You are currently browsing the archives for January 2009.
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Contact CPS Commission

  • Posted on January 23, 2009 at 3:49 PM

You can do something to help libraries of all types. I received the letter below and called Nancy Nord, acting commissioner. Her office assured me that they are hearing our message and that they are on our (the libraries and the publishers) side regarding books and lead safety levels. The office suggested that we contact Congress and call Commissioner Thomas Moore at 301-504-7902 to express our opinion and share the facts regarding the CPSC’s pending decision. Right now Commissioner Moore doesn’t share our opinion. You can also email him at Let’s help the Consumer Product Safety Commission make an informed decision.

Could you imagine the worst case scenario if the commission doesn’t make the right decision before February 10th? Would we have to lock our doors to prevent anyone from touching materials that were created for anyone under the age of 12? Would we have to dispose of our million-dollar collections of books? Would all publishers and small press publishers have to cease and desist publication until they could prove that books are lead-safe? (Even though they already have proven this?!)

In the words of my favorite fluff family film (The Princess Bride) INCONCEIVABLE! I made my call. Drop me a comment or and email and let me know you made yours. Don’t worry. He has voice mail and you can leave a message for the weekend.

Letter I received from ten sources:

A public meeting was held January 22, and Cheryl Falvey, General Counsel for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), stated that a decision should be made by the first week of February regarding libraries.  She advised libraries not to take any action at this time, and we are hopeful that the Commission’s decision will exempt libraries.

Even with her assurances, we must let the CPSC know how important an issue this is to libraries.  Please call the Acting Commissioner, Nancy Nord, at (301) 504-7901. When you call this number, wait for the automated directory to give you directions to reach Nancy Nord’s office. Explain to the Commission that it is simply impossible for libraries to remove all children’s books from the shelves and/or ban children under 12 from the library and still provide the level of service that is needed.

As always, thank you for all that you do.  The only way we will be successful in ensuring that children will have access to safe books is with a strong grassroots effort.  Your comments to the CPSC need to be submitted as soon as possible, so please tell all your friends and family – we need as many people as possible to communicate that this oversight could have lasting ramifications on our children and our communities.  

  • The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 has been interpreted to include books as a product that must be tested for lead.  While it is understandable that the CPSC must protect children from toxic materials, publishers have already tested the book components and found that the lead levels are lower than the regulations require three years from now. Additionally, all book recalls in the last two decades have been because of toys attached to the books that posed a choking hazard, not the books themselves.
  • Making these testing regulations retroactive would require both school and public libraries to take drastic steps to come into compliance.  They either would have to ban children from their libraries or pull every book intended for children under the age of 12 from their bookshelves at the time children are fostering a lifelong love of learning and reading.
  • In order to allow children and families to continue accessing critical library materials, please either exempt books from the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, accept the component tests that have already been done, or exempt all books currently in school and public libraries.  This will ensure that our children continue to have access to safe and educational library materials.

Thank you for your continued support of libraries! 

Have you forgotten the Printz Award?

  • Posted on January 21, 2009 at 10:21 PM

Tomorrow at 5:30 I leave the house for ALA’s Midwinter meeting. IDenver Attending Button‘m looking forward to the Youth awards, but this year I have spent more time contemplating who might be nominated for the Michael L. Printz award. I found that so many of my favorite titles seem to fall in the higher age bracket than what others deem. Some people suggest titles for the Newbery that I believe are better Printz titles. 
Michael L. Printz Award
The Printz aware?  According to the ALA website, "The Michael L. Printz Award is an award for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature… The award is sponsored by Booklist, a publication of the American Library Association… YALSA produces seals for the Michael L. Printz Award which can be placed on the winning books." You can find more information including the criteria for deciding the winner and up to four honor books here.

I’m packed. The suitcases are in the car. I have one large suitcase with a smaller suitcase inside that contains my clothes.  I always hope to stock up on free books, posters, ink pens, and post-it pads so I can get through another semester. This year I have a new staff excitedly waiting to see what I’ll be bringing back. Unfortunately my schedule is extremely packed with meetings, receptions, and more meetings. I don’t have as much time for the exhibit hall as usual so when you see me there, I’ll be steamrolling through. 

My schedule is online using the google calendar tools. I believe you can do a simple search for Diane Chen @ ALA Midwinter and find me. Living your life openly in a web 2.0 world has some risks, but I think my biggest challenge will be to be in all of the places indicated at one time. Notice that in some of the areas I did put down details for lunch like roast beef and diet pepsi. This is so I won’t forget which box lunch is mine. My mom even reminded me on facebook that meals are important and said, "Don’t work all the time. Remember to have some fun." Thanks, Mom. I need to be a dutiful daughter and go have some fun.

