Monday, April 20, 2015

3D Printing: Making vs. The Maker Movement

For several years now, I have heard about the Maker Movement and how libraries can benefit from introducing Maker Spaces. I have kept my eye on the prices and applications of 3D printers, but at the same time have hesitated in purchasing one for my library since I am not sure I would be able to support its use as more than a novelty. Reading an article linked in the Horizon Report supported my concern that “the most important aspect of this approach is not in the product but rather the process behind making” (Johnson, Adams Becker, Estrada & Freeman, 2014, p. 15).

Indeed, Santo (2013) distinguished between the basic act of making and the Maker Movement, which involves the learning that occurs “around the making” and includes “that initial spark of curiosity, the investigation and early tinkering, the planning and research that follow, the inspirations and appropriations from other projects, the prototypes, the failures, the feedback, and, perhaps most importantly, the iterations upon iterations towards a better make.”

It’s not that these interactions cannot happen in my library space, but cognizant of existing student use patterns, I believe they would be difficult to facilitate meaningfully.

As luck would have it, one of our Career Technical Education teachers stopped by last week and shared that she is in fact purchasing a 3D printer for her manufacturing classes. Within her classroom setting, she will be able to do exactly what Santo wrote about. She plans on having students design prototypes and then analyze products to refine them, do cost analysis, and more. I think this is a wise application of the technology and have offered to support these efforts through collaboration. Perhaps in working with this teacher, I will also crack the conundrum of how to someday host a 3D printer in the library in an effective way.


Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., Freeman, A. (2014). NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Santo, R. (2013, February 12). Is making learning? Considerations as education embraces the Maker Movement. Retrieved from

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Strategic Budgeting

Evans and Alire (2013) provide a helpful breakdown of operating expenses falling into the following categories:

  • A materials budget
  • A personnel budget
  • A distribution/expense budget
  • An administrative expense budget (p. 435)

Wearing the hat of program manager for my school’s library, I immediately identify with having responsibility for materials and administrative expense budgets. However, the distribution/expense budget does not apply, and the personnel budget is largely out of my control beyond attempting to influence decision makers regarding the importance of maintaining and someday potentially increasing personnel.

Thus, when presented with the situation of having to cut 20% of the budget, the options within my immediate realm of influence would be to cut money from the materials and administrative expense budgets. And, given that administrative expenses are already streamlined for basic library functions, cuts would largely have to come from the materials budget.

Cutting materials has already become commonplace, particularly due to the 2013 introduction of California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). With LCFF, categorical funding has been largely eliminated, and as a result, monies that our libraries once received in conjunction with the School and Library Improvement Block Grant are no longer earmarked for our programs.

Still, beyond simply buying less materials for students, my goal is to actively increase funding. To begin with, I am concerned that my district’s libraries have not yet become integrally involved with the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), which outlines how LCFF should be guided to meet eight key priorities. As noted on the California Department of Education’s website, the Model School Library Standards are included among state standards that must be addressed as part of Priority 2 (see below).


Locating my district’s LCAP, the current plan that I found includes no mention of library programs even though other specific programs are named (e.g., Family Resource Centers, Visual and Performing Arts, Dropout Prevention Specialists, etc.).

Of course, approaching the district means that librarians must first prepare. Cox (2008) provides some basic advice including making a budget, specifying current curriculum needs, and applying usage statistics to justify requests (p. 24-25). These ideas seem obvious and basic, but they are not necessarily easy to implement. What might be useful to keep in mind is one of Holley’s (2014) library planning and budgeting principles: “Having a rough idea of costs is better than having no figure at all” (p. 726). Our plans do not have to be perfectly precise, but we need to make them and make them known.

A final consideration when developing budget plans is to reconsider our “sacred cows.” Steele (2010) raises the point of planning budgets more strategically, including examples such as reevaluating the return on investment with money spent on security gates (p. 58). Nothing should be beyond reflection as we develop budgetary plans.


California Department of Education. (2015). Local control funding formula. Retrieved from

Cox, M. (2008). 10 Tips for Budgeting. Library Media Connection, 26(4), 24-25.

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

Holley, R. P. (2014). Library planning and budgeting: A few underappreciated principles. Journal Of Library Administration, 54(8), 720-729. doi:10.1080/01930826.2014.965102

Steele, K. (2010). Budgeting for libraries: "It's ideally suited for that purpose, so we won't be using it that way". Bottom Line: Managing Library Finances, 23(2), 57-59. doi:10.1108/08880451011073527

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Leading Paradoxically

Today I read a blog post by Scott H. Young that really resonated with me. In the post, “Paradoxical Virtues,” Young links to a conversation between Tyler Cowen and Peter Thiel, during which Thiel identified underrated talent not as any single trait, but in one’s ability to demonstrate seemingly paradoxical abilities. Here is a snippet from Young’s post:

I love this! I agree with the proposition that an ideal worker has the ability to strike a balance between seemingly opposing values and characteristics, calling upon each when and to a degree most appropriate. Finding individuals like this may be a challenge, though.

Therefore, I think that the strength of paradox also points to the way that teams can make up for individual shortcomings. For example, if some team members excel in providing vision, but have trouble with attention to detail, then compensation can be provided through other teammates who have these skills. In this way, a single individual doesn’t have to do and be it all. Through healthy teamwork, a unit may provide the same effect.

Unfortunately, leaders may sometimes find it convenient to instead build teams in their own image and thus may miss out providing strength through balance. Keeping the idea of paradoxical virtues in mind, leaders may both try to personally embody paradoxes and also build teams that value all members and their unique contributions toward the greater whole.

