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  • Saturday, February 25, 2023 5:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Check out this FREE webinar series from AASL and the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom:

    Register here:

    The Maine Council for English Language Arts invites all school librarians to their FREE Poetry Night celebration at Portland Stage on March 16th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. 

    Join us on Thursday evening for an event with Maine Poet Laureate Julia Bouwsma and Portland Stage. Get tickets here:

    There will be an opportunity to network with other teachers, listen to a poetry reading, and learn about educational programs offered by Portland Stage. Food and drink will be provided thanks to the generous donation of Portland Stage with a cash bar also available. An additional bonus from Portland Stage: attendees of this event will also be offered free tickets to the Thursday evening performance of August Wilson’s How I Learned What I Learned (more about the play here:

    You are also welcome to attend the MCELA Conference on Friday, March 17th, from 8:00 AM to 2:30 PM (Workshops and Keynote): Reconnect, Renew, Revive.

    Program here: MCELA Spring Conference 

    Tickets for both events can also be purchased online here:

    The paper registration form can be accessed here:

  • Saturday, February 18, 2023 9:52 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Diversify Your Read Alouds

    Need contact hours? (Don’t we all?)

    MASL member, Amy Ryder (Spruce Mountain School District), has generously shared her presentations on Diversifying Your Read Alouds. Amy presents titles and descriptions of books  that include diverse representations and authors, perfect for your next read aloud session! Recalling our fall PD with Lawrence Alexander, this is an actionable step you can take to make your library full of windows, mirrors, and sliding doors for all readers. 

    Primary Books   Elementary Books    Handouts

    At the end of the sessions, make sure to fill out the Google Form to receive your certificate of completion here: Primary Level  and Elementary Level.

    Maine Book Awards Padlets

    Do you love award season? We do! 

    We love supporting the nominees for our Maine awards: The Chickadee Award, Maine Student Book Award, and North Star YA Award! The stickers on the covers, the amazing contributions to children’s and YA literature, the thrill of discovering which books will be the winners! So exciting!

    MASL has created Padlets so you can share your great ideas for integrating the nominees into your school library — pictures of an amazing display, lesson plans, ideas for technology or art integrations, and more.

    The Padlets are also there for you to browse for inspiration, right from the comfort of your couch. You could have a whole week’s worth of lessons lined up after mining the Padlets for ideas from your peers!

    So pour yourself a cup of tea and spend some time with the Padlets!

    The Chickadee Award

    Maine Student Book Award

    North Star YA Award

    Reading Round Up (April 27th, 8–4 p.m.)

    Yes, Reading Round Up is open for registration

    One of our goals this year is to integrate our professional development offerings through collaborations with other organizations across the state, such as RRU and ACTEM. This adds visibility for our organization and leadership opportunities as we step up and offer meaningful PD to educate other educators.

    In addition to the opportunity to see Jason Reynolds (live and in person!) at RRU this year, you can enjoy sessions some of our own MASL members:

    • Cathy Potter: Conducting a Diversity Audit in Your Library

    • Jen Stanbro and Megan Blakemore: Using Data in Collection Development

    • Karen Silverman, Heather Perkinson, and panel: Book Challenges in Maine Schools

    • Suzanne Dix: School and Public Library Partnerships: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work!

    Make sure to stop by our table at RRU where we have lots of exciting activities planned this year. We will have a photo booth, information about becoming a MASL All-Star, and information about an exciting bookmark art contest. You will also be able to check out our new swag which you can purchase here.

    ~ Beth Andersen, MASL President-Elect, and the Chair of Professional Development Committee

  • Thursday, February 16, 2023 7:23 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Congratulations to all of you!

    MASL has been recognized by the Maine Council for English Language Arts with their 2023 Intellectual Freedom Award! This award goes to each and every one of you who has been working tirelessly in your library to protect students’ right to read. 

    MCELA president, Patti Forster, presented us with the award and said: 

    “We are honored to be able to recognize MASL for the courageous work you have done in the last few years and continue to do to advance the cause of intellectual freedom and fight against censorship. 

    We will be announcing this award at our MCELA Conference on March 17th. As an affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of English, you will also be recognized as our intellectual freedom award winner at the NCTE National Convention affiliates breakfast in November 2023. 

    In addition to awarding MASL our MCELA 2023 Intellectual Freedom Award, we plan on nominating MASL for the National Council for Teachers of English Intellectual Freedom Award. 

