Thursday, October 13, 2005

Blog Interaction with Deborah Levitov – Thurs. Oct. 13 to Sat. Oct. 15, 2005

Deborah Levitov has worked at elementary and secondary school libraries and public libraries. She spent several years as the Coordinator for Library Media Services at Lincoln Public Schools (NB). This past summer, she switched to being the Managing Editor of School Library Activities Monthly and Crinkles magazines.

Learn more about Deborah Levitov at

You may want to discuss writing practical articles for the profession or her ideas and experiences with staff development planning and activities. But with her wide background of experiences and expertise, I’m sure Deb would be willing to talk about anything related to school library media programs.


  1. Anonymous6:46 AM

    Hi Deborah!

    In your bio I noticed that you were a District Media Coordinator for a number of years. I taught (and very well may be a media specialist) in a NC school district where the district administrators believed building up classroom libraries took precedence over building the collection in the media center (and funding reflected this stance). Do you have any advice on how to advocate for a change in this thinking and practice?

    Thanks in advance for your time!
    Elizabeth S.

  2. Anonymous9:26 PM

    Elizabeth from Deb Levitov

    This is a problem in many districts and one we avoided in by building a close relationship with our district reading consultant. We took the approach that shared resources have many uses and central collections save a great deal of money. We then worked with teachers to order what they needed and to make sure they were available when needed. We ordered multiple copies of titles and made use of our centralized union catalog so that books could be borrowed from other schools to meet demands. Another argument for supporting library collections is the power of automation and knowing where materials are...this is not possible when they are stored in individual classrooms with no record of who has them, when. Extra, district funds were allocated to purchase books to support reading and to be placed in library media centers. The main suggestions I would make:
    * use dollar figures to estimate what it costs to fund classroom collections vs LMC shared resources
    * emphasize the power of cataloging resources and being able to keep track of them--reducing loss and facilitating use/access
    * involve teachers in the ordering process so that they know they will have the titles/ resources they need
    * be sure the library media specialists know the curriculum and are "in it" with the classroom teachers
    * emphasize the ability to borrow materials from other buildings
    * show the multiple uses of one title across the curriculum when resources can be accessed by all teachers and all curricular areas

  3. Anonymous6:21 PM


    My district is currently in a huge debate over the Accelerated Reader program as a valid literacy assessment. As of now, the AR program is being used in elementary and middle schools to varying degrees--some schools are using AR to determine the majority of the language arts grade. I was previously at the high school level and knew very little about AR before becoming the middle school media specialist. So far, I have seen a few positives and negatives. Many students that would not read on their own are at least trying various books in order to get AR points and discovering that reading is actually enjoyable. On the other hand, I see students that are avid readers restricted in their selections because some teachers are too rigid with reading level requirements.

    What is your experience with such reading assessment programs and do you feel they are effective?


    Kelly VonGunten

  4. Anonymous7:10 PM

    What resources would you suggest for evidence-based media programs?

  5. Hello Deborah,

    I love your career path. I was a science teacher turned school media specialist. I eventually want to be a District Media Coordinator and then possible go into the public libraries after retirement.

    My question for you is what advise do you have for school media specialists who strive to move into adminstrative positions? Do you think there are steps that should be taken to prove advanced supervisory skills?

    Also, working for journals, could you give us advise for when we should think about publishing? I don't consider myself an expert in anything, but I am interested in a task such as this (maybe after I graduate and have time again :) ).

    Elizabeth Kenyon

  6. Anonymous8:53 AM

    AR post response from Deborah:

    Our district did not support AR or other packaged reading programs. We had a few schools that independently established them in their buildings. One strategy I used was to share, with our reading specialists at the district level, the information that was posted on the AASL listserv relevant to AR and articles and research that I found that were related. There was one research study that showed that schools using AR actually had a steady decline in the amount of nonfiction checked out from their libraries. This fact did not support the district emphasis in use of nonfiction text with students.
    It is important to have solutions in place for promoting and encouraging reading, along with any research or literature that establishes reasons that AR types of programs are not always the best alternative. Have an alternative plan and solid reasons before approaching your administration with arguments against AR, etc.

