The Hawaii Library Association held its annual conference on November 18th & 19th with both virtual and in-person events. I wanted to share some of my take-aways with you.
Lessa Kanani‘opua Pelayo-Lozada, the current ALA president, opened the conference by sharing her thoughts on the kuleana of librarians today. She underscored the need for libraries to uplift diverse voices and protect students’ right to read. Across the country, libraries are facing a wave of book challenges and bans and, while Hawaii hasn’t been an epicenter of censorship, it’s in our students best interest to be proactive and prepared. You can find helpful resources at UniteAgainstBookBans.org. ALA also provides a printable PDF pamphlet with the Library Bill of Rights and Freedom to Read statement. If you are a HIDOE employee, you can find the state Materials Selection Policy and Controversial Issues Policy here. Educating yourself and your school community about this issue might feel like a risk. You can find the courage you need by reaching out to your community of library colleagues and educators including HASL members and leaders.
Sacred Hearts librarian and HASL member Laurel Oshiro presented her experience genrefying the library. While it was a daunting task to accomplish, the changes have empowered Laurel’s students to use the library with more independence and with greater access to print resources. Reorganizing the books also allowed students and volunteers to play a more active role by reshelving books quickly and correctly, which frees Laurel to focus on other responsibilities, such as planning instruction and programming. Laurel drew on the expertise and assistance of others during this process. Kaimuki High School librarian Renea Ruark shared a color-coding system which became the backbone of the new organizational structure. Lauren Nielsen, who was a practicum student with Laurel at the time, assisted with critical steps of the projects such as determining categories, assessing book genres and topics, and physically rearranging the books. Laurel’s willingness to move beyond tradition and reimagine library policies and practices to meet students’ needs more effectively is an example we can all follow. Laurel generously shared the files she created in this Google Drive.
After so many virtual events in the past three years, it was a joy to gather in person at the Saturday evening HLA social at the Bishop Museum. Several school librarians and HASL members were in attendance including Susan Clark and Eden Peart (pictured here). Seeing these new and old colleagues and friends reminded me how important it is to nurture relationships with library professionals. I rely on my friends in the library community for inspiration, support, feedback, encouragement, guidance, and celebration. While it’s hard to take the time away from our day-to-day responsibilities, I encourage you to participate in events like the HLA conference in order to fill your own bucket and return to your library communities with renewed passion and insight.
Wishing you all a joyful holiday season!
Caitlin Ramirez, HASL President
School library professionals from across the state came together in August for the HASL/HIDOE joint conference. The two-day event featured national literacy advocate Donalyn Miller. Donalyn is an award-winning teacher and author of books including The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild. Ms. Miller presented on the joy of reading, increasing student access to books, navigating slumps in reading motivation, and books for a better world. A diverse group of local library professionals joined Ms. Miller as presenters, highlighting the abundance and variety of literacy resources available to students in our state. This included Mid-Pacific Institute Librarians Nicole Goff and Dave Wee discussing strategies for source evaluation with students, HSPLS librarian Danielle Todd showcasing digital resources offered by Hawaii’s public libraries, HIDOE librarian Janice Lee sharing ideas about teaching visual literacy, just to name a few.
Many of our valued vendor partners joined us to promote products and services that support student success as well as answer our questions and develop an understanding of our interests and needs. Mike Sweeney from The Library Cooperation, Courtney Mach from Swank Motion Pictures, and Elizabeth Ross from Zoobean ran sessions to help attendees make the most of their products. Infinium Interiors even gave away fun and functional library furniture to a few lucky recipients. Finally, there were exciting hands-on activities featuring maker-space tools like a Glowforge Printer and button-makers. Overall, the conference was a validating and inspiring way to begin the new school year. We want to say a very heartfelt mahalo to the committee organizing the conference for all their hard work. The committee was led by HIDOE’s Joanna Dunn and included HASL executive board members Meera Garud, Danielle Fujii, Susan Clark, and Caitlin Ramirez. We look forward to future conferences.
