The swinging pendulum

Things have settled down for a bit now, though every few years librarians, especially those in schools have a panic attack about what we’re called. Rest assured, I will never argue because I will never want to be called anything other than a librarian. The only qualifier I’d add is “school” librarian (versus public librarian or academic librarian) but even then, I’ve put too much effort into it.


From the Cardies and Tweed WordPress blog

The panic can be attributed to two events: the infusion of technology in schools and the recession. The former called in to question what the role of the librarian was (or wasn’t) and the latter slashed jobs in reaction to tightening budgets at the expense of students (along with programs like music and art). So we wanted to keep relevant and with that came the need to reinvent ourselves a la Madonna or Sean Combs. Madonna did it with her music and fashion choices while Combs did it with name changes. Librarians followed Combs’ strategy. What if we called ourselves school media specialists? But we’re also instructors, so what about teacher librarians? Many couldn’t fathom staying librarians without a name change to go along with our changing role.

But I’ve never had this crisis. I’ve been a librarian for ten years and I will continue to be a librarian well into the future. Is it because I know what I’m about and therefore don’t need to fuss about a name? Probably and also it’s confusing to change names. Maybe that’s why many more women are also choosing to not change their names when marrying– there’s an ownership over who you were for years before meeting a significant other. I own being a librarian. I love being a librarian. I even had this conversation at a Board of Regents presentation several years ago.

And, it simplifies things when I go to work at the library every day. I’m a librarian and I work in a library? Mind blown! Plus, it translates well in their non-student lives because they have access to other libraries now and in their future and aren’t we about the same things? We’re sharing print and digital resources, providing community spaces, engaging in conversations and advocacy, and bringing people together.

That’s my mission, my passion, my job, my title. Period.




Embed THIS!

Embedding is always exciting and sometimes aggravating but imagine my excitement when I realized that the Padlet I created to share resources on a presentation I was giving actually has a specific embed code for WordPress– as in, copy and paste this address rather than lines of code inside the body of the blog post and it will automatically embed. Cool, huh? When we talk about how integrated and networked devices, apps, and websites are, these are the shining examples.

Today I had the privilege of presenting at the New York State Council for the Social Studies. The first presentation centered on current books representing timely topics like child exploitation, trafficking, and social movements. And the second (back to back and in separate rooms leaving little room for error in disconnecting and reconnecting my laptop, cables, and bags) was about new literacy. For the attendees, I wanted to share websites, articles, videos, and images and decided Padlet was my mode of delivery. So if you’re interested in the topic, check out the collection of resources

Made with Padlet

Enjoy the resources and be happy that you were not me during the presentation (though I will say I think I handled it flawlessly) where many of the resources and videos I wanted to show live never happened since the Internet wasn’t working. But damn, my slides looked amazing! (see previous post about the importance of images for me)



Say hello to Goodbye Days

GoodbyeDaysThe first thing I did after finishing Goodbye Days at 5am was plot how to connect with Jeffrey Zentner so that we can arrange a school visit for next year. Yes, Goodbye Days was that good. And after staying up past my bedtime months ago to read The Serpent King, it was apparent that Zentner is a skilled author that focuses his creativity on character-driven novels that speak to readers on a deeper level. This is the case with his newest, Goodbye Days where Carver feels like he has blood on his hands after texting his friends as they drove in a car, knowing that they’d likely text back while driving said car, and were killed when they crashed with a half-written text in the queue of the phone. In an instant, Carver lost his three best friends, the Sauce Crew.

Memorable character: The way Zentner fleshes out each of the deceased characters in flashbacks and the titled “goodbye days” that happen makes each an essential character, even in the afterlife. And while Carver is the main character, Blake’s grandmother has to be the most memorable. Blake, one of the friends in the car, was being raised by his grandmother who moved him from his dysfunctional home to raise him where they could go “bad fishing” and watch movies, garden and chow down at a local restaurant on the weekend. Her sadness is palpable and she has the outlandish idea to have a goodbye day, a day she couldn’t have with Blake. Using Carver to share the details that only he knew, while she shared with Carver the things he didn’t know about his friend, they could both say goodbye. But it’s when readers discover something that wasn’t foreshadowed and a very real conversation occurs that tears run. And that leads to one of my favorite quotes in the book.

Memorable quote: “Funny how people move through this world leaving little pieces of their story with the people they meet, for them to carry. Makes you wonder what’d happen if all those people put their puzzle pieces together.” Isn’t that a wonderful thought to have? What pieces does each person who knows you hold and how would that puzzle look all put together? It’s these precise tidbits in this book and his first that are endearing.

Memorable scene: Just like many of scenes that come together to create the book there are too many to really pick a favorite, but one of the most memorable was certainly when Carver shows up at Thurgood nee Mars’ home where he lived with his father, whose position as a judge makes Carver sweat. He knew this goodbye day was going to be very different from the others. And that moment when he asks Carver to leave the bowl on the counter… oh, you just wait until you get to it!

The book is one feel after another: swirling and circulating around with an electricity in the writing and characters. It’s important and sends a message, but it’s also about the bond of friendship. Expectations. Who we are. Almost too much to explore in one book, yet Zentner masterfully flashes back to capture it all while following Carver’s journey in the present. A must-read.

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Posted by on March 15, 2017 in Authors, Fiction, Young Adult


Feedback face-to-face

One of my favorite assignments when working with an upperclassmen group conducting research was when I came in to discuss the initial thoughts, tips, and tricks on “revving the engine for research”. For many teachers I worked with, I helped shape a document that set deadlines for parts of the research and subsequent paper that provided a realistic scaffold of conducting research but also helped demonstrate time management.

Specifically though, they had to submit several essential questions and a working thesis statement along with two complete citations of articles they had found so far. Then I graded this and went back into the classroom and talked with the students where they were given the next step: this was a formative grade, not summative. If students wanted to earn back points, they’d set up a meeting with me in the library and resubmit the assignment.

This served two purposes: first, students learned that revising and editing is as important as the process and the paper itself. Do not be afraid to revise. The second was that, we wanted them to grow as learners, which meant that reflecting on how well (or not well) something was working can be continually improved. So, providing an individual conference is a necessary step to provide reflection and also resources to help them move on, when sometimes students wouldn’t ask until it was too late, if at all.

As a school librarian, individual attention is just as important as group instruction, especially with upperclassmen. If in our large school of 2,500 students, their underclassmen teachers didn’t take advantage of the resources my colleague and I could provide, then students might not know the library was a resource. So as a sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen year old, individualized attention was almost a necessity to recoup some of that lost time from previous years.

And the levity they showed after a twenty-minute conference was a positive step in empowering them to ask questions, reach out, and reflect, so that they will return. So I leave you with a humorous meme from




I’m booked

There’s work that includes the regular stuff and the presentations both for students and upcoming ones for colleagues and other professionals. Then there’s home stuff that includes my kids’ birthday and a very large home renovation project. So while there are days when I must stare longingly at the books sitting on my end table or diligently tote around my Nook waiting fora  spare few minute that never comes to read, I am busy when I can be reading. Mainly graphic novels and mainly because I’m excited to be part of the American Library Association’s Young Adult Library Services Association’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens committee.

While we’ve done nothing more than exchange emails, they’re already a pretty awesome group and I’m already diving deep into graphic novels of every shape and size. So, I want as many recommendations as possible. What are you loving, what are you liking? What new ones are you anticipating for 2017?

I’ll listen, maybe not to the lady at the grocery store talking about her cat, but I will listen to anyone who has suggestions about their favorite new releases. Otherwise, I’m booked!



“Are those gray hairs?”


Recently on a visit to see my parents, my mother asked me about those shimmering strands on my brunette head. Yes, I have a few silvery hairs that I believe that in the right light they look blonde. Still, true to my thirty-something years where I have never dyed or colored my hair, I will go gray gracefully and not such a single piece.

But, it was a few years back (before the grays) when I finally realized I wasn’t as connected with popular culture as I once was just by being a young teacher. Yet I’m also confessing that I’ve never been “one” with popular culture. I grew up listening to country music, technically lived in the country rather than the suburbia that made up my school district, didn’t like the clubs, and I usually could never tell you the names of celebrities or sports figures when asked. Plus, my own kids are still in elementary school. I use things like the urban dictionary and what’s trending and popular on YouTube to help a bit, but I want to focus instead on contemporary culture versus history, specifically 9/11.

At this point, any kid in high school (remind you I work in a high school library) would have been no more than a few years old, if not yet conceived, when the September 11th attacks occurred. So any book published about it and even Hurricane Katrina (2005) is considered historical fiction. This discovery a few years back was a game-changer for me. My experiences are no longer their experiences too: Generation Z are digital natives, while my group, the millennials, had technology but not as much social connectivity using it.

Clothing and hairstyle fads along with slang and music will always move fluidly, so I can never truly count on these as measurements of popular culture, but I think the idea of experiences connected to historical events is. Because former president Barack Obama was in office for two terms so most high school students haven’t known another president until now- they haven’t had to. Because our phones are digital, more students have a hard time using an analog clock (I won’t begin to explain how weird is was to explain how to use a rotary telephone to my friends when they visited when I was in elementary school). So the best thing to do moving forward it continue to adjust myself and thinking based on what I have experienced and what they have experienced to be able to connect rather than what they’re wearing and who they’re listening to


Student privacy: respect it

As a unique educator in that the 2,500 students that attend the public high school that I work at are all “mine” since I work in the library means that any given program, activity, class project, or visitation could mean meeting a student I have never met before or that has never come to the library before. It also means that at the beginning of the school year I haven’t sent home a photo release form from our school to post or not post images of my one class or multiple classes that I have direct contact with if I was a classroom teacher. With that in mind, as I do for my own elementary-aged children, I do not want my own kids’ images plastered on social media for the sake of capturing an exciting educational moment unless it protects their privacy or I have given permission. That’s where creative camera work comes into play.

Many of my favorite memorable moments from programming in the library have been avoiding students’ faces and focusing on the atmosphere or activity. Now, I’m not saying I’m Dorothea Lange, but I know my way around my iPhone camera to capture the moment without student faces. Yes, I have them, but they’re not the ones that get shared. This is important. It’s also why I teach Googling your name and do so often with my and my family’s name to see what is out there. This is an element of digital citizenship that people must get out in front of, even if it’s simply to know what’s out there. We must be aware of what it out there attached to our identity or others that have similar or the same name. It can take the form of a picture or simply your name or your affiliated institution.

Ultimately though, it is as much our responsibility as educators as students and their parents to be sure that they can control what and where they can. So, here are some examples from our own social media postings where we avoid showing student faces. For us, it’s about angles, light, or putting teachers in the foreground.

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Posted by on February 22, 2017 in edublogsclub, Events, Librarian Life, Miscellaneous