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Featured Resources to Celebrate Black History Month

Black History Month starts on Monday. We have some great resources for you!

There are a number of great videos for all grade levels in Safari MONTAGE. Click on the titles to view the videos in Safari MONTAGE. (Some videos are embedded below and viewable if you are signed into our Safari MONTAGE account already.)

Show Way (Grades K-4)

From the critically acclaimed, Emmy Award-winning PBS children’s series, Reading Rainbow, this program presents the Newbery Honor book by Jacqueline Woodson. The book tells the story of how the women in Woodson’s family began creating quilts with secret maps to freedom during the years of slavery.

The Story of Rosa Parks (Grades 3-6)

This video from Mazzarella tells the story of Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat, which launched the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the civil rights protest movement. The story is told in the context of the development of slavery and segregation in the United States. Through archival photographs and dramatic reenactments, students observe the courage and determination of Rosa Parks. Program includes a teacher’s guide.

History of Black Achievement in America Series (Grades 7-Adult)

Presented by James Avery, ”A History of Black Achievement in America” highlights the many contributions of African Americans that have influenced our culture, enriched our society and shaped the history of the United States.

Blacks Enter the Gilded Age This program examines the African-American experience from the heady days of optimism following the Civil War to the dark days of Jim Crow at the end of the 19th century.

Emergence of the Black Hero  This program examines the African-American experience during the founding of the United States and the first 60 years of the country’s existence.

A New Age  This program examines famous African Americans from the second half of the 20th century and early 21st century who rose to the top of their professions and showed that talent is not race based.

The Fight for Freedom  This program examines the fight to end slavery in the United States, and the establishment of citizenship and civil rights for African Americans.

The Barack Obama Era  This program examines the growing role of African Americans in politics, new forms of literature, information technology and film in the early 21st century.

The Foundation for Equality  This program examines the beginning of racial equality through the acceptance of African-American intellectuals, scientists, artists and heroes by white society in the early 20th century.

Settling the New World and the Founding of the United States  This program examines the African-American experience from the English colonies to the founding of the United States of America.

Depression and War  This program examines the slow progress African Americans made toward equality during the Great Depression and World War II through the achievements of outstanding individuals.

Filling the Gap: A Forgotten Chapter of American History (Grades 6-12)

The achievements of Frederick Douglass are well known, as are those of Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and other heroic African-Americans during the Civil War period. Fewer people have ever heard of Robert Smalls, Phyllis Wheatley, Elizabeth Keckley, Benjamin Banneker, or countless others of African descent who helped to build the American nation. Regardless of renown or obscurity, all the aforementioned names deserve ongoing, in-depth study in U.S. history classes, and this film offers a wealth of dramatized narratives to support that crucial learning. From the remarkable story of Abdul Rahman Ibrahima, the African prince sold into slavery on a Mississippi plantation, to the White House meeting in which Douglass urged President Lincoln to uphold the honor and dignity of the Union’s black soldiers, each segment reenacts a pivotal moment in history—not just African-American history, but the chronicle of the country as a whole. Advancements made by black scientists, inventors, artists, and craftspeople are studied. (80 minutes)

This video is offered through our Learn360 service.

Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise: Out of the Shadows (Grades 9 – Adult)

In ”Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise,” Henry Louis Gates, Jr. embarks on a deeply personal journey through the last 50 years of African-American history. The first episode of the series begins at a turning point in American history: the Selma marches and Watts riots, which marked a new phase in the African-American struggle. Gates explores the rising call for Black Power, which redefined American culture, politics and society. This program contains strong language. This is a PBS production available through Safari MONTAGE.