6 word stories

  • Posted on January 17, 2009 at 12:00 AM

It’s all Tracy Barrett’s fault. :-)  She posted this seemingly innocent request on the MidSouth SCBWI group:

We all know that less is more, that brevity is the soul of wit, that we should murder our darlings–in short, shorter is better, right? I’d like to issue a challenge to <readers of this blog>* to come up with a complete story in six words, based on the famous challenge supposedly given to Hemingway to do just that. He came up with "For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn."

Here’s an article about six-word memoirs: <> or (there are some interesting contributions in the comments section at the bottom), and an excerpt from a book about them: <> or .  I’m not limiting this challenge to memoirs–just a complete story in six words, memoir or otherwise. Interested?

I’ve watched as hundereds of 6-word stories have flooded the list. Every time I describe this project people insist upon writing more stories. Even after the conversation has moved on, suddenly random 6-word stories appear – sometimes scribbled on napkins, notebook covers, and even newspaper margins. It seems that writing a story in just 6 words is compelling. You may want to try it out with your students. I suggest you practice here by sharing your stories. 

Here are some stories from Mr. C:
Pioneering adventure. Mishaps aplenty. Limping home.
Despair over divorce. Years later, happiness.
Darker angels followed. Police, judge, warden.
Fly distracts maintenance engineer, hundreds lost.

Other examples (not from Mr. C):
Snow storm. No heat. New pregnancy.
Story ends. Deep sigh. Vivid dreams.
Blog appears. No comments. Author cries. 

Where are your stories? While you’re thinking, here are some strange links:
Wired’s stories
Six Word Stories dot Net
Dan Pink’s Six Word Inaugural collection
Flickr’s six-word project

* I changed Tracy’s phrase to include you, the readers of this blog.

Note: The MidSouth list ( is actually a discussion forum for members of SCBWI-Midsouth (Kentucky and Tennessee) and others interested in writing and/or illustrating for children. Others are welcome but they must remember that the main purpose of the list is to allow efficient communication between the Midsouth Regional Advisor and members.  Postings must be relevant to the topic of children’s book and magazine publishing and must demonstrate respect for all other members and their opinions. 

Krug earns Brennan Award

  • Posted on January 15, 2009 at 10:35 PM

Brennan award? I hear you asking. The William J. Brennan Jr. Award is given to a person or group who demonstrates a commitment to the principles of free expression. As director of the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom, Judith Krup has fought for our students’ freedom to read and done so much to benefit us without us being aware. Whenever I have had a challenge, the OIF has had materials and support. We school librarians are very dependent upon the work of the Office of Intellectual Freedom and I just wanted to share the good news about Krug. Here’s the ALA press release an don’t forget to go totheir web site:

ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom Director Krug earns Brennan Award

CHICAGO – The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression announced today that Judith F. Krug, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), will receive the William J. Brennan Jr. Award.

Krug is only the fifth recipient of the award since it was first given in 1993. She will receive formal recognition in Chicago on July 12 at the Freedom to Read Foundation’s 40th Anniversary Gala, which will be held in the new Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Located in Charlottesville, Va., the Thomas Jefferson Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan institution dedicated to protecting free expression in all its forms. The Center pursues that mission through education, research and intervention on behalf of the First Amendment freedoms of free speech and free press

The William J. Brennan Jr. Award recognizes a person or group for demonstrating a commitment to the principles of free expression followed by the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice. This year, the center honors Krug’s remarkable commitment to the marriage of open books and open minds.

Krug, director of OIF since 1967, as well as the director of the office’s Freedom to Read Foundation since 1969, has fought would-be censors over everything from Huckleberry Finn to the Internet. She has tirelessly worked to protect and promote the library as a First Amendment institution. Often in the face of great personal criticism, Krug has never wavered in her defense of First Amendment freedoms, whether testifying before Congress, leading legal challenges to unconstitutional laws or intervening hundreds of times to support and advise librarians in their efforts to keep particular books available to the public.

Krug earned her B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and her M.A. from the Graduate Library School of the University of Chicago. In 2005, Krug received an honorary doctorate, Doctor of Humane Letters, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Early in her career, Krug held positions in various Chicago libraries, including reference librarian at the John Crerar Library and head cataloger at the Northwestern University Dental School Library. Before assuming her present duties in the Office for Intellectual Freedom, she was the research analyst for the American Library Association.

Past recipients are: Georgetown Law professor and First Amendment advocate David Cole in 2004; President of New York’s Nassau Community College and ardent defender of academic freedom Sean Fanelli in 2001; owner of Denver’s Tattered Cover independent bookstore and founder of Colorado Citizens Against Censorship Joyce Meskis in 1996; and Texas attorney Anthony Griffin, who received the first Brennan Award in 1993 for his extraordinary defense of First Amendment freedoms on behalf of the Texas ACLU.

Big Box Bookstore or Librarian Friendly Store

  • Posted on January 12, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Would I possibly post something to stir up conversation? You Betcha! I wrote about Covers and Corporate Control Jan. 2nd and received an invitation to meet with a Community Relations Manager Jan. 8th. Since I took COPIOUS notes, I’m going to share a large amount of information. 

Robbie Bryan called me the first week of January to tell me about specials occurring in his store that I wouldn’t want to miss. He’s right. When Barnes & Noble runs their DVD sale where you can buy 2 and get the third free, it’s the best deal of the year. What made this year special is that boxed sets and Blu-ray are included in the list. I needed to run by the store. Don’t worry. You still have until February 2nd to get there. I’m including the flyer he emailed me also.

I don’t need excuses to go to the bookstore, but it’s easier to convince other teachers to go with you when Barnes & Noble hosts Educator Appreciation Days Sat. January 17th – Sun. Jan 25th. I like the 25% discount on books for myself in addition to books for my school. Educator Days occur three times a year.

Since I had recently held a bookfair that generated approximately $1.10 per student in school profit, I was interested in learning more about Barnes & Nobles’ bookfairs. Robbie sent me more information and a testimonial from a local librarian. Should I host a BN bookfair this spring? Will my students drive the 14.3 miles to the nearest BN?

The Barnes & Noble website keeps evolving so Robbie made sure I had the newest pamphlet including information on their webcasts, podcasts, videos, daily book reviews, book clubs, and more. 

Then I mentioned to him that I had written this little blog post about how corporations sell their prime space, force publishers to change their covers, and won’t carry enough varieties of children’s nonfiction. While we talked I sent him the links and then I asked whether he thought I could come by the store to meet with him and take some pictures. I like being fair and giving people the opportunity to respond with information. It’s possible that I only "think" I know what I’m writing about after all. 

Robbie immediately volunteered to rearrange his work schedule so that he would still be in the store late on Thursday afternoon to meet with me after school. Neither of us knew this simple meeting would last until 8 p.m. I felt guilty about keeping him so long past his normal work hours, but Robbie pointed out that each Barnes & Noble has a Community Relations Manager that is there specifically to work with school and public libraries. He often comes in before 7 a.m. just to be there when our high schools open. I do appreciate his dedication, but I was worn out by the time I left.

When I arrived Thursday, Robbie was busy helping a public library director purchase a large volume of DVD’s and CD’s for her collection. In order to get the best value, he was helping advise her how to group purchases, locate the lowest price (even if it was online), and how to truly maximize her budget. Then it was on to filling out the paperwork in triplicate since many customers use purchase order’s or corporate accounts. There were other employees there, but Robbie took the time to help her so that she was getting the best service, also. 

While they worked, I meandered through the collections of classical, pop, soul, jazz, oldies, gospel, blues, international, show, rock, country, and childrens’ music. I discovered a Johnny Cash Children’s CD that is based upon the 1975 album with kid’s songs and sing-alongs. There was a CD of the Best of Schoolhouse Rock. Aha! Over there for only $13.99 was Ella Jenkins Multi-cultural children’s songs. I played with the headphones since the sign said I could listen to over 200,000 songs and I wanted to think up esoteric songs that they probably wouldn’t have. Rats! They were all included. 

As soon as the customer left, Robbie devoted his time to showing me what makes Barnes & Noble far more than a typical big bookstore. We began with the classic books that Barnes & Noble produces. Note another good sale. Can you guess which title really caught my eye? Yes, it was Treasure Island. Each of the covers are distinctive and evoke the content of the books. All have introductions that were written by experts in that particular field, not generalists. I got really excited when I saw the price of the Jane Austen omnibus – a collection of 7 complete & unabridged novels for only $12.95. Now, those kind of prices make the collection very interesting for middle/high school/ and home libraries. 

Book Cover Image. Title: Grapes of Wrath (SparkNotes Literature Guide), Author: by John  SteinbeckOff we journeyed to see what other unique products B & N produces and we came to the "SPARK" sections. Sparknotes Literature Guides are very useful tools for parents, high schoolers, and college age students. I utilized the Grapes of Wrath Sparknotes book when my oldest son was in middle school 5 years ago (when Sparknotes first came out) because I needed to help him organize, understand, and retain the big picture of what he was reading. Sparknotes aren’t a replacement for reading the book at all, but I do wish more libraries carried them to help parents like me. 

Along came the section of SparkCharts! AHA! I could really use these in my middle school ESL class right now. The inside of these laminated charts is very colorful and groups vocabulary in helpful ways for my English language learners. These charts are 3-hole punched and ready to go into 3-ring binders. Lots of helpful topics for the postsecondary crowd, too

While I was looking, I found Sparkcharts for html and java, law, and legal writing and much more. For only $4.95 I need the html chart. My brain is too tired to remember all of those bloomin’ codes and I need the information laminated so I can wipe the coffee stains off. Don’t tell me you don’t drink coffee near your computer because I won’t believe you.  Hey! Did you know that each of these charts also has a website where you can report any errors? It makes me want to see if there are any. What happens if I find and report an error? Will they send me a corrected chart?
Since students and adults are constantly taking tests, the SparkNotes Power Packs have 5 tools in one box for only $14.95. Why didn’t someone out there tell me about these when my son was in AP classes? Each pack contains diagnostic tests, 300 study cards, 2 Sparkcharts, a study plan, and a practice exam & strategy book. There is even an ACT Power Pack that has an essay which is graded by a real person instead of a machine. 

After a customer came by and asked "us" for help, Robbie went off to assist and I wandered through to see what else was specifically a Barnes & Noble product. I found these Daily Spark books that contain 180 different activities. Do you think anyone other than teachers know we have 180 days of school each year? The Daily Spark books have activities or exercises to motivate and focus students at the beginning of the class. In my school these are called Bellringers – meant to occupy the students while the teacher takes attendance on the computer. Well, I guess they’re supposed to be learning something, too, but you’d have to prove it to me after visiting a couple classes. I picked up the Daily Spark for critical thinking and for Great Books. These are worthwhile additions to a teacher’s collection.

Okay, but what about the younger students? Barnes & Noble has created easier, more colorful versions of their Sparkcharts called FlashCharts

They also have a product called FlashKids which contains an entire grade level curriculum for only $19.95. Tennessee has many home school families so I’m sure these are a big hit. There were even Flash Skills books with lots of activities. 

Tired yet? Well, we weren’t half way through our chat, but I’ll give you a break to get more coffee before you read the next post.

What about the fiction books at B & N?

  • Posted on January 12, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Readers, don’t think we worked the entire time. One of the best parts of visiting a bookstore is chatting with someone else who loves books. Robbie Bryan the CRM (Community Relations Manager) and I spent a great deal of time discussing all our favorite titles from 2008. Something about the Bestselling Teen Fiction sign kept drawing me back. We both loved The Hunger Games. Robbie suggested social studies and civics courses could read this aloud to truly involve students. 

Cover ImageWe found Nye’s Habibi book from 1997 which is particularly relevant today. A young girl growing up in St. Louis suddenly moves to Palestine/the West Bank. She eventually befriends a Jewish boy and puts her families views on prejudice. I’ve seen this book on several lists of Middle Eastern fiction and I was surprised to find it stocked at B&N.

We raced through the magazine section so I could hold in my hands the titles students had suggested I purchase. We found some of these in the Family Section, but I had to travel to the Teen Fiction section to locate the older teen titles. While we were there I asked "How many covers can the Jonas Brothers be on at one time?" The answer? SEVEN They beat out High School Musical and Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus. Oh, yes, if any of my students are reading this blog, I’m NOT going to buy Lowrider ever. Didn’t you know I’d check your suggestions in person and via reviews?

Back to teen fiction to seek Urban Fiction. Robbie suggested Ellen Hopkins for high school with Glass and Burned. We agreed that Sharon Draper rules with Copper Sun. I knew Sharon G. Flake from The Skin I’m In which is constantly requested at the circ desk, but I still haven’t read Flake or Begging for Change. 
Cover Image
While we were discussing award books and I was searching for this year’s National Book Award winner, I saw Godless by Pete Hautman: Book CoverGodless and was very intrigued. We couldn’t recall the current NBA winner, just our favorite titles that "lost." I had to get to the computer to remember it was What I Saw and How I Lied. I confess I still haven’t read it. Maybe I will consider it most worthy after reading it. In the meantime I like the short list of titles it beat. Laurie Halse Anderson, Chains; Kathi Appelt, The Underneath; E. Lockhart, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks; and Tim Tharp, The Spectacular Now. I think it’s important to have opinions on books, don’t you? 

As much fun as I was having in the teen section, I did need to respect my roots of elementary librarianship and spend an hour or two in the children’s books. It was truly hard to walk past the display of Holiday and Christmas titles that were all 50% off. Did you know Robert Sabuda’s Christmas titles were still there? If I’d had my paycheck in hand, those books would have been in my hands. Sadly I had to leave them for you, the reader, to go snatch up.Cover Image

I am always interested in displays in bookstores. It seems that the Fancy Nancy team has really hit big time. Who would have thought books on expanding your vocabulary could be so popular? As Robbie stated "this is a sneaky way to build vocabulary." Fancy Nancy’s Favorite Fancy Words from Accessories to Zany was my favorite. 

Robbie shared that co-author Robin Preiss Glasser has visited his store twice for author events. Trinity Elementary partnered with Barnes & Noble for one of the events. Students arrived dress very fancily with cardboard top hats and fake boas. One of the parents owned a limo company so students received limo rides in the parking lot. I need to pay more attention to the author events in town! As the CRM, Robbie helps with each of these. What a fun job?!

