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  • 1 Feb 2023 7:32 AM | Angela Wojtecki (Administrator)

    Greetings OELMA members and friends. 

    February 1, 2023 is the OELMA awards season opener and the OELMA Awards Committee is pleased to announce the following awards and scholarships:

    OELMA Emerging Leader Award

    Tech Innovation Award

    Intellectual Freedom Award

    Leadership-in-Action Award

    Literacy Leader Award

    OELMA/Follett School Solutions Outstanding School Librarian Award

    OELMA/JLG Floyd Dickman Programming Grant

    OELMA Service Award for School Administrators

    Outstanding Contributor Award

    J. Allen Oakum Scholarship

    OELMA Founders Scholarship

    OELMA READ On! Ohio Award for Children & Teens

    If you scan the list and don’t see the OELMA Collaborative School Library Award, it’s because the award has been renamed - Ross J. Todd Collaborative School Library Award.  The award honors the life and work of Dr. Todd, a professor of library and information science at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, who was recognized, up until his death in 2022, as an award-winning expert on the transformative role of school libraries.  Todd and his co-author, Professor Carol Kulthau, conducted a leading-edge study, “Student Learning through Ohio School Libraries,” in the early 2000s and received a Certificate of Appreciation for Notable Service and Significant Service to Ohio’s School Libraries from OELMA.  The award recognizes and encourages collaboration and partnerships between school library media specialists and the school community through joint planning of a program, project, or event in support of the curriculum, using school library resources, and incorporating Ohio’s Library Guidelines for Librarians (2021).

    The Awards Committee now reports to Amanda Brasfield, Director of Communications. We are pleased to announce this year’s Awards Committee members: Casaundra Bronner, Gayle Brusk, Heidi Fletcher, Lisa Gallagher, Cheryl Lorson, and Susan Yutzey.

    Awards season is open until March 22, 2023.  Please check out the awards pages and nominate yourself or a colleague. As Angela Wojtecki, 2022 OELMA Outstanding Contributor Award recipient, remarked recently “An OELMA Award is truly special because it is a testament that the work you do on a daily basis is being seen by others in the field. It is empowering and a very special honor to receive an OELMA award as a school librarian and educator." 

    Stay tuned for awards and scholarship updates throughout February and March!

  • 30 Sep 2022 1:30 PM | Kelly Gonzalez (Administrator)

    Less than a week until conference begins! Are you ready?

    Whether you're a first timer or well-seasoned attendee, here are some conference-specific packing ideas as you prepare next week:

    • Layers

    Moving from session to session can mean moving between fluctuating thermostats, plus you know, October in Ohio. If you'd like to cover bases no matter what temperature the environment might be, plan to bring and wear layers. Jean jackets and comfortable cardigans--*with pockets*--are almost always my layers of choice.

    • Comfortable shoes

    Whatever shoes you find most comfortable for walking and being on your feet, pack 'em. Leave any brand-new shoes at home for breaking in another time. I'd bring two pairs and give yourself flexibility if you need to switch for whatever reason--I'm bringing my fave Chelsea boots and slip-on Toms since I live in them already.

    • Laptop / Macbook / Chromebook

    Phones are obviously convenient, but nothing beats the larger screen for viewing session presentations and shared docs, checking email in between sessions, and maybe even already incorporating fresh new ideas and resources into upcoming plans and activities back home, if you're a multitasker.

    • Chargers (Phone & Laptop / Macbook / Chromebook)

    Don't forget to pack your phone and laptop chargers (and freshly charge the computer before you go!). You also might want to bring a fully charged power bank, too, if your phone battery tends to drain more quickly away from home. Remember to put your laptop charger into your daily conference bag, in case you need to charge on the fly when you're mid-sessions.

    • Notebook and pens

    If you're still a bit old school like me, notebook and pens are a must--somewhere to quickly jot down names and contact info for the people you meet, new tools from sessions and keynotes, reading recommendations from us library folk, and general reminders to self as you pick up useful tips and tricks in quick conversations here and there. If you don't have anything you love yet, I'll share that Moleskin journals, Happy Planner notebooks (for when I want to move pages around easily), and colorful Papermate Flair pens are my go-tos for professional meetings. Bring extra pens!

    • Snacks, mints, and hand sanitizer

    Bring some quick and easy snacks to put in your conference bag--granola or protein bars, dried fruit, a little dark chocolate--anything that will tide you over until the next meal and give you the energy boost you need between sessions. Mints (or gum) and hand sanitizer can probably sell themselves, right?

