Let’s Collaborate!

A veteran teacher recently asked me, “What can my class do in the library?”

Her question made me realize that lots of you may not be sure how your class or content area connects with the library. Some of you may think the library is mainly for English classes. And yes, I love English. But I also love you– even if you haven’t collaborated with me– yet!! The BEST answer to the question, “What can my class do in the library?” comes from a session when we brainstorm together.

Our library may not be the type of library you experienced as a student.

I really do love working with you. I really do love working with students. Let’s partner together to create meaningful, collaborative projects that expand students’ minds while developing their skills. And let’s have some fun while we do it. Please stop by the library for a visit (or send me an email smcnerneyoe@olatheschools.org) so that TOGETHER we can get started answering the question, “What can my class do in the library?”

But, Shelly, I need some ideas to get my creativity flowing! OK, I get it. So, here are some samples of library partnerships. Just please, please don’t feel limited to ideas on this page. I really want to partner with you to see how we can keep expanding our library services.


I will just tell you, in all honesty, that I’m one of the most well-read young adult librarians you’re ever going to meet. This feels like bragging, but I have been told that I need to “market myself” (small gag!) Honestly though, people tend to want to partner with people they believe are experts. And since I don’t send you all my curriculum vitae or interview cover letter you may not really know whether I’m qualified to support your reading initiatives. So, in the interest of building your confidence, here are my qualifications. I spent five years reading a book a day– yes, one book every single day for five years. Yes, that’s around 75,000 pages a year! Why? I served on four different American Library Association book award committees, one of which required winning a position through a national election. I worked for several years as a professional book reviewer for the intense journal, Kirkus Reviews. I also have ten years of experience as a high school librarian, plus I’ve taught middle and high school English, middle and high school reading, and college students in Content Area reading at KU.

These experiences make me uniquely qualified to deliver support for your students’ independent reading– whether that’s for your class requirements or for their personal reading pleasures. Here are ways I can help you with your endless quest to turn our students into readers:

Book Talks

What’s a book talk? It’s when I talk about a book– telling your class enough of a novel’s story to help them understand the hook, explaining what makes the book incredible, and leaving the students wanting to know what happens next in the story. It’s a bit like a movie preview– minus the spoilers! Book talks take about 5 minutes per book. I can visit your classroom to deliver a quick book talk of one or two titles (all books will be available for immediate checkout) or you can come to the library for a longer session and time for your students to browse and checkout their own books. By the way, you don’t have to be an English teacher for me to do book talks in your class. I frequently visit science classes, I book talk thematic books in Spanish classes, I’ve book talked books featuring musicians in choir! I’m a regular in Health and Wellness! So, please, see me if you just want to try and ignite your students’ reading passions in a new way. Want an example of a book talk? Below is one filmed in my living room during Covid Quarantine! (In person I’m a little less awkward, or so I like to believe). Like that one and want to see more– 43 others available here

Closed captioning coming soon! Thanks for your patience!
Public Library Reading+ Resources

I would love to help your students become not just OE library users, but library-for-life users. I can help your students obtain printed library cards. Even better, I can help them get electronic library cards– instant access to local and state public library electronic resources. This includes e-books, audiobooks, magazines, e-newspapers, databases, live homework tutoring, etc etc etc

I also have independent PLCs with public librarians who would love to partner with us to help connect our students with their unique programming events– from author visits to beat boxing lessons.


Not surprisingly, I’m also up for research projects. When we partner together I customize research presentations to fit your individual project goals. I will also create a custom website that contains tutorials that are customized to your project specifications. Click here for an example of a site created for a literary critique in AP English. I can also create custom video demonstrations of how to use resources (a great tool for students who were absent, or need review of the lesson. Click here for a general example of the Opposing Viewpoints in Context database video demo.) Lessons can include:

  • How to access databases and electronic resources on and off campus
  • Explanations of what databases are and why they are useful
  • Easily and effectively using databases for research
    • Effective search terms
    • Using organizational tools within the database
      • Saving files
      • Highlighting/Annotating
      • Translations
      • Unique help tools in your project’s specific database
    • Limiting search results
    • Expanding search results
  • Notetaking- I use spreadsheets!!
    • It sounds strange, but it’s an alternative to the dreaded notecards. Try it and you might fall in love!
  • Advanced Google searching
  • Website evaluation tools
  • Citation help
  • Locating Creative Commons licensed content
  • Planning a road trip (it’s true, I’ve helped a class with this!)
  • Virtually exploring a foreign city
  • How to locate vintage ads


I love writing (You’ve seen my emails!) I miss helping my students develop their own voices while learning to add interest and creativity to their writing. But these things can’t happen unless students are also increasing their writing organization and integrating evidence to support their claims. I bring experience working as a published author– I can explain what it’s like to write for an audience, to work for an editor, to have a deadline. I’m also happy to talk about what makes writing fun (and hard) and fun and worth the effort it takes to produce good work. Basically, if your class is doing writing of almost any kind there’s a good chance I’d love to come work with you and your students. Some previous writing library collaborations have included:

  • Autobiographical artist statements- started with the much-loved J.J. Allen
  • Scholarship essays- The power of Creativity- with lovely Kaitlyn Albert
  • Outlining a research paper
  • Thesis statements
    • What are they?
    • How to construct?
    • How to support?
  • Book Reviews and Working with an Editor- for Distinguished Scholars in the incredible Dierdre Zongker’s class at Olathe North
  • I-Search papers- bringing your own voice into a research project

This Can Change Your Life Library Programs

I’m on an mythical quest, like poor Don Quixote, to find times when the library becomes an avenue for learning that isn’t all directly related to academics. Because we’re educating the whole student, right? I have a vision of creating programming on fun topics that we all wish we knew “before we grew up.” The things that when we learned them we thought, “This just changed my life!” I’m considering a variety of random topics, and if you have expertise or passion for something let me know because we’d love to involve you as a presenter. For example, in college I managed house painting crews– and spent lots of time on ladders myself! Now I always have visions of teaching kids to properly paint so they can re-decorate a room for a fraction of the cost of professional services.

Full disclosure: Seminar presentations have been a hard sell because kids don’t want to give up “recess.” But if I don’t try then I’m guaranteeing NO students have the opportunity. So, perhaps this is the year when I try something a little different. Here are some topics I’m considering– share your ideas and expertise with me!

  • Cooking (especially without a full kitchen). This is our most successful program!
  • Job Interviews– what to wear, resume, practice questions, writing a thank you card
  • Safety– especially on college campuses
  • Cars– How to research car buying for safety and reliability
  • Car maintenance– if anyone has any expertise? Not me, ha ha ha.
  • Computer Coding– Ms. Kratzberg hosted Hour of Coding events last year
  • Paint your room like a pro
  • Tips on getting along with a new roommate
  • Mindfulness/stress reduction
  • Public library resources
  • Hawk Hour Book Clubs
  • Simple fitness routines that don’t require a gym membership
  • Tips for being successful as a college freshman
  • How to plan a trip (someday we’re going to travel again, right?)
  • Financial wellness- paying for college, credit cards, credit ratings