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First Day of School for Students and I’m Proud

  • Posted on August 1, 2012 at 8:00 PM

Nashville students returned to school this year much earlier than ever before. My morning instructions were to staff the information booth. Since all I saw were four empty tables outside the door, I stood in the center and fielded questions.  I love greeting students and their families.

My favorite new student was the little man who marched up to me and declared, “My name is <such&such> and I am very excited to be coming to kindergarten at school today.” I shook his hand and replied, “My name is Mrs. Kelly. I am your librarian and I am very excited to welcome you to school today.”

Throughout the morning I proudly introduced myself as their librarian. I mentioned how we were going to have an exciting year learning through projects. Several returning students drug their parents with them to ask if I’d read any new books and donated them during the summer. Two asked me if they could go to the library and take an A.R. test so they could have lunch with me on Friday.  I love being a school librarian.

Interestingly I saw on facebook and American Libraries enews today a link to R. David Lankes  blog post called Beyond the Bullet Points: It is Time to Stop Trying to Save Libraries http://quartz.syr.edu/blog/?p=1697. David states “Let us also pledge that “Hi, I’m a librarian” doesn’t sound like an introduction at a 12 step meeting, but instead rings like a declaration of pride akin to “I’m the Goddamn Batman!” I would continue quoting the rest of his article to the end, but don’t want to take anymore out of context. Please do go read it. Then proudly state with me:

I am your Librarian!

 

Take a small step with big results – the Mobile Commons app

  • Posted on July 2, 2012 at 10:24 AM

I am passionate about school libraries. I passionately believe we must advocate and share our enthusiasm for all types of libraries with parents, community members, businesses, and legislators. I have served as AASL Legislative chair in the past and attended many a legislative briefing. I have walked the halls in DC and locally to talk to my legislator. I have responded to emails and called, faxed, and emailed when issues rose. Those are things that I did. How about you?

You do not have to take extravagant, dramatic steps to be an advocate. You simply need knowledge of the issue, some words to help talk to legislators, and easy access. With the technology we have available, this has become even easier. You’ll see by the letter from the AASL Legislative chair how to use the new ALA Mobile Commons App.

My question for you is will you? Are you committed and determined to help libraries? If so, try out the new app. When a message comes in (at the most 2-3 expected in a month), respond. Learn, take action, make a difference. You do not have to be a librarian. Anyone can help.

Text “library” to 877877.

Respond to their text with your address.

Easy. Will you do it?

Here’s Connie’s letter:

Hello everyone –
The whole country is gearing up for lots of election activities.  Then as soon as the election is over and the winners are sworn in and moved in… there will be a flurry of legislative activity…. some of which may pertain to libraries, information and privacy matters.

ALA has now made it easy for you to respond to  email alerts that get sent out asking you to please call you legislator on behalf of the most recent bill or action..  Text!

Here’s what you do: (..took me less than 5 minutes!)

Text “library” to 877877. You will receive a message back asking for your address. Send that info back.  From now on, when there’s a legislative alert from ALA relating to library and information issues they will send you a text.  Best part of it is that the text will contain two things:
1- some ‘talking points’ you can read before you make your call AND
2- a link to the telephone number of the representative you need to call…. all YOU have to do is to click on the active telephone link and you will be placing the call right away. Give your message and Ta Da!…. in the span of a few minutes you have participated in important action advocacy.

Let all your friends know about this process- you do NOT need to be an ALA member to sign on. By spreading the word you have helped build an important coalition of voices that our legislators need to hear on these important library matters. Go for it! :)

The ALA Washington Office says to expect 2-3 messages a month…

Connie Williams

Connie H. Williams
National Board Certified Teacher Librarian
AASL Legislation Chair

 chwms@mac.com

Pt 3: ALA, exhibit halls and awards trends

  • Posted on July 1, 2012 at 8:42 PM

Are you aware of the trend of ARC’s? How many arc’s did you see at ALA appealing to YA? How many were free picture books? Why or why not? Did you notice the young bloggers who favor YA lit having more time in the exhibit hall while some librarian bloggers were busy in committees? How many local school librarians attended only the final day of the exhibit hall simply to purchase books for discounts? There are trends out there for the viewing.

How about the nonfiction titles? Were bloggers devouring titles there or did you find librarians making notes of series and taking more time in those booths? Were there bookmarks there to remind you of new series? Did vendors scan your badges to send you their catalogs or elinks?

How about the bling at conference? I admit its much harder to find cutesy stuff and I greatly miss it. I miss those conference teddy bears and fun stuff. This is the first conference where I couldn’t gather enough bookmarks, clips, pens and pencils that I wouldn’t have to purchase them for the beginning of school. Rats! I miss that.

I’ve seen the increase of jewelry and scarf booths. I was counting how many librarians were there instead of in the nearby book areas. Perhaps these booths need more strategic placement. I snapped a photo for my husband and said I was thinking of buying jewelry. Did he immediately call me and re-direct my focus to books – no, actually he said go ahead and buy jewelry so that’s fewer books you’ll be carrying home in your suitcase. LOL. I sought books instead.

How about water stations throughout the exhibit halls? I was so parched Friday night and overheated that I feared I would pass out. ABC-CLIO, Greenwood, & Linworth came to my rescue – not just with a glass of champagne in my weakened state, but a staffer found me a bottle of water. This saved me and I will be forever grateful to them. I never found food in the opening or closing ceremonies because I was too busy with the exhibitors.

I skipped lunches daily to snatch some time in the exhibit hall. Those vendors who had tiny candy treats at lunch are greatly appreciated. I tried to stop and talk to many of them even if they don’t cater to schools because I appreciated their being there. If a vendor had a food treat during lunch time – even if it was just a cracker, it enabled me to stop and spend time there while preventing starvation! (Okay, a slight exaggeration) I didn’t want to sit for a leisurely lunch or stand in line for hours at overpriced food booths. I was a woman on a mission to learn more and seek books. They kept me going. The vendor that put something on the food and water bottles for me to take off and keep so I could remember and thank them made an impression.

How about the vendors that have chairs in their booths? The ones that invite you to come in, sit your bags down and relax for a brief presentation are appreciated. I learned things, enjoyed the minute off my feet to look through your catalog, and especially appreciated easing the burden on my shoulders. The vendor who let me stash my bag at their booth while I was racing around one year is another that I’d walk through fire for. I didn’t need a hard sell approach. I was moving quickly and they saw this.

Other vendor behavior I appreciate – those that happily take trash from me so I can pick up their titles and catalogs. Vendors who help me roll posters or even stuff the books in my bag so I don’t have to set everything down. Vendors who take my card and make notes then follow-up. I appreciate you all. Also, the vendor that has a personal chair and invites me to sit in the chair so they can talk to me for a few minutes – you are wonderful. The vendor that saves a book title for me if an author will be signing when I’m in committee. You can bet that I’ll review your book on my blog.

What more could we ask? Well, I’ve been thinking foot and shoulder massages would be nice. Is there a way to do a type of speed dating with books? Pedicure or feet soaking stations with vendors showing us their new digital products on screens?

How about a book blogger meetup in the exhibit hall? We’ve got the stages. Why don’t we ask and organize this so we bloggers are visible and show our presence in the exhibit hall en masse – not just at late-night social events? Also, do you invite vendors to attend these events with you?

I’m known for confronting people and forcing them to go with me to events. Even ALA staff members are not exempt. I’ve drug them to meet-ups, drink nights, blog events, etc. anywhere that I think would provide them with valuable experiences. I scared some staffers when I said I might publish their names for never having attended the Newbery – Caldecott banquet or been present during the Youth Media Awards. As I told them, how can you pretend to take the youth librarians seriously if you don’t find out and experience what’s important to them?