    • Reusable water bottle

    You're going to be busy--stay hydrated! Bring that water bottle and keep up the H2O intake as you network and take in all the good info from our session presenters.

    • Roomy satchel or tote bag

    Tuck in a bag just for conference stuff: something to hold that laptop, notebook, pens, snacks, and any other small items you might be picking up from vendors and networking. Comfortable to carry and dedicated solely to conference life would be my advice.

    • Business card / QR codes with contact information

    As you network and meet people, a quick card with your contact information is easy to pass along after a great conversation. We're so often islands in our roles, but connecting to other islands is part of what makes this conference so valuable. Plan to keep up those connections after conference!

    • Printed copy of the conference schedule

    Absolutely your preference on this one, but I always print and mark up a copy the day before arriving to plan ahead. Use it as a guide and tweak as needed using the electronic version, and it's a nice fail-safe if your internet connection struggles right when you need to remember where you're heading next.

    May your packing go well and I cannot wait to see you all at conference!

    Four more days!

  • 29 Sep 2022 8:00 AM | Angela Wojtecki (Administrator)

    So you are attending the 2022 OELMA Conference…THEN WHAT? 

    Your administrators and fellow educators and librarian PLN can also benefit from your time at conference:

    One important aspect of attending professional development is to bring back to your school and share, apply, and reflect upon what you learned with others. As we prepare for our upcoming OELMA conference, I wanted to share some tips that I have learned over the years after every OELMA conference that may be beneficial for you and also help “make your case” with administrators in future years to attend. 

    1. Take notes on every session you attend at conference in a running Google Doc. They can be as simple or detailed as you wish. You can include links, “aha” moments or phrases, book titles, and more. This also comes in handy in the future when you recall something that was shared at conference and want to re-share it, but may not be exactly sure what it was. All of the links and information are stored in one doc for future access. 

    2. As you attend the sessions at conference, if you think of a fellow educator or librarian that should know about what you are learning about, email them and share with them the content! We are always better together when we learn together! Tweet out your takeaways, share pictures, and tag your PLN that would benefit from what you are learning. Use the #OELMA22 for tagging within your social media posts! 

    3. Email your administrators right after conference about what you learned. When you get back home from conference, send a quick email to my administrators with a short recap of conference and to share what you really enjoyed about the sessions, authors, and networking. Try to focus it on things we are doing within the school as well so it ties in neatly. Thank them for allowing me to attend too. 

    4. Share with your fellow staff everything you can all year long! Whether it is in email, face-to-face, newsletters, or bits and pieces as the year goes on, I share those topics, books, websites, etc. that I learned about at conference. 

    5. Tech Tip: The free Google Keep app on your cell phone is a great app to store pictures, screenshots, lists, links, and more if you are looking for an easy conference app for your phones. You can even share items with others within Google Keep. 

    Image from: 

    See you soon at conference and if you have any other tips, please email me at and I will add them to this blog post! 

  • 22 Sep 2022 12:05 PM | Angela Wojtecki (Administrator)

    By Amanda Brasfield, Director of Communications

    District Librarian, Findlay City Schools

    The OELMA Conference is a great time to connect with other librarians and professionals in related fields. Here are some tips to help you make the most of networking at conference. 

    1. Think about what your professional goals and what you are hoping to get out of any new professional relationships. Are you looking for someone with a rockstar makerspace? Are you seeking to get more involved with OELMA? Searching for fellow YA book aficionados? Focusing on your needs will help you choose the right sessions and booths to visit. Share your goals and you may meet someone who can point you in the right direction, as well. 

    2. Go to all the things! Attend sessions related to your goals so that you will be in the audience with others who are curious about the same things you are. Connections can also be made in the lobby and corridors, so get out there, eyes up, phone stowed. Keynotes and large events can really mix up the crowd, so introduce yourself to the people in your area and find out what brought them there. You never know who you will run into!

    3. Ready your introduction. Be sure you tell people you meet your full name and where you’re from, and/or your position. Someone may not remember Brasfield, but they may remember the librarian from Findlay, which is enough to find me with Google. Wearing your badge is a great way to give people a visual of your name.

    4. Utilize the conference hashtag, #OELMA22, before, during, and after the conference. 

    • Before: Share what you’re looking forward to, session you want to see, or specific people you are hoping to learn from. Don’t forget to tag those you mention!

    • During: Share what you learn in sessions, tag new people you meet, share photos you took. This creates a shared record of conference, and it can also serve as notes for your own reference.