    Thank you again for all that you do to advocate for the freedom to read." 

    Read more about the award on MCELA’s website here.

    If you happen to be attending any of MCELA’s great professional development offerings on March 16th and 17th (more about that in a blog post on PD coming soon), you will get to see Patti present the award to one of us in person!

  • Monday, February 13, 2023 8:37 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In addition to writing letters of support for challenged books to many school boards in Maine this year, the intrepid volunteers on your MASL Executive Board, along with IF Chair Karen Silverman and her committee of Abigail Thompson and Kerrie Lattari, have been hard at work fighting for intellectual freedom. If you’re experiencing a challenge of any kind (Maybe your administrator is second-guessing your book order? Maybe a colleague has asked you not to let their students check out a certain book? Maybe you are worried that you can no longer safely order certain books for your library?) please do not hesitate to reach out to us for support and advice. 

    MASL President Heather Perkinson has been busy spreading the word about intellectual freedom. Hopefully by now you’ve seen her media appearances: she was quoted in the Washington Post, interviewed by local Fox 23, appeared on Richard Rudolph’s Community Voices for Change radio show, wrote an important opinion piece for the Press Herald, and was featured on the podcast School Librarians United. Be sure to register for Reading Roundup where you can join Karen, Heather, and others who will be presenting a panel discussion on intellectual freedom in Maine schools.

    Most recently, Heather and Beth Andersen have also been working with the Maine Library Association and John Chrastka of to battle LD123:  "An Act to Eliminate the Educational Purposes Exception to the Prohibition on the Dissemination of Obscene Matter to Minors." Beth and Heather have exchanged countless emails and had several meetings with John Chrastka and members of the MLA Board. Additionally, Beth and representatives from the MLA recently met with the sponsor of the bill. With the help of EveryLibrary, MLA and MASL have created a letter writing campaign site which we encourage you to share widely:

    If you live in the districts of any of the following state legislators, we especially need you to write a personal email to them asking that the bill be rejected before it makes it out of their Education and Cultural Affairs Committee: Joseph Rafferty or Holly Sargent of York, Jim Libby of Standish, Teresa Pierce of Falmouth, Michael Brennan of Portland, Barbara Bagshaw of Windham, Jan Dodge of Belfast, Belmont and Northport, Sheila Lyman of Livermore Falls, Rebecca Millett of Cape Elizabeth, Kelly Murphy of Scarborough, Edward Polewarczyk of Wiscasset, Heidi Sampson of Lyman (Part) / Alfred/ Waterboro (Part), J. Worth of Ellsworth.

    Their email address will follow this pattern: If you need any guidance writing such an email, please do not hesitate to reach out to us! 

    MASL and MLA are also forming a coalition with other Maine groups who would be affected by the bill. Currently on board with us: the ACLU of Maine, Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, Maine Humanities Council, Maine Chapter of the National Social Workers Association, and The Telling Room. MLA and MASL have drafted a joint statement with these groups, so look for that to appear soon and be prepared to share it widely! For now, you can share the email campaign website with your union leadership and ask them to share it with members. You can stress that this legislation will have far-reaching effects, not just on libraries and librarians, but on any school staff that shares material with students that might be considered “obscene.”

    Here are some talking points to guide you when discussing LD 123:

    • This legislation would affect not just a school librarians, but any teacher who works with curriculum or literature that could be considered "obscene": English (including AP), Health, Art, School Counselors, School Nurses, potentially some Social Studies and PE teachers as well

    • This is not just a 1st Amendment issue but a “Dignity of Work” issue, it will impact how we are treated as professionals, we will be questioned and micromanaged on everything we teach, every book we purchase, and it threatens to criminalize our workforce, this is effectively intimidation of workers

    • This bill would also criminalize certain identities and threaten the civil rights of those teachers and students who identify with any of the protected categories affected by this, specifically LGBTQ people

    • The criminal code it would amend is commercial code, not meant for nonprofits, education has always been exempt in Maine, along with 44 other states with similar exemptions for education

    • This bill has serious implications for school funding: the cost of insurance & risk management are unknown but would be significant, in order to protect school districts against potential lawsuits and prosecution of their employees

    • Putting the bill in practice would have possible implications for schools' abilities to observe the legal constraints of Title IX

    • We already have good policies in place (IJJs) that guide teachers and librarians in choosing materials, this bill needlessly targets educators, overreaches the authority of the Legislature, and conflicts with the local control and jurisdiction of School Boards

    • This law will not stand up to the Miller Test, which is based on a Supreme Court decision used to determine if material is actually obscene or just makes some people uncomfortable. This federal decision, which also applies in Maine schools, allows parents to opt their children out of any material that makes them uncomfortable by following the IMJB policy. This proposed bill, however, would take away parental rights, because it would limit access to materials for ALL children. Libraries and public schools are for everyone, you can not limit access to materials for other parents' children.

