Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Archive for the ‘Life Related’ Category

Finding my happy place

Posted by lpearle on 15 May 2020

Week I’mNeverGoingToBeAbleToLeaveMyAparementAgainAmI wasn’t been too bad. There was an AISL Boarding School Librarians chat on Monday, and I’m joining in a Mussar study group in Brooklyn (along with my father and an aunt). The sun is shining and it’s getting warmer – maybe we won’t see snow again until fall?

But then there’s the political and health news, increasingly weird and frightening, and the announcement that Milton would not reopen the campus for the rest of the year.  How will students celebrate their great work this year?  How will we say good-bye to seniors and colleagues, all of us sharing in that bittersweet moment when they depart for the next chapter in their lives?

When I find that I’m spending too much time obsessing about the politics of the moment, the latest pronouncement or set of numbers, I have to stop and go to my happy place.  There are a few such places in my life, like curling up with one of my cats and listening to the purr or reading a book and forgetting where I am.  And then there are a number of Twitter feeds that make me smile – I’m sharing them with you hoping that they also bring a smile into your life, too:

The Cute Plug: @TheCutePlug
Forgotten Bookmarks: @ForgottenBkmrks
Haggard Hawks: @HaggardHawks
Jonathon Owen: @ArrantPedantry
Laurence Brown: @LostInThePondUS
Lynne Murphy: @Lynneguist
Moose Allain: @MooseAllain
The Museum of English Rural Life: @TheMERL
Nat’l Cowboy Museum: @ncwhm
Nathan W. Pyle: @nathanwpyle
Nick Heath: @nickheathsport
Room Rater: @ratemyskyperoom
Shedd Aquarium: @shedd_aquarium
Sherlocution Holmes: @sherlocution

The other thing that’s bringing a smile to my face?  Knowing that it’s Friday.  It may not feel like one, but it is.  Have a good weekend.

Posted in Life Related, Metablogging | Leave a Comment »

You’re important, too

Posted by lpearle on 17 April 2020

What We Will Be Remembered For When This Moment is Over

Answering, “How are you?” honestly and giving others permission to answer honestly, too.

How we didn’t say yes to every Zoom call, napped, meditated, read fiction, got outside every day, for how we gave ourselves what we needed and could, in turn, give others what they need.

We will be remembered for the ways we showed up for each other with the most honest love we could offer.

As I navigate the needs of work and home, professional meetings and family gatherings, students, teachers, colleagues and friends, these are the things to remember.

One of the big dangers of this time is that we neglect self-care because so many others need us to be on this Zoom meeting or working on that project, helping students with research or finding reading books, etc.  And we librarians are afraid that our work will not be visible to others and so we’re doing even more.  I have a spreadsheet going for me and my staff so that we can track our daily shift’s reference chats and projects, some of that information will go into our year-end report.  The Zoom meetings with AISL librarians give me ideas to add to our Instagram feed or ways to do better outreach.  And I’m still not sure that it’s all effective or helpful.

During the normal day (or week), I feel very comfortable saying that my day is over and reading or otherwise taking care of me.  But during this unusual time?  I feel invisible, sitting here at home working, so obviously my work is invisible, right?  Admit it: you feel the same.

Then I read Lightning Notes and am reminded that if I don’t take care of me, I can’t take care of my staff, students, colleagues and family.  You’re no different.

Take care of you, ok?

Posted in Life Related, Musings | Leave a Comment »

Let’s take action

Posted by lpearle on 13 April 2020

Over the weekend I saw this tweet amid all the news about the US Postal Service possibly running out of money:

Of course I retweeted it.

So, let’s all do this.  I have some people in mind to write to, but I’m sure there are others out there who would love some real mail.  Leave a comment or send me message and I’ll send you a hand written note.  Promise.

Posted in Life Related | 1 Comment »

Hi ho, hi ho…

Posted by lpearle on 1 April 2020

No, I’m not exactly off to work – it’s more like making a strong cuppa, turning on the tv and my laptop and opening our library portal for the day. Earlier this year I shared a day in the life, and I thought it might be interesting to do an update on this, my students’ first day “back”.

As a faculty, we prepared for this with training on Zoom and Screencastify. We talked about meeting the students needs, recognizing that they might not be in the ideal situation regarding school work (some may have parents working with COVID-19, others helping take care of siblings, and others literally on the other side of the planet, among other social and emotional challenges). There are also technology challenges, with wonky wifi or older machines for some; one colleague and his teacher wife are sharing two laptops with their three children, getting all of them online appropriately will be interesting! Unlike some schools, we are trying to mitigate the stress by lowering the load from our normal F2F classes and homework while still continuing to teach.

Today, being our first day, will be an adventure into the unknown. Join me…

05:00 – Alarm goes off.  Turn it off, roll out of bed, go to the bathroom and do my ablutions.

