Friday, December 7, 2012

YA Reading...not just for Young Adults!

I picked up a novel from our library book sale a couple summers back.  It was "Twenty Boy Summer" by Sarah Ockler.  The hard-back book had a cool cover, fun title, and ended up being a very poignant story.  Come to find out, it was a Young Adult book.

Young Adult novels are quickly rising in the realms of new literature; and I believe publishers, educators, librarians, and movie producers are taking notice.

"Easy" by Tammara Webber, was my next foray into YA reading.  I believe this novel should be essential reading for any young lady heading off to college.  "Easy" grips the reader with a frightening scenario right from the beginning, and I think parents, librarians, and educators should use books like this to raise awareness about how quickly people can find themselves in a situation that is beyond their control.

I admit, I became teary-eyed through a few parts of this novel. As the mother of a sixteen year old daughter, I was very emotional when Jacqueline calls her mother and finally tells her mom about an attempted sexual assault.  I just kept thinking "what if that was my daughter on the other end of the line?"

All in all, a book that I'd like to share with my daughter.  This book tactfully addresses vulnerability, empowerment, and forgiveness.  If my daughter won't listen to me ( and I hear this is fairly common for 16 year olds) then maybe "Easy" will convince her that life can be brutal and unpredictable in the real world, and a girl has to find her inner strength to survive.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thank You, Laura Bush, from a Novice Librarian to an Established Librarian.

Living in rural areas means that technology usually revolves around the "trickle down effect".  This means that I am over 5 years behind in my blogging adventures.  I would never have a blog, Twitter account, LiveBinder account, Edmodo account, or be a member of Net Galley and Goodreads if not for the endowment of Mrs. Laura Bush.

Laura Bush was a librarian in a public school before she put her career aside to pursue the other adventures life brought her way.  At heart, Laura Bush will always be a librarian: soft-spoken, gentle, with a love for reading, books, learning, and children.  I was lucky enough to watch her speak at a Reading First Convention in Nashville, TN back in 2008.  She exuded class, intelligence, grace and beauty.  Little did I know that her promotion of reading and librarianship would lead me to pursue my own adventure.

I am a recipient of the IMSL Grant.  This grant funds education to rural librarians who are willing to complete a Masters in Library and Information Science (MLS degree).  I was a novice school librarian when I applied, having no college-level training in librarianship.  I simply passed the PRAXIS exam to become school certified.  I thought I would just read cute stories to students and shelve books. 

Now, one year into my MLS program, I realize that I was unfit to perform my duties as a school librarian.  21st Century Librarians are trailblazers, information curators, and collaborative superheroes!  We have been handed the responsibility of training students to be technologically safe, savvy, and ethical.  We guide them on collaborating with other via social media. We educate adults on ways to safeguard their digital footprint.  It's a demanding job, and definitely not archaic.

Thank you Laura Bush.  You will never know how this has improved the quality of my life, and how it will positively impact the children and teachers around me.

Look forward to my upcoming blogs:
1. "Easy" and "Beautiful Disaster"  YA books teach valuable lessons, and not just to YA readers!

2. I Have The Degree- Now What?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Library Manual- A License to Thrive

 The following is an excerpt from a wonderful article by Marjorie Pappas.  The article is somewhat dated (7 years), so I've updated the links as part of my final assignment.


Virtual School Library Media Center Management Manual

by Marjorie L. Pappas

Marjorie L. Pappas, Ph. D., is an Associate Professor at the School Library and Information Technology Online Learning, Mansfield University of Pennsylvania. E-mail:
School library media specialists often post messages on LM_NET and other state listservs I monitor, requesting examples of information that I used to maintain in a management manual when I was a school library media specialist. I started my manual when I was a student in the organization and administration course we all take in library science programs and I kept it current with information gleaned from conferences, workshops, and networking with other school library media specialists. Manuals are easier to maintain today because of networking through listservs and the Internet. In thinking about the requests for information related to policies, job descriptions, cataloging, resource acquisition, etc., I decided a virtual version of this traditional paper manual might be an interesting and useful concept.

Setting Up My Virtual Manual

My concept of virtual is paperless. Virtual manuals can be maintained without the challenge of adding pages and adjusting page numbers. Virtual manuals can include hyperlinks to information located on the Web. Before starting the development of my manual, I thought about who might access the manual besides the school library media specialist. Library assistants, volunteers, and, occasionally, substitutes should all be able to access this manual. Also, the library media specialist should be able to access the manual when working at home. The best way to achieve that flexibility is to post the manual on the library media center's website or on the school's network, assuming the network is Internet accessible. If a library media center website or network is not available, the concept is still feasible, but a little more challenging, because new versions would need to be loaded on separate computers. Once this decision has been made, the next step is to scan and/or key-in the existing information related to the specific library media center. Following are sections and weblinks to include.


