TLJamesA School library blog and collection of cool stuff... Mon, 14 Sep 2020 02:13:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 182808758 New year, new times… Tue, 25 Aug 2020 19:45:04 +0000 Greetings! I hope you have had a great summer (or at least as great as possible in these weird times) and had some time to rest and recharge for this new 2020/2021 school year.

First… as it is happening tonight, we are having our first #KyLChat of the school year! This one was organized in collaboration with KASL, and the questions were ones that you all sent in. THE Sam Northern, current KASL president, will be moderating. Please try to make it if you can. Here are the questions ahead of time so you can prepare a few awesome things to share. It’s at 8:00 PM Eastern, 7:00 PM Central.

1. How can school libraries support students during distance learning? 
2. How can schools provide students access to books (both electronically and in-print)?
3. Describe your book quarantine set-up.
4. How do you plan to engage students in "maker" activities?
5. How are you supporting student learning IN the school library? How are you supporting student learning OUTSIDE of the library (e.g., in the classroom)?
6. Share what your school library is doing to serve teachers and students during pandemic learning conditions. 
7. What is something you want to try this year or learn more about?

It is simple to join this live Twitter chat. Just click on this Twitter search, read, and respond, and repeat. Be sure to include #KyLChat in your answers and interactions.


We have also been busy with our first-ever Kentucky Academic Standards for Library Media. Here is a presentation that gives an overview of the process so far. They had their first reading by the Kentucky Board of Education in their last regular meeting. There will be a second reading at the October KBE meeting, and then they will go on to the Legislative Research Council. You can view the draft of the standards using this link.

COVID-19 Considerations

I want to thank the Kentucky Department of Education and my Digital Learning Team in the Office of Education Technology for helping get specific considerations published for school libraries and librarians. You can find that document here or on the KDE COVID-19 Reopening Resources page.

KDE COVID-19 Considerations

The Kentucky Association of School Librarians also created an awesome document full of helpful resources and links to help you with the start of your school year.

KASL COVID-19 Document Image

You can also download and print KASL-themed signage. Click here for the Google Drive folder.

Digital Strategies…

Your Digital Learning Team within the Office of Education Technology at KDE has a workshop-like set of resources, that is in development. Do keep in mind that library media specialists are an integral part of the third strategy, People. This site may be of benefit to you as you work with other leaders in your school and district to make this year a success.

“A critical component of any successful digital learning initiative is the assembled team of support. Digital leadership and technical support is a must. Successful schools and districts are accelerating supports provided by Digital Learning Coaches (DLC) and Library Media Specialists (LMS). Districts with these support structures in place are ready to collaboratively support digital learning strategies and workflows across grade levels, content areas and job classifications.”

4 Digital Strategies Logo

Help and Support…

I will have more things for you soon, but SHEW, this is plenty for now! This is obviously not a normal “back-to-school” for anyone. Stay positive, flexible, and please… if you need help, have questions, or just need somebody to bounce ideas off of, reach out to me, or anyone in our great Kentucky library leader PLN.

James Allen, Statewide School Library Lead/Digital Learning Coach
Office of Education Technology
Kentucky Department of Education
300 Sower Blvd. – 4th floor
Frankfort, KY 40601

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Friday Sat, 21 Mar 2020 13:52:10 +0000 Greetings everyone! I hope you are hanging in there and taking care of your students, teachers, and yourself during this bizarre time. I don’t want to overwhelm anyone, but I wanted to share a few of my favorite finds from the listserv and Twitter in the last few days. Please reach out to me if you have any questions or need to talk through a project.

This crazy time we are faced with is also an opportunity for us to embed ourselves as resources in our schools’ mindsets and our teachers’ classes. Regardless of the content area and format, consider asking your teachers to add you to their online classes if you aren’t already. We will be better able to help teachers and students, and get a feeling for what needs are out there.

If you aren’t using an online platform, just make sure you are offering your information expertise in the communication channels your school is using.


First… We will have #KyLChat on this coming Tuesday, March 24, at 8:00 PM Eastern time. I thought it might be nice to have a more low key chat without a strict topic, and with a live link, so we can all chat with our own voices. We will still check on Tweets, but feel free to join this Microsoft Teams meeting: Link to #KyLChat Meeting


HUGE News. KYVL has decided to offer access to their databases for the rest of the school year. Here is a blog post on this topic. For everyone… if you do not know your district username or password, click on the padlock and enter your information. You will quickly get an email with off-campus login information.

Learning Tools

Next… Our KDE, Office of Education Technology, Digital Learning Team put together a Wakelet full of resources that may be of use to you, your teachers, parents, and students. Check it out.

Digital Meeting Basics

Understandably, during the last few days, online meetings are quickly taking the place of face-to-face interaction. Here is a quick, one-page, list of tips that may be helpful to you, your students, staff, and parents.

KET & PBS Learningmedia

KET, and subsequently, PBS Learning Media, are an important partner for Kentucky schools, KDE, and KASL alike. Be sure to check out their awesome and free resources as you provide help to your students and teachers.

Image Resources and MORE!

Here are two media resources that would be awesome at any time. Check them out. The first is the Digital Collections of the New York Public Library. The other is the Open Access from the Smithsonian. I love that they have also shared so many 3D objects that you can interact with on the screen.  

EPIC Books

Epic Books for Kids are offering “outside-of-school access” for free. I’m not trying to sell their product at all and would suggest the reading of all agreements, but this is a great supplemental collection your students and parents should know about.

Audible Discover

Audible, the audiobook platform, is offering a similar service. They are providing access to hundreds of audiobooks during this time.


