Category Archives: Library stuff

MSLA 2013 Conference: Initial Impressions

The MSLA Conference is timed well. We are entering the late winter doldrums, and the conference is the jolt we need to energize our practice. I am riding the conference high right now, bursting with plans for tomorrow, next term, next year.

Here are my highlights from my conference experience (in no particular order):

  • Discovering
  • Exchanging ideas at the Job-Alike session – I wish it had been on Monday so more people could join the discussion.
  • Being reminded of the powerful impact that independent, sustained, silent reading during the school day can have on students’ reading growth. I witnessed it when I was an English teacher doing reading workshop, but have not tried it in the context described by presenters Rochelle Garfinkel and Chris Leonard.
  • Learning about so many new tools: Haiku Deck, Feedly,, edModo, Catalist.
  • Hearing  Barbara Stripling speak. She was inspiring, genuine, and relatable.
  • And, of course, having time to connect with other librarians — friends and strangers — in myriad ways.

If I can find the time, I’ll do another post that delves into more detail about sessions and reflections. If not, know that the conference is worthy of time away from work and family. And I hope the jolt lasts for many weeks.



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February Displays

Life has been a little hectic this week, so I am only now posting these two slideshows of recent library displays. The first I called my Valentine to Reading. My second display is for Black History Month. I took out a shelf so I could attach a sign to the back of the shelves, which makes such a difference! Kids have really been drawn to it!

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Putting standards into practice: an ALA Midwinter reflection

network verb [ intrans. ] [often as n. ] ( networking) interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, esp. to further one’s career

In writing up my report for the superintendent about ALA Midwinter (a requirement for professional leave), I am expected to discuss “what I learned.”

What did I learn?

This question gave me pause. First of all, this was a working conference for me, so I didn’t attend any educational or professional development sessions. When I wasn’t in a meeting, I was walking the exhibit floor, or engaging in one of my favorite activities: networking. I know that in the eyes of my administration, networking is almost considered illicit behavior. Squander precious time away from work to talk to other librarians? I can’t present to the faculty about it. I can’t produce a product. Therefore, it’s worthless.

PPYA committee at lunch on Monday.

Yet networking is one of the highlights of my conference experience. I also believe it is an important reason to attend. Talking with other colleagues validates my own work. It provides me with an opportunity to collaborate. Librarians do not exist in a vacuum, and we should not work in one.

Then it hit me – perhaps I didn’t learn any content, but I certainly honed my skills, even when I was networking. Skills which I am trying to encourage and develop in my students. Skills described in AASL’s Standards for the 21st-Century Learner.

Skills practiced during committee work

2.1.5 Collaborate with others to exchange ideas, develop new understandings, make decisions, and solve problems.
3.2.1 Demonstrate leadership and confidence by presenting ideas to others in both formal and informal situations.
3.2.2 Show social responsibility by participating actively with others in learning situations and by contributing questions and ideas during group discussions.
3.2.3 Demonstrate teamwork by working productively with others.
3.3.1 Solicit and respect diverse perspectives while searching for information, collaborating with others, and participating as a member of the community.
3.3.2 Respect the differing interests and experiences of others, and seek a variety of viewpoints.
3.4.3 Assess own ability to work with others in a group setting by evaluating varied roles, leadership, and demonstrations of respect for other viewpoints.

Skills practiced while networking

1.1.9 Collaborate with others to broaden and deepen understanding.
1.3.4 Contribute to the exchange of ideas within the learning community.
3.1.2 Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners.
3.3.2 Respect the differing interests and experiences of others, and seek a variety of viewpoints.
3.3.3 Use knowledge and information skills and dispositions to engage in public conversation and debate around issues of common concern.
3.3.5 Contribute to the exchange of ideas within and beyond the learning community.
4.1.7 Use social networks and information tools to gather and share information.
4.3.1 Participate in the social exchange of ideas, both electronically and in person.

Using the standards to evaluate my experience, it is clear to me how enriching an experience it was. I know I could list more mundane outcomes, such as writing snappier annotations or how to craft a clear critique, but I find the standards more than adequate for my purpose (4.4.5 Develop personal criteria for gauging how effectively own ideas are expressed.).

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ALA Midwinter Highlights

For my first ALA Midwinter post, I present a highlights reel – in words.

Snapshot #1: Meeting author Sarah Jamila Stevenson

On my flight to San Diego, I read the December issue of VOYA. One of the reviews that caught my attention was for a book called The Latte Rebellion. I thought to myself, “Self, remember that book. It’s a must-read!”

Flash to later that evening at the YA Blogger meet-up (thoughtfully organized by Kelly and Sarah T. (itself a highlight). I became engaged in a lively discussion of Mockingjay with some people from Flux: Melissa Wiley, Brent Hartinger (author of Project Sweet Life), and Sarah Stevenson. Later on, I noticed Sarah S. had left, and asked Melissa if Sarah is an author, and if so, what she has written. Melissa said The Latte Rebellion, and it all clicked. Then Melissa shared that Sarah would be signing books Saturday morning.

Flash to Saturday morning. I made a beeline for the Flux booth as soon as I entered the exhibit hall. I told Sarah the whole story, in a complete fangirl manner as she signed my copy of her novel.

Snapshot #2: Random House Preview

I visited the Random House booth on Saturday morning. I feel like an ungrateful idiot, because I did not get the publicists’ names – and they were unbelievably patient and generous with me. Some titles I picked up there that I am really excited about:

I then attended the Random House Preview on Sunday morning. This was the first preview I’ve attended, and I enjoyed the opportunity to hear the publishers book-talk their favorites to librarians! Some titles that I think will be excellent reads (although not all appropriate for my middle schoolers):

Snapshot #3: Morris and Nonfiction Award Reception

It is such a treat to hear author speak, and never more so than when they have just received an award and are full of excitement and disbelief. Here are my impressions of each of the speakers:

Lish McBride: She rhapsodized about librarians and made the audience howl with laughter.

Barbara Stuber: She moved me when she talked about YA books being the guiding stars for teens.

Blythe Woolston: “Reading changes minds. Shit happens in your brain when you read!”

Susan Campbell Bartoletti – Susan said many wise things, but I was so occupied with the awe I felt at being in her presence. Nonfiction in her hands is anything but boring.

Peter Robertshaw: I felt as though I were back in my undergraduate sociology & anthropology class. He reminded me why I love history: human beings are pretty cool.

Ann Angel: She made me see how Janis Joplin is still relevant, and her passion and love for the woman were so evident, it was poignant.

Snapshot #4: Stranded at ALA Dinner

Even with strangers, I wasn’t alone. I participated in lively and interesting conversations with librarians from various parts of the country and with myriad job descriptions, and formed new connections with Sara and Loida. Librarians make lemonade from lemons all the time. Thanks again, John, for your generosity!

Tembo, the African elephant at San Diego Zoo

Speaking of lemonade, my highlights reel would be incomplete if I did not mention San Diego Zoo. I took advantage of my stranded status to say hi to Bai Yun, Karen, Tembo, Cookie, and the other wondrous animals. I personally adore elephants, so I spent a lot of time there watching Cookie get a foot soak while another female received a pedicure. Fascinating, beautiful creatures. I also had up close encounters with a Tree Pangolin and an adorable fox. Highly recommend you visit if ever you find yourself in San Diego, stranded or otherwise!


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Honor our veterans: read their stories

Some pictures of my humble Veterans’ Day display.









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