The starting point is in recognizing that there is value in more than one direction since, as Young points out, some people will fall into a trap of valuing only one end of the spectrum over another. I think this is particularly important for information professionals to keep in mind so that we may be as unbiased as possible and may best meet the needs of diverse populations.


Young, S. H. (2015, April). Paradoxical virtues. Retrieved from

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Teacher Librarians as Transformational Leaders and the Multiplier Effect

Having read a fair amount regarding school librarianship, I am well aware that providing leadership is a core responsibility for Teacher Librarians. Information Power, published by the American Association of School Librarians in 1988, was foundational in charging Teacher Librarians with leading as instructional consultants who link students, teachers, administrators, parents, and the general community. But, how exactly should we as Teacher Librarians lead?

When thinking about leadership, it is important to realize that there are different flavors including transformational, transactional, adaptive, and servant leadership. Of these forms, the one that interests me most is transformational leadership, in which “a key element is influence, with both the leader and followers influencing one another” (Evans and Alire, 2013, p. 323). I am drawn to the way that influence is bi-directional and thus collaborative.

My interest in transformational leadership has grown even stronger after reading Smith’s (2014) article regarding the leadership skills of pre-service school librarians. Smith writes:
transformational leaders are people who evolve with the situations present within their organizations . . . Transformational leadership can be defined as a leadership approach that builds on the concept that leaders may bring about or guide change within an organization by engaging in unselfish behavior [emphasis mine] (p. 59). 
Thinking about Teacher Librarians, a challenge is to figure out how to lead school communities in this way when not holding a formal position of power.

Someone I believe has been successful in leading as a transformational leader is my colleague Steve Montgomery, who has worked for over a decade as a Teacher Librarian. Steve was instrumental in leading efforts to save the jobs of Teacher Librarians in our district during a period of severe budget cuts, and he continues to lead his school by helping with initiatives such as their recent Gold Ribbon School application. To me, he is a model of truly unselfish leadership.

Working on this post, I called Steve and asked what helped him develop as a leader. He immediately identified how The Multiplier Effect helped clarify the impact that various school administrators have made in either multiplying or diminishing his leadership capacity over the years. For instance, he cited how his current principal has multiplied him due to her understanding of the role of Teacher Librarians as school leaders. She encourages and guides him, providing advice regarding ways to be effective. She mentors and respects him, and while he had always felt that he could be a leader, her recognition of his potential has helped him emerge as an even greater one.

My follow-up question was what to do if working under a diminishing leader, and he said that while this is a challenge, he would work from the “ground up” by collaborating with key teacher leaders until school administration can’t help but see your leadership potential. This echoes the idea of being able to work within present situations. In closing, just as Steve has benefited from mentorship, I consider him to be a mentor for me, and I hope that as I grow in my new position as a Teacher Librarian, I may also develop as a transformational leader.


American Association of School Librarians. (1998). Information power: Building partnerships for learning. Chicago: American Library Association.

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

Smith, D. (2014). Improving the leadership skills of pre-service school librarians through leadership pre-assessment. Journal Of Education For Library & Information Science, 55(1), 55-68.

Wiseman, L., Allen, L. N., & Foster, E. (2013). The multiplier effect: Tapping the genius inside our schools. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Committing to a Shift in Culture

After completing this week’s readings, I am most excited to reflect upon the way that teams and technology can transform organizational culture. The following quote from Evans and Alire (2013) stood out to me:
Traditional workplace behavior, at least in the United States, has a strong element of competition and a low emphasis on cooperation/collaboration. Team-based work calls for just the opposite behavior; it takes time for team members to develop the change in focus. (p. 346)
The reason why this struck me is because it focuses on how team-based work represents a fundamental cultural shift from competition to collaboration. Evans and Alire continued to explain that in order for this new way of working to be successful, an organization needs to invest time and training into efforts. In other words, successful teamwork requires both intention and focused attention; it requires commitment.

When looking further at teams within the virtual realm, the article that stood out to me was Guenard, Katz, Bruno, and Lipa’s piece “Enabling a New Way of Working through Inclusion and Social Media.” In this article, I found similar themes resonating through their emphasis on the disruptive nature of social media technology and how it may enable “the democratization of knowledge” (2013, p. 9). Just as Evans and Alire wrote about how team-based work requires a new mode of working, Guenard et al. provided helpful tables outlining how virtual collaboration requires new “mindsets and behaviors” (p. 12).



Mindful that the cultural shift of collaboration does not occur without commitment, I also enjoyed another figure provided by Guenard et al. that demonstrates how internalization is a process that takes time and effort. I think that members of an organization may often be too quick to judge efforts as unsuccessful or as having little impact when the potential value of an ”energized human network” has not yet been given the chance to be fully realized (Guenard et al., 2013, p. 14). Thus, there must be acceptance that cultural change takes time and effort at the same time that time and effort is actively dedicated to supporting the change. Using a model such as the figure below may help organizations identify where they stand on the continuum of change so that they may remain committed and best direct efforts to move closer to their goal.


A final point in closing is that commitment does not mean just giving more time and effort. Time and effort must be allocated and applied in ways that are meaningful and effective. I think a good example of this is how, with the best intentions, an organization may try to support employees with a program such recognizing standout individuals (e.g., Employee of the Month programs) when this is actually counterproductive to building a team-based culture. Commitment must be thoughtful, and organizations must be equipped to reflectively evaluate progress when determining next steps for continuing progress.


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

Guenard, R., Katz, J., Bruno, S., & Lipa, M. (2013). Enabling a New Way of Working through Inclusion and Social Media: A Case Study. OD Practitioner, 45(4), 9-16.