Education Week - November 9, 2016 - 28
Christopher Capozziello for Education Week
In addition to resources, Church said having a supportive administrator can make a huge difference to
building a successful school library culture. "The administration sets the tone as to how the librarian is
perceived by the teachers, whether collaboration is an
expectation or not," she said.
A Balancing Act
Luhtala, who has been at New Canaan for 15 years now,
said the library was "literally a tomb" when she first arrived.
It took her years to fully transform the program into
what it is today: After her first year in the job, Luhtala
said she wrote on her annual report that she had made
some good strides at building a collaborative relationship with teachers, and it would be on track by 2009.
An administrator wrote back, asking if that was a typo.
"I said, 'No, it's going to take seven years for change to
happen in a high school,' " she said. "In 2009, we kind of
looked around and said, 'Yeah, it's working.' "
Whiting joined the New Canaan library this school
year, after 23 years teaching social studies. That class-
| Education Week * November 9, 2016
room experience, she and Luhtala said, has been a bonus
in her current work with teachers.
While the New Canaan administration supports the
librarians' collaboration with teachers, Luhtala said it
has been challenging to move some educators away from
traditional instructional strategies.
"My whole job revolves around trying to shift the way
we think to meet the needs of millennial learners and
not to force them into a box of learning that fits another
model entirely," she said.
But it's a balancing act: "If you push too much and
too hard, [teachers] walk away and they don't come
back," she said. "They don't have to bring you in.
It's not a requirement. There's nobody saying this
has to happen.
"It's a very fine line, but it's kind of a cool tightrope
to walk because every time you push the envelope just a
little bit-like today," Luhtala said, smiling, referring to
the civics lesson. "It was good."
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School librarian Michelle Luhtala
said, like many librarians, her job
now "revolves around trying to
shift the way we think to meet the
needs of millennial learners."