    • After: Tag and thank your administrator or district for letting you come to conference. Follow up with folks you planned to stay in touch with. Use the hashtag to share photos when you implement something you learned at conference. 

    5. Bring business cards or a QR code

    Folks can scan to connect with you on social media. Be sure to jot down a note on the back of any cards you collect to document what you talked about or if you connected digitally, be sure to follow back! You can also write directly on handouts or utilize a doc or Google Keep note. Be ready to give and receive information. 

    6. Not everything is going to be a match. Conference is an active and dynamic space, but not every connection you make is going to be fruitful. Cast a wide net. Also, some folks may not want to connect at the moment you encounter them, and that’s ok too. You can move along to someone who is ready to talk shop at that moment.


    It’s ok to excuse yourself too! If a conversation isn’t manifesting into what you need or you are trying to catch someone else, just be polite. You can thank the person for their time and move along to your next connection.

    7. Reciprocate. You are coming to conference with your own set of skills and interents. Remember that others may be seeking to learn from you, so think about what has gone well for you or where you shine and be ready to share. If you are completely new to the profession or still in school? Don’t undervalue your fresh perspective or the questions you raise. 

  • 19 Sep 2022 8:00 AM | Angela Wojtecki (Administrator)

    Every year at conference we welcome those that are attending an OELMA Conference for the first time in a unique way. We hold an introductory first-time attendee session for those that have never attended an OELMA conference before. This session is offered bright and early during this year's conference on Thursday, October 6th from 7:30 am-8:30 am in the Frantz room this year! We will offer tips, advice, and answer any questions regarding anything conference related, including graduate credit information and more. This is a great way for new attendees to also meet fellow OELMA members and start networking! If it isn’t your first time attending, you are still welcomed to attend and meet our new attendees and also maybe learn one or two new things regarding our OELMA conference this year. 

    See the source image

    See you at conference! 

  • 15 Sep 2022 8:10 AM | Angela Wojtecki (Administrator)

    You heard it right!  OELMA is offering graduate credit for attendance at this year’s annual conference. The OELMA Fall Conference provides a powerhouse of professional development for school librarians.

    • Donalyn Miller

    • Marc Tyler Nobleman

    • Bridget Crossman

    • Marc Oshiro

    • Over 40 sessions to attend

    For more information on the Fall Conference, including schedule-at-a-glance, speakers, authors, and hotel information, visit the OELMA website and click on the Professional Development tab, 2022 Annual Conference. Register soon!

    The cost for one semester hour of graduate credit through Ashland University is $265, payable to Ashland University.  It’s easy to register online for course #6145 Y1 . Click here to see the syllabus.  Final assignments are due on 11.14.22. Once you have registered for the course, a link to the Schoology course will be sent to you.

    For more information about the graduate credit option, please contact Susan Yutzey,

  • 25 Jun 2022 8:03 PM | Angela Wojtecki (Administrator)

    On Wednesday, June 22, OELMA collaborated with Kent State University’s School of Information to host our Freedom to Read Forum. The day included two keynote presenters, a panel discussion regarding a recent book banning attempt in Ohio, and four other informative session presentations. We were fortunate enough to have 32 registered attendees, a few of them joining us virtually. The day was organized under the power-duo leadership of Kris Konik, OELMA Director of Teaching and Learning, and Dr. Meghan Harper, Director of the Kent State School of Information. Presenters included Professor Mary Anne Nichols, Dr. Chic Canfora, Dr. Belinda Boon, Liz Deskins and Dr. Christina Dorr. Scholarships were awarded to several current Kent State Students and Graduates to attend as well and were funded by Kent State’s School of Information.

     OELMA also "took over" the AASL Instagram account for the day to showcase this event on national social media and our very own Amanda Brasfield, Director of Communications, posted the entire day's events via images and video clips on the AASL Instagram account--super exciting! 

    The day’s events discussed a variety of topics related to the freedom to read and book censorship. Important points were mentioned by each presenter and collaborative notes were taken by attendees to refer to for the future. Topics included what to include in a material selection and collection development policy, as well as suggested procedures for when a book is challenged within a school district. There was also information shared about self-censoring, bias, and recommendations for book titles that focus on student issues and topics that reflect our students' own lived experiences.

    There was some discussion about possibly making this an "annual" Summer event, so stay tuned for more information! 

