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Category Archives: Librarian Life

Stepping back in time

After a short long weekend away from home where we were able to travel back in time and breath in the history of a long ago time while enjoying what it is in 2017, it got me thinking about the books that make me want to travel to a specific time or place.

  1. Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck uses the Fitzgerald’s specifically Zelda and her private nurse, Anna to bring readers to the 1930s using a main character whose husband is MIA from the war, a young daughter who died, and her new charge, the unstable Zelda Fitzgerald to bring the Jazz Age to life.
  2. Mary Coin by Silver is a haunting, heartbreaking, and lyrically romantic interpretation of the subject of Migrant Mother, the photographer, and a possible relative focusing on the Great Depressions far-reaching effects.
  3. Garden of Stones by Littlefield uses the same concept as Silver with the comparison of different generations in one story and how they all persevered. In this story it focuses on a woman’s survival at all costs during the Japanese internment.
  4. Into the Wild by Krakauer takes us to the wilds of Alaska and leaves us to wonder, what was Chris really thinking?
  5. Mudbound by Jordan shows us the dead-end life that Laura is feeling she’s living after relocating to the Mississippi Delta in 1946. The intricacy of relationships romantic and otherwise bring this story to life.

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All of these are adult titles whose authors have a particular penchant for historical fiction or in Krakauer’s case, writing nonfiction with a bevy of research and purpose, that provide readers with an experience. The kind of experience I had sitting for brunch with a pomegranate mimosa and eggs benedict  in the oldest tavern in the United States that opened its doors in 1697 and where the Colonial Legislature would meet. All you need to do is close your eyes and listen to the creaking of the wood floors and feel the bustle of life that long ago. I’m guessing it would be far noisier and smokier and sans white linens.

 

My origin story

Like Batgirl, I’m a librarian. But how did I get here? Here’s the quick and dirty version:

  • I got my Bachelor’s in English education and was teaching middle school ELA when I needed to decide what Master’s track I would take.
    • Being in New York State, it is a requirement that educators have a Master’s.
  • I knew I didn’t want to go into Special Education or specialize in reading or literacy, I also really didn’t think I wanted to work toward an administrative position.
  • But I remembered a conversation with the librarian at the school I did my student teaching at who encouraged exploring a library program.
  • So after one year teaching and a few courses into my library science program, I knew that the library was likely where I would be spending the rest of my days. Why?

I wanted to know and interact with more than just the students on my roster. When I was teaching, it was only about the kids who were with me each day and I yearned for an eagle-eye view of the school. Being in the library, I can be that eagle. I also wanted a greater impact and the reader’s advisory and programming that we do at our high school library is exactly the kind of work that keeps me getting up for work each day.

And as I’ve mentioned time and time again and the reason for this blog, reading is my expertise. Over the last few years, I have begun presenting at regional and state conferences around books and am on a national committee to decide the best graphic novels for teens. And I couldn’t be happier. This is my calling.

Librarians

 
 

A guest’s thoughts

As part of the #edublogsclub year-long challenge about blogging on education, this week’s suggestion was featuring a guest blogger. Today, I welcome my colleague Stacey Rattner to share her thoughts. You can find her leaping on her own blog and follow her powerhouse presence on Twitter

Yesterday I went to the city with a good friend of mine, his rising high school junior son, Tim, and my rising sophomore daughter, Tari. Joe and I have been taking this trip together for many years.

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Our kids consider themselves “cousins.” Now they are also good friends.  The conversations have moved from forced to whispers in the back.  An eclectic genre of music has always been an integral part of the trips:  Lady Gaga, Sia, Billy Joel, Joni Mitchell, Justin Timberlake, Chance…

We make lifetime memories:  Top of the Rock in the rain while it was a blizzard back home, getting rush tickets to “School of Rock” and it being the night Stevie Nicks shows up, insisting on going to the top of the Freedom Tower on the cloudiest day on record, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, making t-shirts at the Museum of the City of New York…We have delicious food memories, too:  dim sum in Chinatown, Big Gay Ice Cream in the West Village, Chocolate Works on the Upper West Side, matzo ball soup at Bubby’s in DUMBO and Meatpacking District…

Now our focus is moving from exposure to culture to opportunity.  Last February we crashed an information session and tour of NYU.  Yesterday we attempted to check out Hunter College but alas a Friday afternoon in July was not the ideal time to do that.  We are thinking and talking more about college and it’s becoming the focus of our trips.

The weekend traffic wasn’t what bothered us last night but rather the reality of the cost of college as I became curious and turned to my phone for answers. While Tim and Tari were working the music among their soft spoken conversations in the back, I researched a few schools.

“Check out Hamilton,” Joe asked.  I never got that far as I discovered a gem on their website,  actual essays written by students who were accepted into the school.  Wow.  I was planning to just read one aloud but ended up reading them all. Joe Pucci’s hit a nerve so much that I ended up sending him a tweet and following him.

Think of a life changing event, add some dialogue, vivid descriptions and get it down on paper.  Is being raised by two dads in a small town enough?  Or a Jewpanese girl who goes to summer camp every year to escape the same small town?  Doubt it.  Whatever our kids end up writing, I look forward to it moving me enough to grab the Kleenex, shift in my britches from being a tad uncomfortable and finally, to take out the phone to tweet a “bravo.”

What would I write about today if I was 16?  I can’t say but I can tell you about the fateful little girl’s birthday party I attended nearly 11 years ago while still out on maternity leave for my son.  “I’d really like to go back to school to be a 4th grade teacher, “ I exclaimed to no one in particular.  

“You should become a school librarian,” a woman I didn’t know responded in between bites of salad.

“A school librarian? Why?”

“It looks like the best job in the building and plus, there are jobs,” the third grade teacher said.

“Really?  Hmmm…tell me more.”

Two days later I attended a prospective graduate student fair at SUNY-Albany and sought out the library science program.  Couple of months later, I enrolled in my first class.  After nine years in a job my husband thought I would be in forever I left to become a school librarian.  I have never looked back and owe it all to my very good friend, Val.

 
 

Reflecting on blogging

In January, I took on the challenge along with other seasoned and new education bloggers through Edublogs as a way to expound on my day job. For the most part, my posts kept true to libraries and books somehow. I’ve realized that while an occasional post about a non-library topic is refreshing, it’s not what I want my blog to focus on.

Therefore, my reflection is also a bit of a mid-point resolution to keep focused on libraries and books for each post because…

I like books. A lot. So I want to blog about liking books. A lot.

LoveBooksSoMuch

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2017 in Blogging, edublogsclub, Librarian Life

 

Unforgettable!

Things just came together so nicely for this week’s #edublogsclub prompt about professional learning and conferences because I knew I would be away at one. Now that I’ve returned, I’m ready to impart a few pieces of wisdom, though I know more information will seep into future posts as I had an amazing time at my first American Library Association annual conference (in Chicago!)

Now that I’ve settled back for a day, here are a few suggestions when attending a conference like ALA:

  1. LegsUptheWallDefinitely bring the comfortable shoes, though I know the temptation for those like me, were to also be a bit fashion-forward. So even if you wore the *almost* comfortable shoes to match the dress, do this stretch when you get back to your room each night since you’ll be on your feet all day.
  2. 2017-06-24 10.33.54Dress the part. By nature, I’m a dress-loving, dress-wearing kind of gal. That’s not to say you can’t be comfortable, so wear what works for you, as long as it doesn’t look like you’re going to run three miles when you leave the conference hall. Dressing the part may mean being photo ready when you meet your idol (see picture) or to use as a conversation-starter when swimming in a sea of colleagues from across the country who you don’t know, but want to get to know!
  3. Know your limits. Maybe you don’t want to stand in that line or you desperately need a mental break so you skip a session, it’s okay. Part of enjoying any conference is also enjoying the break it provides from the routine. I spent time walking back and forth between sessions enjoying the weather rather than taking the shuttles. It provided the space to go into the next session ready to learn.
  4. Remember when I said you’d be swimming in a sea of colleagues that you don’t know? Get to know them! Ask questions and listen. Promote yourself and what you do. Trade tips. Some people you’ll want to exchange cards with and others were just a fun way to pass the time and restore that good ol’ fashioned energy you get from face-to-face conversation. It’s invigorating.
  5. 2017-06-26 14.31.19Indulge in local food and try to do at least one touristy thing. I was in Chicago, so that did mean that I would have to stop for some deep dish pizza. I also took at a picture at The Bean and walked along the water in that picturesque city.

Of course, the list can go on of both personal and professional suggestions related to attending conferences, but the listicle above provides a good start. You can tell I enjoyed myself, so be sure to head to any conference with a sense of adventure.

 

Videos help with time management

Even with two full-time librarians at a high school for 2,500 students, there are times we can’t get to every class, especially when trying to marry our schedule and the teacher’s timeline. The easiest fix is to send ourselves digitally and that might be in the form of a video tutorials, which we generally use Screencastify for, a Google extension that allows you to record using your computer’s video camera or broadcast your screen.

This was part of a lesson I gave each year to a group of students for a particular teacher:

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2017 in edublogsclub, Librarian Life, Research

 

Routines

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a policies and procedures type girl. There’s a reason that I’m a ISTJ also known as the duty fulfiller. So it won’t surprise anyone that I have routines. Not only to make me sane, but to make our household run smoothly, and work manageable. Here’s a basic outline of a typical day:2017-06-02 07.56.25

Clearly this isn’t everything and it shouldn’t be because life is isn’t always organized, but it sure makes it easier. In a separate post about my love of folders, I share an image with Martha Stewart’s quote that “life is too complicated not to be orderly.” This perhaps was my personality from birth and why I became a librarian. It’s also why I have baskets and bins around my home andboards on Pinterest that I continually re-organize. I’m also lucky enough to have married a man who also believes in organization, tidiness, and schedules. He was also born with it and probably why he joined the military and is self-employed: an intrinsic motivation for order and a get-it-done attitude that comes with it.

Likewise, it’s also why we have policies and procedures for everything in our HS library. Students know what to expect. My favorite line is “Miss, I know X, but…” to which my reply is “Yes, you know X, so…” Because we see between 20-60 kids or more each period, nine periods a day, plus before and after school, routines make it more manageable. Then, we can focus on the students and staff.

Maybe that’s why I find routines comforting and necessary. They allow me to take the thinking off of certain items and be able to really ponder the more important aspects of life. Routines are the opposite of making my life mundane, they enrich it by allowing me to focus on what matters.