• 6 Apr 2022 7:21 AM | Angela Wojtecki (Administrator)

    By: Susan Yutzey

    Welcome to Week 4 of Award Season. 

    This week we celebrate the Grammys - sort of.

    As a school librarian, have you ever “Googled” movies that feature libraries or librarians?  Google returned over 13 million hits in .73 seconds. Dozens of movies such as The Music Man, ThePagemaster, The Breakfast Club, Beauty and the Beast, Clue, Party Girl, Storm Center to mention just a few appeared on my list. Some interesting articles such as “The Ten Best Librarians on Screen,” “5 Movies Featuring Reel Black Librarians in Major Roles,” appeared too. Many of these movies have soundtracks.  And so in honor of the Grammys I compiled a playlist entitled Librarian Mashup in Spotify to celebrate School Library Month and our fourth week of OELMA Award Season.

    This week we feature two awards:

    OELMA Leadership-in-Action Award

    The OELMA Leadership-in-Action Award recognizes an Ohio school library media specialist who pursues active leadership roles in their school district, in OELMA, and/or in national professional organizations (e.g. AASL, ALA). This Award honors OELMA members who demonstrate an ongoing commitment to leadership in the school library profession..  Multiple recipients may receive this award.

    OELMA/Follett School Solutions Outstanding School Librarian Award

    The OELMA/Follett School Solutions Outstanding School Librarian Award recognizes a licensed Ohio school library media specialist who has developed an exemplary school library program.  The school library media specialist must incorporate through their daily practice Ohio’s Library Guidelines for Librarians (2021) strands: equity, literacies, partnerships, and quality schools. The recipient also receives a $150 stipend from Follett School Solutions.


    In 2021, OELMA celebrated Kelly Silwani as the OELMA/Follett School Solutions Ooutstanding School Librarian and Rob Kaminski and Janie Kantner as the Leadership-in-Action Award recipients. The graphics this week feature the three award recipients and focus on what  receiving the awards meant to them: Acknowledgement, Dedication, Leaders, Mentors, Humbling, Keep Fighting the Good Fight, Hard Work, Credential, Empowering, Energizing, and Confidence.

    You may nominate yourself or a colleague.  The deadline to nominate is April 25.  Visit oelma.org/Awards for more details or contact oelma.awards@gmail.com with questions.




  • 31 Mar 2022 8:55 PM | Angela Wojtecki (Administrator)

    So… you’ve decided it’s time to nominate yourself or a colleague for one of OELMA’s awards.

    What do you do next?

    Liz Deskins and Susan Yutzey created a video entitled “Awards 101” just for you. It can be found by clicking on the Awards tab on the OELMA website, as well as here.

    Liz and Susan, in an interview format with an accompanying PowerPoint, walk you through the awards process and address why nominating a colleague for an award matters both personally and professionally.  The text of their conversation can be found here.


    OELMA has many awards, scholarships, and grants.  Here is a list:

    • Collaborative School Library Award
    • Emerging Leader
    • Tech Innovation Award
    • Intellectual Freedom Award
    • Leadership-in-Action Award
    • Literacy Leader Award
    • OELMA/Follett School Solutions Outstanding School Librarian Award
    • Service Award for School Administrators (formerly Outstanding School Administrator)
    • Outstanding Contributor Award
    • J. Allen Oakum Scholarship
    • Founders Scholarship
    • OELMA/JLG Floyd Dickman Programming Grant
    • READ On! Ohio Award for Children & Teens

    As Liz and Susan explain, the checklists created for the majority of these awards are based on the Ohio Library Guidelines for Librarians.  In writing the narrative to accompany the application, the nominee has the flexibility to select specific guidelines within the strands and topics to showcase their individual talents.  Writing the narrative is an opportunity to reflect on your practice in 500 words.

    The deadline to submit nominations is April 25 at 11:59 p.m.  If you have questions, reach out to Gayle Schmuhl, Director of Awards, at oelma.awards@gmail.com.

  • 17 Mar 2022 8:20 AM | Angela Wojtecki (Administrator)



    As school library media specialists we cherish our readers, don’t we?  The ones who love science fiction, the ones who have read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for the third time, the ones who cannot wait to tell you about the Children of Blood and Bone.

    Now it’s your turn to recognize these enthusiastic readers by nominating them for the READ On! Ohio Award for Children & Teens. Created in 2015, this award recognizes Ohio K-12 students who are enthusiastic readers and enjoy being in the school and/or public library using the many services available.  To assist you with promotion, the OELMA Awards Committee created a resource folder that includes a flyer, press release, directions, and graphics available here. Please note that there are two folders - one for public library staff and one for school librarians.  This is the first year we have opened up nominations to public library staff, so you may want to confer with your public library children and teen services librarians.

    Think about the students who visit the library - don’t they meet at least two of the criteria listed below?

    • Demonstrates an enthusiasm for reading

    • Exhibits an enthusiasm for sharing books with others

    • Uses books for a variety of purposes

    • Reads independently on a voluntary basis

    • Uses the school and/or public library frequently

    The applications are reviewed by the OELMA Awards Committee and up to sixteen recipients are selected according to grade band (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12) and region (Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, and Southwest).  See the list of READ On! Counties by region.


    Each recipient receives a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card, thanks to an anonymous donor, and  a commemorative certificate. Recipients are encouraged to attend the OELMA annual conference in October to be publicly recognized. Using the website, listserv, and social media, OELMA announces the recipient’s names in May. In addition, each recipient’s school's public information officer will be notified through a press release.

    To nominate a student, complete and upload the OELMA READ On! Ohio Award for Children & Teens application form which requires a 250-word rationale that speaks to how the student meets at least two of the following criteria: 1) demonstrates an enthusiasm for reading; 2) exhibits an enthusiasm for sharing books with others; 3) uses books for a variety of purposes; 4) reads independently on a voluntary basis; 5) uses the school and/or public library frequently. Nominations are due by 11:59 p.m. April 25, 2022.

    The nominator of each winning nominee will be notified by email about their nominee’s selection for the award. The nominator is expected to contact the winning nominee with the award selection results.



  • 15 Mar 2022 8:00 AM | Angela Wojtecki (Administrator)

    The OELMA awards and scholarship season kicks off on Tuesday, March 15. Nominating yourself or another OELMA member for an award leads to many rewards beyond the award itself. Let’s take a look at some of our 2021 award recipients and see what they have to say.


    Grace Hammond, recipient of the OELMA Collaborative School Library Award, shared that “I had a community of support. It was also a great piece of advocacy for the media center at my school because it was a way to share that what is happening in the media center is dynamic, innovating, and contemporary.  It led to increased support for my program and more connections with other librarians, and I could not appreciate it more.

    Talk about building powerful connections!



    Angie Jameson, recipient of the OELMA Collaborative School Library Award, explained that “sharing the recognition with the teachers and administrators who were willing to take risks with me in the 2020-2021 school year highlighted the nature of the library media specialist job in the current educational landscape. It's so important for librarians to help teachers understand how the job has changed and what services we offer, and this award gave me the spotlight to share all the wonderful opportunities our teachers have beyond book selection and promotion. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to involve my administrators in the process of the award, allowing them the chance to understand the scope of updated library standards and skills we need the time to hone and continuously improve upon.” 

    Talk about building powerful connections!


    To learn more about OELMA awards, scholarships, and grants visit the OELMA website. During your visit, notice the new layout.  Click on any award, scholarship or grant and it opens a new tab that features an award description, criteria, and application process.  

    Two features that the Awards Committee worked diligently to streamline include new checklists and applications.  The checklists replace the rubrics.  As you review the checklists, note that each checklist (except for the OELMA Literacy Leader Award) is based on the Ohio Library Guidelines for Librarians (2021).  For the application process, there is a Part A for the nominator and a Part B for the nominee.  As the nominator, be sure and notify the person you have nominated to complete Part B, including attachments.  If you are self-nominating, all you need to do is complete Part B, including attachments.


