April 24, 2018

Kristin Fontichiaro | Movers & Shakers 2012 — Change Agents

School Solutions

Kristin Fontichiaro Movers & Shakers 2012


Clinical Assistant Professor
School of Information, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

MILS, Wayne State University, Detroit, 2004


Photo ©Sean McGinty Photography LLC

Last year, Kristin Fontichiaro, a longtime teacher-turned-librarian and now professor of library studies at the University of Michigan (UM), was discussing the “tenuous future” of school libraries with the Unquiet Librarian, Buffy Hamilton (herself a 2011 Mover & Shaker). They knew that ongoing staff reductions affected more than just school librarians. They wanted to learn about—and share—potential solutions from vendors, educators, and librarians, both veterans and newbies.

“Two questions— What’s next for libraries? How can librarians harness the power of free ebook publishing?—paved the way for an idea,” recalls Fontichiaro. That’s how the crowd sourced School Libraries: What’s Now, What’s Next, What’s Yet To Come was born.

They had just one major ground rule: “everybody in, nobody out, unless you’re mean.” That is, they would include in the book every submission received. Some 60 contributions later, they released the 45,000-word ebook for free just before the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) conference
in October 2011.

The response was immediate—nearly 1000 downloads in the first couple of days and more than 6200 within two months.

“To put that number into perspective, there are about 8000 members of AASL,” says Fontichiaro.

With contributions from both industry veterans and library newcomers, the ebook includes essays on storytelling, personal learning networks, book fairs, de-Deweying collections, public/school library partnerships, copyright,
and more.

“Although I helped Kristin coedit this collection, she was the visionary,” says Hamilton.

“As a collective, we accomplished what few individuals could, and that was richly satisfying,” says Fontichiaro, who in 2010 won the Margaret Grazier Award for Contribution to the Profession from the Michigan Association for Media in Education. “Don’t get me wrong—Buffy and I get our names on the cover, and that’s great, but there wouldn’t be a book at all without the contributions of many.”

This nod to colleagues seems to be Fontichiaro’s MO. “She constantly finds and promotes resources that propel school librarians to enact technology leadership roles and assert their relevance,” says Melissa Johnston, an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky. Johnston’s assessment is echoed by Margaret Sullivan, who describes Fontichiaro as being “on a mission to improve the profession, confront the naysayers, and encourage growth and opportunity.” Adds Sullivan, “I watched Kristin work and thought, ‘Wow, we could use a lot more professionals just like her.’ ”