I tweeted the ALA Awards that were given before the President’s program. This helps keep me rounded out to see a bigger picture of the organization than just my favored division. I attended the announcement of the Carnegie awards. The 350 plus standing room only crowd at the Carnegie awards was amazing. I felt like the “adults” were acting as excited as the “youth” librarians with each announcement. When they heard they’d be getting a bag of books after the awards, the crowd cheered just as loudly as we do during the Youth Media Awards. This excitement for books and reading is contagious and rewarding. Finally there is an ALA book award for adult fiction and adult nonfiction. It is an excellent addition to the conference. While I regret that it is scheduled at the same time as the Newbery-Caldecott banquet, I appreciated seeing this first year of the awards. I know this will grow larger and be even more successful next year. Personally, I was proud to have served on the ALA Awards committee so I can say that I helped vote for the establishment of this award. I anticipate this excitement for book awards will grow – not decrease.

I keep trying to track down when he said it, but Stephen Frye’s quote is widely shared ““Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.” The ALA annual conference, the awards, and the exhibit halls are exciting places to be. They serve a purpose and draw a diverse crowd of attendees – not just librarians.

 

Pt 2: ALA, ARC’s, Bloggers, and paying

  • Posted on July 1, 2012 at 8:41 PM

Some of the librarians and bloggers who wrote about ARC’s at the ALA Annual conference convey a sense of entitlement. They seem to think because they are a blogger, they deserve this title first. Or, because they are a working librarian dealing directly with children they are more entitled to receive ARC’s. Some think they paid higher rates to attend conferences so they are entitled to more. Others think they are the only ones paying their way to conference so they are entitled to receive more free books.

I think all of these ideas are flawed. Nearly every person I meet at ALA Conference is paying for the conference from their own money. Some people do a better job than others at sharing rooms, rides, etc. to reduce expenses. The day I left for conference I lost my roommate and needed someone to help split the room costs. I was unable to find anyone last minute, but my colleague graciously helped out instead of leaving me with a heavier bill. I was willing to share but unable to locate a roommate last minute.

We librarians and bloggers need to make conference attendance cheaper and easier on our own. Our employers aren’t paying as much to support our professional development as before. It’s a fact of life and we have to move on. We also should acknowledge those chips on our shoulders where we think others are getting a free ride while we are working harder without help.

We cannot rely on an organization like ALA to further reduce costs because conferences are supposed to earn them money so they can accomplish the goals of the organization.  Already they are bargaining for services. All who registered through ALA for housing had free wi-fi – big bonus for me! Next annual all programs will be in the convention centers so we don’t have to ride in cabs to minimize travel time.

We need to find more ways to save in a grassroots way. A faster quick app for finding a cab share, a quick way to locate someone else to dine with so you are not alone, a room-share program that is safe and fast acting. Ways to identify programs that are free. Ways to identify meetings that allow guests to join in when snacking. Of course, if you attend these please use common courtesy and decency. I took photos of the Carnegie dessert dash afterwards where the hotel staff looked alarm like the librarians were going to trample them to get to the desserts and stack plates with 12 desserts high. They were frantically moving the tables to create two lines and trying to set down trays of desserts without forks stabbing their arms. Seriously, folks, were you that desperate? Plus, I saw how much money some of you were willing to shell out at Starbucks every morning and sometimes every time you walked past.

Another way to save money is to find a better way to share ARC’s. Some people frantically grab ARC’s in the exhibit hall only to get back to their rooms and realize they have no desire or intention of reading the title. I have asked housekeepers in hotels what it’s like after an ALA conference and they will talk about the huge amount of paper and books thrown in the trash the final day while packing. Is there a better way to re-use these ARC’s? What if we had a central gathering point for collecting unwanted books at the hotels, airports, and convention centers?

About exhibitor passes. I love them. There is great value in bringing in local people to take advantage of vendors they might never see otherwise. $25 for the whole conference is super-cheap. I could understand a raise in that price, but confess my husband attended on a $75 pass so he could follow me around the exhibit hall carrying my books and slip into some of the big presentations to watch me introduce speakers last year. It was a great deal for us to have him there to help. If he’d had to pay $25 each day, he might not have accompanied me, but he would have found plenty in the city to occupy his time.

Let’s look at attendance numbers, too. Exhibitor passes are counted as part of the final attendance. The  number of fully paid registrants and vendors at the recent conference was lower than desired but expected with the economy. With the addition of reduced price exhibitor passes and complementary passes provided by exhibitors, those numbers added up to slightly more than last year’s total. Vendors and exhibitors want to see a large volume of attendees. If you are a reader, you are a customer. Not just a librarian, an author, or a huge purchaser.

