Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Authenticity Paradox

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about authenticity and what Ibarra (2015) refers to as the authenticity paradox. To begin with, I have been a fan of Brene Brown’s work for some time and have really connected with her ideas about vulnerability and authenticity. Below is a quote featured on Brown’s website:


As expressed above, authenticity involves ”cultivating the courage to be emotionally honest.” With this in mind, I was really curious to learn more from Ibarra regarding the authenticity paradox. Ibarra also invokes courage, but applies it to “viewing ourselves as works in progress and evolving our professional identities through trial and error.” In other words, she writes about how leaders need to avoid being too rigidly bound by attempts to be authentic in a traditional sense since it may be necessary to stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zones and self-definitions. In being honest, we recognize we are not a known entity.

This makes me think of how I was recently talking to my husband, who was fortunate to participate in the Eureka! Leadership Program. One of his mentors had recommended Amy Cuddy’s TED talk that provides the advice to “fake it until you become it.” This sounds right in line with Ibarra’s work regarding the authenticity paradox and also reminds me of the impostor syndrome, which suggests that some of our self doubt may be less grounded than we sometimes assume.

In terms of my career as a Teacher Librarian, the concept of the authenticity paradox motivates me to continually stretch myself into new opportunities even when I may not always feel completely confident. Working as a the sole staff member in my library, I will not find myself leading by managing other employees, but I can lead through my involvement with countless others.

For instance, I have a colleague who recently presented at an educational technology conference. I am inspired that she pushed herself into this leadership experience and challenge myself to similarly reach outside of my comfort zone to participate in various opportunities, especially with mixed audiences beyond traditional library circles.

Another aspect to the authenticity paradox is the perception that we need to be completely original. Ibarra writes:
Most learning necessarily involves some form of imitation—and the understanding that nothing is “original.” An important part of growing as a leader is viewing authenticity not as an intrinsic state but as the ability to take elements you have learned from others’ styles and behaviors and make them your own.
This reminds me of Austin Kleon’s popular work Steal Like an Artist. Rather than fearing that we are not original, we should embrace learning from others as we create our own form of leadership that is uniquely ours. We employ "good theft" to define ourselves, and in this way, we may eventually arrive at our next version of our authentic selves.


Brown, B. (2015). Downloads. Retrieved from

Cuddy, A. (2012, June). Your body language shapes who you are [Video file]. Retrieved from

Ibarra, H. (2015, January). The authenticity paradox. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from

Kleon, A. (2015). Steal like an artist. Retrieved from

Essentialism, Mindfulness, and More!

As someone who was raised in and continues to practice in a Buddhist tradition, I have been intrigued by how many Buddhist philosophies have become so popularized in management literature in recent years. I believe that this has been driven by the information overloaded, 24/7 environment in which we now live. Rather than just focusing on one resource, here are a few that I have found interesting related to this:
  • Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown - I devoured this book! McKeown writes about “doing less” in terms of focusing on what is most important rather than attempting to “do it all.” By being more mindful about our efforts, we can really make more meaningful progress. I need to re-read this! To me, McKeown writes about a practice that is never perfected, but definitely worth striving for.
  • Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace) by Chade-Meng Tan - With all of the success that Google has had as a company, I think it is interesting to see how they have adopted and endorse programs such as “Search Inside Yourself,” which focuses on developing mindfulness. I think that these practices are ones that we can use to support ourselves as professionals, but also to share with other teachers and students as they wade through the complex, and often overwhelming, information world.
  • The Zen Teacher by Dan Tricarico - This is the blog of a co-worker of mine who is an English teacher. While he is not Buddhist, he is inspired by the ideas and applies many Zen principles to his teaching. Although this is not library-focused, I have been engaging in some great conversations with Dan about trying to get to the essentials of instruction and serving our shared populations.
In terms of applicability to information center management, I am reminded of the Discussion #2 board posting shared by Julie Hulvey, who wrote about information overdosing. Information professionals need to consider how to not only help patrons access and use information in manageable doses, but also ensure that employees feel that they are getting appropriate doses in the workplace. Several other students in our course wrote about workplace stress in Discussion #2, and I think that discussions about mindfulness can help people cope with stress in order to be more effective and fulfilled in their work and personal lives.