    The sponsor of this legislation and his allies have said that they are responding to the presence of one book in school libraries, Maia Kobabe’s highly acclaimed memoir, Gender Queer (the same book that has been repeatedly challenged in Maine schools over the past two years). But this legislation goes far beyond the banning of one book. Make no mistake, the people that are organizing this fight are not just trying to limit our intellectual freedom, this is a direct attack on public education. Letting this legislation out of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, let alone allowing it to pass, will open the doors to many more bills like it. In this fight, we are not just opposing the censorship of one book or the passage of one law, we are letting our legislators know that we will not be silenced by a vocal minority. We need all hands on deck to do this work and protect the education system that keeps our democracy strong.
  • Monday, February 06, 2023 1:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Beth is our intrepid President-Elect and is in charge of all of our professional development programs. She works at Helena H. Dyer Elementary School in South Portland, which is grades K-5. The professional development innovation she developed for us around the Maine book awards has been a game changer! Check out this year's Padlets, get some great teaching ideas from your colleagues, and maybe add an idea of your own:


    MSBA Padlet

    North Star YA

    This is her second year in this position. She worked at a high school previously. She made the move because she was ready for a change. She wanted to see students on a more regular basis and really have the time to spend on reader's advisory with each student. She also specifically wanted to work in South Portland because of its collaborative model. Teachers come to the library with their classes so there is the opportunity to collaborate on a weekly basis. At first, this felt a bit intimidating, but now it feels so authentic that she wouldn't want it any other way.

    One of the things she focuses on as a school librarian is building community whether it is through collaboration, student helpers in the library, or school-wide literacy and STEAM events. MASL builds community at the state level.

    Beth says, "I don't think I would have had the opportunity to meet so many amazing colleagues from around the state if I was not a MASL member. I relied on these colleagues when I was considering making the move from high school to the elementary level and even now if I need inspiration, I reach out and ask for help. In these times of book challenges, we need to see each other as a resource. We need to be here for each other before we face any obstacles so that we don't ever feel like we are facing this alone. I run into MASL members all the time, I even ran into another member at my hair salon!"

    Beth points out that the MASL Board is working to make these connections even stronger. We want representation from all over the state and we want to make sure everyone feels connected, no matter the size of your district or how many years you have been working in a school library. Feel free to reach out to any Board member if you have any suggestions on how we can do this better! And, of course, you haven't had the full MASL experience until you have volunteered for a committee. If you are interested just reach out! You will meet new people and learn so much!

  • Monday, January 23, 2023 11:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Looking for a goal to support growth for the new year? Consider requesting a mentor or volunteering to become one, to connect with another MASL librarian for conversation and connection. The benefits go both ways — both mentors and mentees experience benefits through these partnerships.

    Partnering with a mentor can happen at any point in the school year. More information can be found here.

    Debra Butterfield, the MASL Mentoring Chair, would love to chat with you more about this opportunity to build your professional community.

  • Friday, January 20, 2023 4:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School Author Visit Survey Request

    We are seeking help with gathering information about author visits to schools in Maine.  If you have hosted 20 authors or have never hosted an author in your school, we are interested in your response!  

    Who is conducting this survey and why? 

    The Maine School Author Visit Grant is conducting this survey. As we begin 2023, we are in the process of evaluating the impact of the author visit grant program.  Several years have passed since we last surveyed the school community and we are interested in knowing if this grant is still meeting schools’ needs. To help with the evaluation process, we created a new survey and are gathering feedback from people involved with planning and organizing school author visits. 

    Some history about the grant

    The Maine School Author Visit grant was created in 2016 following conversations with a group of school librarians and ed. techs and a few Maine authors/illustrators.  To gather information from the broader Maine school community, we also created and conducted a survey. The 2015 survey received responses from 81 participants representing pre-k -12 schools from all 16 counties in Maine.  Results were used to inform the grant guidelines and were also shared with MASL. 

