Thursday, October 20, 2005

Blog Interaction with Vickie Thomas – Thurs. Oct. 20 to Sat. Oct. 22, 2005

Vickie Thomas is the library media specialist at Anderson High School. Her high school recently underwent extensive renovations that included the library media center.

Learn more about Vickie Thomas at

You might begin discussions with Vickie on information skills, collaborative programs with public library, and facilities planning. But feel free to expand the interaction to any ideas and issues related to her work and career.


  1. Hi Vickie, I noticed on your bio that it said you began book groups for faculty. How do you think this impacted the library program. My first thought was that this would be a great way to interact and gain the trust of faculty and hopefully lead to more collaboration. Did you find this to be true? Nicole

  2. Anonymous6:41 AM

    Good morning, everyone!
    I'm Vickie Thomas ( and I'm looking forwarding to reading and answering your comments and questions. I have been busy setting up a new facility at Anderson High School this fall. Shelving and furniture were just delivered and assembled last Wednesday. So guess what I'm doing this week? Exciting times for not only me, but also the students and school community.

  3. Anonymous7:48 AM

    Hi, Nicole, I agree that reading groups are a great way to connect with teachers for future collaborations. Any time you are providing programming for teachers, you are giving them the opportunity to get to know you and "see you in action." Make sure you have reading group shirts or sweatshirts to wear on meeting days; create READ posters for their rooms to show them reading; encourage them to display the book they are reading on their desks next to a sign that says: "ask them about what I'm reading." You will find teachers talking about you and their book discussion titles in the teacher's lounge.
    Many faculty members will share your love of reading, but may not know the joy of sharing their reflections/responses to the reading with their colleagues. It is important for you to include faculty as you build your community of readers. They are the front line to your students. They are modeling behavior you want for all of your students.
    One of the ways you gain the trust of your faculty is to follow through with what you commit to do - go the extra mile to make something work. Start small with your collaborations and be sure to evaluate what worked, what did not, what needs to improve for next time, etc. Success builds more opportunities for collaboration.
    So, yes, book groups are great advertisement for your potential as a collaborator.

  4. Anonymous7:48 AM

    How was the renovation process for your new space??? How much of the planning process were you involved in??? What were your main priorities when planning the space?? Anything that you are not happy with???

  5. Vickie,

    How much do you collaborate with the public library? What kinds of programs does your public library offer? Have you been able to create your own programs which the public library will join in on?

    My middle school is situated within walking distance from the public would be great to take advantage of this valuable resource.



  6. Anonymous3:00 PM

    The library is part of a larger school remodeling project. It is in the new construction area of the building, so planning did not involve the remodeling of an existing library, but the design and construction of a new facility.
    My involvement in the process consisted of looking over plans presented by an architect at two different meetings and recommending (strongly!)adjustments/modifications(as allowed). Ideally, the librarian should be part of the dialogue/decision-making from the beginning.
    My priority in planning was to make sure student work/research/reading space was flexible to change with our programming and curricular needs. Another issue concerned supervision. The layout of the old library did not make it easy to see what was going on in small rooms and around corners. Since I had almost no workroom, office and storage areas in the previous library, I wanted an efficiently designed area where librarians and teachers could work or collaborate and sufficient storage for library materials, equipment, and supplies.
    While I was disappointed in the degree of my involvement in the planning, the overall size of the new library, and the types of storage areas, I am grateful for and excited about the beautiful, inviting, functional new library - a huge improvement over the previous one.

  7. Anonymous6:16 AM

    Regretfully, I do not collaborate as much now with Anderson Public Library (APL) as I did when I was in the middle school.
    The Teen Librarian met monthly with our reading motivation team to help plan programs at APL and at the middle school.
    APL staff participated in our school READ 'n' FEEDs (reading motivation program in which all participants read the same book, gather to discuss the book through an unique, fun activiy while enjoying food) In turn the public library sponsored (and still does)an annual READ 'n' FEED for all interested Anderson middle school students.
    Since professional reference books for Young Adult programming and book selection are so expensive for each school library to purchase, APL developed a centralized reference collection of resources available for all school librarians and teachers to use.
    APL employs many talented and interesting people. We quite often invited them to school as guest speakers, asked to display their collections, or used their expertise. Ex.: Booktalking; the children's librarian was an accomplished storyteller, who helped me start a storytelling club.
    The public library also shared the cost of bringing authors to Anderson and provided assistance in writing grants.
    Check the APL website ( for a listing of current teen programming. The library also is sponsoring Mystery @ the Library that many teachers enjoy.
    I continue to promote resource sharing and APL programming - just not at the same level as before.
    September/October/April are always good times to connect with your public library: sign students up to get library cards, Banned Books Week, Teen Read Week, and National Library Week.
    If you have a public library within walking distance of your school (or even if it is a distance away), you have the potential to do great things for your students and teachers.