Some policies need to be written to fit the unique needs of a specific library media center, for example, circulation policies that establish the time periods books circulate and the cost for replacing lost books. Other policies, like copyright, are based on federal legislation. Links to Web-based copyright information will be useful to supplement local policies.

Policy weblinks:


The school library media specialist's job description should be posted, but it also would be useful to link to job descriptions for student and parent volunteers. The Web provides examples of job descriptions for this section.

Examples of job descriptions:

Collection Development and Acquisitions

The purchase of resources and technology for the library requires access to information about producers and jobbers.

Useful websites:


Examples can help school library media specialists develop the forms for use in the library media center. This is a section that can be developed over time.

Examples of forms:

District Portal as Manuals

School library media services in larger school districts have developed excellent portal pages. These portals provide school library media specialists with both instructional and management resources and tools.

Examples of portals:

These virtual manuals and portals enable parents, community members, and other school library professionals to view how school library media specialists manage media centers and teach students to gather and use information. Now all we need is a portal page to the portals.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Learning on the Job- And I'm a Teacher!

Providing an education beyond the pale has always been my goal at the beginning of each school year.  Each school year has been different, so goals were established accordingly.  The point is that I felt confident that I possessed the knowledge, resources, and confidence to reach those goals...most of the time!  I never felt like I actively provided a disservice to my students.

Then, I was never the librarian.

As a first year librarian, certified only through the Praxis test, I dropped the bomb.  Sadly, the services I provided were a vast improvement over the previous library services.  Not because we had an ineffective librarian, not at all!  But we had an ineffective program where our elementary library was only served part-time.  I didn't have that excuse, I was the full-time librarian/Title 1 teacher.  But I wasn't prepared. 

Things will be changing this year.

First, I will be a more effective library manager.  That means managing access to information.  I didn't know that it violated ALA policy to use the old-fashioned circulation cards that students wrote their names down on when they checked out books.  Next, I will focus on the promotion of information literacy to my students.  This might harken some outburst from teachers who were so pleased that I devoted time to teaching the proper use of the index for hardback encyclopedias, but it was a great first attempt at teacher/librarian collaboration.  This year, I will promote the proper use of databases to enhance research.  That would be a much more effective use of our time.  Finally, I would like to provide in-service training sessions to aide in teacher confidence and awareness of technology driven instruction.

Not only do I want to do this, but I have to do this.  This is what librarians do now!  When Joyce Valenza titles her post "Tell Me What Do you Teach?", I need to be very specific about lessons for which I provide instruction.  Especially if I were to ever be interrogated over the necessity of my position like the librarians of the LAUSD.  Plus, I need to make sure that my skills are crucial for the implementation of the Common Core Standards.

In closing, words mean everything to librarians.  I would like my library to reflect the words written on the pillars of the Crescent Heights High School Learning Commons: create, imagine, search, share, and think.  That is what I teach students to do.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Extreme Couponing- Librarian Style

I am currently reading from an instructional textbook concerning management practices in the school library media center.  The "Budgeting" chapter is 15 pages long.  It covers a wide variety of topics: the fiscal year, writing specifications, cost accountability, developing a statement of needs, preparing goals and objectives, establishing a plan of action, and planning an evaluation.  As a former classroom teacher, I was unaware that the library media specialist was responsible for providing a "general statement of the overall design of the project" (154) along with " determine the best methods to evaluate the activities to see whether they are, indeed, meeting stated objectives" (155),  The Library Media Manager.

Many, no...most, teachers see getting out of the classroom and into the library as a reward of so many years of service.  Librarians are riding the gravy train.  In fact, aren't they the people that make sure those kids in study hall stay quiet?  How 1970's!

Today's librarians are responsible for budgeting, designing and implementing effective programs that include teacher collaboration and intergration of technology, bookfairs, maintaining technology, along with checking out books.

This budgeting business is no fluke either, several other esteemed librarians provide detailed information on how to create a budget and ensure that our entitled funds are properly used.  Doug Johnson, creator of the Blue-Skunk Blog and nationally recognized Minnesota librarian, stated that librarians must first develop an effective program and then ask for the money to support it.  He alluded that library funds do not neccassarily drop in our lap.  Librarians must be prepared to create goals, specify how the money will be spent to meet these goals and objectives, and then provide an assessment to ensure that the program was an efficient use of money.

