Monday, December 22, 2008

Fresno Co. Public Library Bookcart Drill Team 2008

I wanted to share the love with local Fresno folks. Great job!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Give your blog away!

Yes, that is exactly what I mean! Give your blog to your teachers. No, not this blog. No, not your other blog.

The blog that you use for collaborating with teachers. I have been spending the last week working on a small careers project with my AVID teachers and students. As part of the project, students did research on careers and wrote short essays about said careers. I created a blog where students could post pre-research comments on careers I had chosen. Eventually, they also posted Post-research essays in the comments section.

See: AVID Careers at Tehipite

What usually happens in these circumstances is that the blog is abandoned. What I did was offer it to the AVID teachers to keep and use for the rest of this year and beyond.

My hope is that these teachers will post other assignments, have students begin to post, and more. The absolute worst thing that could happen is that it ends up abandoned.

Anything up from there is a victory.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Back Cover Words: Rules

Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life. Which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She's spent years trying to teach David the rules from "a peach is not a funny-looking apple" to "keep your pants on in public" --in order to head off David's embarrassing behaviors.

But the summer Catherine meets Jason, a surprising, new sort-of-friend, and Kristi, the potential next-door friend she's always wished for, it's her own shocking behavior that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask: What is normal?

Filled with humor and warmth, Cynthia Lord's debut novel takes a candid and sensitive look at feeling different and finding acceptance -- beyond the rules.

Rules by Cynthia Lord

Librarians in Books Quote

From Rules by Cynthia Lord:

"Oh. Mostly [guinea pigs] eat pellets from the pet store, but they'll eat almost anything. Once I left a library book too close to their cage and they ate off half the cover. That was hard to explain to the librarian, let me tell you."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

You say you want a revolution? Well, you know...

I am plotting the overthrow of the library world.

More to follow.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Nearest Book Meme

Stephen's Lighthouse offers the following meme for bloggers:

Rules: * Get the book nearest to you. Right now. * Go to page 56. * Find the 5th sentence. * Write this sentence - either here or on your blog. * Copy these instructions as commentary of your sentence. * Don't look for your favorite book or your coolest but really the nearest.

Here's mine:

We could join the rebel militia in the Bongo area, if we so desired, or simply live there for a while in peace and wait for the civil war to sort itself out.

John Bul Dau in God Grew Tired of Us*

(*This is the true story of one of the Lost Boys of the Sudan.)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

CNN Heroes

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I spent this evening watching CNN Heroes. While Yohannes Gebregeorgis did not win, it is an amazing group of people. They should all be proud of what they have brought to the world.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Twilight Time

My district is off this entire week, but my Battle of the Books team decided to meet yesterday for an hour or so (because we were behind due to the Scholastic Book Fair). As a thank you to them, I took some of them to see Twilight this afternoon.

The students enjoyed it, I enjoyed it, and my family (who also came) enjoyed it. Well worth the cash.

You can see the trailer here.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

CSLA, Post 11

The conference is quickly heading toward being a done deal. I have been so pleased with the efforts of the conference committee. They did an excellent job.

What can you say? I had the opportunity to:
  • Meet new friends and connect with old friends.
  • Be on a panel discussion with Barbara Jeffus, Margaret Baker, Jo Ellen Misakian, and Jackie Siminitus. It doesn't get any better than that.
  • Get some free books.
  • Talk about libraries, library careers, and librarians.
  • Learn a great deal!! Oh my. My task when attending is to choose two things that I can use in my library and I am there.
  • Meet many people who have been just faces in the online world.
  • Meet my students from the online program at Fresno Pacific University

CSLA 2008, Post 10

My presentation is over and I am pleased with the results. Given that it was a Sunday morning and it was a panel discussion, you never know how things will turn out. That being said, there were some nice comments about our efforts.

By the way, if you have career sources for librarians, you can post them on our presentation wiki at:

Library Careers Wiki

CSLA 2008, Post 9

I am sitting in a very empty, very large room waiting for my presentation to begin. It is now 8:27 and it starts at 9:15. It is a panel discussion and there were not enough chairs for the panel. That was an easy fix. There is not, however, a microphone on the table; only one at the podium. Hoping to get that fixed.

This presentation is on building a library career and what it takes to get there. I am fortunate that I got some amazing participants for the presentation. They are:
  • Barbara Jeffus, California Department of Education
  • Jackie Siminitus, AT&T
  • Jo Ellen Misakian, Fresno Pacific University
  • Margaret Baker, Selma Unified School District

Given that it is a Sunday morning, I am a little concerned that we will actually have people show up for the presentation. We also got one of these new longer sessions, so we are not only competing with the people who start at the same time, but also with the ones who start half an hour after we begin.

I will let you know how it all turns out.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

CSLA 2008, Post 8

Oh my. Apparently, you go to hear Deborah Ford talk just to hear her talk. She's out there in a very good way. I saw her present Scary, Gross, and Enlightening: Books for Boys, 2008. Yes, this is a presentation that she gives each year and many TLs go. Well worth the time, particularly if you have an interest in getting your boys to read books.

