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  • Wednesday, January 11, 2023 6:34 AM | Iris Eichenlaub (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 | Iris Eichenlaub (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

  • Friday, December 02, 2022 11:23 AM | Iris Eichenlaub (Administrator)

    OUT Maine serves LGBTQ+ youth, supports parents and caregivers, and trains professionals in organizations and businesses around the state. OUT Maine works with many schools to improve school climate for LGBTQ+ kids, including in-service trainings with teachers and administrators, support for GSTAs (Gay/Straight Alliances), and more.

    We're sharing an excerpt of their recent post on book bans and challenges here in Maine, and what communities can do to push back. Please consider spreading the word through your social media networks and school communities — read the full text of the post here.



    “Sorry this book is coming back late. It’s just — I never expected to read a book that was so close to my own life. Like. Never. With some weirdly similar and specific details! So I had to read it twice, then I made my dad, sister, and boyfriend read it.”

    The student was returning the book Gender Queer to their high school library somewhere here in Maine. This reader’s response is exactly why our LGBTQ+ youth need books in their libraries that reflect their lived experiences — as a reminder that they’re not alone, that they exist, and that their stories matter. 

    Gender Queer is a graphic novel memoir penned by Maia Kobabe about the process of discovering eir self-identity as a nonbinary and asexual person. 

    This award-winning book also happens to be the #1 most challenged book in 2021. What’s a challenge? Any attempt to remove or ban the book from a public or school library collection.

    In 2021 the number of challenged books reported to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom was higher than in the twenty years they’ve been documenting attempted bans, and 2022 is on target to exceed that number. This disturbing trend is a coordinated effort engineered by national groups with an anti-LGBTQ+ agenda. 

    First, a little background on what we’re seeing here in Maine, then some ways you can be part of the solution to support LGBTQ+ youth. 

    It’s about way more than banning books with LGBTQ+ content.

  • Friday, November 18, 2022 7:27 AM | Iris Eichenlaub (Administrator)

    On October 27th, MASL tried something new with a Dine and Discuss format for professional development, with the support of several partner organizations — the Maine Council for English Language Arts (MCELA), Maine County and State Teachers of the Year Association (MCSTOYA), and Educate Maine.

    We hosted a dynamic and inspirational speaker, Lawrence Alexander, who presented virtually to 8 locations around the state. At each location, a host librarian or teacher facilitated refreshments (with the help of a small stipend from MASL), viewing Mr. Alexander, and discussion afterwards. We were hopeful that this format for professional learning would be fruitful because it would allow us to enjoy the benefits of an in-person experience without requiring people to travel great distances. We also hoped that this event would help to develop connections among educators that would be lasting and inspire further collaboration. 

    Responses such as these suggest that we're onto a good idea:

    “I loved the opportunity to connect with other librarians and look forward to more conversation in the future!”

    “Thank you for allowing non-librarians to join in!”

    “It was my first time attending a Dine and Discuss. It was informative, welcoming, intimate, and inspirational. I hope to do more in the future. Thank you!”

    “...appreciate how it allows people from all of Maine to participate!”

    Mr. Alexander spoke for about an hour and we all took notes furiously as he shared a great deal of useful information and thought-provoking questions. One participant said: “I thought the presentation was insightful, thought-provoking, and an important prompt for school librarians, as well as other teachers, to start thinking about how we make active choices to include and equitably celebrate all of our students in schools”

    Another added, “Lawrence was a great presenter. I have attended many, many DEI-focused talks and workshops and I still took away new information this time. I like how he framed things in a different way than a lot of other workshops (more action-oriented). I loved the prompting questions on the ‘Moment of Reflection’ slide (I'm still sitting with the ‘Will you protect me?’ question) and the monoculture/multicultural slide especially. Thanks for a great presentation!”

    After the presentation, the 77 librarians and other educators around the state took a break to enjoy some snacks (everything from pizza to homemade tacos were enjoyed), and then gathered together again to engage in some activities and discussion questions that MASL provided. As one participant said, “It was a great evening. Our discussion could have gone on for days after! Such important information.”

