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School Library Story: When libraries thrive and when they crumble

School Library Story from joyce valenza on Vimeo.

I’ve been wanting to tell this story for a long time.

My very talented student friend, Walter Lynch, offered to help me tell it.

A day doesn’t go by when I am not inspired to action by the inventive ideas I discover from my generous teacher librarian colleagues who share so transparently.  Through their  posts, Hangouts, tweets, pins, it’s as if the doors to their libraries are blown open.

We watch as they genrefy, gamify, share literature, host authors, connect classrooms, inquire, engage, enchant, create and learn with their children. (Take a look at the Edublogs  Best library/ librarian blog and so many of the other Edublog categories for examples of activities and contributions.)

We see what good looks like.  We learn from their reflections when things don’t go as planned.

I am thrilled that a new generation of TLs is dynamically remixing school library for new generations of children, that this skilled cadre of colleagues is preparing learners to inquire, create and participate in ways I could not have even imagined when I entered this field.

And . . .

I am terrified by the continued slashing of libraries from school programs.  When I last asked, 15 were left standing in the School District of Philadelphia.

The children who leave our library programs meet and compete with children with NO library experience when they enter the university and the workplace.

Some kids will have mad information literacy skills and some will have no preparation at all.

We face a serious divide that grows more and more obvious–to some of us.

As we move forward, as trees quietly fall in the education forest, some classroom teachers will never have had the opportunity to collaborate with a librarian. Some children will never have experienced information literacy instruction. Some administrators may not remember why we used to have libraries in our buildings.

And so, I wanted to tell this noisy version of the tree story, the story that lists exactly what children lose when they have no exposure to a strong library program with a professional librarian.

Our script

Here are Walter’s notes for those interested in the technical background of our story making

The process started with taking the audio script and editing it down to the good takes. I then brought the audio into Adobe After Effects and chunked the script into section. I designed the layout for each section of text,  animating so the words would appear on cue, with the common goal of ending the entire layout in the shape of an i.  For the final section, I created 3D objects for the animate i and the library logo. Then, I rendered it. A script helped me with the 804 final layer count.

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, you’ve added a terrific piece to our toolbox for library advocacy, one we will share broadly. You are courageous to name the problem while spelling out the positive contributions, essential roles, that teacher librarians play in the lives of students and our society. A resounding two thumbs up and bright note to spread far and wide.

    • Joyce,
      Awesome informational piece that will impact anyone who sees it. Thank you for creating this and for supporting the profession of school librarians.

  2. A I Mychalus says


    Wonderful, simple and erudite explanation of what school libraries do, what they should do, and the modern role of a school library in the learning community. Viewing it I was struck by how much I do, and those places where my own school system still lacks the vision and resources to truly implement all the things we do for the children we teach. Thank you for sharing this. I will be forwarding it to my own staff to add to their mental toolbox about why we do what we do.


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