You are currently browsing the archives for February 2010.
Displaying 1 - 10 of 15 entries.

Pretty Libraries – I want one for me, too

  • Posted on February 28, 2010 at 11:55 AM

I love books. I love libraries. I love to look at pictures of libraries. I guess this makes me architecturally envious. Currently I feel like my library is a box. I sketched it out roughly so you can see what I’m working with. In the big open space under nonfiction, there is enough seating for about 60 students at round and square tables. There are 3 lounge style 1-person chairs need the magazines around a short round table. 

Due to budgets, I have eliminated half the reference collection so there is a two-sided long (HEAVY) shelving unit standing empty. Since we have a large Nonfiction collection, I plan to fill up the empty shelves with the 900 section of nf. 

A big problem with our space is that our screen is along the "empty" wall and those 60 students fill that large space. We don’t really have designated quiet or group areas. While we can accomodate two classes at once, it’s hard to maintain interest in a class lesson to the left facing the empty wall and keep the circulation traffic focused on their task. 

Our library club is over 260 students now and I’m assigning them the task of dreaming of new spaces. Unfortunately, most of them don’t have any experience with the exciting learning commons type libraries that exist. I will take two field trips with club members to the Nashville Public Library main branch to see the teen room, but we need more ideas.

Could anyone suggest sites to view online of creative libraries and their space? I welcome all of your ideas and creativity. I’m hesitating to just plop the reference shelf in the middle of the library because that takes away from the flexibility we currently have to rearrange the library and hold large events (plus those faculty meetings where they want to see each other). 

How about innovative lounge style furniture to divide the space? I’ve looked at some modular furniture that can be grouped back to back, S-curved, etc. What would you do? All ideas are welcomed.

Contests & Guides to Motivate Teens! for Teen Tech Week

  • Posted on February 24, 2010 at 5:00 AM

I picked up the phone to chat with Paul Samuelson of Sourcebooks about one of their new books being released in March (Poetry Speaks Who I Am which is for teens). While we chatted, Paul told me about an exciting teen social network that they had established. Since YALSA’s Teen Tech Week is coming soon and I’m trying to help a student teacher design projects, I needed more information. Today I share with you his letter about 

Dear Librarians,


As you may have heard, Teen Tech Week, sponsored by YALSA, will be taking place between March 7-13 and after looking through their materials, I realized that these activities can be easily implemented using our teen social network,!


This week of techno fun is a national initiative aimed at teens, librarians, educators, and other concerned adults to encourage teens to take advantage of libraries’ nonprint resources. YALSA has a variety of different activities and suggestions which can be found on their website.


Sourcebooks Fire (the YA imprint of Sourcebooks) is not only putting together a list of suggested activities, but we’re going to give your students a moderated forum to showcase their work to almost 1,000 of their peers who are also active online. Additionally, they will have the chance to win FREE BOOKS for both themselves and their libraries just by participating!


What differentiates the TeenFire social network from similar websites is the involvement of published authors and YA editors throughout. Teens who submit original fiction on the Writers Forum, for example, are regularly given advice from authors like two-time national book award finalist Adele Griffin, Dianne Salerni and Joy Preble. Debut authors Lisa and Laura Roecker have a regular blog on the site and actively interact with all the members. The site is only one month old, but with almost 1,000 active members we’re very excited at how fast it has been growing!


Click here to view all we have going on for Teen Tech Week!!


There are three advantages to using TeenFire to introduce teens to social networking:

  1. Because of the focus on YA literature, teens will be interacting with other teens who share their interests (as opposed to Facebook where there is no easy way to interact with other book lovers). A ready & engaged audience of booklovers makes participation a lot more fun!
  2. The content on our network is immeasurably safer than the content on any large social networking site. Not only do we have a team of editors and marketers actively monitoring the site, but each of our authors is also an administrator with the responsibility to police content. Although we can’t be everywhere, the size of the network and the amount of oversight make this a tightly knit virtual society! 
  3. The site is easy to use and incorporates all of the elements found on large social networks, while also providing functionality to update other social networks (facebook, twitter, YouTube, etc.) with the content posted on this site.
  4. The ability to create “groups” makes it easy for librarians to create individual groups for Teen Tech Week, and to communicate with the members of that group with the click of a button. Also the ability to create forums and post comments in those groups make it ideal to host remote Teen Tech events & provide support.


For Teen Tech week, TeenFire is hosting the following events:

·         Share a Book Video Contest: Are you the next James Cameron? Create a book trailer, video review, scene from a book or any other book related short video (3 mins MAX) and upload it to the TeenFire video archive for a shot to win FREE copies of any 5 Sourcebooks Fire books for you & your library. For contest details & tips on how to do this quickly (and for free!), check out the Share a Book forum on TeenFire. As submissions come in, they’ll also be posted in our TeenFire Web Portal, prominently displayed on our front page. Featured videos will be picked at random, and we will continue to feature one teen video through March 19th (assuming we have enough contestants!) 

·         Mad Men of Literature: Put Don Draper to shame using all your creative & technological powers to design an ad to inspire your peers to pick up a book! Five winners will receive an 11×17 poster of their ad, with additional copies available to their library. A grand prize winner will also receive free copies of any 5 Sourcebook Fire books, as will the sponsoring libraries. For details & guidelines, check out the Mad Men of Literature forum on TeenFire.

·         Pimp My Profile: Let your true colors show by customizing your profile page! Our TeenFire network allows much more flexibility in picking colors, uploading graphics and posting videos than a regular facebook page! For the easiest contest to enter in all Teen Tech Week, design a unique profile page & enter to win one book of your choosing for both yourself and your library from Sourcebooks Fire. For details and guidelines, check out the Pimp My Profile forum on TeenFire.

·         TeenFire Trailer Contest: Our authors need your help! Create trailers for any Sourcebooks Fire titles and enter to win five Sourcebooks Fire books of your choosing for you and your library. Since many of our YA books aren’t out yet, we’ve uploaded a few chapters of each title which can be read on each book group page. To register, check out the TeenFire Trailer forum on TeenFire.


If you’re a librarian who would like to have a group of teens participate in these events, it may be a good idea to form a "group" so that you can have a place to post instructions, as well as have a method of emailing all the members with the click of a button. For more on creating a group, please read this one-sheet: How To Join A Group-Or Start Your Own.docx.


Restricted to teens ages 13-19, individuals and groups of up to five teens. Prizes for individuals will be shipped to a single address and distribution will be up to the recipient. All are invited to participate, but library prizes will only be shipped directly to a library address. Individual teens (not affiliated with a library) are free to participate, but are encouraged to contact local libraries to find out if they’re doing anything for Teen Tech Week. No disparaging comments or language will be tolerated and abusers will be banned at the administrator’s discretion. 

Thanks for the information, Paul. Can’t wait to check it out. Let us know what you’re planning. 

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Not mean enough?

  • Posted on February 23, 2010 at 9:49 PM

Sometimes I think I’m not mean enough to be a "librarian." Or maybe its because I work with both students and adults (teachers, parents, administrators) that I believe in civility. Maybe I’m just a prude.  You can decide for yourself. 

What brought this on? I am so annoyed with Library Journal’s blog Annoyed Librarian and most of the people who left comments there concerning paraprofessional certification. I defend their right of free speech, but I don’t have to go hang out there and read it. I admit that I wanted to wash myself afterwards and disassociate myself with LJ/SLJ/Reed Publishing from a feeling of contamination. 

Then I realized the best cleansing was to come here and share with you. I’m not a shill for ALA. I support ALA and when I want to make changes, I get involved and try to fix things. I don’t hide the fact that I’m serving an unpaid term on ALA’s board, nor do I hide my difference of opinion with ALA board members or policies as needed. 

