Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Blog Interaction with Robyn Young - Thurs. Oct. 26 to Sat. Oct. 28, 2006

Robyn Young, director of school media at Avon High School, blogged with last year's class November 14-16, 2005.

Learn more about her at Robyn's research project on graphic novels was funded by the American Library Association ( Robyn also would be an excellent person to e-talk about library media center newsletters, annual reports, and program assessment.

Feel free to expand discussion about any topic for school library media.


  1. Good morning!

    My name is Robyn Young and I am a media specialist at a large suburban high school. We have approximately 2400 students, 110 teachers, and 50 additional staff members. We employ 1 media specialist and 2 assistants. We are continuing to expand and I just heard at a department chair meeting this morning that there are plans to add a senior academy (vs. a freshmen center) within two years.

    Some of my LMS experience includes: research on the use of Graphic Novels with special education students, chairing the Blue Ribbon Committee and selection committee for AIME, and focusing on the importance of the LMS as a teacher rather than a manager of the media center.

    I look forward to hearing from you and answering any questions that you might have.

  2. Anonymous9:15 AM

    I am a librarian at a middle school with approximately 500 students. My patrons love graphic novels, but I'm not secure in my ability to purchase appropriate titles. Is there a resource that reviews mainly graphic novels for my population? Thank you.
    -Kim Hardin

  3. Emily Schubel9:26 AM

    Does your high school have a media retrieval system? If so, what do you use?

    I am currently working on a project for another class and it involves making suggestions about a media retrieval system to a high school similar in size to your own.

    Any insight that you can give would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you!
    Emily Schubel

  4. Kim -

    Finding good (and age appropriate!) reviews for graphic novels is something with which I also have struggled. The good news is that as graphic novels become more and more, the reviews become much better.

    I don't know of any print resources that only review graphic novels; however, I am very comfortable using those that are in Library Media Connection and Teacher Librarian. The reviews for School Library Journal often have reviews for books that are more mature than I like to put in the collection, so I usually go a grade level down (i.e. instead of purchasing the high school graphic novels, I go with the middle school). You might choose to purchase elementary.

    Another great source for determining appropriateness of graphic novels is your students. I have a student advisory group that tells me what I "need" to purchase and they make certain that it is appropriate for the grade level. They have been my best resource!

  5. Emily -

    We have a very old media retrieval system that is not utilized very much. It is still tape based and isn't very reliable.

    We have looked at a digital format, but there were so many concerns regarding copyright issues that it seems to have been put on the back burner. Be cautious of what the sales reps tell you - we were told that everything that was in VHS format could be digitized and this just isn't true.

    Our system is based in a different building and is utilized by several schools. I wouldn't recommend this type of system. We have too many problems if something goes wrong - there is no easy way to fix it except to call to the Tech Center to see if they can help. For your project, make certain that it is building-based. This also speeds up the delivery system.

    With the advent of digital content on the internet, we also haven't felt the need to progress with an additional system. We use United Streaming throughout our corporation and have multimedia computers in every classroom. The content from our computers is then displayed on the TV or projector in the classroom.

    We have had such a hard time with our media retrieval system (as I have heard so many others say also) that we just haven't pursued anything else. I'm curious as to what kinds of material you are finding. Are there any more specific questions that I might answer?

  6. Hi Robyn,

    I think that if students are interested in reading something we should provide it. I am interested in the rapid interest of graphic novels among students, and was wondering if you found a certain population at the high school to be more drawn to this type of reading material? I'm wondering about gender, ESL, non or reluctant readers, academically challenged, etc. What has been your experience?

  7. Heidi8:31 AM


    I read about the study you did on graphic novels in your school. I am wondering what the response is to graphic novels from teachers at your school, and your opinion of them. There are so many different opinions of graphic novels out there!


  8. Robyn,

    I am big believer in using graphic novels for reluctant readers. I am currently teaching fourth grade and would like to allow my reluctant readers to read graphic novels during "free choice" reading time. How would I justify using graphic novels as reading material to other teachers, the principal, and parents?

    Cathie Kappes

  9. Hi Robyn,

    I'm very interested in program assessment. What methods do you use to evaluate your media program? How do you find time to assess your program? Do you ever feel like taking time to assess the program takes away valuable time that could be better spent improving the program?

    Jennifer Clifford

  10. Hi Robyn,

    With such a large school and only one media specialist, how do you find the time to teach and collaborate? What responsiblities do your assistants manage?

  11. Hi Robyn,

    I am interested in the student advisory group you mentioned. That sounds like a wonderful resource. I just wondered if you could share more information about this group. How are they chosen, or do they volunteer? When do they meet, and how often? What are their responsibilities? Do you have any advice for starting an advisory group such as this?

