The issues of the teacher librarians and para-professionals in California School Libraries. Please share your concerns, feedback and questions.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Introducing Renee Ousley-Swank

Renee Ousley-Swank, School Library Technology Consultant

          I was recently selected to fill Barbara Jeffus’ very large shoes as the School Library Technology Consultant at the California Department of Education. I’m excited by the challenges this position presents, and I thank Barbara for her vision and zeal for school libraries. I hope to carry on her legacy, advocating for school library programs throughout the state.
          My goals in this position include ensuring school districts understand that school library programs are vital to their students’ success as they implement the Common Core Standards. A second goal is to promote access to print and electronic collections for all California students. I passionately believe that students in Title I schools deserve the same opportunities as students in more affluent schools and districts.
          My first library gig was opening a brand new high school library in the Manteca Unified School District where my dad was a teacher librarian. My dad and I worked together as colleagues for a number of years before his retirement. I eventually left MUSD to take a teacher librarian position with the Sylvan Union School District, this time opening a brand new middle school library. While at Sylvan I also earned my master’s in library science. When the budget crisis hit, Sylvan reduced the three teacher librarians (covering 13 schools) to only one teacher librarian (yes, still covering all 13 schools -10 elementary and 3 middle schools). I served in that capacity for 4+years before being the successful candidate for the CDE School Library Technology Consultant position. 
          Throughout my career I have always advocated for quality education, especially for strong school libraries, and I am proud of the work CSLA does. As a kid I can remember attending CSLA conferences with my dad who was an active member of CSLA. (Back then it was called the California Media and Library Educators Association.) Years later we attended the CSLA conference together as colleagues, and he made sure to introduce me to all his CSLA friends and contacts - including Sandy Shuckett, Barbara Jeffus, Jeanne Nelson, Bob Skapura, Peter Milbury and so many others.
          Following in my dad’s footsteps, I currently serve as the CSLA Northern Section Treasurer, as well as serving on numerous committees over the years of my membership.
          For the past 7 years I have served as the California Teachers Association (CTA) liaison to CSLA, educating the CTA Board about the value of teacher librarians and strong school library programs. I’ve served on a variety of CTA committees, including the Curriculum & Instruction committee, and the Read Across America committee.
          I look forward to working with CSLA in my new role, and welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions!