Where do they get those wonderful tools

Where do librarians get resources to support subjects related to STEM? At the 2021 IASL session entitled, “Supporting STEM Education in the School Library with Digital Tools,” presenters Johnston, Green, Thompson and Jones offered various websites, applications and digital tools to complement, enhance and support subjects such as math and science.

This type of collaboration and promotion of curated digital tools is clearly delineated in the Texas Library Standards. Strand 4: Dimension 1 states, “The library program effectively uses and promotes the use of technology applications and tools across all content areas for discovery, collaboration, critical analysis, creation, and presentation of learning” (Texas State Library and Archives Commission, 2017).

Here are some of the resources that I gleaned from this session.

Finding Resources

  • Concord Consortium – Offers interactive and free STEM activites for the classroom; five subjects which include physics and chemistry, engineering, earth and space, and mathematics. Has the option to filter between elementary, middle, high school and beyond and to filter by type – https://learn.concord.org/
  • OER Commons – is an open educational resource that functions as a hub for thousands of digital resources that include STEM subjects and more. Some subjects include ELA, law, physical and social science and arts and humanities. Many of the resources have star ratings and offer such information as the level, and the standards it addresses – https://www.oercommons.org/hubs/imls
  • Explore.org offers live webcams of different animals. Can be used to make connections to various lessons in science. There are an impressive amount of animal cams, ranging from cameras of bears, whales, orcas and birds (See Image 1).As example of the sheer volume, Nestflix has 48 streams of birds that include the bald eagle, spoonbills and hummingbirds.https://explore.org/livecams
  • NASA for students – offers a plethora of resources that deal with science, space, and more. The top part of this page offers drop down lists of topics, missions and galleries. The user is able to select the grade range for resources as well as search. In the NASA for students in 5th -8th grade, as you scroll down, there are additional sections that offer homework help, and stuff to make, do or print.
Image 1
Explore.org-Ocean live webcams




  • Phet simulations – offer interactive simulations for science and math. Include subjects such as physics, chemistry, math, earth science and biology. In addition to provding simulations, it also offers tips for using the website. https://phet.colorado.edu/
  • Neal.fun- is an engaging and fun way to expose math statistics to students. Options include typing in one’s birthday to discover – how many red blood your body has produce, how many times you have blinked and many days of your life you have been asleep (See Image 2). https://neal.fun/
Image 2
Neal fun homepage

These are just a fraction of the digital tools presented at this presentation. I must admit that I do not feel entirely comfortable and ready to provide instructional assistance across the STEM courses and subjects. However, this presentation offered so many tools for me and other librarians and future librarians. This in turn, gives us the confidence and “tools” for our “STEM toolbox.” With these resources, the librarian can truly provide engaging and enriching technology tools across all subjects.


Johnston, M., Green, L., Thompson, E., Jones, A. (2021, July 12-16). Supporting STEM education in the school library with Digital Tools. [Conference session]. IASL 2021 Annual Conference, Denton, TX, United States. https://iasl-online.org/event-3667867

Texas State Library and Archives Commission. (2017). Texas school library standards: Strand 4: Dimension 1. https://www.tsl.texas.gov/sites/default/files/public/tslac/ld/schoollibs/sls/Texas%20School%20Library%20Standards%20E-Version%20FINAL.pdf

Creating a welcome place for Staff

During our Fall social emotional learning (SEL) professional development, my co-worker and I moderated a community circle of a small group of staff members. The purpose of this community circle was to “unpack” our experience with doing a privilege walk with these fellow staff members. Our community circle questions included:

1.     What happened

2.    How did this exercise make you feel

3.    What were your thoughts as you did this exercise

4.    What have you learned from this experience

5.    What can you do with this information in the future

Many staff members were candid, honest and vulnerable about how the privilege walk made them feel and various staff members shared about their experiences. In regards to the final question, of “what can you do with this information in the future?” many staff members talked about how they wish/would like to speak more regularly to other staff members. One of these people was librarian at my school. 

After the SEL professional development, I asked her if she would be open to hosting a type of meet and greet with treats, inviting staff members to come to the library. The purpose would have the following goals:

  1. Offer the experience to staff members that the library is a:
    1. place to socialize and mingle
    2. place that offers reading for pleasure
    3. place that offers literature on professional development topics
    4. increase circulation of professional non-professional literature from staff


A few of the standards this event addressed were:


Before the event, Karen polled the staff with a google form asking:

  • My favorite Middle School book or series was:
  • My favorite book or series as an adult has been
  • The most helpful book I have read and used during my educational career has been

From here, Karen made a display and eventually pulled books for our display to the staff.

The day before the event, we went to the store and purchased a box of pastries, marshmallows, and hot chocolate mix. I locked my keys in my car as well, which was a type of fun.

We did not have a very high expectation for turn out. It was the day before Winter Break and teachers were MAP testing, which means they needed to be in their rooms to get ready for students to arrive to test. In addition, in my own mind, with all sorts of treats in the lounge, I thought the teachers might be burned out on more treats.

What happened was magical. As soon as we opened our doors with our little spread, a little Christmas tree and Holiday music playing in the background the teachers started coming in. In total, almost 20 staff members showed up.

I had four conversations with staff members not only about their favorite books, but about their journey in their love of reading. Our librarian also had a few casual converstations about books with other staff members. At one point, in the first time I can even remember, a group of teachers sat themselves and chatted.

In total, only one YA Historical Fiction book was circulated, but with engagement, discussions about literature and creating relationships, it was a great start.

Staff Members AttendedNumber of Materials Circulated
Chatting in the library #librarymagic
Fellow teacher browsing our little book displays
My music team, stopping by to support me


While there was only one book circulated during this event, I believe that the impact was incredibly positive and powerful. During the event, for the first time since the pandemic, I saw teachers mingling among the books, sharing their love of reading, and just chatting. Comments from emails included, “Thank you, it truly was a great way to start the day,” “Thank you for hosting,” and “Thank you for doing this” (J. Boutemy, S. Brozak & V. Franco, personal Communication, 12/16/2021).

Going forward, I plan to co-host and organize monthly staff events. The next one will hopefully be:

I look forward to not only promoting the services of the library, but changing the perception of some very important stakeholders, the staff.


American Association of School Librarians. (2018). AASL Standards Framework for Learners. In National School Library Standards. https://standards.aasl.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/AASL-Standards-Framework-for-Learners-pamphlet.pdf

National Policy Board for Educational Administration (2015). Professional Standards for Educational Leaders. http://www.npbea.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Professional-Standards-for-Educational-Leaders_2015.pdf