  7. Anonymous9:17 AM

    Evidence-based LMP: response from Deborah:

    There are many materials available for evidence-based media programs. Start with We boost achievement! : evidence-based practice for school library media specialists / David V. Loertscher with Ross J. Todd. Also, look for journal articles...there is a lot out there. It is an important area to embrace and learn about. Also, check out the new book by Vi Harada and Joan Yoshina: Assessing learning : librarians and teachers as partners.

  8. Anonymous9:26 AM

    Response to Elizabeth...aspiring to admin. positons from Deborah:

    I was very lucky to have my library media masters program within educational I ended up with a Masters in Ed. Admin & Library Media. It gave me a good base for administrative knowledge. Leadership skills are most important, professional involvement at all levels and attending workshops and sessions add to your knowledge base. Knowing the literature related to education in general and library media programs specifically is important to stay informed and current. Getting as much leadership experience as possible and exposing yourself to different opportunities and experiences is very valuable. Serving on committees in your district is added exposure. You have to really dig in and know your philosophy, the vision you have for library media programs. Have an understanding of advocacy that links library media to all else in education and get to know the language of other educators, not just library media. Build relationships. A speaker at the Treasure Mt. Research Forum recently started a presentation asking "Where to you get your authority?". This is an important question to think about and answer...relationships are a large part of our authority as well as our vision for library media programs.

  9. Anonymous9:33 AM

    To Elizabeth in repsonse to the question about publishing from Deborah:

    Publishing is important any time. Writing an article makes you really think about issues and your perspective. It is a way to work through and develop your own thinking and ideas while sharing them with others. It can be an article for the school newsletter, your state professional association, or a national journal. There are a variety of publications that accept unsolicited articles. Even if you don't always get published, it helps you articulate your thoughts--much can come out of that alone. And, if you do get published, it is very affirming and a great thing to be able to share with an administrator or put on a resume. Also, if you go for an advanced degree, publishing will be an expectation, so the experience will be valuable.

  10. Anonymous10:20 AM

    I was interested in your comments about AR. We use "Reading Count" in my middle school and the teachers and students are nuts for it. The teachers have not been overly strict about the reading levels being followed to the letter, and also allow students to write a summary instead in case they want to read a book with no test. The students also write tests which can cause other problems. But I do note that there is a very heavy emphasis on fiction. I started here this year and 80% of my collection is fiction. Also the non-fiction is mostly high interest stuff with RC quizes. No research projects are done in the library because the non-fiction does not support the curriculum.Do you have any advice on how to transition the program to something that includes reading and using books without a RC quiz?
    Sue Robinson

  11. Anonymous11:42 AM

    To Sue, in response to reading and using books without a RC quiz from Deborah:

    I would say that the first step would be to begin with an analysis of your collection. If you perceive your nonfiction to be weak, that creates a huge gap when trying to making connections to the curriculum. You could start with certain sections of your collection, to make the analysis more manageable. Then begin to make a plan to build a collection that supports curricular content. That is how you will get students to use nonfiction. Involve teachers in the decisions. If you know someone will be doing a certain unit and perhaps revisiting it each year (in some form or another) start targeting those resources in your collection--improving and updating. Let teachers know when you get new acquisitions that match their needs. You could begin with biographies, since they can link to many areas of the studies, math, science, language arts/English.

    To promote reading without the need for a follow-up test...have students write reviews that require insight into the content of the book, and creative feedback about the story...not just a book report. Do book talks and track the circulation of the books that have been promoted. Invite publich librarians to do booktalks about new titles (an outside voice is sometimes very powerful). Have students provide recommendations for books for other students. Link literature to assignments. Involve students and teachers in reading books from your state award lists. (It is hard for me to imagine needing a test since that was never a "hook" in the buildings where I worked or for our district--so, I am just throwing out ideas.) Promote author studies and have visiting authors whenever possible...make literature something that is so much a part of the curriculum that students have constant exposure and opportunities to read new titles. Perhaps AR has a place for some students but they need to be nudged beyond the scripted approach to really think about what they are reading, in the bigger sense.