One thing that I liked about her handout was that she is very specific about which books are appropriate for whom. She uses this scale for reading interest levels:

K-3 = G rated
3-6 = PG rated (older kids, more sophisticated, etc.)
5-8 = PG13 rated (mild violence and/or language)
YA = R rated (violence, language, sex, etc.)

She then went through an incredibly long list of books, read a couple, and it all worked for me. A couple books that I will be buying for my library:

1. The Seer of Shadows by Avi
2. More Bones by Arielle North Nelson
3. Alfred Kropp: The Thirteenth Skull by Rick Yancey
4. Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix
5. Solving Crimes with Trace Evidence by Gary Jeffrey

CSLA 2008, Post 7

I had the opportunity to go see Pam Selleck present Making Literary Connections with Book Talks. Well worth the time and effort. It makes me want to energize my book talks.

While she gave a lot of advice, her basic book talk tips are:
  • Select books that might not otherwise be selected. Pam suggests that you really don't need to book talk Twilight. Find the good books that kids don't know about.
  • Read the book. Yes, many folks, including me, don't always read the entire book. I need to work on that and so do you!
  • Keep the talk short. Her book talks were of varying lengths, but 4-5 minutes was about the amount of time she used.
  • Don't give away the plot. Students want to be surprised. Let them.
  • Have multiple copies available in the library. I need to work on this. It makes it hard at the middle school level where often, at the most, you only have two copies.
  • Make sure the library staff, if relevant, knows which book you are talking. When students come in asking about a book, but have forgotten the title, it helps to know what they are talking about.
  • Give the students a list (or a bookmark) of the books you book talk. Students need something to remind them of which books were presented.
  • Beware of AR! Book talk books at varying levels.

CSLA 2008, Post 6

Why do I go to CSLA? Could I be doing other things with my time? Yes, I certainly could. Could I be content only with what happens in my library? Yes, I certainly could. Could I decide that I have all the information that I will ever need for my job? Yes, I certainly could.

There are so many reasons why I go, but some of the ones that come to mind for me are:

  • Learning something new. I can assure you that I take something away from every presentation (although it isn't always what the presenter had in mind).

  • Meeting people with shared experiences. We are a passionate bunch and they get me.

  • Getting to spend time with the TLs from my district. Sometimes that can be harder than it sounds. Getting away makes it easier.

  • Because I am CSLA and so are you. I am on the CSLA Northern Section board because I think there is strength in numbers.

  • If my job is on the line, I know that people will come to demonstrate, write letters, and be supportive. These are those people.

  • Free books on Saturday afternoon!

  • The exhibits and getting to know the reps. Most of them I will never buy from, but it does give me the opportunity to see their wares.

And so much more. I encourage you to come to CSLA 2009. You will not be disappointed.

CSLA 2008, Post 5

On Friday I went to hear Advocacy 101: Using your voice to give a shout out for your school library program. This presentation was by two TLs from Long Beach Unified, Sandy Patton and Pamela Oehlman. Excellent advice!

As some of you may know, the TLs in that district have perfected advocacy to an art form. They now have TLs at the elementary level and are working toward hitting CSLA's standard for personnel in libraries. This is not by accident.

Some of the pieces that worked for them at the site level:
  • Newsletter
  • Contribute to daily or weekly bulletins
  • Attend social events (even when not assigned)
  • Be on School Site Council
  • Attend parent meetings

Some of the things that worked for them on the district level included:

  • Attendance at board meetings.
  • Place action items on board agends.
  • TL on the teacher's union board.
  • TL on key district committees.
  • Provide professional development on district level.
And much, much more. They also recommend Sandy Schuckett's advocacy book.

At the very end, Glen Warren from the Orange County Department of Education offered this quote that he heard:

If you're not at the table, you're on the menu!

Friday, November 21, 2008

CSLA 2008, Post 4

An observation

How organizations are formed and who eventually joins an organization is of some interest to me. Sometimes it happens that organizations end up looking a certain way very much based on who joins. Based on the Joe McHugh presentation this morning, it is very obvious that the California School Library Association is:

a. overwhelmingly white


b. overwhelmingly female.

I make this statement with no intention in mind other than to note the fact. When we get together in a large room like we did this morning, it is very noticeable.

I suspect that CSLA reflects the library profession at large. In my own district, we reflect that and only a minority of our TLs and techs are members of CSLA.

CSLA 2008, Post 3

I woke up this morning and went to see Joe McHugh speak. Mr. McHugh is an inveterate storyteller and it was a good presentation. It was part personal story, part personal philosophy, and part personal politics.

I appreciate presentations that showcase how the author got from point A to point B and McHugh certainly does this.

Some thoughts:
  • The new mythos - the new religion - is media. Performers (actors, journalists, etc.) are our new priests.

  • Librarians have the power to change this.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

CSLA 2008, Post 2

I went to The Best of the Best: What's New in YA Literature. Michael Cart was the presenter and while there well may be someone on the planet that has a greater sense of YA literature, I doubt it.

His format is very straight-forward. "Here's a list of books. I am going to talk about that list of books until my time is up. There will not be time for questions."

It works. I see why people pay extra to attend the workshop. Yes, when I get home I will be purchasing a number of the books he showcased.