McKeown, G. (2014). Essentialism: The disciplined pursuit of less. New York: Crown Business.

Tan, C. (2012). Search inside yourself: The unexpected path to achieving success, happiness (and world peace). New York: HarperOne.

Tricarico, D. (2015). The Zen Teacher. Retrieved from

Striking a Balance with Evidence-Based Practice

With a background in school libraries, I have seen the importance of being able to demonstrate the measurable impact that programs have on student achievement. This data stands as critical evidence given the testing culture of schools and in light of ever-looming budget restrictions. Todd (2009) issued an urgent charge to Teacher Librarians to utilize “quality measures and data-driven decision making” (p. 3), but it is with this in mind that I appreciated reading an article from The Harvard Business Review that looks at evidence-based practice more situationally.

In the article “Two Words That Kill Innovation,” Martin (2014) reveals the two words as being: “Prove it.” With the standard of evidence-based practice looming in management theory in general, the logic is that “you must prove — analytically, and in advance — that a decision is correct before making it.”  While Martin acknowledges that there are genuine benefits to using data, he cites philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce, who wrote about it being impossible to analytically prove new ideas before they have a chance to “interact with the world.”

Martin has suggested that the requirement of proof can kill innovation, and thus his advice is that managers:
distinguish between when they are honing and refining an existing system and when they are attempting to create something genuinely new. In the former situations, it is totally fine to come in with analytical guns blazing. In the latter, they need to put away the guns and take an entirely different approach. Here, they need to borrow from the design thinking toolbox by engaging in prototyping. Try innovative ideas, but do so in small ways without a lot of up front investment. Generate data through experimentation rather than assuming that there is pre-existing data to be harvested. Iterative experimentation will migrate the solution to an ever more compelling state — and spin off new data along the way.
This article was a timely read for me, as I value getting reassurance that, while I should seek to gather data in order to inform iterative practice, I should make sure that I do not limit myself and others in my school from experimenting with innovative ideas in small ways. It is a reminder to think more critically about situations before de facto applying a standard universally. As I believe is most often the case, it’s all about achieving an optimal balance.


Martin, R. (2014, December 9). Two words that kill innovation. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from

Todd, R. (2009). School librarianship and evidence based practice: Progress, perspectives, and challenges. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 4(2), 78-96.

Exemplary School Library Advocacy

When I first started thinking about this blog post, I really wanted to build from the ideas of Evans and Alire (2013) regarding segmentation and differential marketing analysis (p. 271-273). Mass consumer strategies came to my mind such as how McDonald’s will have different commercials run on different television channels.

With this in mind, I tried to look at different school library websites to see if there were any award-winning sites that took this type of approach. One of the better websites that I found was for Brisbane Grammar School. This site does have some clearly organized content sections for population segments such as “Middle School” and “For Teachers,” and overall, the content is very professionally laid out.

Still, I was not feeling particularly motivated to write about this website or other examples that I browsed through -- I think there is a lot of room for improvement across the field -- and so I decided to use a different angle. I remembered following the 2015 CSLA Annual Conference Twitter stream and seeing a presentation title that struck me: “Rising from the Ashes.” Although I had not been able to attend the conference, I did reach out to the presenters from Vista Unified School District months ago, and they graciously sent me a copy of their slide deck. I was intrigued by their topic, impressed by their work, and also inspired because the district is located relatively close to where I live and work.

Conference Presentation Description (below):

Returning to this present assignment, I have visited the district website and am pleased to find that there is a link to the district’s strategic plan for libraries on the main landing page. I also visited the district’s individual school library websites, but they are not necessarily noteworthy, and so my focus regarding marketing and advocacy really centers on the strategic plan itself, which I do believe is exemplary.

