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My first Summit report

What I loved about the past three days at the SLJ Summit in Arlington, was the blend.  The discussion was reading, and we discussed reading in all its glorious traditional and emerging formats.

Forward-thinking practicing librarians interacted with other reading passionate stakeholders–an array of authors, illustrators, researchers, publishers, distributors, developers, content aggregators, school administrators, and more.

Looking back, here are just a few examples of what will stick beyond this week.  (Please think of this as an overview.  I’ll be returning to Summit ideas often in future posts.)

1. Brian Selznick’s beautiful opening speech described the creative process. Brian treated us to a fascinating behind-the-scenes peek at the making of Hugo, directed by Martin Scorsese.

And he fully illustrated the inspiration, the arduous research, and intriguing backstory behind the birthing his new title, Wonderstruck.  We all received autographed copies and I can’t wait to dig in.  When I picked up that beautifully chunky title, Brian words replayed in my mind:

I am a bookmaker and I like to make books. I like my books to be held. I like the bookness of the book. The very object in your hand is part of the plot you are reading.

Brian reminded us that a book is a technology and pointed us to one of his inspirations, Remy Charlip’s essayA Page is a Door.

2. In an artist improv style, three graphic novelists–George O’Connor, Jarrett Krosoczka, and Eric Wight engaged us in ComicsJam, collaboratively creating a graphic story about a panda librarian in a desert. I learned one seriously helpful insider tip:  draw the bubble after you create the text.  Seriously, you had to be there.

But wait, here’s a fuzzy clip of the fun.

3. Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, discussed three revolutions:

  • Internet and Broadband,
  • Wireless Connectivity,
  • Social Networking,

as well as a number of shifts in the reading landscape–reading is real-time, reading is raw material, reading is a social-contact sport. He believes new literacies are being elevated.  And Rainie gave me a way to describe the syndrome many of us feel when we disconnect: FOMO, or fear of missing out.

4. Delightfully clever author James Kennedy (Order of Odd Fish) shared his 90-Second Newbery project and his own contribution to the cause.

(“A Wrinkle In Time” In 90 Seconds from James Kennedy on Vimeo.)  Catch this year’s  full Festival live at the New York Public Library on November 5th, and in Chicago at the Harold Washington Library on November 16th.   Consider creating your own 90-second masterpiece next time around!

5.  The What’s Appening session demonstrated what is now possible in a newly stretched notion of the book.  I fell in love in new ways with Random House’s interactive version of Pat the Bunny, and Penguin’s media-enriched version of Kerouac’s On the Road.

6. Hardworking trailer curator, Teresa Schauer announced the 24 finalists in our Trailee (book trailer) Awards with an Animoto preview.  (I am afraid I am not allowed to influence you with the two that really blew me away.)

7+. On Thursday afternoon and on Friday morning we  heard many of our own colleagues who are reporting on the ebook and reading situations on the ground from a variety of perspectives.  I hope we will be able to gather their slides because I cannot do their talks justice by merely listing them.  But because I am running out of steam, here’s a list:

Transliteracy & the Young Child

  • Moderator Buffy Hamilton, School Librarian, Creekview High School, GA
    Panelists Laura Fleming, School Library Media Specialist, Cherry Hill School, NJ
    Andy Plemmons, Media Specialist, David C. Barrow Elementary, GA
  • What is an EBook? The Current & Future State of Digital Reading
    Rachel Chou, Chief Marketing Officer, Open Road Media
  • Networked Librarians Take Reading Promotion to the Next Level
    Shannon Miller, District Teacher Librarian and Technology Integrationist, Van Meter Community School, IA John Schumacher, School Librarian, Brook Forest Elementary School, IL
  • EBooks—Building Level Wendy Stephens, Librarian, Buckhorn High School, AL, and SLJ Reviewer
  • EBooks—County Level Connie Dopierala, Media Services Coordinator, Charleston County School District, SC (Connie is a force and a masterful storyteller and I would love her to be my Media Services Coordinator.)
  • Ebook Models on a District Level: Richard Hasenyager, Director for Library Services, North East ISD, TX
  • Ebooks Regional & State Models: Kristin Steingreaber, Media Specialist, Great Prairie Area Education Agency, IA (Who among many other things, described her use of QR codes to lead learners from dated print content to more recent ebook content.)
  • Ebooks—Regional Models: Christopher Harris, Director, Genesee Valley School Library System, NY (Who in a passionate plea for equity and more powerful purchasing punch, urged us, Don’t buy ebooks!)

More to come in separate posts as I pull my notes together.

Thanks to Brian Kenney and the whole SLJ team, as well as our wonderful sponsors for an event that will resonate with me for a very long time.

Check out some of our Flickr pics.

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. Joyce! Thanks for the shout-out! It was delightful to meet you (and dance with you!) at the Summit!

  2. Like Joyce, my head is still spinning from the three days at the SLJ Summit in Arlington (and thanks again Joyce for defending and explaining my curator comment). I came away from the Summit, more determined than ever to initiate a national conversation around the following four key points:

    • We, and by that I mean the entire library community: school; pubic; and academic, should not purchase print or digital copies of any title now in the public domain . We, collectively, can create enriched and enhanced ebooks with the resources we have already gathered to guide our students and staffs. The ebooks we create from works in the public domain should be: platform independent, non-proprietorial, have the capacity to be further enriched with content from districts’ subscriptions, and available 24/7 for simultaneous downloads from a single site. It takes less time to create an ebook of Beowulf, O’ Pioneers, Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth – just a few of the titles studied in almost every school district across the nation – than it does to create a LiveBinder, wiki page, Glog, PowerPoint presentation, etc., . The difference is ROI (return on investment). If I am creating supplemental guides to the book, the district still has to buy the book; if I am creating the book by downloading the text from Project Gutenberg (or from any of the many other sites making works in the public domain available digitally) and supplementing the book, then, the district saves the considerable monies associated with annual replacement costs and even more if they are adopting a new text that is in the public domain. Just as important as saving money (yes, I am a taxpayer too), the district sees the correlation between librarians, budget savings, and its ability to be postured for the digital transformation of education and the event of the Common Core Standards.

    •The digital content and databases we subscribe to can not be on the chopping block as districts struggle to survive in this time of severe budget cuts because the content contained within these resources is the answer to Common Core State Standards’ call for students to read texts of increasing complexity and more expository texts, including literary nonfiction. See SlideShare, “What Digital Resources are available to support STEM and the Common Core,” for some initial thoughts about how the databases our district subscribes to will allow us to prepare students for STEM careers and the challenges of the Common Core.

    •Librarians are critical not only because they teach information literacy, digital citizenship, the love of reading, and research, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, but also because their ability to find, evaluate, and make accessible information in all formats is essential to successful implementation of the Common Core Standards and the transition to digital etexts and ebooks. As the Project Tomorrow 2010 Speak-up Report makes clear,
    The role of the school librarian is increasingly focused around the use of digital content in the classroom. Librarians or media specialists in many schools have the responsibility for identifying, evaluating and recommending digital resources to teachers. On one level, the school librarian is the “go-to” person to identify websites for classroom use (78 percent), create collections of resources for curriculum support (56 percent) and to find specific digital content, podcasts and videos to support classroom lessons (47 percent). However, librarians are also enabling and empowering teachers’ skills with digital content – answering questions about technology tools (85 percent), participating with teachers in professional learning communities (66 percent) and training teachers how to locate and evaluate digital content (33 percent). With the increased variety and depth of the digital resources available for classroom use, the librarian is emerging as a critical player in enabling the use of these tools in the classroom ….
    The New 3 E’s of Education: Enabled, Engaged, Empowered, 2011

    •Finally, we must become more than familiar with the vocabulary and implications of the Common Core Standards. The adoption of the Common Core provides a unique and time-critical opportunity to demonstrate to governors, state departments of education, district administrators, and school boards the value of school librarians. As you probably already know, the “common core state standards will enable participating states to work together to …. Encourage the development of textbooks, digital media, and other teaching materials aligned to the standards.” (Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2011) Instead of each state starting ex nihilo, every school librarian I have the pleasure of working with in Baltimore County Public Schools could provide lists of evaluated, rich, engaging, interactive digital and print resources of varying levels of text complexity to meet the needs of diverse learners. After the free, readily-available resources were aligned to the Common Core Standards, then, a gap analysis could be completed and many of the same school librarians could combine their expertise with that of a content area expert to create resources to fill the gaps. How can we make this happen? Let’s talk about it through the Ning for the 15th National Conference and Exhibition of the American Association of School Librarians..

  3. What is needed to raise the school are not empty ads, but a broad cross-party consensus for the construction of more rigorous education.

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