I discovered the younger addition of Classics titles. These are published by Sterling press and are RETELLINGS. I always feel it is important to emphasize this so students and parents are disappointed that the Sterling book isn’t exactly the same (meaning unabridged) as the original. Robbie tells me that he does the same thing for the same reason.  We want our customers/patrons to be happy with their selections. 

I was excited to note the display on Dragons that the store created (not a corporate directed display) for Chinese New Year

I wasn’t excited by the new updates to an old favorite. The new series is called IF YOU. I like the older looking illustrations of the originals like If You Grew Up With Abraham Lincoln. Tell me which covers you prefer – the new or the old. Would you be surprised to hear there may have been actual hissing while I scanned the covers?

Fortunately Robbie was able to take me to another section of books I hadn’t seen: the Scanimations! I’d heard of Gallop but never seen it. That day I was able to hold Swing: A Scanimation Picture Book by Rufus Butler Seder in my hand. Then Robbie opened up ABC so we could scan the alphabet. I know other customers were watching how much fun we were having because some of those books were gone by the time I came back.

Since we were near the pop-up books, we tested to be sure some of the books on the shelf hadn’t been loved too much by customers. Did you know that Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart teamed to create Brava, Strega Nona with Tomie dePaola?  I feel like I’m the last to learn anything. The book has been out since October. I must not be on Penguin’s good reviewer list. Good thing Robbie was there to point it out to me.

Knowing Nashville schools are preparing for science fairs, Robbie also showed me a new fiction title Science Fair by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. This could help those dreamers take their projects a little more seriously. 

I’m always on the lookout for scary books so I was pleased to see Creepers in the children’s section. It’s more appropriate for elementary than YA anyway and my Goosebumps fans need something new.

Suddenly I spied Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Differently by Kristin O’ Donnell Tubb. I have kept the postcard for this title beside my bed, but still haven’t had the book in my hand so I was excited. This is from a local Franklin, Tennessee author so perhaps we can partner with B & N for an author visit. 

Hmmmm. Something to contemplate while I go get another cup of coffee. See you in the next post.

So why should I spend my library funds at Barnes & Noble anyway?

  • Posted on January 12, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Since time was flying by, I had to get back to business and ask the questions I’d come with. Is it true Barnes & Noble asks publishers to change their covers? Answer: yes, sometimes. 

Reason? B&N truly believes they’ll sell more books if some covers are changed. For example, they know how to judge whether a customer can read the title or author’s name from a distance or whether the background causes the words to blend in. I was given several specific examples of titles where the reprint had different covers and the books suddenly gained in popularity. Robbie suggested that some publishers hadn’t invested that much creativity in their cover art, but we agreed to disagree on whose decision it was artistically. 

How about selling prime space? Answer: each store has some display space which is required marketing from the corporate office and some space which is available for local decisions. Some end caps may be assigned certain products but the funds go into some complicated marketing scheme which flew over my head by that point in the day. I’m sorry, readers, but I was starting to get tired. If you understand this process, please chime in and explain it to me again.

What about the lack of children’s nonfiction titles? Answer: school libraries are the best market and source for series nonfiction titles. Bookstores are sometimes prevented from stocking and ordering series nonfiction by the publisher rules, and pricing discounts. If the store can’t get enough of a discount, they could end up losing money when customers like teachers use their free personal B & N educator discount card. Robbie had actually looked up several titles I suggested to explain why they were on the short-run list and weren’t available for the store to order. 

He did agree that school libraries purchase the most in children’s nonfiction and their budget needs are increasing to meet curricula demands. Notice I said our needs are increasing, not our budgets. Robbie mentioned that big bookstores have corporate buyers who just might not have been interested that day in the nonfiction titles the publishers were offering. Hmm… I wonder if it would help for more of our parents to request these?

On to my next question, "Why should school and public libraries go to Barnes & Noble to spend their funds?" Answer: Sometimes librarians need to look at the book and hold it in their hands. (I noted the whole Lowrider experience – shudder.) Also, going to the bookstore gives librarians the chance to chat with booksellers about titles. Out of the many employees working in his store, Robbie was sure someone there would have read a title the librarian was questioning. 

Barnes & Noble helps with determining age-level appropriateness simply by locating their teen fiction outside of the children’s book section. A title could be in both places, but if it was only in the Teen Fiction section it probably had a teenage protagonist or a teen situation which might cause the librarian to need to read the title for her(him)self. 

Robbie mentioned that every B & N carries lots of titles on their shelf and maintains a huge database of in print titles in the U.S. By the way, did you know that B & N is strictly a domestic company? 

Did you know that the next time you compulsively reorder and straighten their bookshelves that all over-sized titles are specifically placed on the top right shelf of each section? Don’t go trying to cram them in sideways!

Did you know that Barnes & Noble carries summer bridge materials – lots of supplemental educational titles and activity books to help the struggling learner maintain their skills during the long summer break? These are meant for parents to work with their children. 