We hope you’ll join us for another exciting professional development opportunity in November; the Hawaii Library Association’s annual conference. American Library Association president Lessa Pelayo-Lozada and UH Manoa Creative Writing professor and poet No’u Revilla will keynote the conference, which will also include an in-person social at the Bishop Museum to celebrate the Centennial anniversary of HLA. Current HASL members get a discount on conference and social registration. Visit the conference website for more information and to register.
Two students from the University of Hawaii at Manoa Library and Information Science (LIS) program, Alita Charron and Phuong Nguyen, are the spring 2021 recipients of the Robert and Rita Blair Memorial Award. This award is presented to graduating students who show special promise in providing library services to children and youth. The LIS faculty select awardees based on high academic standing and strong evidence of professional leadership.
The Spring 2021 HASL Conference provided attendees with opportunities to hear a guest author promoting literacy through poetry and a panel of librarians sharing how they use tech tools and design virtual events to support literacy. Attendees also joined informal breakout sessions to exchange ideas and experiences in supporting literacy. Over 40 library professionals and educators took advantage of the virtual event that was held over Zoom on Saturday, April 24, from 8:30 am to noon.
Co-presidents Danielle Fujii and Maricar Kawasaki launched the conference with a business meeting. Highlights included the Golden Key Award for significant professional contributions awarded to Betty Arai, librarian at Mililani High. Wayne Harada, a retired journalist who has assisted with various HASL activities through the years, received the Outstanding Library Service Award. The presidents also acknowledged Diane Mokuau, recipient of this year’s School Library Journal’s Librarian of the Year Award.
In her keynote, Frances Kakugawa, a prize winning author and master teacher, shared the power of words to unlock innermost feelings and thoughts in her talk titled, “The Poet Librarian: Nurturing Literacy.” Kakugawa shared poignant anecdotes of children and adults discovering the world of literature through libraries and the strength of writing that reveals and celebrates our humanity. She read a poem she created for the conference entitled, “The Poet Librarian."
School and public librarians joined a lively panel highlighting the use of technology to promote literacy. Caroline Lee from Honouliuli Middle School, described the pros and cons of using Webex to conduct author visits. Carolyn Kirio from Kapolei Middle School, shared two tools, Rewordify and Summry, that allowed her students to tackle difficult reading materials by simplifying the language and creating succinct summaries. Sasha Kealalio and Jolene Miyaji from Aiea Public Library and Waipahu Public Library respectively, showcased WeVideo as a dynamic tool for creating digital booktalks in the public library system.
Attendees also interacted with one another in breakout rooms where free flowing discussions and exchanges focused on literacy issues and technology uses, as well as more general topics of their choice. The conference concluded with book giveaways donated by Teresa Sakurada and Frances Kakugawa.
Caitlin Ramirez, Meera Garud, Sandy Yamamoto, and Violet Harada comprised the conference planning team.
Diane Mokuau, librarian at Molokai High and Intermediate since 2002, has been selected as a 2021 School Librarian of the Year along with Amanda Jones, teacher librarian at Live Oak Middle School in Louisiana. This is the sixth year that School Library Journal has presented this award that is sponsored by Scholastic Book Fairs. The award recognizes K-12 school library professionals for outstanding achievement and exemplary use of technology and services to foster multiple literacies.
Diane was nominated by Cynthia Delanty, branch manager of the Molokai Public Library, for this prestigious award. Cynthia said, “This small island is a special place where people band together and use their strengths to help one another. Diane is a shining example of that.” Diane’s principal, Katina Soares commented, “Diane really provides an opportunity for kids and the community to connect. Her library has become that kind of hub. She is highly respected [in this community]. When she says something, people believe her.”
Diane’s library is a center of quiet and social zones and a makerspace packed with flip tables and exercise ball chairs. During the pandemic, Diane delivered books by cart to students or left them at the front of the school for students attending virtually.
She not only serves as librarian at her school but she also created the Molokai College and Career Tour Club that helps students visit the East and West coasts for college tours. This annual activity (on hold during the pandemic) has made students and their families, who have never left the small island, realize they are capable of going to college. Diane said, “I want our students to realize that the world is bigger than our island.”
Diane is also credited with growing the Molokai Services Cadre, comprised of librarians, a principal, and staff from public, school, and Native Hawaiian libraries. It started as an informal group gathering for meals and social sharing but it soon blossomed into a working ohana of professionals. The cohort support one another in a range of activities including weeding collections, sharing technology resources, and exchanging programs across the island.
From 2014 through 2019, Diane coauthored a million dollar grant from the federal government to develop the Molokai LIVE21st Century Learning Center, which provides homework assistance and enrichment activities to middle school students. Her latest effort in 2020 resulted in a $10,000 DOE Innovation grant to buy Kindles for elementary students and get high school students to serve as readers for elementary programs.
For decades, Diane has also connected her students with environmental initiatives. She has collaborated with the ecological nonprofit Molokai Cares to promote stewardship and recycling and encouraged students to embrace the value of malama aina, caring for the land. Diane jointly established Molokai’s Earth Day celebration with local partners and schools. She is currently spearheading a grant application to preserve the island’s history through maps and other resources.
Her school colleagues point out that one of the biggest statements Diane makes is simply through her persistent and dedicated work. Principal Soares says that Diane’s car is typically in the school parking lot before she arrives, and Glenn Kondo, the school’s retired technology director, sees it there every Sunday.
Diane is also the school’s curriculum coordinator and the union representative for her part of the state. These tasks don’t include the after-school tutoring she organizes or the family nights she plans, where students showcase their skills. Those qualities have earned her statewide recognition. In 2019, she was named the NEA Foundation’s Hawai‘i Teacher of the Year, and in 2016 she garnered a Golden Key award from the Hawai‘i Association of School Librarians
As one of the winners this year, Diane received a $2,500 cash award and $2,500 in-kind digital and/or print products from Scholastic along with a Scholastic Book Fair’s “Mr. Schu’s Picks” collection of books, and a book giveaway for every student in the school.
Judges for this year’s awards were John Schumacher, Ambassador of School Libraries, Scholastic; Cicely Lewis, 2020 School Librarian of the Year; Glenn Robbins, Superintendent of Schools at Brigantine (NJ) Board of Education; and SLJ Editors.
Libraries Unlimited has just released Radical Collaborations for Learning: School Librarians as Change Agents. The new publication, edited by Violet Harada and Sharon Coatney, takes an exciting look at how libraries join with other organizations to form unique and dynamic alliances. Three of the chapters feature our Hawaii school librarians as key players in creating transformative learning opportunities. The book is currently available from ABC-CLIO in print and eBook formats.
A chapter written by Meera Garud, “Collaborating through Art to Enhance Learning,” showcases a mural project at Manoa Elementary with Imelda Amano, a comic con initiative created by Darren Tanaka at Kailua Elementary, and an art curation activity at Punahou with Kylee Mar.
Another chapter written by Diane Mokuau, “The Molokai Story: Building a Library Services Cadre,” features her collaborative efforts to provide resources and workshops for schools and the general public in partnership with Greta Martinez at Kualapuu Elementary; Cindy Delanty at the Molokai Public Library; and Kilia Purdy and Annie Steinke with the Native Hawaiian library.
A third chapter written by Violet Harada, “Inspiring Civic Action: Collaborating with the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii,” highlights the work of Lori Chun and Kaleo Hanohano at Kaimuki High School where they involved their students in the campaign to get Honouliuli, a WWII internment site, declared a national monument. Partnering with them were two former DOE school librarians, now volunteers at JCCH, Jane Kurahara and Betsy Young.
Other chapters in the book describe a range of creative projects from different states that bring attention to librarians as leaders in forging learning partnerships with community agencies and educational institutions.
Waipahu Intermediate School librarians Kerri-Lynn Slavens and Caroline Lee take every opportunity to create exciting programs that promote their library as the go-to place on campus! Most recently, they commemorated Filipino History Month which was officially recognized by Obama in 2009. This is especially meaningful to their school since over 70% of the students are ethnically Filipino. First, they highlighted the importance of literacy by inviting both students and faculty to reflect on why their heritage was something to be proud of by filling out worksheets that were displayed in the library.
Kerri-Lynn and Caroline also invited Professor Patricia Halagao, chair for curriculum studies in the UHM College of Education who specializes in Filipino curriculum and history, as a guest speaker. Along with Dr. Halagao, one of their teachers, Mr. Ruby Acoba, presented a wonderful lesson on Filipino history. In addition, they borrowed Filipino artifacts from the Honolulu Museum of Art’s lending library. They housed these resources in one of the library’s back rooms where teachers could sign up during advisory to participate in a lesson with one of the librarians. The librarians emphasize that these types of activities would not possible without “our wonderful teachers, administrators and our larger community.”
Below is round 1 of exchanging ideas and strategies and participating in the playground.
If you did not attend, you missed a terrific opportunity to network with like-minded librarians at the potluck on advocacy held on Saturday, October 19, at Kapiolani Community College’s Lama Library. Over two dozen school and academic librarians met in small groups to share a range of exciting and practical ways to reach out to students, faculty, staff, administrators, and families.
To give you a flavor of the exchanges: elementary librarians contributed reading contests with families, mini-workshops for parents, online work logs shared with staff, and makerspaces promoted by students. Secondary librarians had great strategies for staging career fairs, establishing faculty book clubs, creating greater online access to research sources, and building partnerships with other types of libraries. Academic librarians brought fresh ideas for banned books week, orienting new faculty, and a stations approach to freshmen orientation. Everyone enjoyed learning about tech tools like Canva, Buncee, and a Quik app.
Along with the group discussions, participants were treated to a “playground” where they could make promotional buttons and magnetic bookmarks and play information-related games. Folks could also take a guided tour of Lama Library. In addition, they took home freebies like books donated by Theresa Sakurada at StarrED LLC and handouts from different libraries. As usual, we had edible snacks galore that everyone brought to the event.
The attendees are helping to produce a “toolkit” with their ideas that all participants will be able to access online once it is completed. Special thanks to KCC librarians Joyce Tokuda, Joy Oehlers, and Erica Dias who hosted the event and to Sandy Yamamoto for handling registration and booklet production.
Photos above show more exchanging of ideas and a tour of Lama Library at Kapiolani Community College.
DIANE MOKUAU RECEIVES HSTA AWARD
Diane Mokuau, librarian at Molokai High and Intermediate, received the 2019 S.T.A.C.Y. Award for Teaching Excellence from the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA). The S.T.A.C.Y. Award for Teaching Excellence was established to celebrate the outstanding work of the late Stacy Nishina, a public school teacher, longtime HSTA staff member and supporter of all HSTA state candidates for the NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence. The award was announced on April 13 at the HSTA’s state convention at the Hawai‘i Convention Center. With this award, Diane becomes HSTA’s nominee for the NEA Foundation’s 2020 Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence and NEA Member Benefits Award.
Diane has lived on Molokai for nearly 30 years and, according to HSTA Vice President Osa Tui Jr., she has been instrumental in shaping the island’s learning environment. A national board-certified teacher as well as librarian, Diane has been at Molokai High for 15 years and has earned an impressive reputation as an unwavering advocate for her community and for educators statewide. In introducing Diane, Tui said:
"With her skills honed over the years, Diane has put her organizing into action for her community. She also advocates for non-classroom teachers and rural school faculties and the challenges faced by both of those constituencies. She has worked hard to ensure that her library is well utilized, often operating at maximum capacity. Her acquisitions over the years of various technology and customized resources help to ensure that student literacy is improved and sustained and can target all levels of students throughout her school."
Among her achievements: Diane jointly wrote a five-year, $1 million grant to develop the Molokai LIVE 21st Century Community Learning Center that provides homework assistance and enrichment activities for middle and high school students. She also serves as secretary of the HSTA’s Molokai chapter. In 2016, the Hawaii Association of School Librarians recognized Diane with the Golden Key Award for her outstanding work in school libraries.