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Privacy? What privacy?

  • Posted on April 29, 2011 at 3:46 AM

I recently became chair of the Tennessee Association of School Librarians Intellectual Freedom committee. As the committee organizes and identifies ways to help support intellectual freedom, one of our first activities will be promoting Choose Privacy week. I’m hoping you can help me plan this. What will you be doing?

Why is it important to discuss privacy with our students? I’ve been asking myself this question as I learn along with you. Fortunately, Charlene H. Loope reminded me to check out the Intellectual Freedom Committee’s post on the AASLblog information about Choose Privacy Week. In the blog post:

Angela Maycock, assistant director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, states, “Young people are particularly susceptible to the ‘chilling effect’ of privacy loss on their information seeking behavior. If students feel that someone is looking over their shoulders, they are less likely to seek information on sensitive or controversial topics in the school library. With Choose Privacy Week, ALA is reaching out to school librarians with resources they can use to engage students on privacy issues online and in day to day life.”

I don’t know how you feel, but I get overwhelmed with everything I need to do regarding teaching internet safety and meeting the advanced needs of my students. I missed the ALA webinar and had to download the slides to view on my own. You can view the slides and the archived version of the webinar.

Nanette Perez, Program Officer for the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom shares this link ( and information on the webinar.

“ALA offered a Choose Privacy Week webinar on March 31, featuring a panel of experts on “hot topics” in privacy – plus practical tips and tools for developing programs to engage library users.

Topics included the USA Patriot Act and reader privacy (presented by Deborah Caldwell-Stone of OIF); airport screening and surveillance (presented by Ginger McCall of EPIC); current research on privacy attitudes of young people (presented by Michael Zimmer of UW-Milwaukee); and how libraries can develop programs and events to start conversations such issues in their communities.”

From the website, I like the privacy revolution lesson plan for high school students better than the middle school lesson, so I plan to adapt it. Privacy Lesson for Grades 9–12: Unit/Lesson Title: Privacy Matters!

Why is privacy an intellectual freedom issue? I recently was instructed not to assist any students who came in on their own to the library to research “sexually transmitted diseases” particularly since they might see graphic images that were inappropriate for middle schoolers.  I was informed of my district’s policy on teen health and wellness education and am waiting for my district library coordinator to work with the science and health department chairs to come to a balance for instruction and support. I respect the privacy needs of my students. I need to find a way to balance an administrative directive with first amendment rights and the RIGHT TO READ, the right to learn, and the right to pursue information to meet personal needs.

There have been several headline articles in the Tennessean newspaper about the rise of STD’s and HIV in youth in Tennessee. How can I help my students who might be experiencing this if I violate their privacy and closely monitor their internet search terms? I am interested in your opinion and advice.

To-Do List: Virtual Library Advocacy

  • Posted on April 25, 2011 at 4:30 AM

The 2011 National Library Legislative Day will be held on Monday, May 9, and Tuesday, May 10, at the Liaison Hotel in Washington, D.C. I know, you think you’re too busy to even consider going to National Library Legislative Day in Washington, D.C. Maybe you don’t have the support of your administration to allow you time off. Maybe you cannot obtain funding. Maybe you don’t know how to contact your state group to get involved (if not click here for the list of state coordinators).

How about sending an advocate for you? Next year consider sending a trustee or friend. There are even funding opportunities for first-time, non librarians to attend.

How about attending virtually and advocating from your home school?

Here are some simple tips from Beth Yoke, Executive Director Young Adult Library Services Association on how you can get ready for Virtual Library Advocacy Day on May 10th:

Those tips don’t seem complicated or overwhelming. If you have never thought about advocating for libraries, it’s time. This year, put Virtual Library Advocacy on your to-do list. Our survival may depend on your efforts. Thank you in advance because I know you are a person of your word. If you put something on your to-do list, you will do it and do it well.

Balance? I'm not going to feel guilty anymore

  • Posted on April 25, 2011 at 1:22 AM

Thanks to Dan Blank’s article “Want to Grow Your Writing Career? Stop Looking for Balance” on Friday April 1, 2011, in We Grow Media Newsletter*, I choose to no longer stress over balance. As Dan writes:

“To build a successful business, we often look for balance….But few things of great importance are done in a balanced way. Instead, they require vision, sacrifice, and boldness.”

Building a great school library program is the same way. Some people will tell you that you must find balance and that you cannot be everything to everyone. Yes, I agree that we cannot be all. Still, it’s time to face reality. If we only work 8-4 or 9-5, we are not going to create the exciting dynamic programs that our students want and need.

Education happens 24/7 for our students. Parents are the first teachers. Schools attempt to instill knowledge and values to the masses. Innovative librarians can develop resources to help bridge gaps between the core knowledge for all and the individual interests of life-long learners. We can establish frameworks that meet those 24/7 needs.

Sometimes this means we are reading blogs, wikis, tweets, and nings into the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes this means we are in late-night webinars and elluminate sessions. Sometimes we even have to become visible and online on facebook knowing that a student might have a late-night question. That might mean we sacrifice a little free time and sleep during the school year.

More difficult for me is that sometimes we have to risk conflict and be bold knowing that our actions may make some people unhappy. Even when these actions are necessary to advance and improve the entire program, conflict is unsettling and throws you off-balance. We must boldly face our constituents and do the best thing, not always the easy thing.

If we have a vision and are willing to take the risks, we can take our programs farther. If you see me wobbling, just know that I’m less concerned with balancing and more concerned with advancing our field. What will you do?

*We Grow Media newsletter is “sent around once a week and features news about how the internet & digital media are reshaping publishing and media.”  If you would like to subscribe click here, visit and/or email Dan Blank.

Baby Board Books

  • Posted on April 24, 2011 at 3:14 AM

April 5th My teacher friend Susan Vaughn gave birth to Alexander – one of the most beautiful babies – and I cannot wait to hold him. I’ve been preparing for his arrival by gathering baby books for Susan and Ryan. Here are some of my recent favorites:

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe: A Counting Nursery Rhyme by Salina Yoon. Robin Corey Books, 2011. 978-0-375-86479-7

The classic nursery rhyme comes to life in a circus in its board book format. The bright colors and abstract objects that are carefully placed in each scene become something circus related as each page is turned. This will be a fun lap time story and the shapes range in sophistication from circles to feathers so there is much to grow with.

I’ve carefully saved four Golden Baby books based upon the original Golden Books. My favorite will always be The Poky Little Puppy, but I’m pleased to add three illustrated by Garth Williams: Baby Farm Animals, Home for a Bunny, and Baby’s First Book. These were released by Random House Children’s Books in January as soft board books and I’ve been clutching them close to my chest to share.

“Five little puppies dug a hole under the fence and went for a walk in the wide, wide world.” So begins one of my favorite Golden Books from my childhood. I read the publishers blurb about the low cost of these books:

More than 65 years ago, Golden Books revolutionized the publishing industry by producing high-quality picture books at affordable prices. Not only were they affordable-priced at a mere 25 cents per book – but they were also widely available in bookstores, drug stores, and grocery chains. Quality books became available to children everywhere, not just the privileged few. Today, almost 70 years later, many of the titles upon which Golden Books was founded are now available in this new Golden Baby format.”

Aha! That explains why I had so many Golden Books. They were affordable and my family in a small town in Iowa could pick one up for me whenever they went to the big “town” of Cherokee (population 4,663) for groceries. These soft board books have survived me dropping them and spilling coffee on the cover and at $6.99, they are affordable for readers like me who want to share our love of books from our childhood with this next generation. I wonder if I could irritate my four sons by reading The Poky Little Puppy to them again. At least they grew up knowing that none of them wanted to be the puppy who was so poky he lost his dinner.

While I agree with Jen Robinson’s review that these are text-dense, I also know that there will never be a better opportunity to start reading these favorites.

Chick by Ed Vere. Henry Holt and Co, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-8050-9168-7.

I had to wrestle the next book out of Susan Norwood’s hands to include because she kept playing and laughing with Chick by Ed Vere. Chick is a pop-up book that advertises itself as being a “sturdy playful pop-up” … “perfect for sharing with your littlest chick!” It is both perfect and sturdy. Susan is not the only teacher or student who was fascinated with the page “chick poops.”  So many people have opened, re-opened, twisted, and giggled over this book that I’m sure it will become one of Alexander and Susan’s favorites. Plus, it’s still in great shape.  Chick won Best Baby Book at the Booktrust Early Years Awards.

I put two Clackers in Alexander’s box even though I spent more time reading books to my children than just clacking the pages together. I had Crocodile and Monkey, both illustrated by Luana Rinaldo. I still need to pick up Bunny and Duck to include.

Little Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental and Joelle Jolivet. Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2010.

Little Penguins is a pop-up book to share as Alexander grows.  I love the rhyming words and the story contains enough details to entertain kindergartners studying penguins each year. The arrows to tug, twist, and pull will entertain babies, but I wouldn’t place my bets on unsupervised usage lasting. One of the quilting bloggers I follow reviewed it at CreativeMadnessMama, but I’d like to suggest you read all the reviews at GoodReads.

Actually as an adult, I watched in horror as a penguin would “disappear” on a page containing, for example,  the dreaded enemy of penguins – the leopard seal. Surely the author and illustrator have a twisted sense of humor to torture and tantalize the more morbid of us mothers with the pending doom of our offspring.  Relax, mothers, all works out in the end – unless you were rooting for the leopard seal.

The last book I’m putting in this box for Alexander is my copy of the 50th anniversary party edition of Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman.  Can you believe that Go, Dog. Go! has sold over 8 million copies since 1961? While using only 75 different words, the illustrations still entertain me enough to keep a copy for babysitting emergencies. I find myself debating whether to include the Go, Dog. Go! Party Book in the box for Susan and Ryan to plan a party down the road. Party Hats, Snack Cups, place cards, poster, board games, and reusable stickers are pretty tempting to keep around. There are six hats and snack cups in each book so this would be the perfect size for babysitting parties.

Rats! I’m out of copies of Pat the Bunny. I’m going to have to hope that someone else has provided this favorite sharing title already. As I seal the box, I wonder what I’ll do now with the special board books publishers share with me….. Oh, wait, another teacher on my staff is pregnant – even though she hasn’t announced it. I can start saving special titles for her.

Dollars and Sense – Guest blog by Susan Norwood

  • Posted on April 23, 2011 at 3:54 AM

Susan Norwood writes today. Contact her via email.

Oh, no. I just talked to Diane about our upcoming Spring Book Fair, and she says that we may not have it. The book fairs are a school highlight. Seriously, our kids really look forward to them. Before I tell you about why we love them so much, let me assure you that this is not an advertisement for Scholastic, which sponsors the fair.

We had our last fair right before the winter holidays. It was a success just like the others that Diane had organized. Was it a success in terms of dollars? (“Show me the money?!”) Probably not. We are a Title I school. Our kids are not spending weekends in the bookstores luxuriously browsing for their next purchase. Many of our kids never go to bookstores or to the public library. They are middle-schoolers, hence they do not drive. Their parent(s)—and many are raised by single mothers—work 2-3 jobs. Many of our kids watch younger brothers and sisters when they get home. They simply do not have the time, opportunity, or funds to go to the bookstore.

The Book Fair was when the bookstore came to them, and enjoy it, they did! Scholastic provided us with DVDs of book trailers and interviews with authors. I showed them in my classroom. We could also view them on closed-circuit TV. What a great promotion! If you have seen these DVDs, you’ll know what I mean. Kids were truly interested and looking forward to seeing the books. In addition, Scholastic provided full-color, glossy pamphlets of the books.  The students also got bookmarks on which to mark their personal lists. Teachers could put together wish-lists for parents to donate.

The Book Fair was not really about making big bucks. I’m sure that selling chocolate bars probably made more. So what is the purpose of a Book Fair?  The purpose is to allow “students to explore a print rich environment.” That is the wording from our state standards. In library standards, the purpose is to allow students to “pursue personal and aesthetic growth.”

I wish I could communicate the amount of excitement and engagement that our book fairs, as run by Ms. Chen, inspire. Kids come out of the woodwork to help with the book fair. There are many opportunities to help. Kids “in the crew” can work in set-up, advertisement, security, etc. They don’t necessarily have much money to spend, but some actually save up for it. Even if they don’t have the money, they tell me what they want for the classroom library. They peruse the books, and some eventually read them.

Some things are not just about the dollars; some things are about the sense.

April Nashville Kidlit Drink Night

  • Posted on April 4, 2011 at 9:08 PM

Will you be in the Nashville area Tuesday April 5 · 6:30pm – 8:30pm? If so, come by Tavern at 1904 Broadway and join in the April Nashville Kidlit Drink Night.

In March Ken and I were able to pop in to meet with everyone for about 15 minutes. Tomorrow after teaching and tutoring til 5:30, I’ll try to get to Tavern to keep up with what’s happening with children/teen’s literature  in the Nashville area.

Honestly, I found the menu too pricey and cannot decide if it’s worth the expense. Take a look and decide for yourself. Am I just a small town girl at heart? Are these prices reasonable? I am such a practical gal that it bothers me to think of spending that amount of money for just a meal – I could buy 1-2 really good books! What would you do? Go? Stay home? Stay tuned for my choice.