    The deadline to submit applications for awards, scholarships, and grants is April 25, 2022 by 11:59 p.m.  Throughout awards season, check out OELMA’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as well as the OELMA listserv.


    For questions, reach out to oelma.awards@gmail.com - Director of Awards, Gayle Schmuhl.

  • 7 Mar 2022 8:53 AM | Angela Wojtecki (Administrator)

    By: Annie Ruefle

    Lower School Librarian

    Columbus School for Girls


    I’ve been presenting at OELMA conferences for more than 30 years; it doesn’t matter how many times I present, or what my subject matter is,  presenting is always a positive and invigorating experience.  I've presented on reading programming,  literary initiatives,  the art of reading, book clubs, Harry Potter extravaganza,  collaborative projects,  an author of the month program, literary cake decorating contests, connecting with Middle School students, reading festivals, and schoolwide reading celebrations.  I love to share ideas, but more importantly,  I love to get ideas from so many extraordinary librarians from around Ohio -- librarians like YOU.

    Why should YOU consider submitting a proposal to present at Conference? 


    Here are my Top Five Reasons to present at OELMA:

    1. Individual Professional Development Plans:  On the most practical level, presenting is a surefire way to add to your IPDP.  Educators across Ohio are required to maintain an individual professional development consisting of coursework, CEUs, or “equivalent activities.”   Presenting at a state-level conference is typically considered an equivalent activity according to Ohio Department of Education guidelines,  and can be added to an IPDP.  You get credit for attending and presenting at the same conference.  Bonus!  

    2. Fine tuning your own teaching:  As you are planning your session, deciding what you will share with your attendees, you think carefully about what you are doing as an educator.   It forces you to consider what you are teaching, how you are interacting with colleagues and students, and the ways in which you will present your material at the conference. Though you are sharing a stellar aspect of your teaching, you also continue to improve your own work as a teacher-librarian.  We all wish for our students to be lifelong learners and leaders; presenting at Conference models that kind of learning and leadership. 

    3. Engagement with the Conference:   As a presenter, you feel an added sense of engagement with the entire conference which only serves to ameliorate your entire experience.  Research tells us that when students are engaged in multiple aspects of  school  (clubs, athletics, drama, service, etc., ), they feel more connected to their overall school experience.  Being a presenter at an OELMA conference mirrors that same sort of experience; you feel a connection to the overall conference. Plus -- you never have to worry about finding a seat at your session: you ARE the front row. 

    4. Self Advocacy: We all know how fabulous  and necessary school librarians are; alas, not everyone in our school communities recognizes this fact.   We also know the painful statistics of school librarians experiencing unprecedented loss of jobs.  Though presenting a conference can’t guarantee anyone’s job, making sure that you are engaged and active in statewide conferences -- not only as an attendee but as a presenter -- is yet another way to let your administrators know that you are a valid, contributing member of the larger educational community.  We know you’re amazing; presenting at Conference is another way to highlight your library program and YOU. 

    5. Networking : Every time I present, I meet new people.  People ask questions after the session, or stop you in the hallways to talk about the ideas you’ve shared, or email you after the conference to continue the conversation. Each conversation or question is a stepping stone to another idea-exchange, partnership, collaboration, or friendship.  Friendships and connections aren’t included in the cost of the conference, but they really are an unexpected and priceless benefit. 

    Note: OELMA has extended our call for conference proposals until 4/15/22. Please consider submitting a proposal-we learn best when we learn from one another! 

  • 4 Mar 2022 10:47 AM | Angela Wojtecki (Administrator)

    By: Kristin Dages,

    District Media Technology Coordinator

    Hudson City Schools

    Hudson, Ohio


    Image result for Censorship book Images


    With the current “trend” nationwide toward school library book banning, some days it feels like we’re in some darker version of the 1984 movie, Footloose. With that said, we’ve never been in a better place to combat the ever-looming attempt of censorship regardless of how massive the effort is to create barriers of access. 