I also try to see others’ points of view in an argument. The Library Support Staff Program that has just begun accepting applications was developed in part from a federal grant. According to the ALA/APA website:

Research shows that LSS certified in a rigorous certification program:

  • have more self confidence in their own ability
  • believe they provide better service to the public
  • better understand how the entire library operates
  • are more willing to accept responsibility
  • work better on the library team

Those look like great things that you would want of all your staff. Why is there such an outcry on Annoyed Librarian? Maybe they don’t have all the facts yet? Maybe I’m not as afraid that I will lose my job to a paraprofessional (the LSS program is not for school personnel). Maybe it’s that none of the people who comment on this blog treat each other so dismissively and rudely. Maybe it’s because I respect support staff and paraprofessionals.

There is room for dissension and controversy. Maybe the publishers like blogs like Annoyed Librarian’s because LOTS of people comment. People just don’t comment here as often. Is it because I’m just too darned nice? Oh, wait, I think it’s because you, the readers, are just much nicer and professional. I don’t even care if you have a degree or certification, your professionalism and respect for your clients – our students – shows in your posts. Thank you, readers. 

Now, tell me the truth, do we have to stir up some nastiness to get you to comment?

Nonfiction Monday – Where's your post?

  • Posted on February 22, 2010 at 8:28 AM

We are sharing our favorite nonfiction titles with  Nonfiction Monday here in practically paradise. Nonfiction Monday Nonfiction Mondayis a celebration of nonfiction children’s books. Kidlitosphere Bloggers with nonfiction posts will be featured here today. Keep checking back & clicking Read More throughout the day as the links grow.

Wild About Nature

A Place to Go Wild About Books and Their Creators


Kim from the Wild About Nature blog posted a review of Buffy Silverman’s new book, Can An Old Dog Learn New Tricks?

Jean Little Library Blog  Jennifer Wharton of the Jean Little Library Blog writes today of the newest Scientists in the Field book Whaling Season by Peter Lourie.
My Photo 
Lisa at Shelf-Employed created a tongue-in-cheek poem on Minimum Rage.

Bookends  42583740

Bookends Blog has a post about Marilyn Singer’s collection of "reverso" poems, Mirror, Mirror today with a reverso poem of their own. 

Whispers of Dawn
Sally Apokedak at Whispers of Dawn posted a review of Mark Twain and the Queens of the Mississippi written and illustrated by Cheryl Harness.
Wendie’s Wanderings  Wendie’s Wanderings is reviewing
I’m Getting a Checkup by Marilyn Singer.
Young Readers blog  Becky Laney is reviewing Moonshot at the Young Readers blog.
Becky’s Book Reviews At Becky’s Book Reviews, Becky is reviewing John Steinbeck by Milton Meltzer (part of the Up Close series of biographies)

Wrapped in Foil   
Observations on reading and writing children’s books.
Roberta Gibson at Wrapped in Foil shares Life-Size Zoo: From Tiny Rodents to Gigantic Elephants, An Actual Size Animal Encyclopedia by Teruyuki Komiya.
100ScopeNotes  Travis Jonker has a fun visual and blog on 100ScopeNotes today. It includes the Nonfiction Monday Photo Diary: Weeding Biographies. Travis, could you drop by and help me weed my biographies, too?
Lori Calabrese Writes! Cover of Reel Culture At Lori Calabrese Writes!, she reviews Reel Culture: 50 Classic Movies You Should Know About (So You Can Impress Your Friends) by Mimi O’Connor .
The Book Nosher Robin Gaphni reviewed Mama Miti today at The Book Nosher . I’m so excited to see this new title illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by Donna Jo Napoli. This biography about Wangari Maathai, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize is on my must read list thanks to Robin.

Mother Reader: 

The heart of a Mother.
The soul of a Reader. 

MotherReader (Pamela Coughlin) reviews A Young Dancer: The Life of an Ailey Student MotherReader

Lucy was robbed 

 I love the story behind this blog’s name (too) 

Lawral at Lucy was robbed reviews Isadora Duncan: A Graphic Biography. 
A Patchwork of Books Amanda Snow of A Patchwork of Books has a review of How the World Works.
Challenging the Bookworm Challenging the Bookworm blog explores Tales of the Cryptids: Mysterious Creatures that May or May Not Exist by authors: Kelly Milner Halls, Rick Spears, and Roxyanne Young 

While this is a 2006 title, it remains in heavy demand in my middle school.

Linda’s Little Corner in the Big Writer’s World    
Linda Bozzo at Linda’s Little Corner in the Big Writer’s World writes today about kicking off Read Across America week at East Amwell Township School. What a great idea to have a nonfiction author kickoff your event! Especially one who writes about my favorite topics – DOGS. 
Picture Book of the Day

Anastasia Suen provides a mini lesson today at Picture Book of the Day using an easy to read biography President George Washington by Kathy Allen (Author) and Len Ebert(Illustrator).


It’s not too late to submit your entry! I’m so glad that Brenda Kahn sent me her entry for today’s Nonfiction Monday at proseandkahn

The Year of Goodbyes by Debbie Levy sounds like an amazing book and makes me wonder if I have overlooked arc’s from conferences that deserve a second look. 

A great blog post makes you think, makes you compare what you believe with what you may know, and helps link you to others. Thanks for this review. Terry Young posted on the NFMON listserv (a Yahoo Group you could join, too)

Beware, readers! I am listening and reading what you communicate, always looking for ways to connect you to the wide world of wonderful nonfiction lovers. From the February 2010 issue of Nature magazine

"In the hope that this might change, this week we kick off a series of weekly interviews with science book authors in Nature’s Books & Arts section. Peter Atkins reveals the hard work behind a successful textbook (see page 612); Carl Zimmer will highlight how passion is essential for popular science; David Brin will reveal that criticism improves fiction writing; Georgina Ferry will share research tips for biographies; and Joanna Cole will explain how to convey science to children."

Carl Zimmer’s article can be found online.

Nancy Kelly Allen
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY": The Story of the World's Most Popular Song

On her blog Nancy Kelly Allen shares her interview with an agent over the weekend and his take on the outlook for the picture book market. Her list of small and mid-size publishers has been much discussed over the weekend.  Nancy Kelly Allen provided classroom activities that can be used with her latest book, Happy Birthday. Charlotte’s Library 

Fantasy and science fiction books for children and teenagers Charlotte contributes her review of Aliens are Coming! The True Account of the 1938 War of the Worlds Radio Broadcast, by Meghan McCarthy (Alfred A. Knopf, 2006) at Charlotte’s Library  

Did you catch this notice today?
Booklist Webinar The Scoop on Series Nonfiction:  What’s New in 2010
Tuesday, March 16   2:00PM Eastern / 1:00PM Central 12:00PM Mountain / 11:00AM Pacific 

Have you wanted to join us in chatting about nonfiction? Today is your day to try it out.  If you have written a nonfiction blog post today to include, you can email me (best option) or you can leave the URL in the comments section. Just remember to leave off the http:// because the comments machinery rejects it. 

Do you care if nonfiction titles are published?

  • Posted on February 21, 2010 at 8:44 PM

Tomorrow we will share our favorite nonfiction titles with  Nonfiction Monday here in practically paradise. Nonfiction Monday Nonfiction Mondayis a celebration of nonfiction children’s books. Kidlitosphere Bloggers with nonfiction posts will be featured here. Bloggers will send me links all day long so you still have time to submit your post. Keep checking back & clicking Read More throughout the day as the links grow. Have you wanted to join us in chatting about nonfiction? This is your opportunity. 

If you have written a nonfiction blog post today to include, you can email me (best option) or you can leave the URL in the comments section. Just remember to leave off the http:// because the comments machinery rejects it. 

Don’t have a blog of your own? Not a problem. Go ahead and email me your writing about nonfiction and I’ll post it here in practically paradise. 

"Some people" say nonfiction books are endangered and will be replaced by electronic versions of data. Hah! "Those people" haven’t seen the enthusiasm for nonfiction at my schools and others throughout this country. Circulation of nonfiction for recreational reading and for classroom support increases each year. My budget can’t support the demand for biographical titles. Students need you, readers, to share the very best of nonfiction titles.  Be brave! Join us in writing about nonfiction this week.

To our youngest son as you reach 18

  • Posted on February 21, 2010 at 12:03 PM

My youngest son is counting down the last ten days til his 18th birthday. I’m finding his dad, Alan, dwells on this pending milestone far more than #4 son as he shared the list of the top ten books he wished #4 son had read to prepare him to be a better man. 

In no particular order his Top Ten List of Books My Son Should Read As He Verges On Manhood (plus one that he has not yet read but which may make the list):

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S Grant by Ulysses S Grant
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
Travels with Charley by Steinbeck (originally Alan included Texas by James Michener who is one of his favorite authors but then he decided to stick with the "classics")
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

(#11  It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis)

This list reflects Alan’s wishes for his family. He doesn’t claim this is a comprehensive list and that a list for girls should probably be chosen by women. Also, Alan believes families should choose books that reflect their values for their own list. In choosing their books they should choose books that have stood the test of time. There’s a reason that most of these books are considered classics and families should avoid the flavor of the moment books.

I know my personal list for young men would be different. So I throw this to you, readers, what would you put on your top ten list of books you wish your own child had read?

Yahoo Group for Nonfiction writers and bloggers

  • Posted on February 15, 2010 at 3:05 PM

Nonfiction Monday has a new email list and yahoo group for readers, writers and reviewers of nonfiction books for kids. Begun by Anastasia Suen, we will blog about nonfiction books on Monday, and talk about nonfiction all week long. 

The goal of this email group is to connect nonfiction writers and nonfiction bloggers. The intention is to talk about

* Reading, researching, and writing nonfiction
* New nonfiction books for kids 
* Using nonfiction books with kids
* Where Nonfiction Monday will be hosted each week 

I hope you will take a look and join this group also. Next week we will host Nonfiction Monday here in Practically Paradise.

Unlucky Arithmetic: Thirteen Ways to Raise a Nonreader

  • Posted on February 13, 2010 at 8:16 AM

Tip #12: Make sure your kids only read books that are “challenging.” Easy books are a complete waste of time. That goes double for comic books and Mad magazine.

Aha! Made you read. I hope you reacted to that statement because it comes from a poster I have in my library called Unlucky Arithmetic: Thirteen Ways to Raise a Nonreader from the article by Dean Schneider and Robin Smith (The Horn Book, March/April 2001) I hosted a gathering of middle school librarians from my district on Thursday and several wanted copies of my poster with these statements on bad habits that will ensure your child is not a reader. 

Since it was copyrighted, I contacted Roger Sutton to get permission. Kudos to Roger Sutton and The Horn Book Inc. for helping me out. He sent the link below where you can print this as a pdf document. There are some other good things on the page, too.

If you go to this page and scroll down a bit you will find a link to a pdf file that will print as the poster. Roger told me I was to feel free to distribute for free so I immediately thought of you, blog readers. 

Fyi, Dean and Robin are creating a sequel that should appear in the July issue. I can’t wait for this. 

I’m hoping that someone produces posters that are intended for classroom teachers that remind them how essential library resources and the librarian are in helping them help their students. I’d like classroom teachers to vett these so they don’t offend teachers with an elitist approach like what triggered the blog discussions last weekend on Bill Ferriter’s blog The Tempered Radical. 

While I wouldn’t send the Unlucky Arithematic poster home to parents because they might not understand that these were BAD habits, it did make me think about how I can craft messages.

Why I Need My Library – Stevens' ALA initiative

  • Posted on February 10, 2010 at 12:00 AM

Roberta Stevens, ALA president-elect, has launched her website: and shared Roberta Stevensbrief information about some of the initiatives of her presidency which begins at the end of the ALA Annual Conference. She has encouraged us to spread the word widely.

From her website here is information about the upcoming contest “Why I Need My Library:”

At the 2010 Midwinter Meeting, I talked with members, especially in AASL and YALSA, about an idea for using young people to communicate why libraries are needed now more than ever. This initiative takes Camila Alire’s member-driven, grassroots advocacy and Jim Rettig’s experimentation with social networking a step further with the aim of adding to the arsenal of techniques for frontline advocacy and engaging a new constituency in supporting libraries. The products will be short videos by children and young adults made available on YouTube and the ilovelibraries and @yourlibrary websites. The winners will identify either their school or local public library as the beneficiary of cash prizes for the best videos in the contest.

In an email Stevens stated: "It will take a team for the successful acccomplishment of these projects to benefit all types and sizes of libraries. I hope that you will want to be part of that team."

School librarians, I urge all of you to get involved with your professional organizations. Be thinking about this contest and the other initiatives: Frontline Fundraising and Our Authors, Our Advocates. Your students and their parents can be the best advocates for school libraries. You can be proactive.

Blanche Woolls Vision & Action

  • Posted on February 9, 2010 at 5:41 PM

Blanche Woolls wrote to members of the Geek Squad recently. Her post had such a powerful impact on me that I wanted to share it with you with her full permission. 

Here we are, a list of leaders, and what are we doing versus what should we be doing?

In the early 1960s (before most of you were born) Cora Paul Bomar in the N.C. State Department of Education and Mary Helen Mahar in Washington, D.C. gathered a group of activists and they gather statistics on the lack
of elementary school libraries and the lack of quality high school libraries in the U.S.

Somewhere along the way they got Remington Rand to publish a brochure about school libraries that was well
done as an advertisement and it got wide distribution.

The Knapp Foundation funded a project to pair school library credential programs with a neighboring school district and funded teams from school districts to visit these schools. I took a team from Hammond Indiana to
Baltimore. My team, the president of the school board, a parent, another district administrator.

The Knapp Foundation also funded the creation of an excellent film, "And Something More" that told the story of one very good elementary library. It was good viewing for school boards, service organizations, principals,
any group you wanted to show it.

The result, ESEA Title II designated for school libraries. What happened, school libraries.

This was slowly take and placed in other titles. We heard people say things like, "You had your money and now we have ours." Which would make one think that the new school librarians who were using it neglected to
ask others how to spend it.

Since then, AASL has had another grant to show good school libraries. But how and who do we show them.

AASL is meeting in Washington D.C. in June. What is being planned? ALA is taking everyone to the hill. Are we going?

What really needs to be done is a concentrated, documented effort to reach our audiences.

1. Every Affiliate Assembly member should have a list of the Congress members in their state and who should call on that person. The best person is usually a member of the political party of the Congressman. Others can
go along, but offices do check the registration of visitors AND IF THEY VOTED in the last election.

2. They should take along a quick show and tell of the best school library in their district. If there isn’t one, then from the next district over.

3. They should be prepared (have asked the principal/superintendent about the possibility) to invite that person to visit a school library in the district.

4. No whining, only the facts of what is needed for a better chance for the students in that school.

5. Take along your good readers to talk about how they need their library so they have lots of things to read.

And then each Affiliate Assembly member should check that list at least twice to see if progress is being made.

You don’t have to go to Washington in June to make a difference. Each person has an even better chance of finding that Congressperson in their home office than in June in Washington. That will get a lot of publicity,
but school librarians can get some publicity if they invite their legislators to visit their schools.

Blanche Woolls
MLS and PhD from Indiana University
Professor Emeritus, School of Information Sciences, University of Pittsburgh
Director and Professor Emeritus, School of Library and Information Science, San Jose State University
Past President American Association of School Librarians
Past President International Association of School Librarianship
Presently on IRC, past member of Council for several terms