Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 3 January 2017

Wow.  It’s been a year since I did one of these!  I’ve been squirreling away links and things to share, and using Schoology at work to share them with my team.  Now, here’s some sharing with you…

Books, Reading, etc.

School Life

Tech Stuff

Etcetera

  • Thought-provoking post about deciding if traveling for PD has a good ROI.  Networking isn’t covered, but should have been.
  • This is the second school I’ve worked at that touts the presence of Harkness tables, yet no one has been trained in the method.  I suspect that many schools are in the same position.  So here is one way “to Harkness” (hint: it’s not about the table!!)
  • Why streaming music (I may be one of the few who refuses to) is going to harm music creation.

Posted in Links, School Libraries, Student stuff, Techno Geekiness, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

My year in reading

Posted by lpearle on 31 December 2016

challenge

As you’ve read in previous posts, I’m on the 2017 Alex Award committee.  Any adult book published in 2016 is eligible, and YALSA’s policy is that we (the committee) can’t publicly talk about what we’re reading .  But because I work in a MS/US school library I have to keep up with what’s going on in YA, and because there are genres and topics I’m not thrilled with, I have to have “comfort” reads.  So, being practical, I thought I’d get through about 75 non-Alex books… then perhaps 100 would be ok… and finally, 125 was my challenge goal.  Reader, I surpassed it.  Per Goodreads, here’s what my year looked like:

reading2016

My “Alex eligible” reading reached 214, for a total of 345 books read in 2016.  Not my best (that was 399) but not bad either.  And while I can’t talk about the Alex books, I can tell you that between non-eligible (books published pre-2016, or those for children and young adults) my requests, committee nominations and personal “I really want to read that, whether or not there’s teen appeal” the genre breakdown was:

  • Biography/Memoir – 26
  • Children’s / Young Adult – 124
  • Fiction / Literature – 76
  • Horror – 7
  • Humor – 7
  • Mystery – 29
  • Non-Fiction – 32
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy/Speculative Fiction – 31
  • Suspense – 13

I’m on the 2018 Alex Award committee, so the same rules will apply.  I’m wondering if I’ll read as many next year, either on my own or for the award.  Stay tuned!

 

(oh, and if you’re wondering about what happened to the books, many were donated to my school, my friends and a local charity shop – lucky them)

Posted in Books | Leave a Comment »

Existential Angst, part two

Posted by lpearle on 14 December 2016

Sometimes, life isn’t fair.  Things this year have been going so well: the new library staff has become an amazingly tight team, teachers from math and science(!!) are coming to us for help teaching citations and working on projects, the changes to our physical plant and collection have been well-received.  And we made two great videos:

and

Reason to celebrate, right?

Life’s funny. Because, no celebration. Last Sunday, I woke up with blurred vision in my left eye. It was worse Monday. My usually wonderful 20/15 (with corrective lenses) vision was 20/50 in one eye. Two days later, it wasn’t even measurable. The good news – the only good news – is that I’m not going blind and that this should clear up… sometime. The bad news is that only 50% of the time is optical neuritis idiopathic. The other 50%? Serious. Very serious. And I don’t know which it is.

I can still read. Watch tv. I’m even driving during the day. But to me, reading is my life. It’s my supertalent. And even though I can read, it’s difficult when all you have is one eye to go one (the left is regaining peripheral vision, but s.l.o.w.l.y.). So who am I if I can’t ever regain my eyesight?

I’ve never been one to identify completely with my profession. Come retirement time, buh-bye. Unlike many others I know (and a current problem with the Democratic leadership, where average age is 70+ and the entire group have been leading for 20+ years, completely losing a generation of leaders in the process, much like AASL) I’m not convinced school librarianship will fall apart without me. Others can lead.

But here I am, 10-15 years from that time, wondering what’s going to happen. And dreading it.

Posted in Life Related | 1 Comment »

Existential Angst, part one

Posted by lpearle on 12 December 2016

For years librarians have planned lessons around digital literacy, hoping to teach students how to evaluate resources they find online.  We share sites like Facts About Dioxygen Monoxide, All About Explorers and the Tree Octopus (and my personal fave, The Pomegranate Phone). We caution them that just because it’s online, or in a database, they need to use the CRAP test before using the information for research.  And they get pretty good at that stuff.

But then, this past election.  All that training, all those lessons – gone.  Vanished. Ignored. And not just by our students.