Conference venues move around the country. Some places are able to draw in huge numbers of local people who attend for only one-day. Places like Washington, DC and Philly have huge populations able to cheaply avail themselves of the conference. Other places in the west may have more difficulty attracting local people due to travel distances & costs, or simply because the population is lower. ALA doesn’t restrict itself to only the elite markets. It moves around the country to provide more balance. In fact, there is systematic planning to enable more participation across the nation. I’m not speaking for ALA here, just sharing knowledge I’ve gained watching over the last ten years. I know that if the conference is in Chicago, the numbers will be higher. New Orleans will be lower. I appreciate the opportunity to travel to a wider variety of cities and see libraries in different locales. I also appreciate some locales where the hotel rates are $100 or less a day compared to others with $250 a day rates.

But back to the original point I was going to make. Whether you are attending the ALA conference as a librarian, a teacher, a blogger, a reader, or just some bored local who loves going to conferences, you should be welcomed. We do not have a caste system in librarianship. I refuse to think some academic librarian or director of a large public library is any better than a local school librarian. I value all our positions and won’t deem any more worthy. That extends to books. Yes, it would be great if I could just collect everything I want, but life isn’t fair. We learn that in school (hopefully) and we move on.

In education we always know there will be a small number of people who do the wrong thing initially, but their behavior will change. They’ll start to “conform” to expectations, peer pressure will apply, some will master the system and change it. Yet always those numbers are small. When it comes to making changes, the first thing we should consider if whether it is necessary or not. Are publishers offended by the bloggers who pick up titles, read them, and rave about them on their blogs? I don’t think so.

Should librarians find ways to obtain ARC’s when they are busy in committee meetings? Absolutely, if they think it is a significant problem and needs a solution, then that’s a problem that can be addressed. Sometimes it’s through communication. Did you talk to a vendor and ask what they’d been giving out? Some will be happy to ship to you if you ask. Have you asked if the ARC’s are available on netgalley or if they could send you an electronic file?

Do you want that ARC because you are dying to read the story or to score a book? I’m not judging, just asking you to consider your own motivations. I confess to being a book slut and desiring all the books. I could easily be a book hoarder, but I also share widely and try to curb my excesses. I thought about turning on the video camera to discuss my recent “haul” of ARC’s but when I started describing them to my hubby and his eyes glazed over, I thought “Naw! Not that many people would understand.”

Don’t look for me to post videos of hours of bragging which books I obtained. I just don’t see all of you getting as excited about the same variety as I do. That is one area where I expect peer pressure will weigh on the bloggers who did post videos that set off the librarians. You can decide for yourself who is right and who is wrong.

 

Pt 1: ALA, ARC’s, Bloggers, and paying

  • Posted on June 30, 2012 at 10:18 AM

There have been some wonderful, wacky, angry, disgusted, and thoughtful posts on blogs, youtube and twitter about the recent ALA Conference related to bloggers and ARC’s.

Kelly J at Stacked has a post with many comments about arcs and the bloggers receiving them. http://www.stackedbooks.org/2012/06/arc-stops-here.html I found the post to be about far more than the arc’s.

Lizzy Burns picked up on this and blogged at SLJ. http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/teacozy/2012/06/30/well-that-happened/ See my comment way below in red.

Many people may have seen me at ALA conferences with bags of books slung over my shoulders. After reading the posts mentioned below, I went back to examine my stacks and my own behavior. Guess what? I don’t feel bad after all.

I picked up 38 books at ALA this year. Of those, 19 (half) have notes in them I wrote after talking to the publishers so I would remember why I needed this title and how I intended to blog about it. Ten more were publisher suggestions based on their having read my reviews in the past and hoping that I would give the title a chance. Six titles were Young Adult titles I intend to blog about and give particular readers (I already have them in mind) and the last three were adult titles that interested me and that I may or may not blog about.