Since you are so nice, I will give you one of his lists called "Traditional" YA:

  • The Possibilities of Sainthood (Donna Freitas)
  • Peeled (Joan Bauer)
  • Suite Scarlett (Maureen Johnson)
  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (E. Lockhart)
  • Sunrise over Fallujah (Walter Dean Myers)
  • Mexican White Boy (Matt de la Pena)
  • How to Build a House (Dana Reinhart)
  • He Forgot to Say Goodbye (Benjamin Alire Saenz)
  • What they always tell us (Martin Wilson)
The first one I am going to read and booktalk is The Possibilities of Sainthood. It is the story of an Italian-American girl who starts writing the Vatican to let them know that there are living saints and that she is one of them. Among other saints, she says she is "The Saint of the First Kiss." Tell me I can't sell that book to some of my middle school students!

CSLA 2008, Post 1

I have arrived at CSLA 2008 in Sacramento. As always, I am reminded at what Sacramento gets right that Fresno gets so wrong. Sigh.

Yes, I will be blogging the conference. I am already checked in, got my name badge with the cute blue sticker that signifies I am a presenter, and I am good to go. I am signed up for one of the workshops, so that is likely to be the next post.

I am fortunate that my school and my principal sees value in sending me to the CSLA Conference. However, since they do pay for it, I feel a real responsibility to bring back things that can improve our library program.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Teach your library service students online

As part of my graduate work at Fresno Pacific University, I have been developing an online library service course. This course is a series of ten lessons that combines a total of thirty assignments. I have developed it in Moodle and it is a work in progress.

The interesting thing for me is that I will be offering it to my district for adoption for all of our secondary schools. Unlike in the past, where all of our schools are doing different things, we now offer some of the same resources, use the same circulation system, and are purchasing some of the materials.

Because my district does not currently have access to Moodle or Blackboard, FPU has agreed to host it for the time being. Yet one more reason to respect what is going on over there! I am awaiting a response from the district as we speak.

I presented it to my class today and one student suggested that I consider submitting a presentation for CSLA next year and show others how to create a course like this one. Hard to think that far in advance, but it is an idea.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tasty bookmarks

If you have ever wondered what sorts of things I bookmark, you should take a look at my Delicious bookmarks. Good library stuff.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mobile Donkey Librarian?

Amazing man and an amazing story. Former San Francisco children's librarian Yohannes Gebregiorgis builds libraries (mobile libraries) in his native Ethiopia. You can vote for him (again and again) for CNN Hero of 2008. For more about the organization, go to Ethiopia Reads.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Star Trek TAS Should've been a librarian

"The job of librarian would be no less challenging, Captain, but it would, undoubtably, be a lot less dangerous." Mr. Spock clearly never worked at a middle school.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Library Summer Camp already?

We have already started working on Library Summer Camp 2009. This is an annual event in CSLA's Northern Section Region 3. This has become a quite successful event and we get about 150 paraprofessionals to attend. While we have not narrowed down a date yet, it will be the first week of August 2009. It is unclear which school will host, but we have a couple of possibilities.

The last meeting and the next meeting have been at my school. Most of the people on the committee have jobs (like district librarian) that make it easier to be gone. Because I have several things going on, it makes it a little more difficult for me. So, they decided to make it easier on me and we meet here. I thought that was nice of them.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Do you have street lit in your library?

Do you want your students to connect with books? Street lit does just that; it provides a mirror to the students and shows their own reality.

I don't have much in my collection because most that I have seen is really more appropriate for high school and beyond. I do have the Bluford High series and that has been quite popular. By the way, Townsend Press sells the books for $1 each (plus shipping). Very reasonably priced. They are kind of an odd size, but put them on display and they are gone.

The New York Times has an excellent article on street lit and its popularity. I find it fascinating that this sort of thing makes it into the NYT.

The one concern in all of this expressed by some is that street lit takes away from other African-American literature. I don't see it. At least in my experience, the two types of literature are read by different types of students and, interestingly, students who read the Bluford High books are willing to cross over.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Library detective Mr. Bookman on Seinfeld

Hippies burning library cards? Abby Hoffman teaching kids how to steal books?

Fresno Pacific University?

Are you a former or current student in the Teacher Librarian program at Fresno Pacific University? Are you a former or current instructor in the Teacher Librarian program at Fresno Pacific University?

If so, you should consider joining the brand-new Facebook group, Fresno Pacific University Teacher Librarians. It is a place to gather for support and for unity.

Monday, October 20, 2008

YALSA's Top Ten announced

YALSA has just announced the winners for the Teen's Top Ten for 2008 and they are:

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by James Patterson
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray
Extras by Scott Westerfeld
Before I Die by Jenny Downham
Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

What am I going to do with the knowledge? I'm going to read the books. Look for my thoughts in the coming months.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Shop early. Avoid the rush.

Christmas is fast approaching and I know that you are all wondering what to buy me. Well, wonder no more.

That lovely beauty off to the left is T-Mobile's soon-to-be-new phone, the G1. It is commonly called the Google phone and will debut in about 3 days. I am so jonesing for this phone.

Let me be clear: I would never buy Apple's iPhone. It is far too expensive.