Far too often professional friends passed along articles from organizations that appear on this now-infamous list of fake news organizations.  Why? Because confirmation bias.  Because echo chamber. Because it’s so easy to click and share, not check sources.

Last week they showed Screenagers to our Middle School, and we created a Resource Guide on Digital Citizenship. But how frequently do those parents, so concerned about the digital lives of their children also pass along these types of stories?  The ones where [someone] destroys [rival]? The ones where candidates, past and present, allow surrogates to smear and spread semi-truths? The ones with easy-to-agree-with memes or “share if you agree” links?

Several times I recommended that these professional librarians check their source (ditto personal friends, many of whom read a headline and ignore the actual content – clickbait at its worst). Some did, some argued.  But what gives me angst is how we can consider ourselves “experts” when we are guilty of just the same things we try to impress on students are “don’t dos”?

If you’ve done this sort of sharing over the past few months, how are you planning to change?  or aren’t you?  And if not, why not?

Posted in Ethics, Musings | 1 Comment »

More from the mailbox

Posted by lpearle on 28 November 2016

Part of reenergizing the program at work has included purchasing the LibGuides platform to create what we’re calling Resource Guides (it’s the Kleenex/tissue issue – who knows if we’ll stay with the same platform, so why confuse students with a brand name?).  This is the third school I’ve used these guides in, and they’re an amazing way to collect resources and guide students to them, as well as teaching them how to do research.  The usual sequence is: teacher approaches us with a topic, we create the guide, we meet with the class, and then we forget about it until the next year or next time the project is done.  So imagine my surprise when I found this in our mailbox the other week:

Crucible thankyou

Here’s a guide I whipped up in a few moments, presented and hadn’t thought about in several months that has had an impact on someone completely unrelated to our school!  I’m… pleased.  Stunned.  Thrilled.

Here’s proof that what we do matters in ways we don’t always anticipate or see. And proof that adhering to our mantra of sharing resources (via ILL, online, etc.) is one that serves us well.

So here’s what puzzles me: why do school libraries keep their resources hidden?  Why aren’t all school libraries easily findable on the school’s homepage?  If you’re using the LibGuides platform, why aren’t your guides public (there are ways to hide database passwords and login information that still make the rest of the guide public)?  It’s such a surprise to me when I look for a friend’s website, attempt to search a catalog or try to see what databases a peer school has and I can’t find more than a publicity page created by the communications people.  It saddens me that all that’s available to the public is a few facts, maybe a photo.  Allowing others to see what’s going on and what you have is such a help to those of us looking to find books on a topic that work for a certain education level (“will this work with our 7th grade?”) or ways to present information for a research project.  And it’s free pr for your school and its program.

We’re considering a third revamp of our website in two years, asking students for input on usability and comparing our page to peer schools and colleges.  Are we using similar language? What’s important to share, and what can be hidden? One thing we know for sure is that links to our Resource Guides, our catalog and our databases will be available (we use EZProxy, so you can’t access our database content without being a member of our community).  We want to share that with anyone looking because we know how important that can be.

And if anyone asks why, that email is response enough.

Posted in Collection Development, Musings, Rants, School Libraries, Student stuff, Work Stuff | 1 Comment »

Thankful for the little things

Posted by lpearle on 23 November 2016

One of the things I heard – loud and clear – when I was interviewing at Milton was that the library needed to change.  It needed to be more the heart of the school, more comfortable for students and teachers.  It’s one of those concrete-and-glass late 60s/early 70s brutalist buildings, no “curb appeal” as all those HGTV shows say.  Inside, I found a wonderful 20th century library and library program – and in 2015 that’s not a great thing, right?  So my staff and I went to work, upping the digital offerings, removing the microfilm/fiche collection, weeding the overgrown collection so that the incredible useful resources we have shine through.  Then I had to hire new staff, one of whom has the charge of energizing our Middle School program and getting involved with the daily life of that division.  And it’s working.  People are responding, perhaps slower than we’d like but still… baby steps, right?

One innovation (for Milton; I freely admit to “recycling” this idea from elsewhere) was to create two pop-up libraries, one in the MS break room and one in the US dining hall, so that busy students and faculty could easily get some vacation reading.  For two days we sat there, encouraging people to “not leave Milton without a vacation read!”.  Not as many takers as I’d hoped, but enough for us to continue this before Winter Break in a few weeks.