    Below are a few resources that our school library department has relied heavily on to combat censorship in the past six months. 

    A Little Background

    In September, our department fielded challenges on Gender Queer and Lawn Boy (both Alex Award winners). After an investigation about whether board policy was followed in purchasing these materials and having administration and a committee discuss the titles, we're currently looking at being one of the few districts in the state to keep both of them on our shelves.  We've been working hard over the past years to update our collections to focus on DEI and create inclusive collections K-12 while also updating our selection policies to reflect and support that initiative. We feel that fighting these challenges is crucial to that work, and we want to make sure that we're even more prepared for the next one. 


    Preparation is Key

    The Selection Policy

    One of the most important resources we have as school librarians is the Selection Policy which speaks to “the why” for every title on our shelf. It also speaks to how library material selection is far different from classroom instructional material selection. We updated our selection policy in 2018 to include more diverse language, promote an inclusive collection and list resources we use to choose library materials. We used the ALA toolkit to assist us in the updated version and, although we still plan to revise and improve it even more, we know that having an updated policy helped in our current challenges. Add your district’s policy to this form, and gain access to one another’s policies around the state. 

    The Reconsideration Procedure

    Along with the selection policy in place, it is worth the time and preparation to ensure your district has a  challenge procedure that removes any initial layers of possible censorship. This would include an administrator being able to make the decision after an initial review like our’s does (something we hope to change in the future).  Luckily, we currently have extremely supportive administrators who see the value in challenged library titles going to a committee for a larger discussion with all stakeholders rather than immediately banning a book. We hope to update this on our end in the future though as that could always change. Also, be sure to have the specific breakdown of the challenge committee that will be formed as a result of a materials challenge so there’s little confusion when beginning the important process of choosing who is a part of the committee. 

    Include: 

    • One librarian

    • Two teachers

    • Three parents

    • Curriculum Director

    Helpful Forms

    Challenge Form: Essential to help the district understand the concerns 

    Challenge Committee Member form: Helpful to committee members in understanding their role and guiding productive dialogue

    ALA’s OIF

    Any time we have a challenge, I immediately reach out to ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom and submit the title/s being challenged. They are an invaluable resource for support that we, as librarians, should support each year. If you don’t read anything else from this blog, read this post that they recently put out in response to the current influx of challenges around the nation. 

    Although certain titles are trendy targets now, book challenges will be an issue for the long run. That’s because, ultimately, no book is the perfect fit for every reader, especially works that tackle difficult topics reflecting real-world circumstances. But one reader’s objection is not a license to restrict all other readers from the book.”


    ALA reiterated that we’re far from alone in this #FReadom Fight, as our fellow Texas librarians have called it. After updating ALA on our district’s current challenges, they sent the aforementioned blog post and a letter of support to our administration and board of education members. We as the trained school librarians are the best resource to prepare our administrators in case concerns arise regarding our curated collections. The more we’re involved, the more our students will benefit. After all, having the books on our shelves is not about us. It’s about our students who need access to these titles. Let me say that again…having the books on our shelves is not about us. It’s about the students! #CheckYourBiases

    One other resource I want to call to your attention, especially if you need a refresher on best practices in collection development, is INFOhio’s collection development course. It offers three hours of professional development within their Library Pathway. Our department did this together to stay current and spark great discussions about meeting the needs of our students and staff K-12. 

    Who knows where this national flood of attempted censorship will take us. As a department we’ve discussed the fear of the underlying effects, such as librarians being too afraid to purchase certain titles because they see them as controversial or hot topics. It is hard work but picture one student each day who needs these titles on the shelf…they’re why we do what we do. It’s not about us. It’s about them. With libraries offering voluntary choice in reading, we know that not every book is for everyone; we must build libraries for all and overcome the challenges and fear that seek to destroy inclusive collections. Hopefully, the policies you have in place will allow you to do just that!

    Don’t forget! Submit your district policies here, and let’s build a resource from which all of us can learn.

    If you’ve read this far and want some more resources, check out Martha Hickson's SLJ article. Absolutely worth the time!

