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April 2012, Volume 4, Issue 4

Continuing Education Alert

Check Your Calendars!!

Month of the Military Child

School Library Month

National Library Week
April 8-14

Preservation Week
April 22-28

Money Smart Week
April 22-28

World Book Night
April 23

Dia de los Ninos, Dia de los Libros
April 30

Children's Book Week
May 7-13

Featured e-Resources of the Month
Support Common Core literacy with electronic resources, part 2

School Libraries


April is School Library Month: You belong @ your library®

The American Association of School Librarians has many resources available for you to use to highlight School Library Month. Take a look at

You will also want to take a look at the 2011 School Data Digest ( Use it to incorporate some facts about South Dakota as you prepare your celebration and invite the community into your school library.


School Library Policies: Are you prepared?

According to the American Library Association, every school district should have a policy explaining how materials for the library are selected, acquired and weeded. One reason a policy is important is to assure stakeholders that funds are being spent to provide students with the curricular and other resources they need and enjoy. Another reason is to explain how and why materials are chosen in the case of a challenge. A school library’s policies should fit with its district’s mission and goals and reflect the instructional program for the specific grade levels it serves.

When writing a policy, the following features should be included:

  • Who is responsible for selection and for what types of materials
  • Criteria for selection of materials (educational significance, reviews, currency, curricular relation, user appeal, etc.)
  • Procedures used to select materials (reviewing sources, types of materials, why chosen, how obtained, weeding, repair, replacement, etc.)
  • Special areas (gifts, special acquisitions and requests, expensive items, etc.)
  • Controversial materials (intellectual freedom statement)
  • Reconsideration (for challenged items) to include procedures, a written complaint form, review committee, findings report and follow-up letter)

Policies should be reviewed regularly in order to be current with changes in curriculum, interests of students and other school policies.

For more information, sample forms, and sample library policies, consult the following websites:


Here’s the scoop on School Library Chat #2

A small group of librarians from South Dakota schools and the State Library attended the second in a series of School Library Chats meant to provide a discussion forum for questions, issues and a variety of other topics on March 15.

Discussion touched on the school library survey, listservs, automation features, Boot Camp and many more topics including the following:

Several Rapid City librarians shared changes that will be happening in their elementary libraries next year and asked about sample library curriculums with all of the new standards.

Douglas School District is currently working on one for their libraries.

Anyone know of any other SD districts working on this? Here are a few resources:

Join us for the final School Library Chat for this school year on April 12. They will again run at 4:00 CT/3:00 MT and 5:00 CT/4:00 MT. We hope to visit with you then!


Putting the new School Library Standards into action: Part 4

If introducing online research to middle grade students seems overwhelming, take heart! One South Dakota librarian is finding that small steps, frequently repeated, are leading to good progress.

Peggy Saunders, library media specialist at South Middle School in Rapid City, uses a basic five-step procedure for research. It can be adapted to projects in a variety of courses, and it’s simple enough to introduce to fourth- or fifth-graders. “We use this procedure to research everything from endangered species and concentration camps to genealogy and rare diseases,” says Saunders. “By repeating the same basic steps for a variety of projects over their middle school years, I hope students will gain both confidence and skill in online research.”

The basic research tool is the South Dakota State Library Online Resource page. Students link to the complete a-to-z resource list directly from the library homepage, and they can grab a bright blue bookmark emblazoned with the school’s barcode and password if they need to work from home. Saunders notes “Our library space is limited; we don’t have a Promethean Board or enough computers, but you can’t let those things stop you from incorporating 21st Century library practices. The State Library Online Resources are a no-cost way to offer reliable information from thousands of sources on all kinds of topics.”

When a teacher first reserves the library for research, Saunders conducts a quick interview about the project and the teacher’s goals. Then she investigates probable topics to determine the two or three best databases for pertinent information at the students’ reading level. She writes out the five steps below on a whiteboard and keeps them posted so students can refer to them throughout the project.

5 Steps to Reliable Research

  1. Open a word document and title it “Research and Sources.” Save it to your file on the server.
  2. Go to the SDSL databases at
  3. Open the appropriate database and search for your topic.
  4. Select a likely article and read for useful information. Record information and quotations on your research document.
  5. Locate the bibliographic data. Copy and paste it into your research document at the top of your information so you’ll know which source it came from.

Saunders explains, “We have flexible scheduling, so the teacher is in the library with the class on research day. I begin by asking students what their assignment is so I understand what they think they’re trying to research. This gives the teacher a chance to clear up any misconceptions for both me and the students.” Saunders asks students how they could research their topic. Any mention of Google or Wikipedia triggers a conversation about why those resources might not be the most efficient way to find accurate information for school projects. With younger students, she includes a quick review of pertinent vocabulary: abstract, full text, editor, and citation may all be new terms to fledgling researchers.

Of the two or three suggested databases for the project, Saunders opens each one and searches a topic suggested by a student. She opens at least one article from each database, locates the bibliographic information, then demonstrates skimming for pertinent information and copying it into the Research and Sources document.

Saunders collaborates with teachers to tailor the process to meet their goals. For example, some teachers emphasize using exact quotations, while others want students to paraphrase as much as possible. Some may want a lesson on using Easy Bib or Citation Maker; others want students to use note cards or graphic organizers.

Because the research steps are so basic, the same procedure can be adapted for a variety of projects from videography to PowerPoints to traditional essays. In its simplest form, the process covers these library standards:

  • 1.8.1 Access the physical and virtual environment (Remember)
  • 1.8.4 Locate resources appropriate for purpose using library tools (Apply)
  • 2.8.7 Use electronic/digital tools and resources to locate and creatively share information (Apply, Create)
  • 3.8.3 Follow the local school Internet and acceptable use policy (Understand)
  • 3.8.7 Model ethical behavior, leadership, and personal responsibility when using information technology (Apply)

At South Middle School, most sixth graders do one research project; seventh graders may do as many as three. By eighth grade, students only need Saunders to suggest the best databases for their topic; they’ve got the process down pat. And that is the real goal: to send students to high school able to conduct accurate, reliable research on any topic.

Saunders refines and updates the process as new tools become available. “Next year,” she says, “I hope to teach students to use the online graphic organizers and timelines in the World Book Student edition. Now that we’ve got a reliable process for online research, I want to move the entire writing process online!”





AASL, ALA, policy, research, school libraries, standards

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