Saturday, October 02, 2010

Cindy Turner - Mon. Oct. 4 to Wed. Oct. 6, 2010

Cindy Turner, an IUPUI SLIS graduate, is the Technology Integration Specialist at the Region 7 Education Service Center in Kilgore, Texas. She is a former classroom teacher who moved to school media specialist positions first in Indiana and more recently in Tatum, Texas. Cindy then moved to a district-wide media and technology position in Tatum. Her leadership, experience, and expertise led to Cindy to the latest position at the Region 7 ESC serving 106 school districts in the Piney Woods region.

Cindy is a great example of a person whose career path extends beyond the classroom and building level library media position to encompass district and regional responsibilities. I am very pleased that she is joining the class in these virtual interaction sessions.

Learn more at


  1. Cindy,

    I was intrigued by the Parent Conference information on the Region 7 Educational Service Center website. How did you come up with the idea; do you have a lot of buy-in by parents? Shelly M.

  2. Anonymous4:52 PM

    I am a classroom teacher who is moving into the library media specialist role. I live in New York State and last year my position was eliminated like so many others affected by budget cuts. Do you have any suggestions as to what skills are most important to advance me in the job market? Schools in New York are not required to have an elementary librarian, just middle and high schools. What do you say to schools that are considering cutting elementary library media specialists to save money?

    Donna Jo

  3. Anonymous4:53 PM

    Dear Cindy,
    What would you say is the most significant issue that is facing media centers regarding technology? Do you see any trends or issues that you feel media centers need to prepare more for?
    By the way, I teach Spanish at Warren Central!

  4. Cindy,
    I have been in Warren Township for 15 years and I have seen a major change in media centers in the district. I'm curious to what the secrets are to keep media centers a priority in schools. What are administrators looking for? What keeps your media centers open when so many are making cuts?

  5. Cindy,
    I am currently not in a Media Specialist position, but rather a young adult librarian at the St. Joseph County Public Library in Northern Indiana. I do wonder, if I were to move into a media specialist position, what do you feel the benefits of this field are, as opposed to public librarianship? I'm not asking you to defend the position, but just to offer some of the insights into how differently the interactions with children can enrich you at the school versus a public setting. Also; like many I'm wondering about the future of the media center with budget woes causing problems all over the country.

  6. Hello S671 Class! I am so excited to be joining you. Based on the other discussions that have been posted, I can see that Larry, Annette, Danny and the other professors at IUPUI are still providing the BEST in professional development for an excited, intelligent, and forward thinking group of future school library leaders.

  7. Hello Shelly - I wish I could respond with some authority regarding the parent conference here at Region 7. Unfortunately, I have zero interaction with that program. I checked with the folks that do and bottom line is, "feed them and they will come." For what it is worth, I can echo that sentiment whether you are trying to get kids to come to a library program or teachers to attend your book fair.

  8. Hello Donna Jo and greetings from Texas!

    Here are my thoughts on budget cuts. They are somewhat controversial and a bit harsh, so feel free to fire back. I love a good debate!

    Hard fact #1: When administrators are forced to balance resources with results, the school library program is cut if the services offered are those that are either unessential or can be found elsewhere. Your salary and facilities are expensive. What services are you providing for your campus that (1) are essential to the goals of the school, and (2) cannot be provided in a more cost efficient way elsewhere? Administrators want what is best for students, but they must also balance the bottom line. No amount of ALA standards and research studies will overcome this fact of Economics 101.

    Hard fact #2: Even in a wealthy district that is less worried about economics, librarians who are more interested in “running a library” than supporting the overall goals of their campus and district are creating a situation that is likely to make their programs dispensable. This is true no matter how hard you work or how well run and attractive you make your school library.

    We must, as a profession, look beyond our own lens of merit and see our services through the eyes of our administrators. Although not universally true, most administrators are intelligent folks who are in the profession because they value the same things we all do. However, they are also tasked with balancing resources with results. Are we providing a cost efficient way of achieving their goals? Do we even know what their goals are? Too often I hear folks in our profession trying to push the “librarian agenda”. With all due respect, most administrators have far too many responsibilities to attend to yet another list of non-state mandated “musts”. They may listen politely, but when push comes to shove it isn’t so much what we want and can provide but rather what we can do to help them achieve their goals.

    The beauty part is, if we listen carefully, we often find that the goals of administration very often have school library services written all over them! But we must show them that on their terms, not our own.

  9. Cindy,
    I have found that totally true. My administration is huge on technology so as much as possible I push for programs and products that are technology based since I feel quite confident that I will be get those things.

    On the other hand, other things like print resources and P.D. are not always "smiled" upon. Shelly

  10. Hello to WC Warriors, Becky and Roberta! If they are still at the DubC, please tell Scott Black, Richard Reed and John Hilmer that Cindy Reed sends her regards!

    I will address your questions together as I feel they are related. First of all, I believe that the critical skill that librarians have always been responsible for in schools has not changed. Namely, we are instrumental in fostering student skills related to how information is accessed (whether through reading, listening or viewing), organized, processed and produced. However, the exponential growth of digital information has changed the landscape of our playing field.

    As you all are well aware, technology is not an “add on” to our regularly scheduled activities. The modern information landscape is digital and our students desperately need the skills to navigate this landscape. Just because they are natives does not make them naturals, especially as refers to the concrete skills in digital media literacy.

    If you are not familiar with the Horizon Report on emerging technology, I consider it essential reading for the profession: . It is a report compiled by a committee of educators whose aim is to analyze the impact of technology on education and predict emerging trends. Although they have been off on a few items, I think overall their predictions through the years have proven to be fairly accurate.

    The number one critical challenge for education as reported in the 2010 Horizon Report? Students lack digital media literacy skills. Enter the well-trained, professional school librarian to the rescue! Take heart MLS students - I think this is a GREAT time to be entering the profession.

    Furthermore, if you read any of the myriad of 21st century skills guides (P21/Bernie Trilling, 21sy Century Fluency Project/Ian Jukes, NETS 21st century standards, etc.) you will find a strand that looks amazingly similar to the 1998 ALA standards for information literacy. I think the old ALA standards might have received a few polite nods from those outside the profession. However I increasingly see our skill set coming to the forefront, usually through the pundits at the heart of educational technology and 21st century skills.

    If your district is at all concerned with 21st century skills, emerging technology, or NCLB technology standards, please make sure they understand how you can serve as a professional partner in addressing these needs (and then, of course, be willing to do so).

    For example, in my experience administrators usually understand the need to integrate technology into the classroom. However, they often don’t have a deep understanding of how or why. Couple this with a misunderstanding many have about how librarians can contribute. They often still consider us glorified book custodians with professional skills roughly equivalent to a Wal-Mart check out person (with all due respect to the real-life checkers - a tough job to be sure). I would advise you to consider it a part of your job to help them understand, in a respectful and graceful way, that technology integration isn’t just about the gizmos and gadgets, but more about giving students the skills they need to be responsible information consumers and producers when the traditional gatekeepers are no longer relevant and that as a LMS from IUPUI, you are uniquely prepared to help.

    Do not be dismayed future librarians. We are not our mother's librarian. However, if we answer the call, we can become a formidable force and vital to the mission of the 21st century school.

  11. Jake - I have no real expertise in regards to your question, but I will just share my personal impression, which may not be very accurate. A good friend of mine made the shift from public librarian to school librarian for one reason only - the money. Texas is like many states in that the school library media specialist makes more money and works fewer hours. However, schools are far more restrictive environments than public libraries tend to be, even in the most conservative communities. I have other friends who prefer to work longer hours for less pay to enjoy the intellectual freedoms that public libraries offer. I also know of at least one EXCELLENT, student-centered school librarian who is now unemployed (and is unlikely to be re-hired by a school system) because he was unable to make the distinction. The suits hate controversy. Unfair and sad....but true.

  12. Cindy,
    With what you just said in mind; I would like to ask a follow-up. Have you ever had an instance where you were asked to do something by administration that was against the ALA code of ethics, but technically within his power? how did you handle that? We had a question in previous assignment that posited an administrator asking for circulation records on a particular topic. From what I understand, given that schools are far more broad in their reach, they may actually be able to do this legally. Do you have any insight into this?

  13. Anonymous4:55 PM

    Cindy, You commented to Becky and Roberta about the need to help administrators understand the importance of having a LMS who can integrate technology into the classroom. What technology do you believe is the the most crucial to be providing if your school does not have money for much other than a few databases?

  14. Anonymous4:56 PM

    The last anonymous post was from me Donna Jo

  15. Cindy,
    As I wade the waters of media specialist, I am finding more and more truth and conviction in the statement,” technology is more about giving students the skills they need to be responsible information consumers and producers.” As our virtual world increases daily, how do you advise that we produce responsible information consumers and producers? It is overwhelming. Shelly

  16. Cindy,
    Thank you for all the wonderful advice earlier! I do have one more question, how do you share your vision with an administration that is only concerned about the data and how students are preforming in math and language arts? How do you get them on the same page to see how a media specialist can play an important role in their goals?

  17. So true, Shelley - and you have in a sense answered Donna Jo's question. Technology integration skills that really matter cost nothing! If you have not done so already, please find time for the Information Inquiry class at IUPUI. You will look at a wide range of standards as well as specific skills.

    You will find that there are a large selection of skills and standards to define and focus your efforts. Don't get overwhelmed though -- they all say very similar things. There is, of course, the ALA 21st century standards that are great. I also recommend the 21st century fluency project (Ian Jukes, who was our guest speaker today) for one that is particularly clear and to the point. The Partnership for 21st century skills (Bernie Trilling or just google P21) for descriptions of the concrete skills. The concrete skills, by the way, are much easier to teach than the more nebulous "soft skills" like critical thinking. You should also be familiar with the NETS standards because they are working on a rubric for what those skills actually look like. Larry and Annette can probably recommend more. If any of these are unfamiliar - just google them and they should come up at the top of the heap.

    Once you get going, if your district doesn't already have one, consider creating a scope and sequence of the skills with your fellow media specialists. It is a great way to get a grip on what you want to teach each year. With this in place you will have some specific goals to talk with teachers about as they bring in projects. Having something specific in mind is usually a much easier way to start collaboration.

    And finally, I really recommend becoming familiar with the state standards for Social Studies and ELA in the grade level you end up at. I can almost guarantee the information literacy/technology skills Shelly mentions are embedded in those standards. Finding "our" standards in 'their" curriculum is, in my opinion, the best way to begin.

    It may seem overwhelming now, but it will come with time! I worked last year with a veteran teacher who was spending her first year as a media specialist. It is an eye opener, that's for sure. But it is also never dull and a whole ton of fun! Promise!

  18. Great question, Becky. For me, it starts with relationship and listening. It usually isn't that "they just don't get it". Rather, it is that we don't speak it in a way they care about. So much changed for me when I made that recognition. I did a lot of listening and a lot of looking at district and campus improvement plans and technology reports. They work hard on those things and are thrilled when someone voluntarily asks to see them and even more thrilled when you offer ways that you can help them achieve their stated goals.

    Doug Jonson has a great book called The Indispensable Librarian that was a big influence on how I learned to approach administration. He also writes on the subject in his blog - The Blue Skunk. If you don't subscribe to it yet, please do. He always gives great advice and is practical and down to earth.

  19. Oh, Jake...I left your question to the end because I struggled with whether to give you the "right" answer or my honest opinion. They may come take away my ALA card, but here goes.

    Create policies, have your administration look them over and approve them, and then pray you never have to use them.

    Having a procedure in place for a book challenge and then politely and respectfully following the steps of the challenge with an open mind makes the process much less painful. Screaming parents brandishing books with more sticky notes than pages who are convinced you are in league with Satan is never fun...especially in the South. Having a form to fill out and steps to go through makes everyone feel like something is being done. Using step by step procedures that were in place BEFORE the challenge allowed me to keep each book except one - and that was because it just was not of enough literary merit to justify the anguish.

    And now for the hard part. I have never had an administrator ask me for a student reading record. That may be, however, because I have never felt the need to NOT provide those reading reacords, at least in part, when requested by parents or teachers. Although I value the privacy of book checkouts in theory, I never felt the were so sacrosanct as to warrant protection at all costs. A parent wanting to find out if their child is telling them the truth, a teacher finding a book in class and wondering who checked it out so they can get it back to them - those are examples of the reasons for requesting information. If I had ever felt the information was going to be used in a belittling or demoralizing way (well - maybe the lying thing but that is another story) I hope that I would have said no...or at least said yes and then went looking for another job where people didn't use what books a kid checked out against him. However, that never happened so I stand by my original decisions. Sometimes you just have to pick your battles. Hope that helps.

  20. I have learned so much for you the past couple of days. Thanks so much for taking time for us.

  21. Thank you all for this opportunity Your great questions have caused me to reflect and grow. I appreciate the interaction.

    After having been in the profession for a while now, I an convinced that graduates from the IUPUI MLS program have a distinct advantage in preparation for the future of librarianship. Good luck to you all.