There are several features of Vista’s strategic plan that remind me of points brought up by Evans and Alire. First of all, regarding both segmentation and internal marketing, I was pleased to see such diversity on the “Library Services Committee Membership” (Vista Unified School District, 2014, p. 2). The membership not only includes library staff members (i.e., Teacher Librarians and Library Media Technicians), but also representatives from the labor union, Curriculum and Instruction, and Information Technology, as well as school and district administrators, parents, and community members. Thus, we can see intention to represent the voices of many population segments, including internal staff at all different levels.

Another idea from Evans and Alire that stood out to me was definition of “four key reasons why you should consider developing a marketing plan” (p. 265). They describe how competition for resources can result in a decrease of service hours and staffing, and to this point, Vista’s strategic plan employs direct language regarding ensuring equitable access to library services, including action steps to ensure that at the K-8 level, “Libraries will be staffed by library professionals a minimum of 30 minutes before school and a minimum of 1 hour after school for stakeholder access” (p. 5). At the 9-12 level, the after school access is extended to a minimum of 2 hours. There is also a three year plan to increase staffing levels gradually year-by-year, and to expand provisions for resource budgets, professional development, and facility improvements.

Seeing these action steps presented very concretely, and knowing that this plan was approved by the school board, demonstrates to me a very successful advocacy effort. I previously shared a link to the plan with my district librarians, but we never got around to discussing it. Revisiting it for this blog posting is a reminder for me to bring up the discussion once again, because I feel this is a great model to learn from for our own advocacy efforts.


Brisbane Grammar School. (2015). Library: Connecting learners and ideas. Retrieved from

California School Library Association. (2015). CSLA 2015 Saturday concurrent session 4. Retrieved from

[Dowtsx]. (2013, March 6). Segmentation, targeting, and positioning - McDonald’s [Video file]. Retrieved from

Evans, G.E., & Alire, C.A. (2013). Management basics for information professionals (3rd ed.).  New York: Neal-Schuman.

Vista Unified School District. (2014). Model library of educational excellence & innovation: Vista Unified School District - strategic plan. Retrieved from:

Visible and Invisible Organizations

One of the concepts that resonated with me from this week’s reading was the idea of the visible organization and the invisible organization. Evans (2013) explained how the visible organization reflects the “official governance structure” and “official lines of communication” (p. 121). In contrast, the invisible organization informally “reflects the actual flow of communication and the drivers of work performance” (p. 121). Within the invisible organization, personal relationships come into play and may influence decision making along different lines of power.

In conjunction with the idea of both formal and informal structures, I call upon insights from Namjoo, Kuang-Yuan, Palmer, and Horowitz (2014), who wrote about the role of Web 2.0 technologies for the transfer of knowledge within organizations. Basing their examination on “enablers of knowledge transfer,” which they have cited as “existence of informal networks, weak ties, boundary spanners, absorptive capacity, and social capital” (p. 177), they suggested how Web 2.0 platforms can successfully capitalize on the potential of informal networks for information sharing purposes. Rather than knowledge being disseminated through traditional lines of communication, it may be freely transferred and drive greater organizational innovation.

For instance, to illustrate how Web 2.0 technologies can enable knowledge transfer, the authors have cited how facilitated connections may more often span boundaries, connecting individuals who might not otherwise work together immediately. This nontraditional information sharing introduces different perspectives that may in turn lead to new ways of solving problems and developing creative solutions.

I think that the Namjoo et al article is noteworthy, because the authors have argued that organizations should not only recognize the existence of informal structures, but embrace them. Rather than worrying about how traditional power structures might be threatened, they  have recommended that “organizations need to support the culture of democratic knowledge sharing via web 2.0 use” (p. 183) for their own benefit. As a Teacher Librarian, I see this idea applying to how traditional communication structures on school campuses may be reimagined. Rather than information flowing from administration to staff to students, I would like to consider how we may we improve our learning environments through the use of flatter and more informal knowledge sharing networks.


