"That BadgerLink is there, available. There are good goodies there."
Renee Laird-Adelon is a library media specialist at Vincent High School in Milwaukee Public Schools and a member of the BadgerLink Advisory Group.
What’s a typical day pre-pandemic like at Vincent High School? How has that changed during pandemic?
The library at Vincent High School was Grand Central Station before the pandemic, and Renee was its conductor. The library was a space for scheduled classes and study hall, the site of STEAM makerspace and meetings of the Manga anime club, and often a lunchroom haven for many students. This is all due to Renee’s strong conviction that the library be a space geared to students: “Students know when you come here, this is your space. I tell them, you deserve a nice place. A quiet, clean, captivating place that is geared to you.”
During the pandemic, students are no longer coming and going, and present in their library space. Their presence is missed. “It’s hard to get to know the new freshman by introducing myself in a virtual setting.” After the mad rush of material distribution in early August, Renee has been focusing on curating more modern titles in the collection and adjusting the space for the students’ return.
How has education changed since you were a kid?
“The advent of the computer revolutionized information.” Renee has found the internet and online research “to be a wonderful assistant in the classroom.” Previous to being a library media specialist, Renee was a World Languages educator at high school level. She found sharing French music in an instant to be not only great fun, but memorable to those students grasp of new cultures and language.
The switch from print to online encyclopedias was paramount, as Renee remembers having to walk to the library for access to encyclopedias to complete homework and research. That encyclopedia content remains an important first step of the research process, and she reminds students again and again of the importance of using this high-quality content.
Since the pandemic forcing a switch to more virtual learning in the past six months, Renee has found education coming into the 21st century. Rightfully forcing discussions and action around digital citizenship and information literacy—principles that librarians have been teaching to for years, now more important than ever and at the forefront of education. Proper use of online tools, citing your sources, and finding out where information comes from is no longer just lip service, while this virtual learning environment does not look to return to what it was before the pandemic.
How has your online resource use changed in the last 6 months?
Use has grown exponentially and Renee is “lovin’ it!”. Renee has long been a proponent of classroom tools such as Flipgrid, and online platforms for eBooks like OverDrive. “I feel like the cool kid in school, while educators reach out with requests for more information on these valuable tools, and I can share my expertise and package these online resources, providing self-made videos and answering questions. I went from another face in the crowd to hero, with all these different resources.”
How long have you known about BadgerLink, and used BadgerLink resources?
“For years, I was using BadgerLink not knowing I was using BadgerLink. In Library School, every time we had to look up an article, it was through BadgerLink.” After becoming a librarian, BadgerLink was there again, in the classroom. “I would be using NoveList, TeachingBooks,” but would not refer to it as BadgerLink.
What do you wish Wisconsinites knew about BadgerLink that you don’t think they do?
“That BadgerLink is there, available. There are good goodies there. Wisconsinites trying to get educated, seeking information, these resources are available to you."
Tell us the benefits you’ve found to statewide availability of an online resources library like BadgerLink.
“Honestly, I take it for granted. You don’t miss your water until the well runs dry. Funding for resources available in public schools is so important, and I have much gratitude for all Wisconsin offers. Being an educator in other states made me realize how spoiled we are in Wisconsin. Voting for continued funding is most important, because you don’t miss your water until the well runs dry.”
Knowing what you know about libraries, educational institutions, and/or non-profits, is there a BadgerLink resource or something about BadgerLink that gets you excited to share this resource collection with colleagues, compared to other resources?
“When I meet with my English department educators, I always share TeachingBooks.net. So many great responses to that resource because it is so connected with English classes.”
How have you used online resources like BadgerLink differently during the pandemic? Are there any online resources you found yourself using less during the pandemic?
“What can I share with teachers that they can add virtual lessons? Don’t reinvent the wheel. To my educators, I say, there are free, quality resources out there, let me try to find it for you.” As a librarian, Renee has much information and many resources to share. “When I see things that are new, I throw it out there to see if anyone picks it up.”
Which BadgerLink resources do you use in your professional development?
Which BadgerLink resources do you use in your library/classroom?
Which BadgerLink resources do you use outside of your professional life?
At home with her own kids, she shares Britannica School and NoveList, especially for one child that has different reading interests from her own. Sharing series titles with them and using the reading recommendation resource to figure out the next title is always great fun.