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Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Sometimes the HS library world and parents don’t collide

The varied posts topics that #edublogsclub provides are great ways to sit and reflect on topics that we don’t talk much about. And this one, parents, at the high school level, is rarely talked about without the ubiquitous comments that parents are no longer invested or connected at the high school level with their students and their teachers.

Yet, we find ways to keep them connected. In our high school, parent-teacher conference day is held on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving break and is for K-12. This was implemented a few years back and has become a positive event at the high school. This day coupled with Open House at the beginning of the year are two times we try to really make the library shine and be welcoming.

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For Open House, usually some activities are held in the library to showcase certain activities that wouldn’t otherwise have a place and my colleague and I stand at the doors (wide open) with information to help, ready to talk, and a smile. I have had more positive interactions with parents looking like a doorman than at many other points in the school year. Whether it starts with how different the library looks since they have attended or the fact that they love that their kids come to the library, we’re always quick to share what programs we have going on and how they as parents can stay connected along with reacquainting them with the library and what we can offer to their students.

It may be difficult to engage parents at the high school level, but we try with

  • newsletters,
  • occasional physical mailings home,
  • fervent activity on our library social media,
  • invitations to be chaperones or volunteers for library-related events
  • posts to the school’s notification system, and
  • visitations to parent-orientated meetings like the school’s Coffee Klatch through our Parent Information Resource Center or PTSA meetings

Yet it all starts with being present. We try to be as visible as possible, whenever possible because we know that “just showing up is half the battle”… for both sides.

 

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2017 in edublogsclub, Miscellaneous

 

Dear Nic Stone

DearMartinOh, how I love thee. Let me count the ways or at least count down the days until you visit our high school library this coming fall. After reading an advanced copy of your book, Dear Martin, which will grace the shelves on October 17, 2017, we are highly anticipating our students reading it en masse. It’s the timeliness of the topic and the historical significance of Justyce writing to Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s the rich character development and the realistic situations. It’s the deceptively simple writing that is anything but simple. In a nutshell, it’s exceptionally accessible.

Memorable character: Readers are endeared to Justyce right from the beginning and his issues are our issues. But it’s when he begins to dig deeper both with his friends, family, and himself that the learning commences. We are living with and through him. What would we do in situations that he’s in? If we would be in them at all because of our skin and age. Stone eloquently posits these injustices as Justyce writes to Martin Luther King, Jr.

Memorable scene: There are several significant scenes, but the ones that stick out to me are the conversations that happen in Doc’s classroom. They read similar to a transcript and further incorporate alternative formats like Justyce’s letters to King and the narrative itself. These telling scenes provide insight into necessary conversations in understanding a variety of viewpoints: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Memorable quote: Though, one of the most memorable quotes doesn’t come from Justyce’s class discussions, instead one that takes place between him and his mom after a class discussion as Justyce is awakened to the thoughts and feelings of others: “‘Yeah. We had this discussion in class today, and… I don’t know, Ma. Everything I’m doing right now feels like a losing battle.’ She nodded. ‘Hard being a black man, ain’t it?'”

In addition to following her on Instagram, I advise teen readers to read and re-read the book, stare at the phenomenal cover, and pressure your librarians to order multiple copies to share with your friends.

 

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.

 

 

 

In it for the kids

This post originally appeared in the Times Union Books Blog

It was evident from the moment our chartered bus from Albany to Rochester dropped us off on the Nazareth College campus that the Rochester Teen Book Festival is in it for the kids. There are signs around the venue’s various classrooms, opening ceremony in the gym, and in informational booklets that priority is given to teens– this means that if there are one hundred seats in a gym, you bet your butt that all one hundred will be given to teens first. Adults are last to be admitted and last to find a seat. And that is how it should be at a teen book festival- the adults (many of which are fellow middle grade and YA book lovers themselves) play second fiddle. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way because seeing the excited faces of the forty-three teens we brought on the cross-state adventure were all that should be needed.

A Saturday event dedicated to readers.