So if that’s all I picked up, why so many bags? Publisher catalogs, posters, event publicity packets, business cards, posters for my library and sometimes duplicate posters received with permission to put in teachers’ classrooms for a title I intend to use school-wide. Plus all my committee work is in those bags with folders and hundreds of pages.

I carry lists of subjects I’m looking for and speak with certain publishers asking them if they have any titles out now or in the works to meet these needs. This conference I spoke with several nonfiction publishers asking them to create titles about engineers to meet our STEM needs including acoustical engineers, packaging engineers, etc. I have asked for mathematical titles for years. They are producing them. I’ve asked for wider varieties of biographies and they are being published.

Many times I approach a publisher and ask them “Which titles are you most excited about this year?” I want the publishers there to answer this question. At the same time, I watch attendees (not judging or knowing what kind they are) take ARC’s and anything not tied down with a note saying the price or DO NOT TAKE. I am happy publishers bring enough people to help in the booth. I’ve also learned most of the “big-wigs” (from the mouths of the other staff) attend Friday night and Saturday. If I want to see and chat with them, I must come early in the conference to ask my questions.

Since I usually am in committee meetings, council, etc., I don’t have more than 3 planned hours total during the conference to visit the exhibit hall. I plan vendors. I write down questions. I rush early and I do frantically pick up titles during that time. Later in the conference on Monday if my committee finished early, I rush back to the exhibit hall. Usually the rush is down and I can pick up the publisher’s catalogs and start highlighting things I want to look for or to go back and consider viewing in the future. At that time I dart around booths and look for publishing trends so when I do presentations I can share these. I also purchase many books the last day for specific needs or treats for teachers.

Before I went to ALA, I was in a workshop bemoaning that I didn’t have time to cut or color out the grey. Two sweet teachers on staff surprised me and we cut & colored during our lunch break in the sink of the art room at school. Talk about a gift of service. Taking eight inches off my hair made it much cooler and helped me feel better. I bought Loreen Leedy’s beautiful new book Symmetry which I had heard about at the ALSC Nonfiction Blast for the art teacher, and I bought jellyfish books for the kindergarten ELL teacher who helped.

Here is a comment I posted on Liz Burn’s blog (with some typos fixed):

I notice some publishers actually flinching at the word blogger. While I was looking at the broader range of titles displayed behind the front tables, I saw some people rush up to grab ARC’s and announce “I’m a blogger so I need this.” It made me not too quick to do the same at booths. For some booths, I would point to titles on their back displays that I had recently blogged about and I asked them if they had read the post. If not, I left the web address, took their business card, and mentioned that I’d be happy to notify them in the future of reviews. Perhaps this is where I’m weakest as a blogger in going back to the emails. So, I decided to hire my son’s girlfriend to help me type in my blogging database (as soon as she moves here from North Carolina). I work hard to keep track of ARC’s and books received because I want to be accountable. I also donate my ARC’s to students and to other teachers to read who are looking for new titles to purchase for classroom sets in libraries. I send titles up to the high schools for disbursement and give many as prizes. I also give presentations and may give away an ARC there with the reminder that it is not to be put in the library collection, but if they like it they could order the finished product. At ALA the local people who attend exhibits are important for the exhibitors and it also tells the organization which areas are popular. One trend I saw is exhibitors and vendors providing free exhibit passes in the week before conference. Hopefully when they come for the first time, they’ll see great programs and want to attend the full conference. Perhaps we could do a vendor/exhibitor program on the stage just for those bloggers in the future and let them know how important membership and full attendance is.

Some changes I will be making immediately to my own behavior:

