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Check It Out: January 2021

Your monthly news from the OPS Library Services Staff

"Check It Out" Reboot

You may have noticed our Library Services newsletter has changed. In January, we are introducing a new monthly format to the newsletter with some editorial and design changes and even a revolving editorial staff! To start 2021, I will serve as interim publisher with an ever-changing list of contributors from high school, middle school, and elementary libraries. We'll be focusing regularly on literacy, diversity, and libraries, with an overarching focus on community building.

This month, please enjoy contributions from colleagues at the high school level, including my teaching partner, Jennifer Kawecki.  Next month, we're lucky to have middle school librarians as star contributors. You can which guess level will follow in March! Of course, we're always looking for inspired ideas, so please send them my way when they strike!

-- Beth Eilers, School Librarian at Omaha Central High School,

Letter to Biden's Education Transition Team

On January 7, The Nebraska School Librarians Association (NSLA), which is our state chapter of the AASL, joined the AASL and ALA in sending a letter to President-Elect Biden's education transition team emphasizing the significance of certified school librarians in today's educational and political climate. See the press release below from the AASL, which includes a link to the full letter.

How can you help?

Wondering how you can help share the message about the importance of having certified librarians in each school? You do this every day in your school library by going above and beyond for students, staff, and the community! If you want to dig deeper, the ALA has created a "Frontline Advocacy for School Libraries Toolkit" that has formal and informal ways -- some very simple -- that we can spread the enthusiasm!

Press release:

CHICAGO – Today, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), the American Library Association (ALA), 48 state-level school library associations, and the leadership of the AASL Chapters Assembly sent a letter to President-Elect Joe Biden’s transition team stressing how school librarians are an equity-oriented solution to some of the most pressing concerns facing educators at this moment. The full letter can be read here

The letter asks President-Elect Biden and incoming Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to include the following priorities as they lay the groundwork for a Department of Education focused on equity for all learners: 

  • provide Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) guidance that addresses the role of school librarians 
  • improve National Center for Education Statistic (NCES) data collection to accurately reflect the presence of a certified school librarian at the building level 
  • adjust the NCES definition of school librarian to reflect their instructional role and national standards 
  • ensure that, as teachers, school librarians are eligible for the same federal supports as their colleagues 

“The association and members of the profession are ecstatic to learn that the Department of Education will focus on equity under President Biden,” said AASL President Kathy Carroll. “With the support of the AASL Chapters, our national organization has sent a strong message outlining the necessity of qualified school librarians to ensure the realization of the ED’s vision. We look forward to working closely with Secretary Cardona to ensure every student has a school librarian and making a reality of our own vision statement: ‘every school librarian is a leader; every learner has a school librarian.” 

The American Association of School Librarians,, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning. 

School Library Journal Available

School Library Journal is now available online on Flipster for all OPS School Librarians. Follow this link to the announcement in Teams to learn more!

Hot Topics In School Libraries

Click to discover resources on each of the following hot topics.

Curation credit: Jennifer Kawecki, Guest Contributor

School Librarian Spotlight

Each month "Check It Out" will briefly spotlight an OPS School Librarian to help you discover the diverse interests and perspectives of your far-flung colleagues. This month we are featuring Jennifer Kawecki, who is a guest editor for January's newsletter.








Jennifer Kawecki (Ka-vet-ski) 

Omaha Central High School: Year 2 in the school library, Year 18 in education

School library passion: I am passionate about the different roles literacy plays in education. While I love to get books into the hands of kids, I also want them to see that texts are all around them. This year, I sponsor a podcast club where we examine a student-selected podcast each week. This experience is eye-opening for me—it provides a window into students’ learning, information seeking skills, agency, and thinking skills. The kids are amazing too.

Looking Ahead

Martin Luther King's Birthday Today, January 15
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day  -- No School Monday, January 18
International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Wednesday, January 27
National Freedom Day Monday, February 1
No school for elementary and middle school students. Half building-based professional learning and half teacher planning day. Monday, February 1
Elementary and middle schools transition to five days in-person per week. Tuesday, February 2
Abraham Lincoln's Birthday Friday, February 12
Presidents Day -- No School Monday, February 15
No school for high school students. Half building-based professional learning and half teacher planning day. Tuesday, February 16
High schools transition to five days in-person per week. Wednesday, February. 17


Just for fun:

Omaha Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, age, genetic information, citizenship status, or economic status in its programs, activities and employment and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following individual has been designated to address inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Superintendent of Schools, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531-299-9822).

Las Escuelas Públicas de Omaha no discriminan basados en la raza, color, origen nacional, religión, sexo, estado civil, orientación sexual, discapacidad , edad, información genética, estado de ciudadanía, o estado económico, en sus programas, actividades y empleo, y provee acceso equitativo a los “Boy Scouts” y a otros grupos juveniles designados. La siguiente persona ha sido designada para atender estas inquietudes referentes a las pólizas de no discriminación: El Superintendente de las Escuelas, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531-299-9822).