And, importantly, I like this one better. The iPhone only has a touch screen, but the G1 has a touch screen and a qwerty keyboard. I like a qwerty keyboard.

Cost: $179.

Will I buy one? I am very cheap with such things. Very cheap. Right now I have a T-Mobile Sidekick ID (the cheap version) and I am only finishing up the first year of the contract.

By the way, how does this end up on this blog? There is very much a connection between libraries, technology, and general geekery.

Friday, October 17, 2008

How involved are you in decision-making?

I am shameless. I think the best librarians are (although I have a long way to go before I am part of the "best"). On Wednesday, I had a couple of architects wander through the library. My school is up for modernization and, up to this point, it was unclear if the library would be included in that effort.

It is now more clear. On Wednesday I discovered that the proposal for the school would be presented in November and then put out to bid. The library will be part of that presentation.

I asked them what the thoughts for the library might be. It sounds like the usual: new paint and carpets (the carpet is the original from 1973), new cabinet faces and lighting fixtures, and a new circulation desk (!). I asked if there was any thought to enclosing part of the library for a computer lab and there was not. At one point, that had been discussed, but that vice principal is gone now.

Why is this important? This past spring I convinced my school to fund the insides of a computer lab. Sitting in my office I now have 25 laptop computers, keyboards, monitors, and more. I purchased knowing that I might not get the lab enclosed.

So the answer on Wednesday was no.

However, that architect and her boss (?) came through again today. I talked a little with them and then I said, "So, there really is no possibility of a lab?" The boss asked about it, I responded, we walked over to take a look, and now it is a possibility. He will be presenting it as part of the proposal. Will it get approved? Who knows, but I am certainly closer.

Remember that part about being shameless? I'm okay with that. :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

CSLA Conference in November

Are you looking forward to the California School Library Association Conference in Sacramento? I know that I am. I learned so much last year and I can only imagine that I will learn as much this year.

Also and importantly, I am a presenter this year. I will be moderating a panel discussion on building a successful library career. Note that I said moderating and not actually being an information-provider.

Who is part of the panel? It is an all-star library cast including:
  • Jo Ellen Misakian, Fresno Pacific University
  • Barbara Jeffus, California Department of Education
  • Margaret Baker, Selma Unified School District
  • Jackie Siminitus, AT&T

My theory is that library careers do not happen by accident. Yes, you need to do tremendous work in your library, but there are also specific steps to take to move to that next level. This panel will outline those steps.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Yohannes for CNN Hero!

In the spring I mentioned that a man I admire, Yohannes Gebregeorgis, had been selected to be a CNN Hero. They choose one a week. Yohannes has now done one better and been selected one of the ten top heroes of the year.

Guess what? You have the opportunity to make him #1. While taking away nothing from the other nine heroes, Yohannes is the co-founder of Ethiopia Reads, he is a former children's librarian in San Francisco, and he spends his days starting new libraries, primarily in schools, in his native Ethiopia.

I have had the pleasure of meeting the man. He is impressive and I do not impress easily. I hope you will consider voting for him.

Colbert Report - Communist Library Threat

Library materials and services for free? That's just wrong in so many ways!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

No, this isn't a post about the imploding economy in the U.S. You should be so beyond afraid by now and terrified beyond all measure at this point.

No, this is more local. I have been asked to, once again, teach an online course for Fresno Pacific University. In point of fact, it is the same course that I taught in the spring and again this fall.

That being said, this course is not for library students. It is for graduate students in math and science.

As my mother-in-law said, "They asked you to teach a math class?"

I wish I could say that I have an awful relationship with my MIL and that she doesn't know what she is talking about, but that is most decidedly not the case. Quite the opposite, actually.

I suck at math. Not as bad as I once did, but enough that people would think someone making these course assignments is a little insane.

Remember, though, this is a curriculum integration course. Truth be told, I don't need to understand the math and science the students use. I just need to understand how they integrated their subject area with technology.

That I can do.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fundraiser for Shawna Kilbert

I need to ask a favor if you live in the greater Fresno area. A fundraiser is being held for Shawna Kilbert, who is the Teacher Librarian at Cooper Middle School in Fresno Unified School District. Shawna has cancer and the prognosis is not good, but she is a serious fighter. She is the mother of two boys, a three-year-old and a five-year-old.

If you have ever gone through cancer with anyone, you know that it is not only devastating physically and emotionally, but can be financially draining. Because she is at the point where certain medicines are not covered by insurance, it has become quite expensive. Baja Fresh donates 15% of all the proceeds to Shawna and her family.

I am hoping that, if you live anywhere within driving distance, you will consider making the trip. It is on October 9th from 10:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. If you have questions, please ask.

If you can come, email me and I will send you the flyer. If you cannot come, but would like to make a donation, use this:

Teen Read Week 2008, part 1

I am spending time today and tomorrow getting ready for Teen Read Week. I purchased the posters and bookmarks to go along with the event from the American Library Association. One of things that I am doing today is putting up the cool TRW posters that I purchased.

As I mentioned below, I am working with some of my English teachers to make this happen. They have come up with some great ideas. As we move through next week, I will write about them here.

Monday, October 6, 2008

What's another book like...?

