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.