Teachers need opportunities to learn and grow too! Regardless of the virus issues, #KyGoDigital is a great resource to learn from educators all across the Commonwealth. I believe they already have a daily schedule of learning opportunities for next week.


If you an OverDrive/Sora customer, do check out this collection of simultaneous reads which are now available to your students.

Again… If you have questions or just want to talk through strategies you are considering, please contact me.

Be safe and have a great weekend!

Image Sources

“Audible Stories |”, Accessed 20 Mar. 2020.

Kentucky Digital Distance Learning Resources – Wakelet. Accessed 20 Mar. 2020.

KYVL News Updates – KYVL at Kentucky Virtual Library. Accessed 20 Mar. 2020.

“NYPL Digital Collections.” NYPL Digital Collections, Accessed 20 Mar. 2020.

“PreK-12 Resources for Emergency Closings | PBS LearningMedia.” PBS LearningMedia, Accessed 20 Mar. 2020.

“School Closed? Epic Can Help. – Learn – Epic!” Learn – Epic!, Accessed 20 Mar. 2020.

“Smithsonian Open Access.” Smithsonian Institution, Accessed 20 Mar. 2020.

“Sora Reading App Extends No Cost Ebooks and Audiobooks to Remote Learners – Rakuten OverDrive.” Rakuten OverDrive, Accessed 20 Mar. 2020.

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KY Library Leaders AASL19 Thu, 14 Nov 2019 14:30:13 +0000 Here is a list of Kentucky school librarians presenting at the American Association of School Librarians National Conference, here in Louisville! If I’m missing your session, please add it here.

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KyDigCit Fri, 01 Nov 2019 16:01:44 +0000
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Genially Portfolio Sat, 13 Jul 2019 15:12:29 +0000 These are some of the creations I’ve made for our school, the Kentucky Association of School Librarians, and others.

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ISTElib Webinar Fri, 01 Feb 2019 13:17:24 +0000 [vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being part of an ISTE Librarians Network webinar. I presented an introduction to Google Geo tools. Thank you, Donnie Piercey, for your resources. The recorded webinar is below as well as slides.

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Google Sites and Drive Folders Fri, 16 Nov 2018 18:47:55 +0000 [vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Although I love for students and teachers to improve their search and database skills, sometimes that is not the focus of a given lesson. For these cases, I’ve been experimenting with curating Kentucky Virtual Library and other web resources on our EDhub Hub (school library website).

There are so many great publications that have full-text PDFs of articles. EBSCOhost offers a button that allows saving these directly to Google Drive for MasterFILE and MAS ultra (the databases where many of these can be found.) Google Sites, which is what we use for our library site, allows easy embeds of entire Google Drive folders. The following directions will show you how to do that. If you use another website platform, you still may want to consider providing links to Drive folders on your site as a quick way to assemble a collection of resources.

Step 1: Do an awesome search in MAS Ultra or MasterFILE Premier. You will see the “add to Google Drive” button on the right. The first time you do this a pop-up will ask permission. (If you don’t see it, the pop-up may be blocked by Chrome). You will then find the PDF in a folder named EBSCO in your Google Drive. I move these later in Drive depending on the project or collection.

Step 2: It doesn’t matter, but before your students will be able to see the contents of your folder you will need to share it in Google Drive. After you move your PDFs or other resources to your folder, click on the share button for that folder. Then turn link sharing on for “Anyone at Your School Name can view.” Then click done.

Step 3: Now you can embed your folder into your Google Site. Click on Insert, and then From Drive.

Step 4: Choose the folder where you saved the PDFs and click INSERT. (Don’t forget step 2, change the sharing settings)

Step 5: You will see a box appear on your web page with a list of files. I believe this is the default. I prefer to see the thumbnail view. That requires clicking on the settings/gear icon.

Step 6: Click on Grid View (thumbnails) and click DONE.

Step 7: That is about it. You can use the handles to change the size of the container on your Google Sites page. Be sure to click PUBLISH to update your site. If you add more files to your embedded Drive folder, they will automatically appear on your Google Site.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row content_placement=”middle”][vc_column][rev_slider_vc alias=”test2″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Reflect Sat, 12 May 2018 13:06:08 +0000 I was going through some photos and videos this morning. It really got me thinking. It’s crazy how many things happen at school in just a few months. Sometimes it feels like not much is happening, but these videos help remind me. This hastily compiled compilation are only things that have happened since January, 2018, and I left a ton out. It also omits the regular cool stuff like book checkouts, random questions, and lots of laughing. It’s been a fun year.

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Solar System Fri, 08 Dec 2017 11:48:06 +0000 Screenshot of britannica learn blog post

Pam Renfrow, a Curriculum Specialist with Britannica, wrote up this cool post on a project Jen Gilbert and I worked on for some of our first-grade classes. We took Britannica articles from our KYVL subscription and used Google Sites with some QR codes to make it a little easier for our first graders to access with their iPads. Here is a link to the page we put together on our school’s library website, the EDhub Hub.

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Busy Week Sun, 10 Sep 2017 16:03:11 +0000 It was a great week in our library! Somebody on our Kentucky school library listserv posted a list of everything she did in one day. It made me think how hard it is to remember everything that happens in one day. I love the unpredictability of our library and how diverse the experiences are for our students (and me😊). The video/pictures show our after-school gaming club, my co-librarian’s creations for weekly football team awards, an Ozobot/Google drawings/personal narrative challenge, a visit from a local meteorologist, a digital signage upgrade to our self-checkout kiosk, and our public service class’s shelving project. I hope everyone has a great weekend and either recovers or stays safe with all of this crazy weather.

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