    Please reach out with any questions, and keep fighting the good fight for our students’ right to read. 


    Author: 

    Kristin Dages

    District Media Technology Coordinator

    Hudson City Schools

    Hudson, Ohio



  • 16 Feb 2022 1:49 PM | Angela Wojtecki (Administrator)

    By: Dana Wright



     Presenting to others is a wonderful and fulfilling way to give back to the library community.  I have been supported and encouraged over the years by the leaders of OELMA. If you are asked to present or if you have something in your wheelhouse that you would like to share, I encourage you to step up!


    Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to share one of my passions with other librarians.  That passion is sketchnoting.  Sketchnoting is a wonderful and creative way to engage students.  Not only does it engage, it helps students remember facts and concepts along with being relaxing and calming.  I think in these stressful times, anything we can do to help alleviate the stress is appreciated.


    I simply stepped in front of my classroom of Ohio librarians and treated them as the creative group of excited students they proved to be!  I had fun and they learned the foundations of sketchnoting.  In the past few months, many have reached out for lesson plans and resources.


    OELMA, thank you for the opportunity!.



  • 14 Feb 2022 12:01 PM | Angela Wojtecki (Administrator)

    Blog Post Written By: OELMA President Karen Gedeon


    Last year a dear friend of mine asked if OELMA could designate 2021 as The Year of Grace: to grant others grace and forgiveness without question or judgment. I thought that was a wonderful idea and so the board viewed things all year with grace and forgiveness. 

    I would like to propose that in 2022 we continue to grant grace and forgiveness, but also add optimism and thankfulness. It’s so easy to get caught up in negativity, bombarding us from every angle at every opportunity. But there is much goodness in the world if we only change how we view our opportunities. Take for example the snow and ice storm we had earlier this month. Instead of thinking of all the work which could be done, I chose to watch the snow fall and appreciate the beauty in it’s reflective nature and the power it possesses depending upon when and where it occurs. I chose to be thankful that my family was home and we had enough food and supplies to last us through.

    It doesn’t take much to be optimistic, just a small shift in how you view things and soon you will be counting your blessings and ignoring negativity. I think it has always been in my nature, but the first time I remember teaching optimism was when my kids were young. Sometimes they couldn’t understand why a fellow student acted a certain way or disliked someone all together. I taught them that everyone was put on this earth for a reason. You may never know the other person’s purpose, they may never really know their purpose, but everyone has something good in them. So just find it and compliment them on it, even if it’s as small as a cool pair of sneakers or a new hair color. Noticing little things makes a difference.

    Looking for the positive has been rather difficult over the last few years. We have all had a lot of issues thrown at us at once, but going back to compliment my students on their sneakers or their awesome hair color is helping me return to a level of optimism which provides thankfulness and happiness. I am thankful I get to go to school everyday and see such awesome kids. I am thankful I have a profession I love and a family I can come home to every evening. I encourage you to start noticing the great little things in life. As they add up, they will become your buffer to negativity. 


  • 7 Feb 2022 8:24 AM | Angela Wojtecki (Administrator)


    It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 15 years since the Librarians who Read book group began! The seed for the idea came after a district librarian meeting. There wasn't time for us to discuss books at the monthly meetings, but that was why we all became school librarians. So we talked, emailed, and met monthly among ourselves, sharing book titles that we discovered. We didn’t want the pressure of someone needing to clean their library (or their house) for these meetings, so we met at public places such as bookstores, libraries, and coffee shops. After a few months, we began telling other librarians from other school districts about it and it grew from a Hilliard thing to a central Ohio thing - Central Ohio Librarians Who Read. The selling point for this book group - no required book. That was too much pressure! Instead, we designed (I say that loosely because we did little designing or preparing!) it so that you could bring whatever book(s) you wanted to share, new or old, and if you were having a bad day, you just could come to learn about book titles and share the camaraderie of those who understood what you do! Over the years, more librarians would drop in; others would drop out, but we continued to meet monthly, at Panera’s community room, on a Friday afternoon. One member’s husband said, “you go to that book club and you come home stinking of hot chocolate and new ideas!” For several years, we sponsored a gift wrapping fundraiser at a local Barnes & Noble and raised money for OELMA scholarships.



    Never an official OELMA book club; however, it’s been largely OELMA members who participated. Sometimes we would gain new OELMA members because of this connection. Did we only talk books? Well, you know when we gathered, “school” sometimes seeped into the conversation. We celebrated together or commiserated together when one of us shared some news. We always returned to the books.

    Fast forward to 2016, when OELMA invited Susan and me to offer a “model” session of the book group at our annual conference. It was after hours and about 10 people attended eager to share book titles.  Soon, other school librarians from around the state decided to start their own book groups.  Karen Reiber, now retired, started a book group in southwest Ohio in the Cincinnati area.

    Then came the pandemic… and we weren’t able to meet at our usual haunt, a Barnes & Noble, in Upper Arlington. It was disheartening not to chat and share stories. BUT… with the advent of Zoom we could use the power of the internet for good - a virtual book club. While virtual meet-ups are not ideal, the upside- people from around the state can join in, and they do!  Initially there was some haphazard scheduling, but now we have it under control. Check out the Virtual Ohio Librarians Who Read Facebook page for  dates and times (https://www.facebook.com/centralohiolibrariansread) and a link to a Google spreadsheet that lists all the book titles we’ve discussed so far. Each month we will add to the list - a book list curated by school librarians, how perfect! Follow us on Facebook.

    Must you know the secret handshake and sign a contract to join in? We formed this group with the idea that you can come and go as you please.



    So join when you want. We meet on the 4th Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m.; 6:30 social time.  The dates are listed below. We would love to have you join us. The Zoom information comes through the OELMA listserv from me, Liz Deskins.

    February, 22

    March, 22

    April 26

    May 24

    June 28

    Thanks to the fabulous OELMA duo of Liz Deskins and Susan Yutzey for this blog post! 

  • 27 Jan 2022 10:00 AM | Angela Wojtecki (Administrator)

    By: Dr. Jessica Dennison


    OELMA Director of Regional Representation

    I am always looking for creative ways to display books. I always find that when I put forth effort into the themes of my book displays students gravitate towards them and select titles they would not normally select from the shelves. Book displays allow me to market the great titles I have available for students and make sure that everyone sees themselves in the characters in the books that are offered to them. 

    Valentine’s day is around the corner and love is in the year. Each year at this time I lean on my love of books and getting books into the hands of students through a creative book display. Students look forward to my “Blind Date with a Book” book display. This is a display that takes a bit longer to set up but totally worth the time because these books get swooped up. Students usually comment on how cute this display is and grab a title or two because they are curious about which books are included. I have two rules with this display. The first rule is they can’t open it until they leave the library. The second rule is they have to at least give the book a try and if they don’t like it they certainly can return it but they still have to tell me why they didn’t like it. 



    This year our GSA club asked for a LGBTQ display and I’m combining the two. I did a simple search in the catalog for titles that have characters who identify with the LGBTQ community and love stories. In years past I have grabbed titles that feature characters going through a struggle and pulled out details about the characters to help pull students into checking these books out.  I grab the barcode numbers off of each of them and then wrap the books in a Valentine themed paper (Usually red with some hearts drawn on it). On the front I write a few details about the main character but do not give away the title of the book. Students will then have to pick the title based off of the details I give them, similar to a blind date. I write the barcode number on the back of the book so I can check it out to the student. Usually curiosity gets the best of them and these get swooped up quickly! 

    Last year when we still had so many precautions we were following for Covid I had to be creative about how I did book displays. I relied heavily on our digital tools to ensure students still had access to great content. Linked is a sample of my digital blind date with a book. For this one I kept a list in the library of which title matched up with each slide. Students were able to access this presentation through my google classroom and through a collection on Destiny. 

    What are some great ideas you have for book displays?


    Share your book display ideas on our OELMA list-serv! 




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