05:13 – Turn on my laptop, open LibApps and go to LibGuides, hide our “our of office” message and unhide my profile box; go to LibAnswers and log in to chat.  Our digital portal is now live!

05:20 – Tea arrives, as if by magic.  Turn on the tv and start checking email, morning websites, etc. as per usual.

05:21 – Learn that my father texted last night, saying a close friend’s father died from this coronavirus.  

05:44 – Completed the NYTimes Mini Crossword in 30sec (I think it’s my best time yet!)

06:16 – Sent an email to all faculty and US Students saying hello:

06:30 -Learned that the wife of a friend died, not from the virus but from complications due to a double lung transplant done just as the virus hit.  R.I.P. Mrs. T.

06:35 – Helped a student sign up for a BPL ecard.  I’m feeling useful!

07:00 – I’m going to start compiling the monthly database usage statistics.  I’ve never understood why some database providers can give me stats on the first of the month while others can’t for 30 days.  Anyone? 

08:10 – Read emails regarding Department Chairs meetings (now on Zoom; is anything not on Zoom these days?) and watch two videos from our Academic Dean, including on with a great April Fool’s Joke.

08:30 – Join the Upper School Faculty Morning Coffee Zoom.  Since we can’t see each other during the school day at meetings, in the hallways, at lunch, etc., it’s nice seeing at least a few of my colleagues online.

09:00 – Join an Edupuzzle training Zoom led by a colleague.  This might be fun to add to our “find time to relax” offerings if we can figure out a great use for it (maybe a treasure hunt?  choose your own library adventure? hmmm…) and it’s definitely a great way to teach students how to search and cite.  

09:41 – Download MARC records for our LS Libraries.  We provide clerical service for the LS Librarian because she does not have a workroom or an assistant.  These books were ordered before we decided to close so the boxes will be waiting for us when we get back to work – having the records uploaded will make life easier!  I’ll start processing now and finish tomorrow.

11:00 – End of my first day online.  The next librarian on shift has arrived, logged in and I’ve handed the chat baton over.

Later today I’ll join an AISL Zoom for MS/US Librarians, read, mourn, nap, etc., and get ready to wake up tomorrow to do this all over again.

Posted in Life Related, School Libraries, Student stuff, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

Maybe it’s just me

Posted by lpearle on 19 March 2020

I tend to find words and grammar interesting.  It might be because my uncle was a sociolinguist, it might just be because I’m an odd duck.  But the following amused me and I hope it amuses you, too:

(thanks to my sixth grade teacher, this actually makes sense)

Of course, that led to


And then there was this:

For more grammar fun:

followed closely by


(yes, I’m against the long book subtitle trend)

Posted in Life Related | Leave a Comment »

When you’re the boss…

Posted by lpearle on 9 March 2020

Last week the other librarians and I had a real case of the Friday’s.  I’d been a little inspired by Sara at Thayer, but then I saw this twitter thread and, well… to help us get over our Friday’s, I thought it might help for us to create the following:


DISCLAIMER: We are not responsible for any earworms.

Posted in Life Related, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

History repeats itself

Posted by lpearle on 3 February 2020

The consternation and fear over the 2019-nCoV virus (I know that “Spanish Flu” is politically incorrect these days, but can we all agree that this new thing needs a snappier name) has been interesting for me to watch for two major reasons – two major intellectual reasons, that is. I’m immunocompromised so emotionally I’m not interested, I’m terrified.

The first thing I’ve been looking at are a couple of my elists, where there’s been talk about how to deliver an academic program should a school be closed or quarantined. Several learned techies have weighed in, referencing their online learning management systems and the ability to have webinar/online meetings, etc.. Reading this reminded me of something I’ve posted before, about the NEIT conference in 2007:

This type of quarantine/closing would only last a couple of months at most – what’s the harm in letting students have a vacation? why not let them play and enjoy, rather than forcing them to “do school”?

It was nice to read this comment

And when I’m sequestered in my apartment with my four year-old, who also cannot attend his NYC Pre-K, I am supposed to continue working as if everything is normal? Does the need for “delivering our product” as educators/technologist supersede our schools’ ask to operate in a healthy manner during a pandemic?

I would argue that technology does not save us from our selves. 

reaffirming what my group said 12 years ago, and confirming what I’ve been thinking as I’ve read these threads.

The second thought has been about what I would call the Best Research Lesson. Ever. One of my go-to phrases is that research is for life, not just the particular academic class torturing you with a project. Back in 2007, I taught research skills to the Middle School using Alice Yucht’s FLIP-IT method.

Sadly, much of that class was taught in isolation from any research the students were doing and, when it had been linked, only half the class got instruction. Still, I persisted. Then the 2007 H1N1 virus appeared. And voila, I had a great lesson plan. I arrived in class telling students that I’d just had a phone call from my mother – she could be a little nervous about things, and given that one niece had been in the area of Mexico where the virus started and was now under quarantine and that a school 12 miles away was closing for two weeks, shouldn’t I also be staying home? (I didn’t make any of that up, btw) So we, as a class, we’re going to focus on what we really needed to know about this virus, locate as accurate information as we could and interpret what we learned. The final presentation would be one of two things:

  1. I would call my mother, explaining that I was a [then] fortysomething librarian who had researched this and was in no danger, or
  2. My mother would write a note to the Head of School excusing me from work while the virus was a problem.

Reader, the students loved the assignment. They immediately got the connection between Research and Real Life.

And here we are, twelve years later, having the same discussions. I’m not belittling the concerns, but source evaluation is a lifelong skill and this is a great moment in which to drive that message home.

Posted in Life Related, Student stuff, Techno Geekiness, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

My annus horribilis

Posted by lpearle on 26 August 2019

While the fiscal/academic year ticked over on July 1, today is my first real day back at work.  We’re getting set up for AY20 by creating displays, getting ready for new student orientations, shelving books and all that fun stuff, plus first department and division meetings.   Before Summer Vacation started we worked on a To Do List for the next year, giving us a path forward that will ease the start of the year.

For me, that guide is deeply appreciated as last year was truly an annus horribilis for me.  Physically I was still dealing with the effects of CRION and the drugs I’m on to keep things stable.  That particular cocktail made me very, very tired, although going off one drug meant the “puffy” (aka swelling due to water retention) went away.  There’s that old saying that as you age you have a doctor for every body part.  Me?  I have three doctors for one very small body part, my left optic nerve.  Go me?!

And on more of a personal note, my mother’s health, which was declining fairly rapidly over the past three years, failed completely.  It’s was difficult watching that but losing her in the middle of the year was even more difficult.  I’ve always tried to keep my personal emotional stuff away from work and I know that I wasn’t able to do that.

Luckily, this summer was the first in many that I haven’t had to work or had a major project to complete.  So instead I took to my bed for a couple of months of reading, napping, binge watching tv and cuddling with my cats.  I could use more time for those but as we start to edge in to the new year it’s enough to regain some sense of equilibrium and calm.  Plus, AY20 can’t be worse than AY19, right?  RIGHT????

Posted in Life Related, Musings | Leave a Comment »

Learning from the past

Posted by lpearle on 25 February 2019

The other day a friend at work was sitting in our conference room reading about creating an educational biography.  What was that, I wondered?  It’s a summary of the influences your teachers and other educational experiences had on making you “you”. Here’s one way to approach one, and here’s another version.

By coincidence, there was a tweet the next day I responded to:

It’s probably no surprise to anyone that it centered on reading, right?

What I didn’t add in that tweet was that this was a contest where we logged the number of pages we read each week (newspapers counted for a certain number of pages, as did comic books).  The top four readers would get lunch at a restaurant across the street from the school. The first week, the teacher accepted my tally.  The second week, she was a little suspicious.  It was either the third or the fourth week when we had a snow day on a Friday and I read all 1,365 pages of The Count of Monte Cristo (yes, the number of pages stuck with me and that might also be the long weekend I ate a bushel of apples.) That’s in addition to my other reading that week.  My mother got a phone call then, and confirmed that yes, indeed, I had read all those pages.  Because I’d won four weeks in a row, and not just won but read more than several classmates combined, this teacher decided to cancel the contest as she couldn’t prevent me from entering.

What I also didn’t add was how that made me feel – that somehow reading was wrong, or at least reading fast was wrong, or reading that much was wrong.  And somehow, I was wrong.

Clearly, 40+ years later, that memory stuck with me.  It didn’t stop me from reading, or feeling somehow wrong for reading the amount I read (although I’m currently 9 books behind my goal for 2019 so I’m not reading as much as I should).  If I were writing my educational biography, that’s one of the things that would go in.

Over the weekend I’ve been thinking about my effect on students.  I know one parent who feels that her daughter benefited from my being her librarian (she even reached out on Facebook to tell me).  I know that many appreciate help on research projects or finding their next read.  Conversely, I know that there are some who feel that asking them to treat the library and others in it with respect by keeping their voices down (we have a cement building that amplifies noise) and not running or throwing things is a problem.

There are a few I’m pretty sure would include me in their educational biographies, both positively and negatively.  I can only hope that it’s more of the former than the latter.  And going forward, it’ll be in the back of my mind as I work with them.


Posted in Books, Life Related | Leave a Comment »

You’ve got change coming

Posted by lpearle on 4 September 2018

It’s the start of the year… officially.  New students arrive today, tomorrow is the first day for our Middle and Lower School students, Friday is Upper School Convocation.

The past four days were my last official days of Summer Break (if you don’t count the Opening Meetings last week, which I’m not.  Because summer.)

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Posted in Life Related | Leave a Comment »