    Here are some quotes and images from a few of our attendees about the day’s events:

    This event truly opened my eyes to what librarians do, manage, and go through on a daily basis. It really surprised me how little we know about what librarians do, and I was glad to learn more about it. -Alia O’Brien


    OELMA always does such a nice job in creating meaning professional learning opportunities and today was no exception! I left with so many great resources on such an important topic! -Kristin Dages


    Today's forum was proof positive of the difference librarians can make in students' lives and how imperative it is that every student have a trained, certified librarian to protect their right to read. Christina Conti


    As an incoming MLIS student, it was incredible to hear the stories and advice of current librarians who care so much about providing safe, educational spaces for everyone. You could tell everyone was there not because they had to be, but because they want to improve their libraries and make them as inclusive as possible, which is inspiring and encouraging for a future librarian like me. - Savannah Gould


    So glad I attended, It was so well worth it! I gathered enough information to update my collection development policies as well as my challenge policy. -Lisa Barnes Prince

     Tweet by Lorri Kingan

    Tweet by Kelly Silwani

  • 6 Jun 2022 7:02 AM | Angela Wojtecki (Administrator)

    The OELMA Board of Directors at its May meeting, approved the renaming of the OELMA Collaborative School Library Award to the OELMA/Ross J. Todd Collaborative School Library Award in memory of Dr. Ross J. Todd.  Todd, at the time of his death, was an  Associate Professor of Library and Information Science (LIS) at the School of Communication and Information, Rutgers University (N.J.).  He was a world-renowned expert on adolescent information seeking and use, inquiry learning in digital information environments, and the transformative role of school libraries in the 21st century.

    For those of us in Ohio, Professor Todd held a special place. As OELMA Past President Gayle Geitgey shared in a recent email He always held OELMA and Ohio school libraries near and dear.”  Todd and Carol Kuhlthau founded the Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries (CISSL) at Rutgers.  CISSL researchers conducted three large studies in Delaware, Ohio, and New Jersey. “Student Learning through Ohio School Libraries” was the largest qualitative study of school libraries.  SLJ called it “the first comprehensive study based on students’ evaluation of their media centers.” In 2003 and 2004, Todd and his co-author, SC&I Distinguished Professor Emerita Carol Kuhlthau, received a “Certificate of Appreciation for Notable Service and Significant Service to Ohio’s School Libraries” from OELMA for their leading-edge study.  The article written by Ross and Kuhlthau was titled “13,000 Students of Ohio Tell Their Story” ‘Yeah, the School Library Rocks.”

    Beyond the ground-breaking study, I remember the evidence-based practice workshops he conducted with Ohio school librarians. Todd and co-facilitators Gayle Geitgey and Ann Tepe helped those of us who attended the workshops to understand the significance of collecting data as evidence of our daily practice and how it affected our students and us as information specialists.  I left those workshops feeling rejuvenated and eager to practice what we had learned.

    During his lifetime, Todd “was deeply committed to information literacy and inquiry-based learning, application of evidence-based practice to the profession of school librarianship, and the promotion of research in the school library field. He wrote that his research had three interrelated foci: understanding how children learn and build new knowledge from information, information utilization for learning, and evidence-based practice for school libraries.”

    The Collaborate School Library Award recognizes and encourages collaboration and partnerships between school library media specialists and the school community through joint planning of a program, project, or event in support of the curriculum, using school library resources and incorporating the Ohio Library Guidelines for Librarians (2021).  Helping students learn and build new knowledge from the information they acquire using school library resources in joint planning with another educator in the school community is a fitting way to celebrate Professor Todd and his life’s work.

    Gordon, Carol A. “A Tribute to Ross Todd’s Scholarship” personal communication

    Geitgey, Gayle “Ross Todd” personal communication

    In Memoriam:Ross J. Todd, Associate Professor of Library and Information Science”

    Kenney, Brian. “Ross to the Rescue.” School Library Journal. April 1, 2006.

  • 26 Apr 2022 11:00 AM | Kelly Gonzalez (Administrator)

    AUTHOR // Rob Kaminski

    Librarian, Woodbury Elementary School

    Shaker Heights City Schools

    Shaker Heights, Ohio


    An Inquiry Station in my library is a place where students can investigate an item on display and respond to a quick challenge about it. The item or topic on display can be anything that your students would find engaging and about which they can make educated guesses.

    I chose to call it an Inquiry Station because Woodbury Elementary is an International Baccalaureate School and “inquiry” is a foundational aspect of the IB learning cycle. However, you could call it a “Discovery Spot” or whatever catchy name fits your school community.

