Friday, September 17, 2010

Lori Clark-Erickson - Mon. Sept. 20 to Wed. Sept. 22, 2010

Kicking off this semester's roster of guests is Lori Clark-Erickson, the librarian at Jackson Hole High School in Wyoming.

Lori's library career path included a stint working at the public library and time at a school library paraprofessional position. She returned to school, completed a school library media degree, and a position opened up at the district's high school.

Having met Lori, briefly visited her school and the Media Center this past August, I can say that she is an enthusiastic and energetic teacher librarian. Lori enjoys collaborating with teachers, integrating technologies into classroom learning, and teaching information literacy to students.

Learn more about Lori's professional background and interests at her bio information page at

As with all our guests we are pleased to virtually have her with the class to share her ideas and insights and respond to student's questions and ideas. This always proves to be an interesting series of discussions.


  1. Hello, everyone,
    I'm pleased to be participating as part of your course for the next few days.
    My schedule today includes working on some cataloging of an Art series, co-teaching 5 health classes on website evaluation which segues into a short research project on using reliable medical websites. My tech/teaching para is working with a science class as they work on a country comparison project including using MLA to cite their sources. My circulation para is setting up a Banned Book display which begins officially next week as well as a display featuring a speaker from Sudan who will be in Jackson on Monday. I have two volunteers coming today, one to work on some cataloging and the other to update our circulation database by changing the homeroom teacher in the system. We are off to a good week!
    I am looking forward to your questions and comments. Lori Clark-Erickson

  2. Hello Lori!

    My first question has to do with teacher/SLMS collaboration. How easy/difficult is it for you to get teachers to work with you on programs? I am currently working with a media specialist at a local middle school and she seems to be way to busy to bother with collaborating with teachers at her school. How important do you think working together with teachers is and why?

  3. Lori,

    I work in the academic library and has vague understanding of school's "corporate culture". Who are the influential people? How much control do you have over SLMC budget? Do you have to get principle's approval on every budget spending, on every initiative? For example, we can't buy any software unless approved by IT department. Who is your final authority? What if you have came up with an idea of a new service library can offer and it costs no money. Do you have to get teachers to agree, principle to approve, people in superintendents office to sign on?

    I apologize for such complex question. I am just trying to get a feeling of the school's internal culture...

  4. Hi Lori,

    I have a question about cataloging. How involved is cataloging? Do the publishers provide most of the MARC records? I'm curious because you mentioned that a volunteer was coming in to update. Thank you for your help. Becky Taylor

  5. Hello Lori,
    Thank you for volunteering to help us! My question deals with teacher collaboration also. Looking at the schedule you posted, it seems like you have your hands full! When do you have time to get out into the building to collaborate with teachers? Do you have a form for them to fill out with ideas or is it less formal (e-mail or verbal suggestions)? Do you try to go to department meetings or ask for syllibi to get ideas? Thank you,

  6. MelissaE and RKuonen,
    I feel that collaboration is the key to my work here at the high school. When I am able to meet with teachers, let's say during the back to school work time, I always encourage everyone to "let me help them". Throughout the year, if someone signs up for computers, I will personally go to them and ask if I can suggest some print or online resources, a quick information literacy lesson (example: citing sources or notetaking), or helping with the integration of technology or an idea for pushing the assignment to a higher level of thinking.
    Throughout the last four years I definitely have seen buy-in from teachers. I try to remember that there are several different types of collaboration including identifying resources,planning instruction, providing in-service and actually co-teaching. I try to at least recommend resources and a skill or two that should be included in the lesson. I will offer to teach one class for them, so they gain confidence to continue through the day teaching these skills. Each year I slowly work on getting more teachers on board with the process. I find new teachers the BEST, as they are keen to get some help and don't mind the modeling, sharing and working with others. I try to walk around the building after school and just ask how things are going, what they are working on, if I can help them in any way. Yes, it's more work, but I have different skills than the content teacher. I want to ensure that all students get a good foundation of the process skills regardless of content. I tried a form, but haven't used one for a while. I could share it with you if you're interested - it was a fill-in the blank, circle the resources and services needed kind of form.