Evans, G.E., & Alire, C.A. (2013). Management basics for information professionals (3rd ed.).  New York: Neal-Schuman.

Namjoo, C., Kuang-Yuan, H., Palmer, A., & Horowitz, L. (2014). Web 2.0 use and knowledge transfer: How social media technologies can lead to organizational innovation. Electronic Journal Of Knowledge Management, 12(3), 176-186.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

LIBR 200 Post 8 of 8: My Personal Reflection on the Information Community of Teacher Librarians

As I close out this series of blog posts for LIBR 200, I feel grateful for having had the opportunity to speak with such thoughtful and inspiring colleagues within the information community of Teacher Librarians. I am glad that I picked this community, because I feel like my coursework has helped me explore my thoughts about participating within this professional network.

Going into the assignment, I thought that I might learn about some new online outlets to check out, and this did happen. My conversation with Dr. David Loertscher introduced me to Joyce Valenza’s TL Virtual Cafe, and I learned about the listserv LM_NET from Dr. Mary Ann Harlan.

Still, the bigger lesson that I’ve come away with is in developing a more complex understanding of information communities. While I had assumed that the boundaries of the Teacher Librarian information community would be more clearly defined, I learned that it actually exists much more amorphously and dynamically than I would have guessed. Within the group of Teacher Librarians, there are many sub-communities that exist whether they are geographically driven (e.g., California School Library Association) or by one’s preferred technology platform (e.g., listservs and social media). Also, Teacher Librarians belong to many intersecting communities such as the schools and districts that they serve, all different subject matter communities, and educational technology communities.

In the end, a theme that I have heard multiple times is that there are many potential areas of interest for Teacher Librarians, but there is ultimately only a limited amount of time and so each individual must make choices about where to spend time and energy. As an overall community, many areas may be explored in depth, with some Teacher Librarians choosing to focus a lot of energy on books and reading and others choosing to focus more heavily on technology. Still, since a Teacher Librarian often works alone at a school site, there is also pressure to be able to find ways to still balance and represent all different program elements as a single individual. With this in mind, it is interesting to consider the way in which all Teacher Librarians may converge as an information community. Is there any one place for the community to gather to share and discuss gathered insights? Or, is it a matter of each individual staying abreast of activity within multiple circles to compile a comprehensive picture and develop holistically?

While it is impossible to do it all, I think that a good starting point is for Teacher Librarians to seek deeper connection within at least one relevant information community while listening in to others that they encounter. Over time, an individual may become more involved with multiple information communities or start to shift priorities from some to others, but that is all valuable exploration. Since there is no single formula for participation that will work universally, it is up to each of us to experiment in finding the right mix for the moment, and realize that in the next moment, we need to be ready to adapt once again. The constantly evolving nature of the information community can be challenging since it pushes us out of our comfort zone again and again, but it is also what keeps the conversations fresh, engaging, and moving us forward to where the magic happens.

LIBR 200 Post 7 of 8: Teacher Librarians and Use of Emerging Technologies

As the first interview that I conducted for this LIBR 200 blog series was with a colleague in my own district, I am now bookending the interview series with another district colleague. This time, knowing that the topic was related to emerging technologies, the person who immediately came to mind was Stephanie Macceca, Teacher Librarian at Valhalla High School.

Although this school year is only Stephanie’s second year working as Teacher Librarian, and like me, she is also working under a California Emergency Teacher Librarian Credential, I have been able to quickly identify Stephanie as a technology leader among our district’s library team. She was a co-participant of mine in the GUHSD Google Ninja Program, a professional development series that gathered technology-advocating educators from across the district, and recently, she was a session presenter at a regional East County Tech Fest. I attended her Tech Fest presentation on “Researching in the Information Age” and was proud of how well she represented librarians at the educational technology event.