We also have some amazing ebooks available through Rosen Learning and OverDrive:

From Rosen Learning, the Spotlight on the Civil Rights Movement interactive ebook series includes the following titles:

  • Affirmative Action
  • Brown v. Board of Education
  • Freedom Riders
  • Lyndon B. Johnson and the Civil Rights Act
  • Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott
  • Sit-ins and Nonviolent Protest for Racial Equality
  • The Black Power Movement and Civil Unrest
  • The Life and Death of Malcom X
  • The Life and Death of Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Little Rock Desegregation Crisis
  • The March on Washington
  • The Murder of Emmett Till

In SORA the following titles are available. Click the book covers to open it in SORA.:


90-Second Newbery Film Festival

Author (The Order of Odd Fish) and founder of the 90-second Newbery Film Festival, James Kennedy, is bringing his annual video contest to the Eisenhart Auditorium at the Rochester Museum & Science Center on February 1st!

As always, reservations are free, but they do ask that you reserve a seat in advance. The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is an annual video contest in which kid filmmakers create short movies that tell the entire stories of Newbery award-winning books in about 90 seconds. It is always a LOT of fun. This year, James will be joined on stage by Rochester’s own, Bruce Coville.

More information about the festival, and submission information, is available at:

The Event will be held Saturday, February 1 from 2:00 – 3:30 pm.

Reserve seats here:


Did you know that there are a whole bunch of other film and creative festivals for student filmmakers and creative types:

The All American High School Film Festival (presented by IFC Films) –

Austin Young Filmmakers Competition –

Boston International Kids Film Festival –

Boulder International Film Festival Teen Short Film Competition –

CineYouth –

*LOCAL* The Digies –

Film Now Festival –

Heartland High School Film Competition –

International Kids Film Festival (California) –

Kids Film It Festival – Rock and Roll hall of Fame –

Kids First! Film Festival –

Nashville Film Festival –

National Film Festival for Talented Youth –

Newport Beach Film Fest Youth Film Showcase –

Seattle International Film Festival FutureWave Shorts –

Sundance Ignite –

Telluride City Lights –

Tribeca Film Fellows (Mentorship) –


Library Journal Professional Development Courses

Library Journal is offering two online professional development courses coming up. There is a cost for these courses, so take note.

Equity in Action

Offered February 25 – March 10 (and again September 29 – October 13)

In this course, you will learn from equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) experts in speaker sessions created specifically for library professionals. You’ll learn about the concrete actions library leaders are taking to make their libraries more equitable today and in the future, and the tools that make it possible. Practical coursework, along with targeted support, will take you from  theory to application, helping you to transform your library services to better meet the needs of all your users—and bring in new ones.

You’ll complete assignments to build your own diversity initiative over 3+ weeks in an interactive online classroom environment with personal coaching from an expert in the field. In addition, you’ll have access to our foundational bonus content—a series of webinars from Library Journal and School Library Journal contributors along with rich supporting materials in the form of readings, activities, and videos—to explore at your own pace.

To Register for the Febrary/March event:

To Register for the September/October event:


Evaluating, Auditing, and Diversifying Your Collections

Offered April 28 – May 12 (and again October 20 – November 10)

We’ll explore key concepts essential to cultivating and promoting inclusive and equitable collections, such as the experiences of LGBTQIA people, Native people, people of color, people with disabilities, non-binary or gender non-conforming people, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.

As part of the course you will conduct a diversity audit, and learn how to include diverse books, wider perspectives, #ownvoices, and how to be more responsive to the community you serve.

When you attend this interactive online course, you’ll come away with:

  • The ability to assess current library collections, book promotions, and displays through a diverse lens in order to assess gaps in collections and service areas.
  • An understanding of key diversity and cultural literacy concepts such as white privilege, unconscious bias, cultural appropriation, and intersectionality.
  • The ability to recognize common problematic stereotypes, tropes, and microaggressions in media.
  • The ability to assess the diversity and inclusiveness of current collection development and RA practices.
  • Guidance on planning and executing a diversity audit.
  • Tools, tips, and advice on how to better diversify collections and displays.
  • A plan of action to better diversify your library collections and address gap areas that will transform your understanding of your library users and the services you provide.