Barnes & Noble does offer discounts – not at wholesale rates – but they can often get a class set of titles to you faster than many other companies due to their warehouse functions. 

Which brought us full-circle to the number one reason why we should shop at our local big bookstore – B & N – the Community Relations Manager. The CRM’s job is to work with schools and libraries in the area. For the particular store I was in, the area could easily contain 10 counties. 

Part of the CRM’s job is to find the best price and make the best deal for our money. Repeat customers and strong relationships are important to the CRM. 

Sometimes the CRM will deliver titles to a school. The CRM is also in charge of events and will partner with schools to help bring authors to them. Authors can even put in requests to visit specific stores. 

The CRM will help plan and implement a B & N Book Fair for the school. When the book fair occurs, customers simple present slips of paper indicating they are there to support the school, or sometimes if they forget, they can simply tell the clerk. That way a portion of their sales goes back to the school without any unpacking, packing, decorating, etc. 

Each school works with the CRM to create in-store events to show off the school. Some schools have artwork displayed in the front windows. Others have had foreign language classes presenting books they wrote, choirs, jazz ensembles, readings, talent shows, comedians, cheerleaders, and drama presentations. Hmm… Nashville librarians, we have a new director of schools arriving, perhaps someone needs to schedule a school event with Robbie. 

Another important part of the CRM’s job is to help the libraries with their paperwork and purchase orders. The CRM needs to be able to correctly recognize county vs school vs district P.O.’s and ensure they are completed accurately. There are times when I need a second set of eyes to look at my orders. I learned in graduate school the quickest way to get fired is to mess up the budget.

Last question, "How do you feel about small orders for school libraries?" Answer: every order is important. Robbie agreed that it was satisfying to help the librarian who spent only $100 out of their own pocket knowing she/he didn’t have a budget. He told me not to feel badly about the small orders I spend in local stores, but encouraged me to allow him to help search for the best deals. 

Well, readers, what do you think? Do you feel like you just spent MANY hours with me on a tour of the local big bookstore? I know I’m worn out and I’m off to sleep. I need to rise early and start reading some of those titles I went back to get this weekend.

Guest Blogger: Dana Stem and Double Trouble Groundhog Day

  • Posted on January 11, 2009 at 7:16 AM

ROBERTS, Bethany, Double Trouble Groundhog Day . illus. by Cauley, Lorinda Bryan. Unpaged. Henry Double Trouble Groundhog DayHolt and Company . 2008. ISBN 978-0-8050-8280-7 . LC number unavailable. PreS-Gr 3 Fiction Reviewed by Dana Stem

Gregory and Greta are the twin grandchildren of Grampie who is the official Groundhog Day Weather Forecaster. Grampie is retiring and offers the position to one of the ‘double trouble’, always arguing twins. The problem of which twin is settled by drawing straws. Gregory wins, gloats, and falls into a fretful sleep until Groundhog Day arrives. Having lost his glasses while sleepwalking Gregory needs Greta’s help to begin a new era of forecasting and she offers it willingly. 

This story gives a nice spin on working together, rewarding the willing, helpful Greta and humbling the boastful Gregory. The inclusion of illustrations depicting how Gregory won the draw would have tidied up the story a bit. 

This title could be a nice addition to elementary classroom or library Groundhog Day storybook  collections. Incorporating the press, and characters reading about themselves in the local paper, this story sets up excellent follow-up activities. Using real newspaper coverage of Groundhog Day happenings could round out an interesting Groundhog Day experience.

Note from Diane:  Thanks, Dana, for writing such a great review. I hope the readers don’t expect me to suddenly improve my reviewing. I think we’ll have to keep bringing you back to write more. I like your suggestions for incorporating the press into the curriculum. There’s still time for readers to order this title, too, so great timing. 

I love helping new library students. This January we are so fortunate to have Dana Stem completing her 100 hour internship at the middle school with us. Every day I go in hoping I’ll be able to help Dana experience something new or learn some skill to help practically in her new career. Friday I was able to introduce her to blogging and reviewing as a writing experience, not just as a reader. 

Since I can be like a runaway freight train, I wanted her to immediately develop a blog, share all her experiences and opinions on student teaching, and choose a blog name that she could grow into and develop over the next five years. Then I looked up at her face and said, "Or maybe you’d like to think about this over the weekend." She agreed to take some book titles home with her to possibly write reviews. Since she is currently working as a library clerk in an elementary school, attending school full-time, and raising her children, I was so excited to open my email box to find she’d sent this review at 10 pm on a Saturday night. Now, that’s dedication to learning. 

Please help me welcome Dana to our field. She is just a couple courses from the end and anticipates seeking a school library information specialist job this summer. My students already love her and the teachers come in with project ideas to work with her. We have seen 4 of 6 social studies teachers already plan ideas having been back to school 4 days. What a great start to middle school librarianship?!
Oh, yes, readers, don’t forget that
Bethany Roberts also wrote one of my favorite Christmas titles Cookie Angel. Bethany Roberts has quite the holiday collection so far: Valentine Mice! Easter Mice! Fourth of July Mice! Halloween Mice! Christmas Mice! Birthday Mice! Waiting-for-Christmas Stories, and even a non-holiday favorite of mine Cat Skidoo.

Good bosses

  • Posted on January 11, 2009 at 6:53 AM

Doug Johnson wrote a post on "What Makes a Good Boss?" (December 20, 2008) As many of you know Nashville schools have a new director of schools coming. I’m excited. Why? Is it that I expect him to magically recognize we have great school libraries and to increase our percentage of the funding portion? Is it that I expect him to wave the magic wand and make all the problems we’ve had with student achievement disappear? Is it that I expect him to increase my budget back to previous levels when we were actually able to implement effective support of curricula?

Nah. None of those reasons.  I am excited because I like change. I like being given the opportunity to share our message with new administrators. Never do I take for granted the position school libraries hold in our organization. We cannot afford complacency. With the change of administration comes hope. Maybe I’ll be successful as a building level advocate this time. Maybe a newcomer to the district will be able to look objectively at the data and recognize our greatness. Maybe we can do a presentation for him and the school board. It’s been several years since we did and those presentations do a great deal for the publics’ positive perception of us.

I’m an optimist. I expect good things to come from new administrators because I am willing to actively do my part in sharing our message. I hope to have one face-to-face meeting where I’m able to shake his hand and say, "I cannot wait to share with you how exciting the school library program at my building and in the district is. Come see what the students are doing and how they feel." 

We’ll be installing a brand new sign on a main road since visitors to our school keep driving by and missing us. We’ll have electronic messages flashing for parents. AND…. we’ll have a big ceremony to install it. I expect to see our new director then. Want to take any bets on whether I’ve already begun creating messages about literacy to go on the board and to share personally? 

I hate driving by schools and seeing only sports messages. Aren’t we doing anything exciting with books and technology?  I’m not letting you get by with just an announcement of the bookfair. Have you advertised your book clubs? Your podcast groups? Your writer’s groups? What about the One Book program? I just received word that we received the Picturing America grant. (Picturing America award materials include forty images mounted on twenty double-sided, laminated posters for display and classroom use and a teachers resource book.) You can bet we’ll be publicizing this. Get any new books this year? What would happen if you advertised "new books available in the library?"

Administrators make decisions based upon the information they have – even if what they think they know if flawed, incomplete, or out-dated. As a building level school librarian, it is my job to be communicating what’s happening with my students, parents, faculty, administration, and the community in which we live. Can’t wait to get started. I’ll keep you up-to-date.  

Inauguration Resources Searching

  • Posted on January 11, 2009 at 6:00 AM

There are many official government agency-related sites on the Inauguration. The Joint Congressional Committee President-elect Barack Obama by Presidential Inaugural Committee.on Inaugural Ceremonies in consultation with the Senate Historian’s Office chose the official theme: A New Birth of Freedom (words from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address).  The JCCIC site is actually dangerous because there is so much buried inside, you’ll not be able to leave. Forget the lesson on electromagnets, I’m exploring the luncheon menu and viewing the china on the tables. 

I had to go to the Presidential Inaugural Committee website so I could follow them on Twitter. Then it’s off to visit the flickr "Countdown to the Inauguration" with daily photos from the site of th10 Days by Presidential Inaugural Committee.e inauguration on the steps of the US Capitol. Need more photos? Try the Smithsonian Presidential Inaugural Photographs with online photo portfolios of Presidential Inaugurals.

My teachers are searching for information about the 56th Inaugural Parade so they won’t miss a minute. I may be adding this information at the last minute as it appears security is still being developed. The most "with-it" students are exploring the significance of the Whistle Stop Tour by train.  

Since many of us are interweaving 21st century ICT skills with our social studies lessons, the Innovative Educator’s blog seems very appropriate. She has posted Help Students Pay Attention to the 2009 Inauguration with Engaging Lesson Ideas  Anyone for a VoiceThread?

President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden strongly believe that local action is the first step towards affecting nationwide change.  They are spearheading a national effort to Renew America Together, starting with a day of service timed to coincide with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 19th, the day before the Inauguration. I searched and found 3 events in my area involving the Red Cross blood drive, Goodwill Industries, and friendly pets visiting senior citizen centers. What I really loved was the use of the Wordle (to the left). Click here to see a much larger version of the word cloud.

Smithsonian Student Travel (a project of Education First and the Smithsonian) has created the Inauguration 2009 Countdown Kit. It’s fun to read the itinerary and imagine we were there. Don’t forget to take the video tours of the White House  

Recorded Books have provided a link with some lesson plan ideas for the Inauguration but they also have some free audio book download samples.  

Bartleby’s does offer the full-text of all Presidential addresses. The American Presidency Project contains inaugural address texts and audio and video tapes of a number of inaugural addresses without a pop-up ad. 

Hmm, Gary Price with and DocuTicker sent us two links: Post #1 contains links to historical images, a chronology and set of  fast facts. The second has a 33 page calendar of inaugural events? Gary always does a great job of highlighting the best of the best resources.

Other resources include:

You can plan activities for ELL/ESL students with EL Civics for ESL students.
The official JCCIC site  which includes a set of slides that covers the 9 major events of the day.  

Education World’s Hail to the Chief lesson page

TeacherVision has lessons on the President-Elect: Inauguration and Preparing for the White House.   They also have  a lesson plan on inaugural poetry.

Educational Rap 44 Presidents 

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has provided a page for Presidential inaugurations in historical perspective: A guide to online resources about the history of American presidential inaugurations. They include this description:

"To help your students understand the 2009 inauguration in the context of presidential history, we’ve collected the following resources. Find audio, video, and text of inaugural addresses; view and interact with primary sources; find relevant lesson plans; share trivia about historical inaugurations; discover resources to help students research each U.S. president; and learn how the official theme of the upcoming inauguration is rooted in American history."

Noah McCullough experienced his first inaugural experience in 2005. This first hand report  by a Scholastic Student Reporter provides an interesting viewpoint from a child (now a teen).
What I really like about theTech Savvy Mama blog is that she is a DC resident who cannot escape Inaugural Fever. This site lists many resources, video tours of the White House and some reproducible materials. Many of the sites I’ve already included here, but I’m watching the blog for insider news.

Great Presidential Inauguration Websites
Vermilion Parish Schools has created a visually outstanding list of resources.Don’t miss their list of streaming sites and much much more.

The 100 Milestone Documents from the National Archives includes flash of  Lincoln’s second inauguration speech notes.

C-Span Resources (includes HS/MS school worksheet)

C-SPAN’s FOUR DAY COVERAGE OF THE 56TH PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION  will be available on C-SPAN and can be streamed online at
SATURDAY, JANUARY 17th:  LIVE on C-SPAN coverage of President-elect Obama as he makes his  way to Washington by train, including rallies in Philadelphia,  Wilmington, Delaware, and Baltimore, Maryland. Plus a program on "Blair House: The President’s Guest House," looking at this rarely-seen historic home which is not open to the public. 7:00 pm ET. In addition to its role as a temporary home for presidents-elect,  Blair House has been the "President’s Guest House" since the early  1940s, housing foreign heads of state on official visits.  Winston  Churchill, Queen Elizabeth, Charles de Gaulle, Hamad Karzai, Francois  Mitterand, Vaclav Havel, and Boris Yeltsin have all stayed there. It is also the place where presidential widows Nancy Reagan and Betty Ford stayed during their husbands’ funerals.    
SUNDAY, JANUARY 18th: LIVE coverage of an Inaugural Kick-off event on the steps of the  Lincoln Memorial welcoming the President-elect and Vice President-elect  and their families to the Capital.   
MONDAY, JANUARY 19th: Archival Speeches from Past Presidential Inaugurations 
TUESDAY, JANUARY 20th:  LIVE coverage from 6am until midnight ET the day of the events  surrounding the inauguration of the 56th President of the United  States. Events to be included:

Washington Journal begins early at 6am ET
President Bush’s departure from the White House  
Gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Inaugural Ceremony on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol    
The Congressional luncheon for the new President  
The Inaugural Parade from the Capitol to the White House along Pennsylvania Avenue    
The Inaugural Balls.    

"I Do Solemnly Swear...:" Presidential InaugurationsThe Library of Congress American Memory Web site has an online collection  I Do Solemnly Swear . . .”  

Looking for treasures and other important primary-source materials held by the Library of Congress as well as by other institutions? The collection has been organized chronologically by presidential inauguration and an effort was made to offer a balanced number of items for each inaugural event.  It is produced by the National Digital Library Program and contains material primarily from legislative and executive branch agencies with additional items from other collection sources. 

Library of Congress

Why involve the Capitol in your research preparing for the inauguration? Check out Presidential Inaugurations: The Capitol Connection where the U.S. Capitol Historical Society provides information about the Capitol’s unique role in presidential inaugurations throughout history.

Wait, were those the former First Ladies’ Inaugural gowns on the PBS website? We have had many discussions about what Michelle Obama will be wearing. Vogue is discussing and presenting ideas. The Boston Herald has run articles. Women’s Wear Daily triggered a massive response. Forbes has a slideshow of suggestions. The Washington Post has gotten involved. Even NPR has a detailed article on her dress. Who will the winning Official Store by Presidential Inaugural Committee.designer be? What will the dress look like? How will it reflect both Michelle’s glamor and the tough economic times?

Okay, these are my top picks after spending most of the afternoon and evening searching. What have I missed?