Monday, September 15, 2014

3 weeks in...

image from morguefile.com


Friday marked the end of the 3rd week of school for me.  It has been a whirlwind; a wild and  happy whirlwind.

I can say this without reservation--I absolutely LOVE being a high school librarian.  LOVE it.  I knew it would be a new adventure, but I honestly didn't realize I would enjoy it so much from day one.

It has been amazing to see former students who attended my middle school----they are taller and many of the boys have more facial hair, but other than that they are basically the same sweet kids I knew way back when.

I am beginning to see progress in adding some cozy reading areas and other little touches that make the library feel like my home away from home.

I will be back on the blogging bandwagon soon---but have learned over the years to give myself time to settle in and make what is important important when I'm in the midst of change and a major learning curve.  I hope you will remember this, too----it is OKAY for you to take time when you need to take time.  It is okay to be still.  It is okay to ponder and think and breathe when you need to do so---seriously, if our buckets are not full, we cannot fill the buckets of others.

I hope your new school year has started of marvelously!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

And so it begins...

image created in PowerPoint using Word clip art

Yesterday we held  FISH camp.  All incoming freshmen were there to learn about and tour the high school. I was on the agenda--speaking to 5 groups of about 70 each rotating through the library over the course of a couple of hours.  

I have been working on what to say to these kiddos for about a week--in my head at least!  Regardless of whatever I was actively working on, my brain was still working on what on earth I would say to these students.  

Now, for full disclosure I LOVE talking to and with students.  I love public speaking.  I'm a theater girl at heart, so the getting up in front of large crowds thing doesn't worry me.  It was what to SAY that had me a bit bumfuzzled.  I mean, this is my first rodeo with a high school library gig! What the heck do I know?

A post regarding high school library guidelines on a wonderful library list-serve I follow, LM_Net, caught my eye last week.  Someone mentioned they liked the always-amazing Doug Johnson's expectations and the words really spoke to me.  I knew I wanted to incorporate them into my talk somehow.   I remember watching a video this summer made for kids entering the school that said, "We trust you." I probably watched this as a part of my Summer Learning Challenge run by Todd Nesloney, but I might have come across it through another post or blog---honestly, I follow so many great blogs and awesome folks on Twitter, etc. that I don't always remember who posted it, or where it was posted---but I DO remember the ideas! (edited to add credit for the video--it was from Michelle Luhtala and thanks to reader Amy Barbarino for that info!)

Here is what I finally came up with share with the FISH swimming through the library:

  1.  Welcome! I'm glad you are here.  
  2. I am new and we will learn together. 
  3. I want you to be in the library.  My job is MUCH more fun when YOU are here.  
  4. This is a place for you to Read, Think, Dream, Create, & Explore.
  5. We have books that will take you places and loads of technology, too.
  6. My expectation for you in the library can be summed up like this:  Keep It Awesome.  This is a place for you to be productive in a way that allows others to be productive. I trust you to Keep It Awesome.  
  7. If you need something and we don't have it, let me know. I will do my very best to get it.
  8. You come with a class or a pass.  
  9. We will host some amazing opportunities for you: book clubs, Makerspaces, & lunch and learn sessions. 
  10. We are connected: Instagram, Twitter & Facebook--look us up and follow.
  11. This is not MY library, this is OUR library.  Let's Keep It Awesome!
Information on fines and procedures can wait.  I have to get the kids IN the library before any of that really matters anyway----so my main focus was to inspire them to get IN there. 

It went well.  The kids were great; they listened and asked questions.  It was really funny during a couple of sessions to see the kids who went to the other middle school last year glancing around at all the kids who were at my middle school last year like what the heck is going on? when the kids broke out in loud applause and cheers when I introduced myself to the group.  ;)

I got hugs, kids asked me to save books for them for the first day, and just about everyone left smiling. I consider that a success!



Monday, August 4, 2014

Reflection Journal


I've always been the reflective sort--have kept diaries and journals since I was about 9.  One of the best practices for my professional (and personal) growth has been reflecting on the various lessons/projects/displays/events that I plan and put on in the library.  Setting down what went well and what did not along with ways I'll improve or move forward with new goals. 

Also, have I mentioned I get absolutely giddy in office supply stores?  That fresh journals make my heart sing?  That I love perusing the back-to-school aisles?  

I am so flippin' excited about my new journal.  I figured this was the perfect time to start with a brand spanking new journal for my brand spanking new journey.  

I've tabbed it according to my 10 goals, leaving the back half for day-to-day blurbs about whatever.  I like the freedom to have both.  Best of all?  This little beauty was less than $5.00!

Let the new year begin!


I

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Year, New Goals




Writing my goals for this new year has been an interesting exercise.  While I am working to keep things measurable some of what I will do is create a welcoming and teen-friendly atmosphere while still maintaining that sense that it is a haven and a place of learning, something that is difficult to really measure in a tangible way.

There is a term in Denmark called hygge.   It is a word for which there is no easy translation, but it basically means that cozy, contented feeling you have when surrounded by a warm fire, friends, and a good book. NPR has a great little article with awesome pics to describe it HERE.  I guess, in a nutshell, hygge is what I'm trying to create.  


My 2014-2015 NHS Library Goals

1.  Prepare for Fish Camp
  • On August 15th I will stand before the incoming freshman class and introduce myself to them as the high school librarian for the very first time. Half of these kiddos I know because they are coming up from my former middle school, which is awesome.  The other half?  Well, it is first-impression time for them and I want to do the library justice.  I want to quickly and in a friendly, engaging manner let them know the library belongs to all of us, and they are wanted there.  Then I want to smile, shut up, and sit back down.  This isn't a time to drone on and on about the rules, or book fines.  This is a unique opportunity to invite them in to be a part of our library community.
2. Genre-fy the Fiction Section
  • Genre-fying the middle school fiction was, without a doubt, one of the best decisions I made.  I realize not everyone out there in library land is on-board, and that is okay---but I have to say having SEEN the difference it made for my students made me a true believer.  Not only is it easier for my kids to find what they want, but it makes shelving a breeze--which means those books are getting back out into circulation much faster.  
  • My plan this time is to sticker the books throughout the year and then be able to do the ole switcheroo towards the end of the year.  I hope this plan will make for a smooth transition into a genrefied library.  
3. Update the website
  • Our district has updated the district website---we have a whole new platform to learn, etc. I hope to get some training soon!  The website aspect is so important because it is what allows our library resources to be available 24/7 365 days a year.  
4. Grasp Scheduling
  • I am in a whole new world with scheduling, y'all.  I'm coming from a one largish room library to a two story, with multiple techie rooms on the top floor library.  Each section has its own schedule of availability.  I will also have a full time aide for the first time in YEARS, and thank goodness she knows what she is doing because she will have to teach me!
5. Learn new databases
  • I am SO thankful that our state is now providing database access again!  FREE our first year--AWESOME!.  BUT...these are slightly different than the ones we have had in the past so learning these suckers is on the list.
6. Connections (via social media, etc.)
  • I am a connected librarian.  I want the library to be connected, as well.  Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Remind accounts have all been set up.  Now to market them!
7. Learn the curriculum
  • This will be a long process, not something I can fully accomplish this year.  The more in tune I am with the curricular needs of the teachers and students, the better I am able to assist.  
8. Hold one event per month
  • Whether it is a maker event, a lunch & learn, or a book club meeting, the goal this year is to host one event per month in the library.  I hope to add more than one, but am trying to set a reasonable goal for my first year.  Promoting these events and marketing the library in general are going to take time and effort. 
9. GT collaboration
  • I have been the GT campus coordinator at my middle school for many years.  I'm leaving that behind, but still want to be there for our GT kids in some way.  I have heard for years that "oh, the GT kids will be fine...they are smart and will learn regardless" which is true---but not the right thing to do.  I was a GT kid, and I have GT kids of my own.  These students deserve to also be stretched and academically challenged in ways that allow them to explore their passions and to learn to take chances without fear of failure (which is often how we learn, right?) Many GT students fall into one of two categories.  Either they don't give a rip unless they are interested, don't turn in homework but ace the tests, and are generally bored and wreaking havoc OR they are incredibly worried about their GPA to the extent that they don't want to risk lowering it by testing new theories and taking chances.  I hope to work with the coordinator and other teachers at NHS to create a passion-driven learning environment for these kids. 
10. All in all, learn the HS library
  • It is a shift, a curve, an incredibly exciting challenge.  I have a LOT to learn and will be out of my comfort zone, which is exactly where the magic happens if we let it!


Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Dawning of a New Age


image found at: http://home.comcast.net/~jpittman2/pacman/pacmandossier.html

This morning I received an email from a colleague of mine. It was about a blog post from The Ubiquitous Librarian regarding the recent announcement by Amazon of its new Kindle books service. While I had already heard the news about Amazon (I'm a prime member--from way before the current publishing house vs. Amazon issue) via email directly from Amazon.

Truth be told, the only surprise here is the whip-quick time it took for this to happen. It was inevitable, I think, and as The Ubiquitous Librarian mentions, some of this could mean really exciting news for readers all over the world.

Beyond the initial issue of a David and Goliath mega-store book seller situation, and the what-will-this-mean-for authors (and publishers, and everyone in the book industry), my initial thoughts run, of course, to what will this mean for libraries?

This is not a new conversation by any means.  The Kindle subscription service is merely the latest in a long line of happenings that should be causing us as to take a really good, hard look at what we do and why & how we do it.

Seriously--if you AREN'T yet having these conversations, you MUST begin.  If the conversations have started, it is TIME to put those thoughts into ACTION.  The time is NOW, folks.

"The only thing that is constant is change." 
-Heraclitus 

It is a new age, for sure.  One of the many, many reasons librarians simply MUST start thinking outside the box is that we are certainly no longer the only game in town when it comes to information and we haven't been for quite some time.  First Google, now Amazon, right?  And while WE know what we do is actually even more important in today's global world, do our patrons, our administrators, our communities and our lawmakers understand that?  

I believe our public librarians are doing a GREAT job of moving forward.  Even in my small little town we have an amazing public library.  My greatest concern is for the school librarians.  I know there are some absolutely fabulous & connected ones out there. My PLN is full of them, thank goodness.  I learn and share with them via Twitter, listen to amazing podcasts, and read great information about really cool programming on their blogs.   

We MUST up our game, both in terms of WHAT we actually do AND in promoting our libraries as forward-thinking spaces (both brick and mortar AND virtual) for information, collaboration, curation, and learning in all its forms.  

We MUST keep this in mind when planning out our goals/events/programming for the upcoming year. Do our plans tie in and give added value to the Campus Improvement Plan?  Are we assisting in meeting the goals set for our students?  Are we constantly sharpening our saw so that we can be ready to prepare our students for the future that awaits them?  Are we able to assist our teachers in their growth, as well?  

I know that these are a few of the questions that I will definitely keep in mind as I prepare for the new school year.

The cool part is that while change can be hard, and this sure is a mighty paradigm shift we are going through, if you look at this as a fantastic opportunity we can work  to expand ourselves and our libraries beyond our wildest dreams.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Easin' on down the road...


I'm working on writing out my goals for the upcoming school year.  As mentioned in another post, I'm a Twitter fanatic, but I've also been reading some fantastic professional books and listening to some great podcasts, as well. This has been a GREAT summer for self-directed professional development!

I have a meeting with two really amazing librarians I know later on this week.  We plan to get together to share the ideas we've all been brainstorming for the upcoming year.  We all grow stronger when we share with one another.

Tomorrow will be my day to dig through all my notes, look over the highlighted areas of my books, and do some deep-down pondering and dreaming about the soon-to-be-upon-us school year (I go back in less than a month, y'all--WHERE has this summer gone?) and finalize those goals.  Well, I say finalize, but really my goals are always fairly fluid. The list is simply a road map which can be altered if the scenic route looks like more fun, or if the original route is looking like it has a major roadblock.  

I'll post those goals here when I get the first draft done tomorrow.  I'm SO stinkin' excited about the possibilities this new year holds, ya'll.  I just can't wait to ease on down that road!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

It is time for Teachers Write!


Three year participant here!  Yes, I've been lucky enough to be a part of this amazing online community since the very beginning. Every year I've been challenged to stretch and grow.  I've become brave about sharing my writing.  It is always a fantastic time with fantastic folks (speaking of which---this year's lineup of guest authors is AMAZING!) and I come away inspired and filled with writing excitement.

If you would like to participate and haven't already signed up--NEVER FEAR!  It isn't too late!
Sign up HERE! And you can find more info on Kate Messner's blog post HERE.

A HUGE thank you to Kate Messner, Gae Polisner, Jennifer Jones Vincent, and Jo Knowles for being our fearless leaders.  I am forever indebted to you all.