    The Maine School Author Visit grant currently provides an opportunity for PreK-12 schools to apply for grants ranging between $500 - $800 to help host authors who will share writing processes, story development and research experiences.  Although many authors are amazing inspirational speakers and have great messages to share, the grant’s intent is to highlight the writing connection for students.   The hope is that meeting authors and illustrators will help inspire students to read, write and/or illustrate.

    From 2016 - 2020, the grant was managed and hosted by the Onion Foundation. As of June 2021 the Author Visit Grant separated from the foundation and can now be found at Maine Literacy Fund. Over the past seven years, the fund has awarded 144 grants to over 75 schools across Maine.  We are hoping to continue and expand this opportunity.  

    Link to School Author Visit Survey

    The survey should take between 5 - 10 minutes to complete and will close on January 31, 2023. 

    You can help spread the work by sharing this survey link with other colleagues who are responsible for school library programming.

    If you have any questions, please direct them to

    We appreciate your participation with this data collection project!  

    ~ Susan Onion, MLIS

    (Grant manager: Maine School Author Visit Grant)

  • Friday, January 13, 2023 8:55 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Maine Association of School Libraries (MASL) and the Maine Council for English Language Arts (MCELA) wish to affirm our support for the Freedom to Read in Maine Schools. We address this letter to any schools considering rating the books in their school’s libraries and classroom libraries according to the content, subject matter, and ideas in those books. 

    ​​MASL and MCELA have learned that some Maine school districts may be considering applying "ratings" to books in their school libraries; we believe strongly that that would be an unwise course of action. The practice of rating books violates students’ and parents’ freedoms and could cause harm to students who identify with historically underrepresented groups. Our organizations are divisions of the American Library Association and the National Council of Teachers of English. Our opinion on this matter is informed by the guidance of those organizations, which have issued position statements regarding the Freedom to Read that specifically warn against rating books.

    Those statements can be found here and  and here.

    Rating, labeling, or in any other manner restricting student access to books in libraries and classroom libraries is detrimental to the experience of Maine students. We urge school districts to consider the following points:

    1. Maine schools have a duty to serve all their students, inclusive of their race and skin color, abilities, religion, national origin or ancestry, gender (including gender identity and expression), and/or sexual orientation. Rating books that feature characters who exhibit any of those protected identities or content related to those identities pathologizes them by “red flagging” them or labeling them as “controversial” or “inappropriate.” Thus, labeling of books in such a manner causes harm to students who identify with those identities

    2. Rating books requires that some individual or group makes a “value-judgment” about the content of the books. This is highly problematic. Who will get to decide what is harmful or controversial? Why should their opinion of the book’s content have more value than someone else’s? 

    3. MASL and MCELA believe that parents should have the right to determine what their own children read and have access to. Removing access to certain books takes this right away from parents by eliminating their ability to choose books for their own children.

    4. Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop has written about the power of reading. She asserted that books act as “mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors” which allow students to see themselves and affirm the value of their identities and also to develop empathy for others’ experiences. Limiting students’ access to books because of the content of tho se books also limits their ability to see themselves reflected in the books they read and to develop an understanding of other people’s identities and experiences. This runs counter to the goals of Maine schools and our learning standards, which require students to experience literature that represents a diverse range of experiences.

    MASL and MCELA urge all Maine schools to refrain from limiting students’ right to read and to maintain school and classroom library collections that allow students to “explore interests safely and without restrictions."

    ~ Statement prepared by MASL & MCELA, January 9, 2023 

    Download the document below to view citations and footnotes:

    Position Statement on the Freedom to Read in Maine Schools.pdf

  • Wednesday, January 11, 2023 6:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Image credit: Literary Hub

    You have a strong selection policy. You have a strong challenge policy. You may be fortunate to have supportive administrators and school board members. Sadly, this is no longer enough to fight back the tide of censorship occurring in our schools. When books are challenged and the review committee recommends that the book stay in the library, challengers are appealing to school boards. When this doesn’t work, the attack continues in new and insidious ways.

    Quiet Censorship

    Books are being removed from school library shelves bypassing any kind of formal policy review. Sometimes administrators take this on, sometimes librarians and library paraprofessionals are fearful of reprisal.

