph me as I taught and book talked, and photographed special library events, (contests, our fundraising dance, our book club, author visits, etc.). After I uploaded photos, added text, and chose music for my Animoto videos, I then had a two-minute “snapshot” of each quarter. It was easy to e-mail the video link to administrators for each quarter. When my principal and I met at the end of last year, we both agreed that I had achieved my goal and that I did it in an engaging way.

It was so successful that this year, I’ve decided to continue making Animoto videos each quarter, even though my formal goal has changed. I also have expanded my audience of these quarterly digital reports. I’ve shared my Animoto videos with our faculty and staff, as well as our Board of Education, via e-mail. Through weekly e-mail blasts that our school sends to all of our students’ parents, I’ve been able to share my Animoto videos with them as well.

I’ve received positive feedback from parents, teachers, administrators, and even students! The other day, my vice principal asked if these videos could be posted on our school and district websites. Now these videos will reach an even wider audience, (teachers and parents associated with other schools, community members, etc.). Not only are people finding out what’s going on in the library, they’re also seeing what a school librarian really does (as well as seeing what Animoto is). I believe it is important for school librarians to advocate for students and their library program. In these economic times, it’s especially important for others to see how students benefit from having a certified school librarian in a school.

Students hard at work during the "Myth of the Boring Topic" research project.

Mrs. Ekstrom conferences with a student during Literacy instruction.

Using Animoto as an advocacy tool helps others to see what students gain from our programs and that being a school librarian is a multi-faceted job. As we know, it’s not all about the Dewey Decimal system and checking out books.  Stakeholders need to know that school librarians are constantly trying to find new ways to engage students with technology, motivate them to read, and help them to become savvy users of information in our technology-rich age.


Watch the AMS Library Animoto Videos from 2011-2012:

Quarter 1:

Quarter 2:

Rebecca Ekstrom

Rebecca Ekstrom ( is the school librarian at Algonquin Middle School in Averill Park, NY. She finds her work instructing enthusiastic students and collaborating with knowledgeable, caring teachers very rewarding. Not only does Rebecca work with a fabulous library aide, she also has supportive administrators.  When she’s not busy in the library, Rebecca can be found spending time with her wonderful husband Bryan and their cat Fern, who is a career napper. She enjoys travel, art, photography, crafting, and gardening.

Fabulous 8th grade volunteer Library Helpers!


Literacy Teacher Mrs. Dowd with some of the students from the Pleasure Read Book Club.

Sara Kelly Johns About Sara Kelly Johns

Sara Kelly Johns ( is the school librarian at Lake Placid (NY) Middle/High School, and knows that she has the best job in the school. She is also an instructor for the Mansfield University School of Library and Information Technologies and speaks and writes about school librarian activism. Find her on Twitter as @skjohns or on Facebook.


  1. Mindy Grey says:

    I am inspired! I can do this!

  2. sue kowalski says:

    Yes love it. Huuuge impact and very doable! Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Rosemary Palmquist says:

    Averill Park’s Algonquin Middle School has, in Rebecca Ekstrom, an LMS with 21st century skills leading a 21st library program. I tried the free Animoto and then bought the educator’s license (my school couldn’t afford to buy it) which I used for student reports. I never thought of using Animoto for advocacy, Great idea! Maybe if I had, my LMS position wouldn’t have been eliminated when I retired last year!

    Rosemary Palmquist (retired LMS from Watervliet Elementary School, Watervliet, NY)

  4. Rebecca Ekstrom is a prime example of doing it right. I have the honor of being her colleague in the Averill Park CSD. Not only is she a tenacious advocate and teacher for her students, her program is built on a solid foundation of best practices and is 21st Century Curriculum-driven. Thank you for your exemplary work.


  1. […] Johns, Sara K. “Guest Post: Visibility Works!” Make Some Noise! School Library Journal, 9 Mar. 2012. Web. 01 June 2012. <;. […]