  8. Anonymous1:08 PM

    In your bio it mentions one of your interests is "Librarian as Consultant". This is an interesting idea to me. Consultant to teachers? students? administrators? Could you elaborate for me what the consultant role is?

  9. Anonymous10:00 AM

    The role of consultant allows me to partner with teachers, students, parents, and adminstrators and assist them in finding relevant information - developing a plan of action for whatever information need they may have. This role provides for a mindset (or in the case of my corporation, an attitude change!) that the librarian is an information specialist and that the library is a teaching and learning center.
    Examples: working with a student to revise their search strategy for a research paper; helping a teacher find information for a grant he is writing; talking with a parent about where and how to find information to help her child with homework or college admission and scholarship issues; meeting with administrators as they draft an instructional technology plan for a school renovation project.

  10. Hi Vickie,

    I love the fact that your local public library maintains a professional collection. I’ve found that some of the resources that I’ve needed during my current field experience in a high school media center aren’t locally available so I’ve had to get them through ILL. It would be nice to have them available at the local public library.

    I have a ton of questions for you. Before coming to library school, I had never given much thought to the design of space for a media center. I went to a very old high school so I just assumed that you were stuck with what you “inherited”. I’m sorry to hear that you were disappointed about the amount of involvement you had in your current planning.

    Will your new space have one or two floors? My “adopted” media center for the semester has a second floor that is about a third of the size of the main floor so it’s really more of a balcony. Currently, that’s where the reference collection and the instructional area are located. My mentor media specialist is trying to move the instructional area to the main floor but needless to say, that will require a great deal of weeding on the main floor to make room. Her feeling is that it’s difficult enough to get students to use books when they are always parked in front of the computer. The lack of proximity of the main collection to the instructional area is an additional barrier. How will your instructional area relate to the rest of the media center space?

    The size of your school is similar to mine. We have 2,000 students but we’re suburban. I was curious about the make-up of your staff. Are you the sole professional librarian? My school has one professional and three assistants. The school actually used to be bigger and had two professionals but when a new high school was built and one professional librarian went with it, the current director decided to substitute two assistants for a professional. I was wondering what your thoughts were on staffing for a large school such as yours.

    Finally, I was wondering if you keep a large supply of back issues of magazines or if you rely more on databases. When I first toured my adopted media center and saw the back magazine room (we subscribe to 60 publications and maintain back issues), I was told that not many media centers work that way anymore. It looked just like what I was used to from high school but obviously times have changed. The freshman English classes still get the orientation that includes the use of the old Reader’s Guide for locating print articles in addition to a variety of databases for online articles. I'm curious to find out how other high schools handle periodical resources.

    Thank you!

  11. Anonymous6:37 PM

    Hi Vickie!

    I have recently made the transition from high school teacher to middle school media specialist. As someone with experience at both levels, what would you say are the greatest differences in high school vs. middle school media usage? What did you find were significant challenges or benefits of working at the middle school level?

    Kelly VonGunten

  12. Wow! Thirty-four years in middle and high school library media. What’s your secret? I am most impressed with you involvement in professional development opportunities for your faculty. Staff development is a major responsibility of mine according to our School Improvement Plan. How do you decide what workshops to conduct? Can you describe the level of administrative support you have in your role? Also, I think it is fantastic that you were chosen as teacher of the year! In my school, media specialists are not eligible for this honor.

  13. Anonymous11:36 AM

    Hi Vickie,
    I love the READ 'N' Feed Program from your book, "Fiction, Food & Fun" and was wondering if you and your co-authors have a new edition in mind with new novels. The program has been very successful in my middle school and at the junior high I used to work at. Any chances for a sequel? Thanks,