The course features live guest speakers in interactive sessions with Q&A as well as self-guided assignments, readings, and weekly discussion topics to support deeper learning. You’ll work in small groups with facilitators experienced in anti-oppression work to complete assignments and field research that will fuel your diversity initiatives.

To Register for the April/May event:

To Register for the October/November event:



NYLA Library Advocacy Day is Tuesday, February 25th. On this day, library advocates from across New York State will converge on Albany to voice their support for funding and policies that benefit libraries.

In preparation, the Northern NY Library Network is hosting an informational webinar this Thursday, January 30th covering the basics of legislative visits in New York state.


Primer on Legislative Visits
Jan 30, 2020
1:00 PM Eastern Time
Register (free)

The presenter will be Jery Huntley, who worked as Chuck Schumer’s legislative director in the New York State Assembly beginning in 1978 and continued on his staff through his campaign for Congress, then became his legislative assistant for special projects in Washington, DC.

Ms. Huntley was also a teacher and school library media specialist in New York State. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in education (1971) and a Master of Library Science (1972) from SUNY Albany.

To get the basics on advocacy day, including information on security, hotels, and directions click here!

Jason Reynolds Resources

The big news in the library world last week was that author Jason Reynolds was named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for the years 2020-2021.  This means he’ll be traveling around the country visiting libraries, schools, and other places where young people congregate to inspire kids to read and tell their own stories through his platform, “GRAB THE MIC: Tell Your Story”. He will partner with StoryCorps to record interviews with students while on tour and create a true story archive of America’s children. These recordings will be housed in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

Jason Reynolds  is the author of 13 books for young people including his most recent, “Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks.” He is a Newbery and Prinz Honor recipient and a National Book Award finalist. He succeeds Jacqueline Woodson, and is the seventh National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. The National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature is named by the Library of Congress, the Children’s Book council and Every Child a Reader.

Our Monroe One BOCES SLS Overdrive Account has the following titles. Click the picture to open it in SORA:


11th Annual Greater Rochester Teen Read – 2020

The 2020 Greater Rochester Teen Read featured author has been announced! 

The MCLS Young Adult Librarians are hosting the Eleventh Annual Greater Rochester Teen Read in 2020! They will be bringing Ruta Sepetys to Rochester to talk about her best-selling novel, Between Shades of Gray, and her latest novel, The Fountains of Silence.

Ruta Sepetys is an internationally acclaimed, #1 New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction published in over sixty countries and forty languages. Sepetys is considered a “crossover” novelist as her books are read by both students and adults worldwide. Winner of the Carnegie Medal, Ruta is renowned for giving voice to underrepresented history and those who experienced it. Her books have won or been shortlisted for over forty book prizes, are included on over thirty state reading lists, and are currently in development for film and television.

She will be available for school visits during the week of October 5-9, 2020. For information about bringing Ruta to your school, please contact Wendy Petry and mention that she will be here for the Greater Rochester Teen Read.

Previous GRTR authors have included Terry Trueman, Linda Sue Park, Vivian Vande Velde, A. S. King, Charles Benoit, Eoin Colfer, Jonathan Stroud, Jason Reynolds, Brendan Kiely, Paul Griffin, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Greg Neri. They presented their books at MCLS libraries, schools, and teen centers.

EMTA Media Literacy Project Grant

The 2020 Media Literacy Project Grant Application is open!

The New York State Educational Media/Technology Association provides up to two annual Media Literacy Grants in the amount of $1,250 for certified educators in New York State who are working with Pre-K-12 students on the subject of media literacy. Eligible educators must work in a district that participates in the media service at a BOCES or Big 5 that is an EMTA member.

Media Literacy is defined as the ability to comprehend, design, and produce media. It includes critical thinking skills used to evaluate and analyze information in a variety of formats. Media Literacy is essential to be able to distinguish between fact and fiction.

The purposes of the grant are to:

Support educators who provide resources and services that correlate to state and national learning standards for instructional excellence promoting media literacy.