    Heather Bontrager

  12. First, I would like to apologize for my lack of blogging on Friday and Saturday. Some of you had asked how I managed so many students, teachers, and the facility, and last week was a tough one. I don't think I was able to manage everything very well. That is one of the hardest parts of my job - deciding what the priority should be and focusing on that. I try to make my focus student achievement, and I attempt to take on ideas or projects only as they relate to student achievement. However, on Friday, I spent three hours in a meeting with other media specialists (always helpful to meet with others - but I was away from my students) and then another three hours dealing with student ID cards (definitely nothing to do with student achievement there!). I write this information not to complain, but to let you know that even if you have a focus to help you manage your doesn't always work out!

    I will send out additional writings to address your individual questions.

  13. Graphic novels -- I don't find one specific group that enjoys reading GNs more than another. I've got really strong readers and very reluctant ones that all seem to enjoy them. My study focused on special education students because I was trying to determine a group that was in danger of failing ISTEP and trying to see what I could do to raise their test scores. For some of these students, reading graphic novels (when they had been non-readers) enabled them to pass ISTEP (GQE) on the first try. I feel that is justification for having them in any collection.

    Additionally, many of the GNs are not written at a low reading ability. It often takes more focus and understanding to create a relationship between the images and the words (I know I have a tough time with it!).

    I have had to educate my teachers on this topic, but there has never been a moment when they thought that the books should be removed. Recently, I have had some new teachers who wanted students to check out pleasure reading materials and wouldn't allow GNs...I've just had to let them know the correct information about them and then the teachers allowed the check out.

    For additional justification, you can always use Stephen Krashen's information regarding graphic novels and comic books to show proof of the format's strengths.

  14. Program assessment - This is one area that I don't feel I do a great job at in my own program. Through the Blue Ribbon program, I've worked so hard on assessing other's programs that mine hasn't been formally assessed.

    The rubric found in the Information Power workbook is my guide for any assessment that I do. Since it is our national means of assessment, I feel pretty confident following this rubric. I've also used it to justify additional resources (staff and materials) to my principal. Having the backing of AASL makes it so that I don't appear to be just making up whatever I need.

    I do look at the rubric several times each year to make sure that I am moving in the direction that has been set forth by AASL, but I have not formally written it up at this time. Once I am no longer the Blue Ribbon Chair (starting in January I will be President-Elect of AIME), I hope to then set forth with this endeavor. I may not submit it to AIME, I'm not sure if that would be appropriate, but I will complete the process on my own so that I can use it for my own professional growth.

  15. Managing the program -- As I stated earlier, I guess I didn't do a very good job of this last week. Hopefully, this week will be better!

    I do a lot of collaboration via email or the phone. With such a big school, teachers often don't want to leave their room and come down to the media center for a discussion. They find that email and phone make it very easy for them. I usually receive over 100 emails per day. If it is too hard to collaborate this way, I pick up the phone and call them in their room. I will also go to their rooms or they come to see me.

    Three classes are usually in the media center at one time - one in an attached lab and two in the media center. Teachers don't sign up for the media center unless it goes through me (I use a email calendar that the teachers can see but don't have write access to). This allows me to provide resources for them or work with their classes whenever I can. I usually teach three classes at a time, we are almost always full, but I try to stagger when the classes come in so that I may focus for a few minutes with each class. When I am working intensively with one class, the others may have to go without me for a while.

    I have one assistant who is in charge of processing all of our materials, student IDs, purchase orders, spreadsheets, laminating, display cases. The other assistant sits at the circulation desk and is responsible for helping students as needed, walking around the facility to see if students need help, pulling books for classes to use, overdue notices, and all AV equipment. I also have three student assistants each period that we use at a student sign in desk, circulation, and as an AV assistant. All of these areas usually keep the media center running pretty smoothly and allow me to focus on teaching and students.

  16. Student advisory group -

    My student advisory group also doubles as a book club. I started with the book club concept and realized, when I had issues arise, that they were also a great group to help with library situations.

    We meet once each month as a book club, and then as needed if I need them to help with any other decisions. The group is constantly changing - students come in and out as they choose - but all have an interest in books and helping the library become better.

    There isn't any real plan to our meetings...we meet the first Thursday of each month and it is up to the group members to plan what we do each time. I may take a few minutes to ask questions of them or to determine whether a book is appropriate for the media center to own.

    They haven't steered me wrong yet!

  17. Did you see last week's Unshelved?

    It was about Graphic Novels!