    Schools nationwide are quietly removing books from their libraries.

    Both Sides-ism

    Challengers who lose their attempt at censorship will often call on schools to add books – they’ll even donate some of these titles themselves – that are purported to represent the other side on an issue when often these books are poorly-reviewed and full of misinformation.

    According to Merriam-Webster, “Bothsidesing refers to the media or public figures giving credence to the other side of a cause, action, or idea to seem fair or only for the sake of argument when the credibility of that side may be unmerited.”Example: Some schools in Maine have received donations of Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. This book is harmful to members of the trans community and, as the following reviews demonstrate, an example of Both Sides-ism:

    New Procedures for Book Selection

    Some administrators are now undermining the professionalism of library staff by requiring a book selection committee be formed to advise the library staff or by having another staff member – often an instructional coach or curriculum specialist – review all book orders prior to approval by the principal. This is a direct attack on the professionalism of all library staff.

    Rating Systems for all Library Books

    The most recent tactic is insisting that library books that are deemed “sexually explicit” by parents should have a rating system to alert readers of books they presumably are not allowed to read.

    Hermon parents concerned over 80+ books they consider sexually explicit.

    Personal Attacks

    It’s a sad state of affairs when we see librarians resigning their positions or moving their retirement dates up because they no longer feel valued and supported.

    Uptick in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests

    School districts are dealing with an unprecedented amount of FOIA requests.

    What can you do:

    • Reach out to your administrators and encourage them to follow the policy

    • Consider asking your school board to strengthen your IJJ policy by specifying that professional librarians be responsible for purchasing books.

    • Ask for a meeting with your principal, curriculum director, and superintendent – IF you can do so safely, without risking your job.

    • Share the appropriate Educate Maine Intellectual Freedom Matters handouts with teachers, community members, administrators, and school board members (MASL collaborated on this project last winter).

    • Check in with your union representative.

    • Talk to other librarians and library paraprofessionals in your district.

    • Share your challenges with the public to rally support.

    • Encourage students and colleagues to speak up and attend school board meetings

    • Reach out to MASL, MLA, ALA National Coalition Against Censorship, and National Council of Teachers of English.

    • If a book challenge is appealed, be sure to reach out to MASL and MLA who will provide your school board with a letter of support for the challenged book.

    • Be aware of books in your collection that might be targets, and read/research them,

    • Keep your privacy protected (see MASL Blog post on protecting your privacy).

    • Ask for help, and take care of your mental health.

    What you should avoid:

    • Discussing specifics about your school on PUBLIC social media. We do, however, encourage you to discuss with other librarians on our closed Facebook page on social media.

    • Engaging with people who are working against you; no need to enter into a discussion about it with them online.

    • Talking to reporters or anonymous callers; you can refer reporters to MASL's email to contact our organization for comment.

    • Sharing private information about yourself on your school webpage.

    • If you feel that you will be targeted, do not attend school board meetings in person, rather, submit any input you feel is appropriate in writing.

    • Be careful about putting things in writing that could end up in a FOIA request. Initiate face-to-face conversations whenever possible and use your personal email address instead of your school email.

    ~ Submitted by MASL's Intellectual Freedom Committee

  • Friday, December 09, 2022 1:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It’s not too soon to start thinking about nominees for the Maine Association of School Libraries awards!

    Each year MASL awards an outstanding School Librarian, amazing School Library Support Staff, or champion Administrator who has a distinguished record of service. Nominations for the 2023 awards are due on February 13th, so it is a great time to begin gathering materials for your top picks.

    Your local community wants to know about the good work happening in your library. And the MASL Awards are an excellent opportunity to show what is happening in school libraries, as well as give recognition to the outstanding educators and supporters in your local community. The award includes a plaque and a cash donation to the recipient's school library media program, made in the name of the recipient. The award is presented annually at both the recipient's school/district and at an appropriate MASL conference or event.

    Visit our website to learn more about each award:

    Taranko School Librarian of the Year 

    Support Staff Educator of the Year

    Administrator of the Year

    Forms must be received as email attachments by February 15th at

    Thank you for sharing this message with your colleagues to help us honor the meaningful experiences happening in Maine School Libraries!

    Jennifer Stanbro

    MASL Past-President and Awards Chair, 2022-2024




Maine Association of School Libraries

c/o Maine State Library

64 State Street

Augusta, ME


"MASL" is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization. 

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