To provide funds for research projects or demonstration projects that can be replicated in other areas across the state and nation.

Examples include:

  • A film literacy course held after school
  • Learning about the effective creation and use of media in student work
  • Using video effectively in your lesson plans

Please see the EMTA website for the application and more information.

Celebrate the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

In the 1950s and ’60s, the civil rights movement brought sweeping reforms to nearly all facets of American life. With historical photographs and videos, Rosen Publishing’s Spotlight on the Civil Rights Movement records the 20th century’s most significant moments in the struggle for equality.

Monroe One BOCES School Library System has purchased all 13 books from this ROSEN ebook series and offers them for free to all of its school libraries.

Titles are:

  • Affirmative Action
  • Brown v. Board of Education
  • Freedom Riders
  • Lyndon B. Johnson and the Civil Rights Act
  • Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott
  • Sit-Ins and Nonviolent Protest for Racial Equality
  • The Black Power Movement and Civil Unrest
  • The Life and Death of Malcom X
  • The Life and Death of Martin Luther King Jr.
  • The Little Rock Desegregation Crisis
  • The March on Washington
  • The Murder of Emmett Till

Each ebook includes lesson plans, inquiry and project-based learning activities, primary sources – including historical documents and photos, biographies of key individuals, correlation to national and state standards, and an easy-to-use planning guide. These are incredible resources.

If you need the access information, please contact Liesl or Katie.


WXXI has also made some great resources available for grades 3-7 about Martin Luther King Jr, just in time to celebrate his national annual holiday. These include a five minute video aligned to History and Civics standards, and a Lesson Plan. These are available in Spanish and are housed on PBS Learning Media, which is free for New York Educators.

Take advantage of these valuable resources today!

Social Media for your School Library

A few years ago I was able to attend the ISTE National Conference in Philadelphia. One thing I found impressive was that they included Twitter Handles on the name badges. National Conferences are largely valuable for the networking opportunities they provide. What a great way for educators to continue that networking and expand their current professional learning community!

It got me thinking about the librarians in our region, and how many of them have a Facebook page or Twitter handle for their school libraries. Educators are sometimes skeptical when it comes to social media, and I get it. You don’t really want your students to see what you get up to on the weekends. However, having a social media account is a really great idea for your school library, and yes, that even means elementary schools.

What better way to showcase the great programming happening in your library? Need more students to join library club? Tweet about it! If you have older students, you can use this as a platform for teaching them responsible ways to use social media. By having students help you create your library “brand”, they will understand how social media can affect their own digital identities.

In her Scholastic Edublog article, Tamiko Brown (2017 School Librarian of the Year by SLJ and Scholastic) lays out 5 Reasons School Librarians Should Use Social Media.

Laura Fleming for Edutopia writes about The Power of a School Library Hashtag.

This website from the New Zealand National Library, Social media and the school library, explains how social media can help you find new ways to support reading, inquiry and digital literacy. It will also show your school community that you welcome student involvement. This last link is a great resource because it includes guidelines and strategies for social media use, as well as a guide to different platforms, and examples of school libraries that use social media.

See you @M1Bsls


SLJ Middle Grade Magic Free Virtual Event

Complimentary Registration is now open for School Library Journal’s FREE Virtual Event: Middle Grade Magic.

This is a day-long celebration and exploration of one of the burgeoning and most important areas of publishing for young readers: literature for children ages eight through 12 – and beyond! Attendees will get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at some of the most anticipated new titles, hear from celebrated authors, and – for the first time this year – attend librarian-led sessions on services and programming for middle graders. Attendees will also have the opportunity to check out the virtual exhibit hall, chat directly with authors, download educational resources, and receive prizes and giveaways.

Middle Grade Magic is a free, completely virtual conference – no traveling, no cost. Attendees will also earn CE credits for all the webcast sessions they attend.

Click the image above to get to the registration page!