  • Add those ARC’s the first week I come back from conference to my blogging database.
  • Include the publicists or publishers email address so I can send them the link immediately when I blog.
  • Remember to immediately send them that notice.
  • Re-activate my google blogging calendar where I schedule which books I intend to systematically read, blog specifically about topics and books, and blog about before release.
  • Put a release date in my blogging database so I can periodically sort and have them pop up. I read so many books but then set them aside because some publishers don’t want the reviews out more than a month before release. Need to note those.
  • Never run out of business cards again. My new cards have my two (3,4) identities on them. One side lists my school with the STEM Magnet focus. The other side lists my blog with my writing, reading, and presenting focus.
  • Leave space on the card for notes. Example, wants books on boys pressured by girls, requests ARC of sequel to Ashfall, needs catalog, wants posters.
  • Prepare beforehand the links to reviews so when I am there in person I don’t blank out which book I reviewed. I did this with Flux books when I suddenly couldn’t remember the name Ripper. Loved that book. Sophisticated good YA title I intend read on the plane out there, but stood in the booth like an idiot unable to recall the name. I stayed and looked at every title in their catalog until I found it so I could redeem myself. Note to self: publish review today.
  • Stop trying to do it alone. During the school year a wonderful parent, Shela Crisler, helped me type titles into the database so we could keep track of how many books I donated to the school after reading them, presenting them, and blogging about them. Some blog posts haven’t been released yet due to my change over to my own domain name. Last year I personally gave my school 700plus books. The district budget paid for 70 books. If I didn’t have help, I couldn’t read and accomplish this. Plus having Shela help drew my attention to titles I might have missed like Embrace. (Shela, I have the ARC for the sequel Entice to share with you)

I need the ARC’s and the review copies to try to help others obtain good books. Do I need them more than others? Nope and if a publisher doesn’t offer to hand me the book, I’m not going to be offended. They have priorities and limited budgets. My responsibility is to hurry up and get reviews out there so that I can become a higher priority and valuable contributor to the librarian/blogger/publisher triad. I also am not ashamed to just ask for a book to be sent if they find an extra copy. If they say no, it’s not personal and I can get over it.

Will you make any changes in your behavior in the exhibit hall at conference?

Limitless Libraries and Weeding lists

  • Posted on May 7, 2012 at 9:01 AM

The day has arrived. It looks like Nashville’s budget is going to include the elementary school libraries in the Limitless Library program next year. This will add tremendous access to the Nashville Public Libraries to our collections. It has been a wonderful program at the high school and middle school level. I am very supportive and excited to be part of this.

At the same time the program is geared towards cleaning up collections to weed out older materials and create gaps or opportunities for the public library to help the school library. One of the first steps involves the public library using Karen Lowe’s weeding formulas to create lists of materials to either keep, evaluate, or discard. These are simply quick guidelines and it is still up to the school librarian to make the final decisions. They are formula based on the copyright age only.

I received my lists last week. When I came to my school this year, I realized the reference collection needed serious weeding. I took out the worst offenders, but left some series since the principal was concerned that I not take all without replacing. To comply with the weeding lists, my principal is going to be shocked at how little is left.

I purchased the Britannica Student Encyclopedia this year and have been teaching all my encyclopedia skills through it and my online sets of Britannica and World Book. That expense took a major portion of my budget and I couldn’t afford any other reference sources.

When I received the weeding list for reference, only five titles are listed in the keep section. All the others are listed as to be evaluated or discarded. I can discard the 167 other titles and I will be left with these five titles.

  • The World Book dictionary from 2007
  • 2006 World Book Student Discovery Encyclopedia
  • 2008 World Book Encyclopedia
  • Britannica student encyclopedia 2012
  • Titanic by Jenkins, Martin. 2008 (although I think it’s only in reference because it’s oversized).

All the science encyclopedias, biographical dictionaries, atlases, dictionaries, thesaurus, picture dictionaries, and even the only Tennessee biographical dictionary are slated for removal. Do I take a leap of faith and just get rid of all of those?

I had left the endangered species encyclopedia set from 1995 since next year the entire school will have a theme of dinosaurs and endangered/extinct animals as their PBL (project based learning project) for nine weeks. My thoughts were those sets would at least provide names of animals for my students to research whether they continue to be on the endangered and extinct list or whether their status had improved. If I simply go with the weeding lists, I will have nothing.

My school is a STEM school – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. I need access to up-to-date reference materials and nonfiction. Will the public library budget be able to replace titles to meet our needs? I will keep you informed as we progress.

I don’t even want to mention how ridiculous the list is for easy books. According to a computer formula, all old picture books would go including Newbery and Caldecott winners, early Berenstain bear titles, Miss Nelson is Missing and more. I’m glad that I will be able to use my own judgement on these lists because a computer will never be able to replace the brain of a librarian.

