Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Archive for January, 2012

Inside the locked room, part 1 – #ALAMW12

Posted by lpearle on 23 January 2012

As reported last April, I’m serving on YALSA’s Excellence in Non-fiction for Young Adults committee. My term started November 1, 2011 and will end in January 2013 when we make those exciting phone calls – and in between there’ll be much discussion and reading. Liz Burns, on the outgoing committee, explains our charge and the process better than I possibly can.

So why this post? Because there’s a lot of mystery about the whole “locked room committee” thing. I’m here to give you a peek behind that door.

First of all, this time we didn’t meet in a locked room. As a matter of fact, the room didn’t lock and had a sliding glass wall out to the hotel’s atrium (where one could watch the Patriots/Ravens game – so glad that ended well! – bowl, eat and drink). If you’re good at lip-reading, this would have been a perfect spying opportunity. There was no bathroom,food or drink provided, but most of us either brought food with us (we started at 1:30) or suffered.

Our first meeting was mostly “housekeeping”: introductions (I’m the only school librarian on the committee), checking our addresses so that publishers can start to send us books, talking about the criteria and how we should structure our conversations (positives first, then negatives). A few titles were mentioned, and our intrepid Chair, Angela, gets to take on the task of contacting the publishers to ask they send the books to us. We also talked about fact-checking, which doesn’t mean that we’re doing the work the editorial staff should have done in real depth, but if the work is (to our knowledge) leaving out important information, that’s something to consider.

Because this is one of the few committees whose nominations are made public (to serve as a collection development tool) we have a lot of responsibility. To be honest, it’s a little scary. Now, that list isn’t our shortlist, it’s just all the books we thought worthy of serious consideration. The shortlist will be drawn from that list, ditto the eventual winner. And a book I love love love and nominate may ultimately be trashed by the rest of the committee. The fact that e-readers show books differently, that pictures may (or may not) be laid out the same in digital format, if they’re even truly visible, means that before nominating we have to check the print version.

Between now and Annual we’ll be reading, discussing and taking notes. Then we’ll meet, again in a possibly locked room, and talk about our favorites at that point.

Stay tuned.


Posted in Books, Collection Development, Conferences | Leave a Comment »

Getting over myself

Posted by lpearle on 3 January 2012

One of the biggest blows to one’s ego is watching the work one has done be supplanted by another’s vision. This always happens when you leave one job, and I’ve often felt a little guilty over the “blame the predecessor” game that goes on when jobs change hands. Watching (via twitter and personal blog posts) and hearing friend’s reactions to what’s happened in their schools – to the collection, to the website, to the program – after they left their posts has been instructive.

This is the second time I’ve left a position where I worked hard to create a collection and program that were creative, collaborative and met the school’s needs. My vision wasn’t completely fulfilled when I walked out the door for the last time (thanks to lack of money or administrative/colleague support, and even my own ability to do what I’d thought was possible), and it rankled that someone else would reap the benefits of my work – or dismantle it completely. The most difficult piece is getting over myself, recognizing that others have a vision, too.

Having had a few months to reflect and revisit triumphs and failures, I’m definitely “over” myself. In a recent conversation with a good friend about one library I worked in, the good and bad of both my and my successor’s regimes were discussed – a great reality check. And what a pity we couldn’t work together, blending our strengths and balancing our weaknesses to provide a great program. Being able to learn from peers is a blessing, but a bigger blessing is having the opportunity to learn from your own past performance long enough after the fact to not have ego about it.

And what a great way to move forward, with a clear idea about the good and bad and the ability to capitalize on the former while minimizing the latter. Here’s to a 2012 that provides more such opportunities.

Posted in Musings | 1 Comment »

2011 Round-up, part two

Posted by lpearle on 1 January 2012

This year was filled with highlights and a few lowlights – but why dwell on the latter? The most important thing for me this year was learning with, and from, my friends, peers and colleagues. Some are librarians, some administrators, others teachers or “civilians”: my professional life has been made richer by knowing them. Note that I’m not using the overused acronym PLN or PLE, because I think a less jargon-filled world is a good thing.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Conferences, Life Related, Metablogging, Professional organizations, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

2011 Round-up, part one

Posted by lpearle on 1 January 2012

At AASL in October, Wendy exhorted us to read a book a day. While I didn’t manage that, a book every 1.46 days isn’t bad!

Posted in Books, Life Related | Leave a Comment »