  7. Ellie-
    I would say that each school system is different as far as management and hierarchy.
    I feel very lucky because I have total control of my budget. Though it's been cut each year, I have categories for supplies, books, periodicals/online subscriptions, equipment. We even got credit cards which allows a lot of flexibility with spending.
    I have a strong relationship with the IT team at school. I speak with them often, asking them for suggestions and running ideas for new technologies by them before purchasing anything.
    I have never been told that I am spending my money inappropriately, I keep immaculate spreadsheets, talk regularly to the Business Office staff and don't overspend.
    I think that principals generally want to trust and let their staff make decisions.

  8. Becky-
    Cataloging.... I like to do it, but honestly, it is the task that just sits quietly on the cart, not demanding my immediate attention!
    I always try to buy from JLG, Follett, Mackin or companies that do offer processing and MARC records. It is so worth the money for these services. I am fortunate now, because I do have a volunteer who catalogs at our county library (so has the skill) and is working on her school library media endorsement. She is fast and just will come and in and do whatever. I also have worked with my circ para and have taught her how to catalog in our system, InfoCentre. This last summer she received a scholarship to take a college cataloging course which she successfully completed and now has even more confidence to tackle this job. She may ask me a lot of questions, but is happy to have the added responsibility.
    My colleagues in the district all do their own cataloging and just fit it in as they can. I would say that there is always a stack of books to catalog on everyone's cart.

  9. Anonymous11:04 AM

    Lori, I work in an elementary school and wondered about how you schedule yourself time to be with classes and available in the media center to support students. What is the most challenging part of working as a media specialist in a High School setting?
    Thanks, Berry

  10. Sorry for mulitple questions, but my computer was on the fritz last night.

    How do you feel the older students take to technology/skill instruction and the attitudes they have towards inquiry? My little kids love it because they have very little experience.
    Thanks again, Berry

  11. Anonymous3:14 PM

    I visited your school's website and loved the section on classroom projects. How much of the research portion of these projects do you set up? Shelly M.

  12. Lori,
    When you are collaborating with the teachers in your building, what type of resources are they depending on you to supply? Written, websites, technology, etc. Do you have a strong role in the projects or are you a resource also? Thanks! Becky Taylor

  13. Anonymous6:05 PM

    Hi Lori,
    My question has to do with staffing/volunteers. I wondered how large your school is since I see that you have 2 paras in addition to yourself. This is basically my first year in the library but I have taught at my school for 21 years and there has never been any additional help for the LMS (approx. 600 students). The last LMS did get some parent volunteers and I am in the process of setting up a parent volunteer schedule, but I am still overwhelmed with the amount of managerial-type work. It leaves me little time to get out into the classroom. I have trained a student to help with processing and am thinking about training several to help at the circulation desk. Any suggestions?

  14. Berry-
    My scheduling system is fairly basic - a paper booklet in the library with boxes for each period and each of the three sections of the library that classes might use. I try to encourage teachers to "schedule" with me, so I can learn what they want to do and how I can help them. There are times I am not available due to meetings or other responsibilities and they are free to come in with their classes and work.
    The most challenging aspect now is the realization that students are not all getting the same process and technology skills. I try to spread the word that these are very important for all students and most teachers try to embed some of them. But if they choose not to, then the students don't have these skills reinforced.

  15. Students seem to to be OK with the tech lessons/ skill instruction. I don't have assessments in place though I have had the opportunity to use Trails 9 to assess Information Literacy skills (
    If I have the opportunity to give the lesson, I recommend resources, offer an organizational plan, and support citing of sources. The students are willing to follow these perimeters.

  16. Shelly M. -
    I set up all of these resources. I always ask the teachers to recommend resources, but usually I make the list. I create these pages for the teachers who don't have a blog or skill to post their own information.

  17. Becky-
    I try to include print, online databases and websites in all projects. In my "interview" with the teachers, I ask what types of resources do you want to require, what type of process skill do you want to use, what type of technology do you want to incorporate? I always am able to suggest something new, something that engages the student and something that the teacher is enthused about using.

  18. Michelle-
    This definitely is an important issue in many LMCs across the nation. At JHHS we have approximately 640 students and as you realize I do have two paras helping me support the students and teachers in the building. We as librarians need to be advocates for ourselves, but often find with funding and ignorance of our impact with student success that we don't have the support and staff that is necessary. I keep detailed reports of my tasks, the requests from teachers and students and a list of what I am not able to do. My current situation also includes a second high school which I am supposed to be servicing, which I absolutely can not do physically. I am going to address this with my administration at the end the month because it is not a realistic situation for one person.
    I would encourage you to get as much volunteer help as you can, continue a discussion with your admin and do the best you can....the students appreciate your work.

  19. Anonymous5:11 AM


    In regards to the projects that you establish to assist your teachers, how much time do you spend in collaboration with them? Secondly, is it more formal or information? Shelly M.

  20. Berry5:43 AM

    Lori, It sounds like the booklet idea works well for your school. I had never thought about having different areas of the MC available to different classes. I know your frustration with the gaps in students experiences and skills. In my K class I have several students who thought the computer was a TV and waited for it to work. It can be difficult to differentiate with skills even more than in content areas, I think.

  21. Shelly M. - The time I spend really depends on how involved the individual teacher wants me to be. I might just import class lists into the school VoiceThread account, or create a student script for a skill such as keyword searching or find several resources for the project. If I’m co-teaching, it might take hours of prep. We meet to plan according to our schedules so it’s formal in that sense. Some will just walk in and if I’m available, I can help, if not we schedule a better time.

  22. Berry- My “dream” project at the high school is to document tech and information literacy skills that we feel the students all need as they graduate. I feel this needs to be done with a team, so that everyone buys into the idea. The teachers I work with all “get it”, but the admin has not given this priority. Again, think of the progression of skill building for all students if everyone embedded these and students got them 9-12!

  23. Berry4:06 PM

    Lori, If your "dream" project does come true please share your thoughts. I would love to see what direction I need to be taking my little ones in so that they have the foundations when they get to you. You are so right about needing it done by a team. Maybe you can put together a team of the teachers that get it and hand it up to the admin. (It would be a nice change instead of being handed down things all the time) :)
    Thanks for your time and expertise this week,

  24. Lori-
    Thank you for your help!! Your input has been valuable.

  25. Anonymous6:44 PM


    I have really enjoyed your insight. It is helpful to see that collaborative projects of such depth can be accomplished when there is buy-in on both sides. I am new at this and am seeing daily that the media center is truly the hub of the school. Shelly M.

  26. Anonymous6:45 PM

    So you think it's okay to have students work the circulation desk? The previous LMS frowned upon it due to privacy issues. I think as long as I explain that, it would be alright.
    Another issue is that the library is used during lunch shifts as a place for students to come and play chess/checkers/read when they are finished eating, so I don't get much done during that hour and a half. Any idea if this is common practice? Thoughts on whether or not it should continue?
    I am keeping a log of everything I do. I know my principal wants me in the classroom and that's where I want to be as well, so by showing him my log, maybe he will hire at least someone part-time to help me.

  27. Michelle-
    I think in your situation that it is fine to have a student work the circulation desk. As this is a real life "job" discuss the responsibilities that come with being an aide in the library.
    Our library is full during lunch. A few years ago, I requested that this become a "duty" and each quarter, I have a teacher who supervises everyone,while I am able to eat.
    Documenting your daily schedule and all you do is crucial. It may seem a daunting task, but the admin need to know all of the things that come your way in a day.