Best lil` district in Texas: award-winning school library program

Best lil' district in Texas: award-winning school library program shares its
secrets. (Independent School District) Kathy Ishizuka.
School Library Journal Jan 2006 v52 i1 p26(2) (570 words). Retrieved from San
Jose State University online database February 4, 2006. Expanded Academic ASAP
School Library Journal, Jan 2006 v52 i1 p26(2)
Best lil' district in Texas: award-winning school library program
shares its secrets. (Independent School District) Kathy Ishizuka.
Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2006 Reed Business Information, Inc. (US)
To most anyone, the words "fun" and "staff meeting" simply don't jibe. Not so Jana
Knezek, director of library and textbook services at Northside Independent School
District (NISD) in San Antonio, TX. In fact, she's especially proud of the regular
gatherings of the district's 76 librarians, who take over a high school auditorium each
month and conduct a bustling miniconference--a lively exchange of ideas on teaching
and learning. "There's so much excitement," gushes Knezek, whose sweet drawl could
conceivably win over the most skeptical administrator. "[The staff] loves it."
Dynamic meetings that engender enthusiasm--rather than yawns--are a big part of
NISD's success. Little wonder then that NISD, winner of the 2004 School Library Media
Program of the Year Award given by the American Association of School Librarians
(AASL), was chosen to present this year's pre-midwinter institute, sponsored by AASL.
The best practices seminar, to be held January 20 in San Antonio, will help kick off the
American Library Association's annual midwinter meeting there on January 20-25.
Knezek says she is thrilled at the opportunity to
share with colleagues from around the country.
Fifteen district media specialists will help her
conduct the workshop highlighting NISD's program,
including integrated library lessons, peer mentoring,
and teacher collaboration activities, infused
throughout with the creative use of technology.
One participating staffer, media specialist Millie Linares, will discuss multimedia
booktalks, an innovation that she launched at her media center at Rawlinson Middle
School, where she uses PowerPoint presentations to inspire young readers. "Her baby,"
as Linares calls the project, started several years ago with a book about a Chinese girl,
who refused to have her feet bound. "This was described very vividly in the book, she
says, "but I had never actually seen what it was." So Linares found pictures of women
with bound feet on the Internet and placed them in PowerPoint. The kids were
immediately fascinated and it snowballed from there, sparking many similar projects,
says Linares. "I include the book cover, a link to movie clips--the kids love that--and
other Web sites, anything that gets them to read the book." Now she has the kids
creating their own PowerPoint booktalks.
Linares, who recently received an NISD Innovator of the Year award, is not the first
librarian to be recognized in the district, which serves 78,000 students. One out of every
five Northside librarians has been named Teacher of the Year on his or her campus by
their peers, says Knezek.
Flexible scheduling definitely helps the librarians' cause,
Knezek says, as does good financial support--NISD's $7
million library budget is among the highest in the state. Every
elementary and middle school library has a certified librarian,
plus an assistant, with the high schools having two assistants.
Libraries also benefit from technology funding included in
bonds for new construction, thanks to Knezek's intervention
when she arrived at NISD in 1999. Most recently, Knezek's department garnered
additional support from the Northside Educational Foundation, a private community
group, for a science initiative, which netted district libraries much-needed wireless
systems and software.
Looking ahead, as NISD's student population is expected to grow to 95,000 by 2010,
Knezek says technology will remain a priority for district librarians. "If we want to provide
meaningful experiences for kids, then the seamless use of technology as a tool, a way
to obtain, analyze, and present information, is a given."
Can't make the institute?
Powerpoint presentations and related information are available at
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