February 17, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Hasenyager Replaces Stripling as Head of NYC’s School Libraries

Richard Hasenyager, the former director for library services at Texas’sNorth East Independent School District, was recently appointed director of library services for New York City’s department of education.

He replaces Barbara Stripling, who left the position at the end of 2011 to become a professor of practice at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool). Stripling held the position since 2005.

Hasenyager (right) assumes his new post on July 30 and will oversee the largest school library program in the nation, with more than 1,000 media specialists spread throughout the city’s five boroughs.

“This will be an experience of a lifetime, and it’s a huge responsibility that I will not take for granted,” says Hasenyager, adding that his biggest challenge will be the sheer size of the school district, which serves 1.1 million students in more than 1,700 schools. By comparison, Hasenyager oversaw 64 buildings, 82 librarians, and 82 support staff while at San Antonio’s North East Independent School District.

However, he sees the continuation of existing partnerships with the public library and others, as well as the creation of new relationships within and outside the district, as ways to “enable us to leverage our size to provide the best to our students.”

While Hasenyager admits that the current economic downturn makes it difficult to ensure that all students in the city have access to a quality school library program, he says he’ll remain “nimble and innovative” to find solutions.

“I will need to create relationships with other district administrators to communicate the importance of a quality school library program,” says Hasenyager, who was named a 2011 Mover and Shaker by our sister publication, Library Journal. “It is through conversations and action that will demonstrate these needs.”

Hasenyager also wants to build upon the Information Fluency Continuum,a framework that forms the basis for the skills and strategies that are essential for students to become independent readers and learners, which was created by Stripling and her team during her tenure. The next step, he says, is to ensure that the city’s school librarians-as well as its administrators and teachers-are offered adequate professional development to carry out the plan.

Recruiting classroom teachers as school librarians is also high on Hasenyager’s agenda. While in Texas, he successfully convinced teachers about the benefits of continuing their studies and becoming certified school librarians.

“I will work to partner with universities to provide them the education they need in order to help students become fully certified school librarians,” he says.”This will require the director of library services to apply for grants to allow us to reduce the cost of education for those pursing a Master’s degree, with an emphasis in school librarianship.”

Hasenyager says he’s qualified for the new position because he has a firm grasp on the big picture when it comes to how library programs fit into the overall classroom instruction-and he can successfully communicate that vision to others. In addition, he says, his leadership style unites-rather than divides groups-and he makes decisions based on what’s best for his students.

Rocco Staino About Rocco Staino

Rocco Staino @RoccoA is the retired director of the Keefe Library of the North Salem School District in New York. He is now a contributing editor for School Library Journal and also writes for the Huffington Post.

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  1. JD,If the public doesn’t read signs, then they’re in rellay big trouble because in BISAC based libraries, that’s all they have to indicate the book’s location. A big sign over the general area, and within that, every book becomes essentially a mini sign with it’s subject heading label.The idea that this system empowers patrons and helps them find what they want more easily is a false one. Since I work in a library like this I can offer specific examples. A woman came in looking for books about birthday parties. Where in the BISAC subject heading system do books about birthday parties fall? Answer: Crafts and Hobbies.A woman came in looking for books about Asperger’s Syndrome. Where in the BISAC system do those books fall? (Our branch elected not to use the MEDICAL heading.) Depending on how the subject is treated, the books fell in either HEALTH, HEALTH/DISEASES, FAMILY/PARENT, and PSYCHOLOGY. A high-school student came in looking for scientific books on dreams and dreaming for a school report. One was in HEALTH, another in TEEN/SPIRIT, others in BODY/MIND/SPIRIT. Most were not scientific, but she’d waited until the last minute Also, in Dewey all the books would have been next to one another and not been scattered throughout the nonfiction or throughout the ranges.The point is that only in the simplest circumstances does this BISAC system work. A book about how to train your dog is probably going to be in PETS/DOG. But it doesn’t work in so many other instances. Where do you look for books about what to wear, what type clothing suits your body type? ART/FASHION? HEALTH/BEAUTY? BUSINESS/CAREERS? You might laugh at the last suggestion, but that is precisely what Baker and Taylor assigned to one book about what to wear to the office for women. For the matching men’s book it put it in ART/FASHION. Starting to see the problems?Where are books about the Civil War? HISTORY, HISTORY/U.S., HISTORY/MILITARY, HISTORY/U.S. SOUTH? More likely than not there are books in all those areas. Dewey had them all together in ONE location. How’s that for efficient browsing ?It seems like the real issue is the lack of willingness on the patrons’ part to learn how to do good, efficient catalog searches-and I admit it is a complex skill that requires some education and a good deal of practice to do well. It’s a skill that should be taught beginning in elementary school and all the grades to graduation not just during the research paper portion of the senior year.Proponents of BISAC seem to want to do away with the catalog and rely on intuition. Yet, the examples I gave are not intuitive. You must go to the catalog. Even in instances where you think you know where to go, what happens when you get there and everything is checked out? Don’t you want to look for available items in other branches or to put checked out items on hold for yourself?People get frustrated searching card catalogs because, despite appearances, they’re not web pages and full-text search engines. They’re databases, and must be searched as databases. Teach these skills to students, and there is no need whatsoever to reorganize the library. They’re also skills the patron can take anywhere and will stand them in good stead for the rest of their information seeking lives.