    Here is an example of an Inquiry Station with a display of different bird skulls and a handout showing different types of food sources for birds. The challenge called for students to match which food source they thought would be consumed by which bird.

    Why Have An Inquiry Station?

    I want the library to be an inviting space for everyone, which means hosting activities that go beyond reading. An Inquiry Station gives students another reason to enjoy visiting the library and to have something fun (and subtly educational) to do when they are there.

    It also could reinforce learning units, skills, or themes in your school by creating Inquiry Station activities that align with learning initiatives in your building.

    How Do I Create an Inquiry Station?

    My best piece of advice is to use what you already have access to, you don’t have to buy anything to set up an inquiry station. Imagination is your best resource, there is no need to spend much time or energy to create one that students will love.

    The components are simple:

    • Signage to draw attention to the Inquiry Station

    • The object or activity to display

    • A posted challenge about the display

    • A way for students to respond to the challenge 

    I am fortunate to have access to dioramas from a lending library at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. These displays are visually engaging and easily allow for inquiry. The dioramas I’ve used have included animal skeletons, fossils, animals that use camouflage, etc. When I use these for Inquiry Stations, both students and staff are drawn to them right away. These have allowed for challenges such as: 

    • What animals use camouflage and what for? 

    • What animal does this skeleton belong to?

    • What are the impacts of invasive species on an ecosystem?

    You may find that you are able to borrow interesting items and artifacts from area museums, historical societies or science centers.

    You also can find Inquiry Station items almost everywhere. One day when I was delivering an old overhead projector to a teacher, a student in the hallway asked me if it was a 3D printer. I immediately realized that old technology would make great inquiry subjects. 

    I currently have a Walkman on display, but just imagine the guesses you could receive for some of that old equipment gathering dust in the back rooms!

    Obviously the subjects of your Inquiry Stations will vary with age, the examples I’m sharing are for the upper elementary students that I serve. Here are some more ideas to show that you really could use anything for an inquiry station:

    • Unique tools or kitchen gadgets: Students make up a name and guess what the object is used for

    • A computer with a Nature Cam playing: Students could provide notes or guesses about the animal’s habitat, behavior, etc

    • A piece of origami in progress: Students have to guess what the final piece will be

    • Display only a small portion of a picture of a common object: Students have to guess what the object is

    • A photo of a historical event: Students could guess the time period, place, or actions related to the picture

    • Displaying an image of a work of art: Students could guess on a variety of aspects of the art: what the theme is, what materials it’s composed of, what time period it was created

    Sometimes I like to pick a display where students can use books from the library to inform their guesses. If your students have devices, you could also guide them to your databases or other reliable websites to reinforce research strategies.

    I usually have students respond on paper, because my library schedule requires that they interact with the Inquiry Stations in between other tasks. However, if you were using it as a class activity, you could use QR codes, Google Forms, etc., for students to respond to the challenge.

    When Do Students Visit the Inquiry Station?

    My library works on a flexible schedule, so students can visit the Inquiry Station anytime they have permission to be in the library. If they are here with their class, they can interact with it when there is free time before the period ends.

    I usually put my station where students can complete it while they are waiting in line to check out books. You may want to do the opposite and place it somewhere else in the library to relieve congestion. 

    I know many elementary librarians on fixed schedules use stations that students rotate through during class, Inquiry Stations are a perfect fit for that.

    Depending on your school community, you of course may need to establish rules for when students can complete an Inquiry Station challenge (after checking out, after completing work, etc.).

    You know your students best and that’s what should drive what your inquiry stations are like and how they function as a part of your library.

    What Do Students Get for Using the Inquiry Station?

    It is up to you whether students simply experience the Inquiry Station or if you provide an award. Our District sometimes receives gift books from publishers, so I use these as rewards when available.  

    Most times I gather all the responses that showed any true effort (whether the answer is correct or not) and randomly pick a few winners from those responses. 

    Other ideas for Inquiry Station rewards could include: special bookmarks, passes for special library access (lunch in the library, Makerspace), names read on announcements, pictures of winners posted in the library, etc. 

    Just like with Inquiry Station ideas, if you wish to provide an award, I recommend imagination over spending money.

    I also email teachers and administrators when students win so they are further encouraged and this also helps to make teachers and administrators aware that these activities are going on in the library.

    If you think an Inquiry Station might be a good fit in your library, have fun with it and start small, it will evolve over time. 

    If you have any questions, you can reach me at


    Rob Kaminski

    Librarian, Woodbury Elementary School

    Shaker Heights City Schools

    Shaker Heights, Ohio

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