When budgets are tight, Jacquie Henry has found a creative way to keep her book funds in a lock box.  She instructed librarians to take the allocated book funds and create 3 kinds of orders: replacement and updating books, non-fiction books that support curriculum, and fiction books that support curriculum.  Then instruct the main office to not mail in this requisition; instead, release the purchase order number to the librarian and the librarian will submit the order electronically...throughout the year.

Now as a former classroom teacher, I remember getting no more than $50-$75 a year to spend on supplies.  Sometimes, a PTO organization would step in and provide additional funding.  Sometimes, if you whined to the principal, you might get one big item updated in the classroom.  That said, I was totally unprepared to spend $5000 last year on my library.  I am a cheapskate.  I extreme coupon.  I am a saver, not a spender.  Big ticket purchases in my family are carefully researcher and put on hold until a financially opportune moment come up...usually 70% off the original retail price.  And, I had to spend all this money with no training!  Next year, I will be better prepared.  I will have a deeper understanding of budgeting and collection development.  I don't know if my administration will find this a help or hinderance...sometimes its beneficial to keep teachers in the dark.

In closing, if one wishes to be perceived as a professional, then one must act professionally.  Education is a critical component of professionalism.  In a LM_Net chatroom, one was painstakingly honest in asking how library budgets worked? Were they line-item? Where they a percentage formula? Because she was brave enough to ask this question, I found out that most states require a certain amount of funding allocated to the school library.  Now that I have this money, what am I supposed to do with it?  The AASL created guidelines to help librarians with this task.  I discovered that my budget should be "outcome-based and present a detailed analysis of how a well-funded program will positively impact students, teachers, and the library program".    Now, I don't have to do report cards or grade papers, but I believe I will have plenty of paperwork in the future to keep me busy.  If I could just convince everybody else that the librarian is not a "gravy-train job".

Monday, July 2, 2012

Sounds of the Past, Present, and Future- The Library as a Physical Space

I am currently in the main branch of the Ozark Regional Library.  This quaint, humble building exemplifies a traditional library, circa 1983.  An elderly employee just finished typing out a book envelope on a typewriter.  While she was busy with her task, a young man was tapping on the keyboard of a computer.  In the midst of all this, a young lady brought her toddler in the library and he is currently babbling while his mom is selecting some picture books.  Several patrons have popped in and out, some finding relief from the heat, some just wanting to commiserate with a friendly (or not so friendly, just depends on how Lou's arthritis is flaring up) staff member.  I love this library, in fact, I'm hiding out here and completing my coursework because my humble home has been invaded by four teen-age girls!  I need someplace quiet and clean where I can think!

That being said, my refuge is quietly disappearing as I blog.  In fact, this blog is about transforming this antiquated storage box of outdated information into a Learning Common.  Communities throughout the globe are attempting, and very successfully I must add, to be proactive with technology and find a way to integrate libraries, technology, and community.  In Santa Barbara, California,  Sherri Bryan used a free webcast program to create and share her vision for Learning Commons in the SBUSD.  This would be an area of flexible scheduling for teachers and students.  Furniture could be moved easily to allow for group collaboration.  Quiet space would transform into more social spaces.  In Canada, Michael Whelton in "Our 21st Century Learning Commons Journey Begins..." describes himself as a passionate educator and entrepreneur.  He shares his beliefs with a community of passionate, progressive, and proactive citizens.  They have worked together to create a business module, not unlike something an engineer and industrialist would present to a zoning board, of phases and future functionability of Learning Commons in his Canadian province.

So what is a Learning Common?  Jessica Hansen created another screencast to exemplify this point.  A Learning Common is an upgraded library.  It is an multipurpose space where students have access to wireless information, space to collaborate, technology to share their work, and even spaces to perform!  These are bold spaces for assertive people who want to learn, create, and share.  And I think that is terrific.  It reminds me of an 19th century London coffeehouse.  Coffeehouses of that period provided a platform where people of titled ranks, industrialist, reformist, and scholars could meet on common ground and discuss issues of social importance.  They could talk, debate, and compromise.  I believe a space like that is vital, especially if we want today's students to talk, debate, and compromise orally (Twitter and Facebook provide great forums for debate, I've seen the tweets and posts! But students still need to orate their ideas vocally.)

Now what about those of us seeking refuge from all of this technology?  Sometimes I can't wash dishes, put on make-up, or get out of the shower without my movements "facetimed" or "instagrammed" for all to see.  We must be careful to balance this proactive thinking and give proper and substantial space in Learning Commons for quiet space, reading, dreaming, and finding information.  Tom Corbett correctly stated in "The Changing Role of the School Library's Physical Space" that people outside the library profession often do not realize that much of the information found in libraries is not easily found free on the Internet. 

