This page delineates the many roles, duties, and joys of certified librarians in the School District of Philadelphia. It should help dispel the myth that librarians just "stamp books out."

Elaine Rehm, center, librarian at Mayfair, and Phyllis Hayes, right, librarian at Penrose, at the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Labor Day Parade, 2009

Phyllis Hayes' acceptance speech for
APSL Librarian of the Year Award, June, 2009

Good evening:
I am delighted to have been named this year’s recipient of the Irene Garson Librarian of the Year Award. I was fortunate enough to have known Irene Garson and I recognize her as a wonderful librarian and remember her as a lovely person.

At this time, I would like to recognize four very special families who are present for this occasion:

Family #1 consists of my biological family and family of lifelong friends. I thank you for your love, encouragement and support.

Family #2 represents another special group, my co-workers at the Penrose School. I especially wish to thank my principal, Mrs. Katherine Pendino, who is also present today and I want the librarians to know that she has provided a library budget for every year she has been principal of our school without exception. As the librarians know, this is the way a library is able to grow and remain current.
Thanks also to the Penrose staff for always showing your appreciation for having a certified, full-time librarian and for your valuable suggestions towards the improvement of our library collection.

Family #3 consists of persons I didn’t know were going to be present tonight – a contingent of sisters of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

Last but definitely not least is Family #4, my family of librarians. Thank you to Mrs. Janet Malloy and the members of the APSL Board for the honor I am receiving today. Thank you to all librarians present and certainly to the cybrarians and our leader, Mrs. Linda McGregor, for your continued friendship and camaraderie.

If I may, I would like to offer a few thoughts to my fellow hard-working, dedicated, multi-tasking librarians. As you:
• go about the business of teaching library skills
• assist students and staff members in locating suitable materials
• assist students with research
• conduct library classes
• cover classes
• coordinate special programs
• notify staff and students of newly-acquired materials and gifts to the library
• set aside books and other materials for holidays and other observances
• handle in-person requests
• prepare book and supply orders in a thoughtful and purposeful manner
• check out books, check in books, shelve books
• repair books and withdraw those that are beyond repair
• answer the telephone for the 20th time during the course of a day
• strive to maintain a multicultural, gender and disability-fair collection
• that supports the curriculum and vision of the school
• develop and maintain special collections within your library
• make yourself available for collaboration with teachers
• participate in school committees
• coordinate and/or monitor after-school programs
• maintain active memberships in local, state and national professional
• organizations and attend their conferences
• establish and maintain a positive relationship with the local public
• library
• complete inventory and prepare an annual report

As you perform all of these tasks and more, take comfort in the words of then United States Senator Barack Obama as he addressed the annual conference of the American Library Association in June of 2005:
“…the library represents a window to a larger world, the place where we’ve always come to discover big ideas and profound concepts that help move the American story forward and the human story forward…That’s what libraries are about. At the moment that we persuade a child, any child, to cross that threshold, that magic threshold into a library, we change their lives forever, for the better. It’s an enormous force for good.”

To the librarians assembled, continue to do your best to encourage, enlighten, stimulate, inspire, broaden and do all you can do to uplift our children within this process called education.
To everyone assembled, thank you and good evening!

My Current Job Description

My role as Dobson’s librarian is to support the Core Curriculum of the school by providing resources and teaching information retrieving skills so that students

  • become independent users of information.

  • develop their literacy skills.

  • discover the joy of reading.

To make this happen, I have the following tasks:

- create a library that is physically attractive and conducive to
student independent learning and is open and accessible
throughout the day.

- facilitate the circulation of books and materials to students and
teachers (make sure students and teachers have plenty of books at
all times, keep books shelved, send overdue notices regularly and
organize the collection so materials can be easily retrieved).

- support teachers in implementing the Core Curriculum by compiling
print and electronic resources for teachers to use in their
classrooms and/or for homework assignments.

- support the independent reading component of the reading
curriculum through the coordination of the 100 Book Challenge
and Accelerated Reader Programs. Coordination involves
distribution of books to classroom, providing incentives and
certificates to students reaching goals, and processing of books.

- maintain the collection ( repair books, add new materials and weed
obsolete materials).

- purchase books and materials to support 100 Book Challenge,
AR, the curriculum and students’ interests.

- maintain the Alexandria circulation database and keep it up-to-date.

- trouble -shoot and provide tech support for AR software in the
library and classrooms.

- collaborate with teachers to develop and implement research
projects which support the curriculum using print and non-print

- collaborate with the 8th grade teacher, the 1st grade teacher, and
the literacy leader to train 8th grade students for their service
learning project (Buddy Reading).

- co-facilitate monthly FamilyRead Parent Workshops to develop
literacy skills in our students.

- organize biannual Book Celebrations (National Books Week and
Dr. Seuss Day).

- coordinate the volunteers for 100 Book Challenge and the 8th
Grade Library Assistants.

- coach the Dobson Reading Olympics Team.

- partner with Free Library of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Reads and
Eagles Youth Partnership to promote literacy.

- sponsor two Book Fairs annually.

- facilitate a yearly Professional Literature Circle for teachers and

- do an annual inventory of books and materials in the library.

- maintain an account of library expenditures.

- provide enrichment activities for mentally gifted students in grades
2, 3, and 4 weekly.

Submitted by Linda Esh

Youth Study Center School Library
Activities Summary 2008-2009
The Youth Study Center School Library serves detained youth and is administered by a certified school librarian. The library is principal supported, meaning that the principal maintains both the position of certified librarian from year to year, and annually provides funds to purchase new and current library materials.

The collection consists of approximately 3,500 print items in support of the School District of Philadelphia core curriculum and student pleasure reading, with an average copyright date of 1999. At almost 30 books per student, the collection is exemplary by Pennsylvania school library standards.
Due to space limitations in this interim school facility, during the 2008-2009 school year fiction chapter books and other high interest books were placed in the bookshelves on the units. This has been a very positive move. The longer chapter books are now where the students are so that the students have time to read them without the concern that the books may become overdue. Also, more books are appearing on the unit bookshelves, indicating that the adults on the units are contributing more books to the collections. One unit, GC, has added an additional bookshelf to hold all of the books. Unit 2D has so many books that the overflow from the bookcase is “shelved” in two large plastic tubs on the floor. Unit 2A has shelved its paperbacks two deep on its shelves. Unit GD will soon outgrow its shelving, as well.
During the 2007-2008 school year, the librarian acquired over 1,500 books in the Bluford series from the non-profit organization, Embracing the Child. The one condition of the books being given to the students was a request that the books be integrated into the curriculum. Therefore, each time a student selected a book, he or she filled out a bibliographic citation for that title. Some students filled out seven citations at a time. This year, approximately 500 Bluford series books were donated to the YSC library by Embracing the Child. These books were provided to teachers at their request, many teachers desiring classroom sets, and also used to supplement and round out the Bluford series books on the units. In addition, books from Embracing the Child are currently used in Book Clubs through the library program.
The librarian has worked to augment the students’ access to books in several additional ways. An Episcopal church in Northwest Philadelphia, as part of its recycling program, collected teen interest magazines that the librarian distributed to units for pleasure reading. The librarian also frequented her church’s Book Room and local Friends of the Free Library of Philadelphia branch weekly Book Sale to purchase titles of student interest that were given to the units. These books augment the purchased collection, can fulfill students' requests in a timely manner for titles not available in the collection, and help to account for the overflow of books on the units.

This school year, the librarian unpacked the collection from the old facility and culled approximately 1,500 books from the collection, due to the space restrictions in this interim facility. The culled items were deleted from the database and boxed to be sent to another SDP school library. The first inventory in five years had been completed in Spring, 2008, in preparation for the move. The second inventory was completed in June, 2009. All glitches were corrected in the database. The clean database was sent to AccessPA via ftp (file transfer protocol). It is anticipated that the YSC school library collection will appear in the statewide AccessPA database between October and December, 2009. This will enable the YSC School to share in the statewide catalog and engage in Interlibrary Loan (IL) privileges with libraries throughout the state.

Internet Connectivity:
Due to the lack of internet connectivity in the YSC library, internet activities associated with school library services are conducted from the librarian’s computer at home outside of school hours. That includes AccessPA functions, book orders, lesson development, lesson planning, and emailing. (Because there is neither curriculum nor textbooks for library lessons, all lessons are either developed from information researched on the Internet or created by the librarian specifically for the YSC students.)

Library Schedule:
The YSC School Library serves all of the detained youth in the school, ages 14 through 21, on a fixed schedule three days a week. Library lessons are thematic and of high interest, based upon the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) standards and in support of the SDP core curriculum. The lessons introduce students to a variety of printed information sources and library services. They engage students in higher order thinking skills and attempt to introduce elements of the research process to youth who frequently have not attended school for years. Grades are earned according to work produced on a writing or activity component.
The Youth Study Center School does not follow the typical School District of Philadelphia high school library schedule of open access and flexible scheduling, which provides equity of access to school library services for students throughout the school day. Open access and flexible scheduling are used at the comparable detention facility in Norfolk, VA. The YSC librarian plans to request an observation day to visit this facility in the 2009-2010 school year, to see how open access and flexible scheduling there foster teacher collaboration, equity of access, and support of student literacy.
One day a week is used for maintaining the shelves on the units, fulfilling student requests for titles to read, and attending to other library related duties such as inventory, processing, book repair, lesson preparation, and special library activities.
Books requested this year have been as diverse as books about biology, sports, the Civil War, the SAT and GED, multiple requests among units for the Cirque du Freak, Bluford and Chicken Soup series books, authors James Patterson and Walter Dean Myers, and titles Catcher in the Rye, Monster, Street Love, Street Pharm, and Rooftop. Spanish dictionaries are a frequent request so that students can write love letters to their girlfriends. Fulfilling requests provides a positive interaction with students, many of who do not have a history of positive interactions with adults in authority.
Each unit is visited at least once a week on the library maintenance day. Fulfilling requests across units can sometimes result in two to three trips to one unit on that one day.
At the principal’s designation, the librarian supports the testing program one day a week. First period class is covered for a testing administrator by the librarian. The tests are then delivered to the library by the administrator(s) where they are scored by the librarian that afternoon.

Special Activities:
At the principal’s request, a Sudoku “contest” was held during the first half of the school year. Students were challenged to complete Sudoku puzzles of increasing difficulty. Each participant could win by completing more puzzles along the continuum. Students showing mastery of the logic required to solve the puzzles received certificates. The originals were sent to the students’ homes. Copies of the certificates were posted under a sign “Library Wall of Fame” (created by the art teacher) in the hallway outside of the library. Information about the contest was provided to the principal for inclusion in the school newspaper.
During the Summer Enrichment Program of 2008, the YSC library program centered on audio books called Playaways. These tiny, battery operated “books” are used with earphones. Students were taught how to fill out a call slip, provide citation information, and identify fact and opinion in a written response. At the principal’s request, information about this special activity was provided for an article in the school newspaper, including the most requested title and the shortest Playaway available. Many students selected a Playaway based upon having read the book in regular school.
During he December holidays, students wrote about a non-material gift they would give to an important person in their lives. Selected responses were read during the holiday assembly.
Around Valentine's Day, the students' writing assignment, based upon a lesson about body language, was to describe how they would attract a significant other using only non-verbal communication. Selected responses were provided to the principal for inclusion in the school newspaper.

The school library program has collaborated across the curriculum in science and technology.
Students participate in a service-learning project around the winter holidays. They fold origami stars, crescent moons and gift boxes to put them in. These are given to the school nurse, who takes them to elders in various community settings for holiday table decorations. This has resulted not only in thank you notes, which are passed around to the students so that they can hold them and read them, but also in a West Philadelphia church missionary group working to provide crossword puzzle dictionaries for the students on the units.
The librarian regularly assesses students’ possession of Free Library of Philadelphia cards. If a student is from Philadelphia and does not have one, he or she is offered an application. Assistance is provided to the student in filling out the application, if needed, and the student is then encouraged to take the application to his or her local FLP branch when released.

Professional Activities:
This school year the librarian:
• Was a member of the Executive Board of the Association of Philadelphia School Librarians (APSL)
• Created and manages an interactive wiki for APSL, considering school library advocacy, SDP school library staffing, school library best practices, SDP/PFT contract language, etc.
• Attended Dr. Ackerman’s community and articulation meetings around Imagine 2014
• Presented to the School Reform Commission (SRC) regarding maximized school library services
• Met with Mr. Johnny Irizarry of the SRC regarding the benefits to students provided by SDP maximized school library programming for EVERY student in the system, including equity of access, improved academic achievement and literacy, and lifelong learning
• Collaborated with Helen Gym (community organizer) from Parents United for Public Education around school library programming becoming available to EVERY student in EVERY school of the SDP
• Attended the Philadelphia Notebook annual fundraiser, speaking with Paul Socolar, editor, and Jerry Jordan, PFT (Philadelphia Federation of Teachers) president
• Collaborated with retired SDP librarian Janice Berrian to engage WePAC, a West Philadelphia community group, in school library advocacy
• At their invitation, presented to the Home and School Association annual culminating meeting about the benefit of school library services to EVERY child in EVERY school of the SDP
• Highlighted the benefit to students of school library services to the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT)
• Posted to the national listserv for librarians serving youth in detention, yalsa lockdown

Professional Memberships:
The librarian is a member of the American Library Association (ALA), the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA), the Association of Philadelphia School Librarians (APSL), and Beta Phi Mu, the national honor society for librarians.