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Celebrating Castilleja and on library websites

Castilleja School Library won the 2010 Edublog award last week in the category of best librarian/library blog. I felt awful that I’d never before seen this exemplary blog, a blog that really is the library’s website.  (And by the way, don’t miss the also fabulous runners-up: Bright Ideas (yeah, Judith and the Victoria librarians!) and A Media Specialist’s Guide to the Internet (thanks for educating us all, Julie!), as well as the many excellent short-listed sites throughout the Edublog categories.   Make sure you also discover why Richard Byrne’s Free Technology for Teachers captured so many recognitions.

But back to the business of this post . . .

Castilleja’s website is alive with images and slide shows, student news and events, book reviews by staff and students, Did you know? posts relevant to teens (see Nerdfighters at Castilleja), bookmarks, feeds, highlights of student work.

The site, which underwent a virtual makeover back in August, invites all members of the learning community to contribute and participate.

Seeing Castilleja’s site reminded me that we have no real forum to celebrate effective practice in school library web design. IASL discontinued its Concord School Library Web Page of the Year way back in 2002. The fact that the recognition was for a web page is a sign of the evolution that has occurred in ten years.  AASL has no award that specifically addresses virtual practice.

It’s not about awards.  I’ve said it before.  We have no textbook for effective virtual practice. (A textbook could not capture the continual evolution or the variety.)  Yet, this work is as critical as the work we do connecting with learners face-to-face.  (In one-to-one school, in buildings where staffing is limited or nonexistent, virtual practice is even more essential.)

But, it’s not about awards. It’s about highlighting exemplars so that we all might learn.  The work that many of us are doing locally needs to be broadcast and shared. It’s about learning how others are pushing the virtual library envelope to share learning relating to information/media fluency and a developing a vision of evolving and meaningful modern library practice.

I hope that SLJ will help by recognizing the best of our virtual work for learners.  Perhaps AASL might consider recognizing some of this work.  Perhaps I will do a bit more highlighting in this blog.

For now, I urge you to contribute your own efforts to School Library Websites wiki, initiated by members of our Geek Tribe.  Also take a look at the ideas and examples at Chris Smith’s Shambles Net Library 2.0 and the comprehensive collection at

And, I just started a pathfinder of thumbnails highlighting just a few of the sites on the wiki. Much more to come!

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. This is AWEsome, Joyce! Thank you!
    I was totally engaged in the Castilleja School Library web site whilst eagerly mining the Edublog nominations for other inspiring library voices! It really is an amazing & vibrant snapshot of a school library that is committed to being the hub of the building as well as a digital “home” for best practice!

    Congratulations to everyone out there working every day in schools, libraries, & communities to better the lives of kids & to promote the love of reading & digital literacy!
    the daring librarian

  2. Thanks, Joyce for mentioning my blog/web site “A Media Specialist’s Guide to the Internet. I have been following you for several years on your blog, web site and wikis and have to say that you are an inspiration to me. I don’t know how you find time to do all you do (working full time) and getting your doctorate. Congratulations on winning first runner up for most influential blog post, “Things I think teacher librarians should unlearn”. (20 & counting) I’m still trying to unlearn a few on the list!

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