    If you missed it, or wish to revisit the content, the slide deck from the presentation can be accessed here. And if you’re a MASL member, you can access the recorded presentation on the members only section of our website.

    ~ Heather Perkinson, MASL President

  • Tuesday, November 08, 2022 4:54 PM | Iris Eichenlaub (Administrator)

    Looking for ideas for parent-teacher conference day and ways to promote your library? Debra Butterfield, MASL member and Mentoring Chair, hosted Red Ribbon Week (October 23-31) in the Gardiner Area High School Library. Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the nation.

    To support the campaign, the library hosted a Find Your Good event during parent-teacher conferences. Students enjoyed pizza, a variety of activities at stations run by community guests, and earned community service hours for participating. The eleven stations ranged from video production to fly-tying to felting.

    Butterfield partnered with a local community agency to help identify and invite some of the guests that matched student interests and requests for activities. Students were able to experience that they matter to members of the Gardiner community. One student noted, "It was amazing to see how much passion members of our community have for their interests and that they were willing to share it with us."

    Running a program like this on an evening when the school was already filled with parents and partnering with an outside organization to bring community members into the library to engage with students, adds up to a festive, fun atmosphere for the community and positive outcomes for students.

    It’s also a great example of advocacy in action: every adult who was part of the event, as well as the parents wandering by, witnessed a thriving, engaging school library environment. A few months from now when it’s time to vote on the school budget, those voting adults will know the value of what the library offers the young people in their community. Kudos, Debra!

  • Monday, October 24, 2022 8:15 AM | Iris Eichenlaub (Administrator)

    Did you know that MASL is an affiliate member of the New England School Library Association? NESLA celebrated one hundred years as an organization in 2018. The website was recently updated, and the revised constitution was approved at the meeting on October 19.

    It was incredible to come together with retired and practicing school librarians dedicated to the growth of school librarianship, and hear reports from each member of the association. We even had a special guest from Australia who shared about the association activities there, plus a presentation from a NESLA grant recipient who reported on how the funding has been put into action.

    Our MASL board provides representation at the fall and spring meetings. An executive board continues to work throughout the year on key initiatives that are of mutual concern for affiliate organizations. MASL brought forward the idea of featuring events and professional development happening in neighboring states on the NESLA website. The feedback was embraced, so please watch for this added element. You can explore other affiliates and partners’ websites and learn about what’s happening in school libraries in other New England states. This connection strengthens our MASL voice in the American Association of School Libraries, and with legislation.

    ~ Debra Butterfield, MASL's NESLA representative and Mentoring Chair

  • Friday, October 14, 2022 2:19 PM | Iris Eichenlaub (Administrator)

    MASL is full of many outstanding, dedicated members! Let’s get to know some of the amazing people who make up our organization. This month, our member spotlight is on Liz Guillemette!

    Where do you work? 

    Maranacook Community High School in Readfield, ME

    What grades do you work with? 


    How long have you been in your position? 

    This is my second year as the librarian at Maranacook. Before moving into this role, I taught English for 17 years, the last ten at Maranacook. 

    What do you like being about a MASL member? 

    MASL was a welcoming network for me as a new librarian. Changing roles meant that I went from being in a department to being a department of one, and MASL provided the resources and support I was missing. MASL has been a wonderful resource for connecting with librarians from across the state, staying current on issues (especially Intellectual Freedom), and navigating certification. 

    Thank you Liz, for being our first member spotlight!   

    ~ Regan Parker, MASL Membership Chair 

  • Friday, October 07, 2022 4:50 PM | Iris Eichenlaub (Administrator)

    Growth Agents

    Become involved as a MASL mentor and be an agent for growth by offering support and expanding professional vision. A mentor can provide support through a one-time message or develop an ongoing relationship. Mentoring is a reflective practice for both the mentor and mentee. Expanding connections through mentoring helps strengthen our profession and Maine libraries. 

    Mentoring Form

    Please fill out this form to indicate your interest in being involved in our mentoring program this year. 


    The MASL mentoring chair will help connect mentors and mentees. The mentoring chair, Debra Butterfield, can be contacted at for support. 

    Certificate Hours

    reflection log can be submitted by mentor and/or mentee to the mentoring chair to earn up to five certificate hours per school year. 

    MASL Mentors in Action: 

    • Supports goal setting, planning, learning,  decision making,  problem solving, and reflecting.

    • Provides confidentiality, emotional support and encouragement. 

    • Offers resources or helps identify those related to identified needs. 

    • Models best practices for a professional learning journey.

    • Counsels, collaborates, and coaches. 

    • Draws upon MASL resources and standards in librarianship as a foundation for mentoring. 

    • Develops a mutually agreeable contact schedule and seeks support from the mentor chair as needed. 

    • Reminds mentee of the opportunity to submit the reflection log for certificate hours.


    Mentoring Matters: A Practical Guide to Learning-Focused Relationships by Laura Lipton and Bruce Wellman. 

    Mentorship Matters 

    Nine New Teacher Librarians: An Effective Onboarding Model 

    The Just-Right Mentoring Balance

    ~ Debra Butterfield, MASL Mentoring Chair
  • Friday, September 30, 2022 6:15 PM | Heather Perkinson (Administrator)

    Make it Private

    With the recent uptick in personal attacks on educators and librarians, MASL strongly recommends that everyone take a minute to do a privacy audit. Here are three quick actions you can take to protect your – and your students’ – privacy:

    Turn off checkout history in your library management system.

    ALA’s Library Bill of Rights states that, “All people, regardless of origin, age, background, or views, possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use. Libraries should advocate for, educate about, and protect people’s privacy, safeguarding all library use data, including personally identifiable information.”

    Per the ALA Library Privacy Checklist for Students in K-12 Schools, a priority action should be to “configure circulation software to delete students’ borrowing history and retain only necessary records.”

    In addition to the important protection of patron privacy, this will protect checkout history and keep it private even in the event of a Freedom of Information Act request. This will also give librarians an opportunity to help students find creative ways to help students keep track of their own reading via a book diary or reading log. Students might enjoy keeping a google slides reading log (courtesy York Middle School Library).

    If you have Destiny, you will have to have administrator access to Destiny or ask an administrator to make this change for you. This brief video explains how to make this quick fix.

    Per the Maine State Library, Minerva network libraries all use Sierra for circulation, which does not allow for keeping a checkout history.

    For Alexandria users, this video (skip to 5:55) will show you how to make sure “keep history for all patrons” is turned off.

    Strip personal information from your school/work website.

    To avoid personal attacks, consider deleting your photograph on your school library website. If you must list a phone number, delete your private/internal extension and only list the main school number.

    If you have an “about me” section on your library website, it is better to only list things you like, e.g., I love to read historical fiction and I love to garden, and skip the personal information. Don’t list where you live or details about your family. 

    Do a privacy update on all your social media accounts

    Check your social media accounts – facebook, twitter, instagram, etc. and tighten up your privacy settings. Make it harder for non-friends to find you.

    Simple Online Security for Social Media Accounts

    Privacy on Social Media | This is How You Protect Your Socials

    Tips for protecting your social media privacy | Norton

    -MASL Intellectual Freedom Committee: Karen Silverman, Abigail Thompson, Kerrie Lattari

  • Friday, September 23, 2022 6:17 PM | Iris Eichenlaub (Administrator)

    One of the best benefits of MASL membership is that you’re eligible for scholarships. These could be for coursework towards a degree or certificate, or attendance at professional conferences like ALA, AASL, MASL, Reading RoundUp, ACTEM, etc.

    And speaking of ACTEM…

    The ACTEM 2022 Fall Conference is coming right up! It will take place in-person this year on October 13th and 14th at the Augusta Civic Center. Click here to see the schedule of events. 

    To qualify for a MASL Scholarship, you must have been a MASL member for at least 12 months and be a Maine resident or employed by a Maine school. For the application and more information go to the MASL Scholarship page.

    For only $25 and a year's membership, MASL scholarships are here to support your professional learning. Please join us for these, and so many more perks!

    ~ Beth Andersen, President-Elect

    ~ Ellen Spring, Scholarship Committee




Maine Association of School Libraries

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