Library management is vital when it comes to protecting and promoting the learning atmosphere.  Blanche Wools notes that a well-managed library comes from a professional that can manage.  The 21st Century librarian must have a goal, format that goal into a plan that the community can see, define jobs that must be filled in order to achieve the library's goal, train people to properly execute these jobs, and then evaluate the job performance.  Wow!  By the way,  that's in addition to teaching classes, ordering books, shelving books, instructing teacher's on technology, and breathing.  Welcome to the 21st Century Library!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Not My Mama's Library- Advocating for the 21st Century Library

Gwyneth Jones shared some musings in her blog, "Eight Ways to Start Making Your Library Visible Through Technology".  Last year, her blog would have been my worst nightmare.  Her blog was edgy, dark, sophisticated, and commanded attention.  Ms. Jones promoted blogging, on-line photo galleries, social networking, and Wiki as ways to garner attention to the library.  As a fledgling librarian, I am somewhat overwhelmed with how quickly I must rise to the occasion and embrace technology.  Not just embrace technology, but instruct with technology.  Surprisingly, my most challenging students in this new venture will not be students.  They will be teachers.

Nancy Dowd and Buffy Hamilton both impressed upon Seth Godin's prediction about the extinction of libraries as we currently know them (within the next 10 years, nonetheless).  Ms. Dowd, in "The 'M' Word- Marketing Libraries: Godin, Gutenberg and Going Forward," recognizes that most librarians are aware and adept in using new technology in the library, but restructuring the mindset of what a library should encompass that could be the real challenge.  Buffy Hamilton remarks about the original need for libraries, and how the original need does not exist anymore.  Fiction books are cheap!  E-readers eliminate the need for a waiting list for those new release bestsellers.  Informational text are obsolete because free and accurate information is easily available on the internet.  Are future taxpaying citizens prepared to support outdated libraries?  No!  Libraries need a marketing overhaul.  Librarians need a ploy to stay viable and employed.  Thankfully, organizations like MASL, AASL, and ALA help librarians advocate for themselves and their programs.  Membership to these professional organizations give librarian a platform (and complaining rights, as Doug Johnson states).

In the text, "The School Library Media Manager", Blanche Woolls dedicates pages 196-197 to marketing strategies designed to make the library a transparent and inviting space.  A space that students, administration, and the community feels compelled to support.  I believe this future space has the traditional space for reading and dreaming, along with time and space allotted for book clubs, study groups that implement Skype, blogs, Prezi, and Animoto as assignment tools, and some type of training facility for teachers and parents that are intimidated by technology.  As I said before, teachers can be the worst students, so a lot of time may need to be set aside for training.

  However, I am proof that progress can be made quickly when using technology.  In the past six months I've created a Wiki page that I will implement next year to help with scheduling, a blog to communicate with other librarians, a Prezi project, several Animoto videos, a Google webpage, and an iAdventure!  I'd love for our library to be a hub for that type of activity.  To be totally honest, so many of our upper elementary students have access to Smartphones, they could whip up an Animoto and share it with the class in under 10 minutes.  What is sad, so many of our classrooms teachers don't know how to harness this enthusiasm and direct it toward quality learning experiences.

So, in the upcoming school year, I will be the professional who models leadership and best practices for the school community, my library might not always be quiet, I will advocate for my iPad and wi-fi, my 3-6th grade students will create Prezis and Animotos, it sounds like fun!  Not my mama's library!

TEXT: Empowering Learners: Chapter 4, “Empowering Learning Through Leadership,” pp. 45-48
TEXT: Woolls, Chapter 12, “On the Job: Advocacy and the Media Center”
TEXT: Chapter 15, “ Leadership and Professional Associations”
Dowd, Nancy. “The ‘M’ Word - Marketing Libraries: Godin, Gutenberg and Going Forward.” New Marketing Trends 14 May 2011. 27 May 2011. <>.
Hamilton, Buffy. “Are Librarians, Not Seth Godin, The Ones Missing the Point on Libraries?” The Unquiet Librarian 16 May 2011. Web. 27 May 2011. <>.
Jones, Gwyneth A. “ Transparency is the New Black.” The Daring Librarian. 3 Apr. 2012. Web. 1 June 2012. <>.
Johns, Sara K. "Guest Post: Visibility Works!" Make Some Noise! School Library Journal, 9 Mar. 2012. Web. 01 June 2012. <>.
Johnson, Doug. “BFTP: Why I Belong to ALA/AASL.” The Blue Skunk Blog. 14 Apr. 2012. Web. 1 June 2012. <>.