The Only Good Part of Testing

  • Posted on April 30, 2012 at 7:32 PM

is that students cannot wait for the testing to end so they can read.

Imagine a 55 minute test that has 95% of the students finished in 20. What will they do after testing? Nothing. They cannot read a book. They cannot turn their tests in early. They cannot write. They cannot draw. They must simply sit there. If they put their head down on the desk, fall asleep and drool – the teacher is in trouble for ruining the answer sheet.

Even during their ten minute break between parts 1 & 2 (AKA Parts A & B), they are not allowed to read. The inhumanity! Today was our fourth and final day of testing for third and fourth graders. Before the test started several had shown me their books they were currently reading. Many of the children were pleading to use their downtime to read. Some had checked their tests over 2 and 3 times and weren’t going to do any better with the extra time.

As soon as the test ended, they cheered with one arm and drug out books with the other. They couldn’t wait to get back to reading and learning something. They were fidgeting because they wanted out of those chairs and to be allowed back in the library to get new books. I watched as they stacked 4-5 titles each instead of the district’s suggested 2 titles. They had reading to catch up on and had been deprived by four days of testing.

So what did I do? I reminded them that when they grew up, they could become politicians and remember that testing was never as important as reading. They could vote to provide access to more reading materials and waste less time on testing materials if they believed reading was more important.

Shoutout! Hey, Michael Dahl, the students in Ms T’s third grade class want you to know that they think the Library of Doom serious is awesome, incredible, and very exciting. One even called it spine-tingling scary but not the kind that kept you up at night. I found homemade bookmarks and notes they sent each other describing where the books “lived” in the library and how to request a book be reserved.

Planning an event "they" say will fail

  • Posted on April 30, 2012 at 10:54 AM

Have you ever planned something and been so excited about it, but all along the way there are “those” who just shake their heads and say “This is going to be a disaster!”

Fortunately, I am good at pretending to never hear the naysayer’s so I can continue on to do what I think will help promote reading. Here are some examples:

our bookfair. My school hadn’t had one in over ten years. With over 99% poverty rates, “everyone” told me not to be disappointed if it flopped and was a waste of my time. Instead we sold over $4000 worth of books at reduced costs. We added in a RIF event and every student received a free book. We held Read Me Week and demonstrated why reading was important. We read in the hallways and watched the second grade team teachers suddenly grab Dr. Seuss books and start reading aloud to children.  We had 100 people show up for a breakfast event of donuts(I provided), coffee, and juice. They bought books and TALKED to their children about reading.

our cookies and books night. The PTO provided cookies. I provided plates, napkins, cups, etc. We used the Scholastic Book Fair Klutz-Build-a-Book kits and provided space. We had 75 students and family members participating. It was standing room only at one point. We had lines waiting for table and chair space to create. The event was supposed to end at 7:30 and at 8p.m. I was still shooing little ones home with their kits in the plastic bags I provided.

our trip to the Nashville Sounds and the Ozzie Reading program. Oh, wait, we haven’t gone there yet. Our students have been reading to get to the different bases to earn a ticket to the Nashville Sounds game this month. I just turned in our order for over 400 student tickets. The P.E. teachers extraordinaire have worked with me to help track reading and to arrange for busses. The PTO is paying for the busses for the school to attend. I am tracking and filling out paperwork so I don’t miss anyone.

The day of the game we will leave in time to get to the stadium, have to eat our sack lunches outside on the sidewalk since we cannot take food in to the stadium, march these 400 students from our school around the outfield in celebration of reading, and find our seats amongst the other elementary schools attending. I’m trying to keep concerns to a minimum, yet there are naysayer’s that keep saying this is going to be a disaster.

Pray for me in what ever manner you choose so this event will be a success. I feel it is already a success because we have students setting goals and reading to meet them. As one little boy told me, the ticket is nice, but the best part is being one of the kids that read ten books a base. He told me he would never have tried some of those Stone Arch chapter books if I hadn’t urged (okay, he said nagged) him to keep reading to move to another base.

How do you handle the naysayer’s?