How many times have you had a student ask you for a writer who writes like ________ or a book that is like _______? I came across this site on Larry Ferlazzo's blog called Literature-Map.

The short version is that you type in an author's name and it creates a cloud with that author and with other authors. The closer in the cloud, the more similar the authors are in writing style and/or content.

In addition to answering that hypothetical student's question, you could also use it as a support in purchasing decisions (as in, "I would like to find more books like what Stephenie Meyer writes.")

My one concern is that some author's names are spelled incorrectly. Still, a valuable tool.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Resource of the Week:

I was shown this website in my class yesterday. is a good way to manipulate photos without having to learn how to use Photoshop. It has enough tools, gadgets, and doodads to keep you busy for quite a while. While it does not completely replace the need for Photoshop, the on-your-computer product, for most of us it probably does everything you need.

I think is a model for what others are saying about the future of computing. Yes, you will have a computer (of some sort) with an operating system (of some sort), but the software will be out on the Internet. This is increasingly what is happening. It will be interesting to see how large software sellers like Microsoft adjust to this new way of thinking.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

"Twilight" banned in Capistrano Unified School District

If you were one of those who thought book banning was in the past, here's an article to read. While the banning was eventually rescinded, it is humorous that this would happen during Banned Books Week.

The article began:

A series of fantasy novels about a vampire and his teenage girlfriend were banned Friday from middle school libraries in the Capistrano Unified School District over concerns about age-appropriate content, but reinstated four days later without explanation.

The books are still under review. Here's more:

"There's a process that we go through to determine the appropriateness of placement of library books, and we will go through that process to determine the best placement for these books," Hatchel said.

Here's your magical trick question of the day: How many teacher librarians work for Capistrano Unified?

That would be none.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A good meeting? Really?

I had a wonderful meeting today. I like meetings when they actually accomplish something and greatly dislike them when they don't. I met with a wonderfully creative group of teachers and an administrator about Teen Read Week. I am working to make it a real event at my school and am getting the support of the English Department.

Going into the meeting, I had a sense of what I wanted to do. And they made it that much better. Still a bunch of planning that needs to be done, but we got a good jump on things.

It looks to be a week full of activities. Which is as it should be.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Banned Books Week

It seemed important this year to do something for Banned Books Week in my library given that one of the candidates for the vice-presidency of the United States wanted to ban books. Loyal readers will note that I rarely infuse my politics on this blog, but this is not about politics. This is about wanting to force your opinion on others by removing their ability to research and to read and to decide for themselves.

This issue goes beyond conservative and liberal, beyond Republican and Democrat. I think this goes to the very core of what it means to be an American and to believe in the principles on which this country was founded.

What am I going to do? Not a lot really. I have pulled about 40 books from the collection and put them on display. I will then use the announcing system to let students know that books adults don't want them to read are now on display in the library. I will then stand out of the way.

By the way, there is actually a group on Facebook called "I Read a Book Sarah Palin Wanted Banned from the Wasilla Public Library."

Ubuntu @ the Library

I have so been there with technology!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Prangstgrup Library Musical - Reading on a Dream PRANK!!

If I could sing that good, I might give it a shot!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thank those who support you!

I had the opportunity to speak at the Fresno Unified School District Board meeting last night. A group of FUSD TLs were there to thank the school board for providing increased funding for our libraries. Since some have asked, I said this:

My name is Tom Nixon and I am the Teacher Librarian at Tehipite Middle School. I am also the Northern Section Region 3 representative for the California School Library Association. This past weekend I was at a board meeting for that organization and I had the pleasure to tell them that:

In Fresno Unified, teacher librarians are valued for their expertise and are supported by the district administration;

In Fresno Unified, the school board and the superintendent understand that there is a research connection that shows that students with higher test scores come from schools with strong library programs;

In Fresno Unified, the school board and the superintendent get the strong connection between literacy, successful library programs, and having credentialed teacher librarians in charge of those programs;

In Fresno Unified, unlike other parts of the state, that funding for libraries and teacher librarians is steady and that it is a priority of the school board and the superintendent.

This does not happen by accident. Clearly, it is due to the work of the board, of Mr. Hanson, and of our director of school libraries, Karen Tozlian.

On behalf of my colleagues, I thank you for your hard work and for your continued support.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

On the road again...

I am sitting in a hotel room in Davis, California. I am here for the fall retreat of the California School Library Association's Northern Section Board. As I no doubt wrote elsewhere, I am one of the Region 3 representatives for CSLA's Northern Section.

But what about your class that you are teaching?

I'm glad you asked that question. The nice thing about teaching an online course is that I can do it from anywhere. As a matter of fact, I emailed off today's assignment this morning (which is duplicated inside Moodle, the course management system). I also answered four emails from students, posted some posts in the forums, and generally made my presence known.

I greatly appreciate my day job, but I also appreciate being both a student and an instructor at Fresno Pacific University. For me, it's the right place at the right time in my life.

And how was your day?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Williams Settlement

I am sitting here waiting for the Williams folks to arrive. And, no, I am not blogging during my work hours! I am here early.

