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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
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 schoolsand 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!