Going into the interview, I knew that prior to becoming a Teacher Librarian, Stephanie had worked as an English teacher. She confirmed that she had started teaching in 1994, but what I didn’t realize is that during the years between then and now, she has had a variety of professional experiences including teaching in higher education, working for a publishing company, and developing an online high school program. Even after the interview, as I worked on writing this blog post, I did a quick Google search for her name and discovered that she has even authored a number of books! I emailed Stephanie just to be sure that there didn’t happen to be some other person out there with the same name who was responsible for all of the work, but she confirmed that she is indeed the person I had found online.

Given all of the discoveries I’ve made regarding the scope of Stephanie’s experience, I am even more grateful to have had the opportunity to hear her perspective regarding the role of emerging technologies within the information community of Teacher Librarians.

To start off, I asked how her relationship with technology has changed since she has become a librarian. She explained, “I’ve always been really interested in technology, but it wasn’t until I became a librarian that I was really able to immerse myself.” I was surprised to hear this since she seems like someone who has been tech savvy for years, and so I asked her to expand on this. She noted that the Teacher Librarian Program she is currently enrolled in through Fresno Pacific University has prompted her to use a number of multimedia technologies that she had never used before. Since she started the program, she has made and edited her first movie, created and published her first podcast, and more. This “exploration with technology” is something that she identifies as having been a luxury when she was a classroom teacher simply “because you’re so busy planning and grading.”

Hearing about how she is using technology so extensively in her Teacher Librarian coursework made me realize that the field is now expanding with a whole new generation of professionals who will be grounded in utilizing technology as part of the learning process. This foundation in technology seems even more timely for the community since Stephanie explained, “My job has primarily been to be a technology support person for students. I’m the student contact when there are technology problems.” Thus, while libraries have been earmarked in past years as becoming defunct due to the rise of technology, in many schools like Stephanie’s, the library has instead evolved into being a center for technology.

Having heard about how Stephanie supports students with technology, I was curious to see how technology also support her own professional development as a Teacher Librarian. She listed a number of professional growth opportunities she has been involved with, including a Google Apps for Education Conference and both local and national Computer Using Educators conferences. She also uses social networks on a regular basis, particularly Twitter, Google+, and blogs.

Hearing Stephanie’s list of professional outlets, though, I noticed that she did not mention any of the school library organizations such as the American Association of School Librarians or the California School Library Association. I asked her whether or not participation with educational technology communities has resonated with her more than participation with other Teacher Librarians, and she commented that while she follows many librarians on Twitter, she has found:
the things that they post are not about technology at all, they’re always about reading programs, and guest speakers, and fundraising, whereas the Ed Tech Community always has a lot of information about technology and schools and how teachers can use that technology.
Stephanie’s comments reminded me of a question that has been lingering in my head throughout my study of Teacher Librarians as an information community: How do Teacher Librarians balance and prioritize their participation in the professional community of Teacher Librarians with participation in other communities? 

My interview with Mary Ann Harlan had previously highlighted how important it is for Teacher Librarians to “listen in” to their school communities. And now, Stephanie’s comments made me think about the way that Teacher Librarians may benefit from participating in educational technology communities. How may we do a better job of listening in to this community as we explore how to utilize technology with and for our students and teachers? Furthermore, as seen through Stephanie’s participation with the educational technology community, what are the opportunities to not only gain different knowledge from this pool of other educators, but to also serve as an ambassador for Teacher Librarians.

Another final thought that I have is regarding how Teacher Librarians might reflect more upon the conversations that are taking place within our Information Community. How much have the conversations shifted as the profession has evolved, and is there a need to add more diversity to the topics that we commonly discuss? A previous interview that I had with David Loertscher highlighted a lack of participation by Teacher Librarians within the school library professional community, but now I wonder how many librarians like Stephanie are less active with the information community, not due to a lack of motivation, but perhaps because they are finding more relevant conversations and choosing to prioritize participation in other communities.

Monday, March 2, 2015

LIBR 200 Post 6 of 8: Teacher Librarians, Diversity, and Multiculturalism

NOTE: Before diving in, I would like to take a moment to mention that in discussing multiculturalism, I want to acknowledge that culture is much greater than ethnicity. Still, since ethnicity is a notable and often highlighted focus of discussions regarding multiculturalism, I have chosen to explore diversity within the scope of ethnicity.

As I anticipated returning to school this past fall, one of my big concerns was in figuring how I would finance the tuition. I looked around to find scholarships that I could apply for, and among them, I noticed several scholarships for librarians based on diversity. One example was the California School Library Association’s (CSLA) Leadership for Diversity Scholarship, which is awarded in recognition of “the need for teacher librarians who reflect the diversity of California’s multicultural, multilingual population.” While the eligibility requirements state that an “Applicant must be a member of a traditionally underrepresented group,” I wasn’t sure whether or not I would be considered to be “traditionally underrepresented,” and so I emailed the scholarship contact.

As an Asian American, I remember that when I was applying for my undergraduate program, there was talk that being Asian could actually be detrimental to being admitted and qualifying for scholarships due to the high rates of Asians already enrolled in colleges and universities. With these thoughts in my mind, I was surprised to hear that I certainly qualified to apply for the CSLA scholarship, because school librarians are predominantly White to a dramatic degree. While it turned out that I couldn’t apply since I wasn’t starting the MLIS program until the spring semester, I had gained new insight regarding the lack of ethnic diversity that exists within the Teacher Librarian community.

Now tasked with writing this blog post, I decided to look up more specific statistics regarding the ethnic breakdown of Teacher Librarians. My search led me to the American Library Association’s Diversity Counts program page with statistics from as recent as 2009-10 that show the numbers of “Public K-12 School State-Certified Library Media Specialists by Characteristic” as follows. Out of the total number 59,760:

  • 90.3% are White
  • 5.2% are African American
  • 2.4% are Latino
  • 1.1% are Asian Pacific Islander
  • 0.2% are Native American
  • 0.8% are two or more races.

These statistics confirm what I had heard from the CSLA scholarship contact, and they leave me feeling even more aware of how ethnically un-diverse the Teacher Librarian community really is.

While I believe in the importance of increasing diversity within the profession, I am also reminded of my recent interview with Dr. Mary Ann Harlan and how she emphasized that Teacher Librarians should spend more energy listening in to the communities we serve. After all, even if Teacher Librarians are not necessarily an ethnically diverse professional community, the group does serve ethnically diverse groups. By listening in to the communities we serve, Teacher Librarians may develop greater cultural competence.

Rather than falling into the more typical pattern of focusing on “meeting the externally perceived needs of minorities and underserved populations,” Teacher Librarians should strive to “explore with the ethnic minority community” (Overall, 2009, p. 179). In this case, I see exploration with as being akin to listening in. I also connect this with Elfreda Chatman and her concept of Life in the Round (Fulton, 2010), and this leads me to pose the question: How can Teacher Librarians reach outside of our own small world to serve others within their own respective small worlds?

Even if only one out of ten Teacher Librarians is considered to be “ethnically diverse,” I believe that all teacher librarians have the capacity to serve their communities in culturally competent ways, and to me, this should be the standard that we strive to meet.


American Library Association. (2015). Diversity Counts. Retrieved from

California School Library Assocation. (2015). Scholarship and grant Information. Retrieved from 

Fulton, C. (2010). An ordinary life in the round: Elfreda Annmary Chatman. Libraries & the Cultural Record, 45(2), 238-259.

Overall, P. (2009). Cultural competence:  A conceptual framework for library and information science professionals. Library Quarterly, 79(2), 175-204.