For those who do not know about the Williams Settlement, this requires all schools to have a textbook for each student that they can take home. Sounds revolutionary, I know, but there were schools where this was not happening. They would assign one classroom set to a teacher and the teacher would use that set all day. Students would not be able to take a book home.

Instead of fighting what was sure to be a losing battle, the State of California settled. It is now my job to make sure that all of the students at my school have textbooks in all core areas that they can take home.

While it does add more to my job, it is doable. That being sa....

...That being said they just showed up.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Teaching again...

I am teaching another class for Fresno Pacific University. As loyal readers recall, I taught one this spring. In point of fact, I will be teaching the same course again because they are starting a new cohort for the online Teacher Librarian Services Credential.

If this course is anything like my last group of students, I should enjoy the experience. We are still working at pulling the cohort together.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Wizard of Oz - a Tale of Library Circulation

A little goofy. Have I mentioned I like goofy?

Once more into the breach...

As loyal readers know, I taught an online course in the Teacher Librarian Services Credential program at Fresno Pacific University this past spring. I thought it went well and I was quite pleased with the results.

Apparently, I did sufficiently well that I have been asked to teach the same course again. There is a district in California that is requiring their TLs to become credentialed, so a new cohort will be starting soon. Thankfully, I only need to tweak the old course outline and I will be good to go.

I am excited at the prospect of teaching another course. When I taught that last course, it had been about a decade since I had taught college students (both at CSU Fresno and at Fresno City College). I had forgotten that I enjoy doing so.

It is rather interesting to be a student and a teacher in the same program. At this point, I have not taught students who have been in the same courses with me and I do not think that will come to pass. That is probably a good thing.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Library Hero, Part 1

Looking for a library hero? Look no further. I have met him several times because we occasionally travel in the same circles.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Resource: The Dewey Blog

For those of you who are big into Dewey and cataloging, you might want to check out The Dewey Blog. More library nerdiness than you can shake a stick at!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Library Rap

This video was done by one of my Fresno Pacific students. Very cool (and, yes, she received a good grade!).

I'm baack!

Yes, I have taken a little break, but I am back now. Life has been rather hectic, but now that I am back at school, perhaps things will calm down a tad. Or not.

We had students yesterday, but only grades six and seven. The eighth grade starts on Monday. It really is nicer to stagger the beginning of the school year. We also stagger at the end.

In coming back, we had many, many books to process. Part of this was moving to Follett Destiny and part of that was the particular math selection for eighth grade. As far as Destiny, I, for the most part, like it significantly better than Alexandria. Yes, it is web-based and I think that is a real advantage because I can access it anywhere on campus.

As for eighth grade math, our large district selected America's Choice. This is eight thin math books that look like consumables, but are not. What this will require is checking eight books out to each student throughout the year. While we did ask the company to barcode them, they came to schools in no particular order and with no particular range. This required me to input each book one at a time. Talk about slow.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Future of Libraries

Watch it. A microcosm of the changes to come.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Teaching online

I have been teaching this tech class for a week now for Fresno Pacific University's Teacher-Librarian program.

I am so impressed with these students. It is a small class and entirely online, but I think that has been helpful in many ways. Students tend to be less threatened by what they say and how they say it in online classes, so they are willing to have real conversations about real issues.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Teacher Librarians being cut due to budget

“Research from eleven states and over 4,000 schools documents that credentialed LMTs raise achievement scores anywhere from 8-20%. Support personnel alone in an LMC do not raise achievement but credentialed LMTs do. Why? Because the LMT concentrates on teaching and learning rather than on managing a warehouse. When there is no LMT, achievement suffers – its people rather than just things that make the difference.”

-Loertscher, David V. with Ross J. Todd. Evidence-Based Practice for School Library Media Specialists. Salt Lake City UT: Hi Willow Research & Publishing, 2003.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Library Hero

If you would like to see one of my library heroes, see this week's CNN Hero. I know him (because he usually attends the Ethiopian Culture Camp that my family attends each summer). When he lived in the U.S., Yohannes was a children's librarian. See:
Tom Nixon

Teaching them there librarians

In that last post, I mentioned what I would do if I were teaching a teacher-librarian credentialing course.

As it happens, I am.

But, Tom, you only started the program last year. How can you be doing that so soon? That is just so wrong!

Full disclosure: I am not actually teaching a library course. I am teaching the technology festival course (MCE-760/Curriculum Integration). In other words, I am teaching technology to teacher-librarians. That I can do.

And stop worrying about what I am doing, will you! I know I'm not ready to be teaching the library courses. :)

This is why it has been a little quiet around here lately. As it happens, I am teaching the very first course in Fresno Pacific University's brand-new online program. I also had the pleasure of developing the course. For those not in the know, often instructors teach online courses that they did not develop. That is significantly more common.

Why was I asked to do this? I am not sure. I have taught university classes before, but I also have some experience with online learning. Probably seemed a reasonable choice, I suppose.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Grant me a circulation desk

The Post Office closed today at 4:00 and I arrived promptly at 3:45 to mail off my application for the DEMCO/Betty Barkema School Library Improvement Grant.

When was it due?

April 30.

Yep, it was due today and I mailed it today. Thankfully, it just had to be postmarked today. The problem was one last letter of recommendation.