Don't say "Gay" bill

  • Posted on February 19, 2012 at 2:53 PM

My views do not represent my school, my employer, any organization to which I belong, my family, my church, the organization that promotes this blog, etc. My views come from my heart and from my experiences as a teacher/librarian since the mid 1980’s. I am invoking my right to Free Speech.

  • I want the legislators to stop telling me every word I can and cannot say.
  • I want families/parents to be able to educate their own children.
  • I want all children to feel valued.
  • I do not want legislators to muzzle my mouth.
  • I want to be able to decide during the teachable moment what is the most appropriate way to handle a situation that occurs.

Let me give you an example. While I am reading to a group of students reminding them to talk to their own families about a topic (any topic), if a child yells out, “I can’t tell my mom and dad, I have to tell my dad and my two mom’s”, I want to be able to simply state, “There are many types of families. Be sure to talk to the important people in your family.”

I do not want to shudder and gasp and make being part of a same-sex family a stigma to these elementary children. They did not decide their family’s make-up. They deal with what they have. I will not react negatively so as to stigmatize this child just because some of the other students have “more traditional heterosexual families” and different values.

Unfortunately if you follow the news, there are lawmakers who are very concerned that any discussion of human sexuality, except for natural human reproduction science, occurs before ninth grade. Here are some links to the so-called “Don’t say gay bill”:

Librarians and teachers should be concerned with legislation like this. February 29th is a day to focus on anti-bullying behavior, yet we allow legislation that promotes bullying to be considered?

What type of society are we becoming when I have to pretend homosexuality does not exist when some of my students live daily in same-sex families?

Will I face persecution by educational officials again for stating my own views? Will someone attempt to send me to the classroom again? Will some of my colleagues suggest that I just be quiet about this so I don’t get in to trouble? These are questions in my mind. What are on yours?

HB 0229 by *Hensley ( *SB 0049 by *Campfield) Education, Curriculum – As introduced, prohibits the teaching of or furnishing of materials on human sexuality other than heterosexuality in public school grades K-8. – Amends TCA Title 49, Chapter 6, Part 10.

Since I do believe in providing teaching materials to educators and librarians, here are Patricia A. Sarles’ latest updates on her blog Gay-Themed Picture Books for Children: Picture books for children about the experience of knowing or having a gay parent, family member or friend.

If you haven’t joined NEA’s Bully Free: It Starts With Me campaign, you can still sign the pledge.

If you hit a Bad Day?

  • Posted on February 19, 2012 at 10:12 AM

If you write a blog, participate in Social Media, tweet, skype, or chat on facebook, your life is public. When things are going well, everyone can celebrate with you. When things don’t go as smoothly, you have choices how you can react.

  1. You can share it all openly. This could result in several scenarios:
    • Others commiserate and help you get through it.
    • Others empathize and suffer along with you.
    • Others rejoice in your difficulties and make it worse.
    • Others just don’t care and wait for you to move on.
    • Things get better and you get embarrassed that you shared.
  2. You can hide what’s happening and pretend everything is “better”.
  3. You can ignore it and work even harder than ever to prove nothing is wrong.
  4. You can focus on developing a plan to make sure things improve and stay that way.

Those choices seem easy, but we librarians seldom take the easy road. Instead we develop a wide array of coping mechanisms. How do you deal?

Here are some situations that I am aware of occurring that give opportunities for coping:

  • Librarians losing their jobs
  • Budgets being cut
  • Librarians treated as babysitters, not teachers
  • Librarians being sent to classrooms
  • Books being removed
  • Qualified, eager librarians seeking positions and not getting interviewed
  • Librarians having huge numbers of extra duties added to their workload
  • IT personnel overseeing and overfiltering library patron activities
  • Ebooks being acquired without the benefit of the librarian’s expertise in collection development
  • Legislators passing oppressive laws and not providing funds to enable success
  • Teachers struggling and needing extra support
  • Librarians facing intellectual freedom challenges that threaten their jobs
  • Legislators considering passing the “Don’t say Gay” bill to forbid mention of homosexuality before high school
  • your suggestions?

What would you add to this list?