Bring in twenty authors where you have rolled out the red carpet is exactly what should get your blood pumping. As students scattered with their buddies across the campus to see their rock star authors in the flesh, I found myself listening to a graphic novelist who amazed us with some live illustrating, then a professor leading us in a workshop about graphic lettering, followed by the last two sessions with male YA authors that could captivate anyone with their oratory skills in addition to their amazing literary talent. Plus, I managed to squeeze in a visit to the food truck Macarollin’ for some lobster mac and cheese.  Phew!

So when we got back on the bus after my colleague, Kristen Majkut, counted, recounted, and triple-counted as the captain and all-around Wonder Woman of this trip, I settled in with a smile as we learned one of our students won a raffle drawing, another was given the sketches from her visit with the graphic novelist, and the students lovingly petted their new purchases… books. And you think reading is dead? These events serve as constant reminders about the nature of reading for teens. Plus, we have others to remind us too, since we were joined on the bus by YA author Eric Devine. Hours were spent talking about writing, other books, readers, and the target audience: teens.

So, if you’ve never been, mark it on your calendars for May 19, 2018. If you’re a librarian or teacher, bring your teens. If you’re a parent, bring your teen and their friends. If you’re in neither category, donate to the event which each of the twelve years it has been running is a runaway hit with its intended audience. Teens.

 

Reading weekends

2017-02-02 06.55.11-1Nothing is more pleasurable for a reader than having uninterrupted time on a weekend to sit and read.

Especially when life gets busy and the books begin to pile up, there is an overwhelming urge to slow down, make a pot of tea, and dive in.

I love those kinds of weekends.

I need those kinds of weekend.

 

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2017 in Miscellaneous

 

New bullet for job description

If a high school library doesn’t have a social media presence, it’s like a kiss of death. Not only because it disseminates information to groups of people connected to the library, but because it’s necessary PR.

We use our social media for advertising when we’re closing early or staying open later, when we have authors, activities, and events, we share and re-tweet the happenings of our school and district giving shout-outs and hashtagging  #gofalcons wherever we can, and allowing people to peek behind the curtain when students are there for classes, reading, and what they’re checking out.

In a previous post I talked about respecting student privacy and any amount of social posting we do, does generally conceal student identity unless we have express permission/parental consent. We do a lot of shout-outs to our staff collaborating with us and showcase them and their students, plus we program like crazy! So that all makes it to our accounts: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

SocialMedia

We use Instagram most heavily because of the ease of posting to the two other platforms from it. And who doesn’t love a good filter. We gain followers steadily and tend to have the most student followers on Instagram and Twitter and the most community partners and parents on Twitter and Facebook. We’ve done giveaways to increase our following and continue to showcase our students in their activities. Here are some of our recommendations for a robust social media presence:

  • Showcase and shout out staff, students, volunteers, employees, and community partners as much as possible
  • Find innovative ways to gain new followers and advertise your social media platforms in multiple ways
  • Re-tweet successes from your building and district
  • Use the re-post app on Instagram to highlight what others have shared, whether it was a new book by an author you had visit your school or a teacher’s post
  • Share relevant articles and information that represent you (in our case anything bookish because we’re the library after all)

Start small and don’t feel overwhelmed. If that means putting a calendar reminder on your phone to post every so often, then so be it. And use others’ content to begin if necessary, but always be careful; read the information completely before re-tweeting, sharing, or re-posting.

And last, be comfortable and fluid with your platforms. Someone not familiar with Twitter should not begin using it without creeping first. Likewise, what was popular two years ago, may not be any more or with your community, so don’t feel that you must persevere with a platform that is all but defunct just because it’s what you had before. Times, they are a changin’ and so must we

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2017 in Miscellaneous

 

Creative expression

I would love to pretend that I drew this: 2017-02-03 15.58.25

I would love to say I wrote this:

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Or sang like this:

But I do not have a cultivated talent for any of them. What I can do is take artful images of books,

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use my words not to write poetry but reflections recognizing the power of books and libraries here and here,

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and instead of singing, I can booktalk the hell out of a young adult novel:

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Posted by on May 4, 2017 in Miscellaneous