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.