As for the process, completing the grant application has made me a better teacher-librarian. Really. What it took to pull it all together included creating a site library plan, a project description, multiple letters of recommendation, and creating a library advisory committee.

If I were teaching teacher-librarian credentialing courses, I would require that everyone complete this grant. You would not have to submit it (because it may not be appropriate for your setting), but the process was a learning experience all in itself.

I have asked for funding for a new circulation desk. The one we have is original to the school. My students deserve better. Sometimes the first step in creating a vibrant library program is just making it look like a vibrant library.

Finding your destiny (or is that Destiny)?

I spent last week going over to the dark side.


I went to Follett Destiny training. Actually, I probably like it and I certainly think that it will be better than our older version of Alexandria.

The problems that I had and continue to have relate more to support by the district than any problem with Follett. Our district is doing a number of new and exciting things technologically speaking these days, so it is difficult to get staff time to pull it all together.

So I went to five days of circulation training and had no patrons. I still have no patrons. I also believe I discovered today that my scanner will not work with Destiny. Yes, it will read the barcode, but it will not correlate that number with the book.

And, yes, it will all work itself out.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Monday, April 14, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Cutting library funding is irrational. Study after study shows that better school libraries (more books, better staffing, the presence of a credentialed librarian) are related to better reading. It is hard to understand how this evidence can be ignored when we are so concerned about test scores and the use of scientific evidence as the foundation of school practice."

--Dr. Steven Krashen,
University of Southern California

Monday, March 24, 2008

Ten Favorite Public Libraries List

For those of us who are librarians in California, we should be asking ourselves why no California libraries made this list in USA Today:

10 Great Places to Find a Nook and Read a Book

It is the list of the ten favorite public libraries of NPR book commentator Nancy Pearl, author of Book Lust. While there are many reasons for why this might be, it does give me pause.

By the way, I saw an advertisement today for a position at this library that made the list.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Quote of the Week

At the moment that we persuade a child, any child, to cross that threshold, that magic threshold into a library, we change their lives forever, for the better.

~~Barack Obama

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Out with the new...

What's in that picture? Why, those are books. New or nearly new books that were thrown into a dumpster outside Intermediate School 73 in New York.

Now there could be any number of reasons for how they ended up in the dumpster. No good ones spring to mind, however.

The titles:

  • Treasure Island
  • Little Women
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond
  • Kidnapped

Education officials are investigating how this could have happened. At this point, it appears that it was not done by the teacher librarian, but that is only my guess based on the reading of the article.

If the school needed to get rid of the books, at the very least, I would think that they could have been given to students. Yes, they are older titles that are not read as much as they once were, but at my school, I would have had quite a few students who would be happy to get them.

Library Limbo

Looks old, but is not. Kind of fun!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Vampires, round butts, and other oddities

I like to buy books that students actually want to read. I'm odd that way. Today I went to Amazon and purchased the first three books of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga:

  • Twilight
  • New Moon
  • Eclipse
I have been getting a lot of requests for that lately. While we already owned one of them (the second in the series; how does that happen?), I decided to buy all three. Vampires and romance. How can you go wrong?

I also bought Carolyn Mackler's The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things. This is actually the second time it has been purchased. It was stolen before it ever made it to the shelves. Note the title.

If it seems like we are a little behind the times at my school, it is because my students are late-adopters with books. They typically don't seem to hear about them until later than our north end of town schools. I am hoping to change that.

By the way, I went to Borders first, but they only had the last two books in the series in hardback. If at all possible, I don't buy paperback. We have too many of those on the shelves already. So I went to Amazon and bought it cheaper and with free shipping.

Since I know that some are not able to purchase from Amazon, I should mention that the only way that I can is through our book fines/lost books slush fund. I will submit the receipt and get reimbursed.

Friday, February 29, 2008

What gets you into trouble makes you stronger!

I did something this week that is so horrendous, so utterly depraved, so downright nasty, that I knew teachers would not be happy about it.

I had the locks changed on the library.

We have been broken into and things have been taken multiple times. Each time there was no actual breaking. The people had keys. In addition, doors are left open even when no one is there. I decided that enough was enough. Our book loss is a significant number.

I knew there would be an issue because one of the staff bathrooms is inside the library. Now, people can still get in through the front door when we are open. They just need to walk around the building. It is, perhaps, an extra minute if you walk slowly.

By the way, as of today, none of the administrators even have keys. I suspect that will change on Monday. However, I also suspect that not all of the administrators will end up with one.

I changed the locks knowing that it can be the little things that sometimes affect the big things. However, beyond that part of the security, we are moving to Follett Destiny and will need to be storing all the textbooks and some equipment in the library over the summer because we do not have a storage room big enough to house all of it. We are also purchasing new computers. Somehow we have to keep this all safe.

I have been surprised what percentage of my time is spent on administrative/managerial tasks in this job. I really don't mind making decisions like this, but it is somewhat different than I would have imagined. I often think of this as Library Manager Mode (as opposed to Teacher Librarian Mode).

There are days when I could see the argument being made for us all to have administrative credentials. I would even get one (but you had better be willing to pay me as an admin!).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Quote of the Week

“Library media specialists empower students to be critical thinkers, enthusiastic readers, skillful researchers, and ethical users of information,” says Sara Kelly Johns, president of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL).

From this article on how cool we are and how important it is to hire the right teacher librarian:

Enjoy the quote, but go and read the article.

Monday, February 18, 2008

You love me. You really love me!

If you had asked me, I would have told you. School Library Journal hosts yet one more research study, this one done at Syracuse University, showing the effectiveness of having a certified school librarian. Surprise of surprises! Having a certified person increases your test scores.

Who knew?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Quote of the Week

“[Librarians] are subversive. You think they're just sitting there at the desk, all quiet and everything. They're like plotting the revolution, man.”

—Michael Moore, filmmaker

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Utah considers increasing teacher librarian numbers

From the NEA Morning Update:

The Salt Lake Tribune (2/11, Schencker) reported that teacher librarians, "licensed educators with endorsements in library media who teach students how to understand, research and organize information," are in short supply in Utah schools. However, Rep. Tim Cosgrove (D) "is asking for $1.7 million a year for the next three years to help hire 50 more teacher librarians." Then, "after three years, districts would continue funding the teacher librarians themselves, and the state could spend more money to hire another 50 teacher librarians." The plan also calls for student achievement evaluations. Rep. Cosgrove's request was ranked "relatively high on [the] list of priorities for education funding this session" by the Public Education Appropriations Committee, "[b]ut the request still faces some stiff competition for state money this year." There are "[a]t least 10 other bills seeking money to ease the state's teacher shortage...progressing through the legislature" which "address other areas of critical shortages such as math, science, special education and other teachers."

Monday, February 11, 2008

Interview questions for librarians

I happened across this wonderful list of questions for librarian interviews. While I am not looking for a job, I know that others might be. Also, I would think this would be just as helpful to interviewers as interviewees.

101+ Commonly Asked Interview Questions

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Librarians are the bomb!

This past Saturday I went to my first-ever meeting of the board for the California School Library Association's Northern Section. As loyal readers may recall, I was recently drafted by the amazing Margaret Baker (president-elect of CSLA NS) to be one of the northern section's Region 3 representative.

It was up by Sacramento, but out in cow country (and I say that also living in cow country).

And what did I discover? It is a good group and I am glad that I opted to get involved.

Orson Scott Card a bigot?

My favorite comic strip, Unshelved, follows the adventures of librarians in a public library. This week's strips have focused, in a less obvious way, on some of the controversy surrounding the selection of writer Orson Scott Card for YALSA's Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Contribution to Young Adult Literature (for his books, Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow). And, no, Card is never mentioned by name.

The controversy is not that those books are not good for young adults. The controversy is also not that those books do not deserve awards.

Mr. Card has his own take on homosexuality, gay marriage, and such, and he is more than willing to share that take with the world. That is where the controversy lies.

School Library Journal discusses the issue here.

This quote below I offer without comment. Feel free to make your own decision.

“Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society's regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.”

Anybody who thinks that the answer to this is simplistic is absolutely not paying attention.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Fresno Pacific University Online Program

A few months back I mentioned that Fresno Pacific University would be creating a 100% online library media credential and master's program. This will start May 2008. The university now has a link up for those that are interested in learning more. You can find the credential link here:

Fresno Pacific University Online Library Media Program

The link for the master's degree doesn't seem to be working as of yet, so I will post it when it becomes available.

As I also mentioned, I have been incredibly pleased with the program. Very practice oriented and with exceptional teaching. Two things I greatly appreciate.

By the way, they are so on the ball that it even has the new name for the credential:

Teacher Librarian Services Credential

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Teacher Librarian Services Credential

As loyal readers may recall, I mentioned that the credential for those that do what we do has changed. We are no longer Library Media Teachers. As of January 1, 2008, all new credentials issued will say Teacher Librarian.

I have now found the document that tells you all about it on the Commission on Teacher Credentialing's website.

See: Teacher Librarian Services Credential

The one advantage to the new title is that I no longer have to explain what is I do. Very few understood what a Library Media Teacher was and we have had that title since 1990 (when they issued the first LMT credentials). Everyone understands Teacher Librarian because they skip that first part.

By the way, I still think it should be Teacher-Librarian (with hyphen).

Friday, January 25, 2008

New networking group for the San Joaquin Valley

The San Joaquin Valley Teacher Librarian Network had its first meeting yesterday at the Woodward Park Library in Fresno. This group was the brainchild of Maria Petropulos, district librarian for Fowler, who proceeded to drag Margaret Baker (Selma USD) and myself into the mix.

I think it turned out well. We had a total of a dozen people there and they want to meet again. Liz Dodds (Fresno USD) has now set up a Ning group for us San Joaquin TLs. I would encourage to go take a look and consider joining.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Good news to share!

I received some very good news this week. I have been selected to receive a graduate grant from Fresno Pacific University's School of Education. I applied for it back in November and the committee met in late December. The process included providing two letters of recommendation and completing an application.

The grant is not large. It equals one class, but given that my program only requires one class a semester, that works out just fine. I am allowed to apply again for next semester.