And then, this in our mailbox, from S, a senior:

You're awecome

*blush*

 

 

Posted in Student stuff | Leave a Comment »

Who says things on the Internet aren’t forever?

Posted by lpearle on 13 November 2016

http://serials.infomotions.com/acqnet/text/acqnet-v6n033.txt

Untitled via kwout

See that date?  Twenty years ago today I wrote that e-mail to a supposedly private list (ACQ-WEB, if you’re interested) as part of my MLS internship.  Who knew it’d become public and still “out there” today?

Beware what ye post, kiddies… beware what ye post.

Posted in Privacy | Leave a Comment »

Is it October already?

Posted by lpearle on 2 October 2016

My acedia has returned, I think.  Or maybe I’m still exhausted from the summer work.  Or my EBV is acting up.  Whatever.  Anyway, saw this on  Quo Vadis’ Writing Wednesday and decided to use some of it as an opportunity get caught up.

1: What are your goals this month? What actions do you need to take to work your goals?  Trying to stay organized (ok, ok,  get organized), being less aggressive with my Never Ending To Do List, catching up with friends, and keeping on top of both Alex reading and other reading.  The actions are pretty self-explanatory.

2:  What are you excited about in the coming month? We have two long weekends this month!  During the first, I’m heading to a friend’s house and hanging with some friends from high school; during the second, I’m reading reading reading.  Both will be very necessary to accomplishing my month’s goals, beyond being necessary to my mental health.

4: Close your eyes and imagine your ideal ending for this year. What have you accomplished? Where are you? What were the best things you did this year?  This summer’s weeding and rethinking the space and program were probably my biggest accomplishments – it’s a little early to say if they were good, bad or need serious tweeking.  Hiring the right people for our two job openings has been a huge help with rethinking how the library approaches research needs and reaches out to the larger school community.  And personally, getting my life somewhat together in terms of clutter, maintaining friendships and reading for Alex all fall into “best” territory.

6: In the northern hemisphere, days are getting shorter and leaves are turning. What do you love about autumn? Crisp apples… snuggly sweaters… hot cups of tea.

19: Write a list of things that bring you joy: your family, your pet, a favorite book or movie, sitting with a hot beverage in a cozy spot, etc. Look at the list often.  See number six, and add discovering a great new author… casual conversations that lead to really great friendships… cuddling with my cats… helping a student or colleague and getting a heartfelt “thank you”… getting a spontaneous, genuine smile from a someone…

25: What is something new you learned this month? A new skill, new information, a new point of view?  Not sure it’s something new, per se, but the resources my staff and I are sharing fill me with hope regarding changing our practice.  Watching Resource Guides change and grow to better fit student needs has been great, and I love having experienced colleagues to bounce ideas off of and build great projects.

28: List 5 things you’ve been procrastinating. What steps can you take to get these things done?  Tweaking our new OPAC, updating our Resource Guides, creating a better Reader’s Advisory program, organizing our storage room, working in our archives creating finding aids.  What can I do?  Figure out a sensible plan for spending a few hours a week on each of them.

30: What good things happened this month?  Getting our new cafe tables and watching the positive reactions to them.  Despite some concern about the weeding and space reorganization, most students seems to like what we’ve done.

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

It’s all worth it

Posted by lpearle on 2 September 2016

Years ago, at another school,at a difficult time professionally, I led a Mock Newbery group for some interested Middle School students.  The excitement (literal jumping up and down in the dining hall) when the winner was announced puzzled those not involved with the reading, but I knew these kids had had a great experience.

Flash forward to last night, when I got this message from the mother of one of the girls in the group:

MOW.jpg

What a wonderful message to start the school year: no matter how difficult it may be in the moment, ultimately, it’s all worth it.

Posted in Student stuff | Leave a Comment »

What I did on my summer “vacation”

Posted by lpearle on 29 August 2016

Wow.  I know I promised to post when life calmed a little – guess what, it didn’t.  While my position is on the teachers schedule, this summer we had a major project going on.  In the space of seven weeks, I and two recent graduates worked hard to weed books, reshelve them in a better order, move furniture and really start the process of creating a 21st century library space:

There’s still much to do, but at least the pace will be a lot slower.   I won’t promise to blog more, because that hasn’t worked in the past, instead I will promise to try to blog more.

Posted in Books, Collection Development, School Libraries, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »