Wednesday, August 26, 2015

First Week Back in my HS Library!

This is the image I created with Canva (which is everything awesome and amazing and you NEED it in your life, trust me on this--rush out there to and go to town) to send out on all our library social media accounts:
Instagram: NacHSLibrary
Twitter: NacHSLibrary
(y'all check us out!), as well as sending it to the teachers via a mass email.  When I send notices out to teachers I try to make a splashy image that will catch their attention, give them the information in short bits, and be done.  I want them to know that while I have info to share, I respect their time.

Open a book, find a treasure. ARRGGGHH. 

The first book display of the year has a pirate theme this time around.  I guess I was just feeling pirate-y. Plus, won't it be fun on Talk Like a Pirate Day?

The kids are clearly already enjoying Captain Jack, as you might discern from the second photo.  I don't mind--I enjoy innocent shenanigans and am glad it is getting their attention.  ;)

Terrible pic of our wonderful new reading nook.  Before this year, this space under the stairs was used to store the carts for the library.  Ugly, but useful.  I noticed, though, that my kids were always moving things around in order to create little hidey-holes behind the carts.  This year we've moved the carts back to the storage room and have created a pleasant & inviting nook for my bookish friends who, like hobbits, enjoy cozy spaces. The students love it (well, it did take one a minute to absorb it all--she said---and I quote---wait! what happened to my emo corner?)

And...last but not Slytherin banner.  We are bringing M.A.G.I.C. club back and I am now head of Slytherin House.  OH YEAH, BABY...I'VE GOT THE POWER!


It's Wednesday and I haven't made my blogging deadlines for the past couple of weeks-- but y'all, I'm flat worn out by the time I get home.  Am not draggin' so much today as I was yesterday, nor the day before that.  Feeling like this time next week I'll be back on track with this whole getting-up-before-dawn thing that the school year requires.

In other high-points-of-the-week news:

  • the FIRST day of school I had students waiting on me to open the library. THE FIRST DAY!!!  I had checked out books before our official opening time of 7:30 AM.  Be still my heart!
  • I have already received many I-read-this-over-the-summer-and-you-must-read-it moments (don't y'all just love those?)
  • we added a beautiful new (old--antique--gorgeous--FREE) sofa to the library.  Pics of that later.
  • I was honored to be asked to read the writing of one of my new students to campus.  
  • I've been told the library is "so cool".  by freshman.  boys.  who are athletes.  let that sink in.  
  • I've already been asked to come booktalk with a class.   JOY!

I hope your new year is off to a fabulous start, too.  Let me know how it's going in the comments!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Tired Tuesday?

Yes, it is Tired Tuesday.
Normally Tuesdays are the days we wear tiaras (just because, you know) but instead--in this get-everything-done-before-the-kids-come-back mode today was a day for getting things DONE.

Y'all know about Glennon Melton, right?  She's the guru behind Momastery and the author of incredible book Carry On, Warrior.  She is one of those folks in the world that help make me okay with me.  Anyhow, one of her posts this summer kept flashing through my head all day today (it was just that kind of day, as some of them are, you know) and I kept wanting to shout,

"I am totally NOT freaking out! I am Suzanne!"

because today was the day the maintenance guys came over to move the right bookshelves--not the ones they moved in June back when I first asked.  

Y'all, these bookshelves are serious.  It took 5 strong men and a dolly and they still struggled with moving them into place.  Fast Forward to TA DA when all was finished and I thank them & am grateful (despite their mention that they had moved them before and they were not wanting to move them again. despite my sugar-sweetened reply that indeed they had not moved these shelves before, but rather the ones I didn't ask to be moved and how much I sure appreciated the right ones getting moved.  you know the ones I asked to be moved in the first place.) 

So we all made it through it and I spent the putting books back on the shelves. They were stacked on 7 tables.  I return tomorrow morning to face 3 tables, each down to just one layer of books.  This is progress!  My little freshman will have places to sit for FISH camp this Friday!  I just feel so much better without all those piles of books covering the tables and back in their happy homes waiting patiently to be picked up and share their magic with their people.  

Life is so good!

It's time for a epsom salt soak and some time to relax in my jammies.  

Monday, August 10, 2015

Whatcha Reading?

Now that I've made posting on Tuesdays a pretty firm habit, I'm looking to add some regular posts to the blog. After reading today's post on the More Books Than Time blog I was inspired to work toward this as my Monday habit!

So, I just HAVE to tell y'all about a book I finished late Friday night.  I stayed up way too late to finish it considering I knew I had to get up around 5:00 AM Saturday to travel, but I just couldn't help myself. This book was SO special because it was recommended to me by a really cool kid. Okay--a really cool adult whom I taught when she was a really cool kid.  :)  So, first a story about Willow Wylde (last name left out).

Years and years ago when I was a young college kid I worked in the infant room of a daycare.  One of my babies was a little girl named Willow.  She was full of personality and sass.  We bonded--I took a million photos of her and shared most of them with her mama--also full of personality and sass.  I kept a couple of her photos in my little photo brag book (y'all remember them?  you know, before cell phones carried our pics around?)  I graduated from college and moved back home.  10 years later I moved BACK to my college town.  There wasn't a library opening in town, so I took a 5th grade teaching position with the knowledge that there would be a library position opening up the following year.  The day I got my list of kids I just about fell over---yes, my little Willow Wylde was on the list.  I would have known her anywhere--her resemblance to her baby self was uncanny---not to mention she has a fabulously unique name!  I gave her those final two baby photos I had kept all those years. And so, I had the honor of getting to know her as a fifth-grader, and then to be her librarian all through her middle school years.  My Willow was an artist and a reader---she still is! Fast-forward to the present...Willow is about to finish college with an art degree and we are Facebook friends.  She is one of the coolest people I have ever known, in part because she is so true to herself.

So, via FB she recommended I read Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.  What a delightful read! Mysterious and mystic--a book about the love of books and a melding of old ways and new.  I was happy to find my library owns a copy (yes, first year--still learning my collection!) and I absolutely have a few kids in mind who would just LOVE this book. Best of all, I now am planning on reviving the high school book club under a new name & a new game plan--one inspired by this book!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Mom & me

When I was a little girl my mother, who is also an educator, was working on her masters degree, and then her doctorate.  At the time, of course, I didn't realize how difficult that must have been for her.
Y'all, my mom is a Super-Star. 

No, I'm totally serious.  By the time she was working on her doctorate she was a wife, mom of 3 wild & crazy kids, working full-time as a high school teacher, and holding it all together like a boss. She's a total class-act; a lady.  As a grown woman with a husband, 2 wild & crazy kids of my own, and a job I totally love I stand in AWE of what (and how) my mama did everything she did.  I swear, as a kid, she made it all seem easy.  We ate meals together as a family--she baked homemade cookies--carted us to & from all our events--and never, ever even raised her voice. My friends from high school still want her to adopt them almost 30 years after our graduation because she is still the 

Despite all her busyness, my mom was always willing to listen to me.  As a mama myself I realize now that it certainly wasn't because she had nothing else to do or that she cared as deeply about the major life importance of the unfairness of frenemy drama as I did at the time---but it was because she cared deeply about me. Did I mention that no matter how inane my conversation might have been she never once made me feel annoying or idiotic and she never once met my concerns or questions with an attitude that wasn't caring?

 I totally want to be her when I grow up.  

My mom and I were talking the other morning (we talk every morning--the day just doesn't seem right if we miss our phone chats) and she was reminding me how I demanded that she "look at me when I talk" as a little one.  We laughed because my Liv says this to me all the time

"But Mama is driving, honey.  I can't look at you right this minute." 
"Oh yeah.  I forgot," Liv will say.

Funny how the universe works.  Over the last week, I have had multiple reminders of just how important it is to listen. *** To listen with your whole body.  To really be present in the moment. That everyone needs to feel heard. I believe this is a basic universal human thing.  I guess this post is to say I'm listening, Universe.  Thank you for this reminder.

I posted a link for my new training manual for my incoming student pages last week.  One of the things I will train students to do is to put the electronics down, put themselves aside, and be with the people they are serving. 

As parents, we expect our children to listen. As educators, we expect our students to listen. As librarians, we want & hope folks will listen to just how important & relevant we are in this new era. All of these expectations are absolutely right on target. But...

Are we listening to them?

I don't mean are we rushing around doing all that we must get done and mumbling "um-hum.  yeah. um-hum" as someone talks.  I mean, are we listening to them?  With our whole bodies?  Being really present in the moment?  Letting them know they are heard and therefore valued? Yes, we ALL want to be heard, and I absolutely believe that librarians must become awesome at tooting our own horns. If we aren't teaching folks about all that we do they will. not. know.  
in our quest to share our mission...are we listening to our students? our teachers? our administrators? Are we being the change we want to see in the world?

Are we building relationships? 

I realize we are all busy. I realize that the world spins very fast. I realize we all have much to do. With that said, it is more important than ever that we specifically make the time to listen.  Ask questions about what they need/want/desire from their library instead of assuming you know what they need/want/desire or assuming you know what is best for them regardless of their needs/wants/desires. Take a moment and remember how good it feels to know you have been heard and acknowledged. Believe me, I am talking to myself here!

My mom has known & loved me longer than anyone else on the face of this planet.  The fact that she still asks those types of questions of me and really listens to my answers--looking at me unless we are in the car & she is driving-- makes me feel incredibly secure and grounded.


I want to be sure to remember this--to fold this knowledge into my little pocket and carry it around with me--so that I will remember to be this present for others.  It helps us all move forward, really.

***here are a few of the things the universe has thrown at me this week that spurred this post:
  • a conversation with an old friend whose hubby is a long-time restaurant manager regarding how they have to specifically train hostesses to be social with guests because so many of them come in not knowing how to chat with folks these days.
  • Reading posts also on this topic by amazing folks such as Jennifer LaGarde (she links to 2 other posts in this one that also speak to the topic--be sure to read those, too!)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Library Page Boot Camp Training Plan

Y'all I am SO, so, SO excited! I feel really prepared and ready for my new library pages and I thought I'd share my training plan with you guys in case it could be helpful for you.

The nuts & bolts of my plan really boil down to communicating my specific expectations to them. I think this is a big part of what went south last year--sometimes something is so familiar to us that it becomes a "well, of course, they get this--it's so obvious" when really it is anything but obvious to someone new to the work-in-the-library world.

To prepare for creating this plan I studied two sets of companies: those who are known for fabulous customer service, and those that are known as great FUN places to work.  I studied the training programs of Chick-Fil-A and The Ritz-Carlton, of Apple and Disney and Southwest Airlines. There are definite overlaps in the two listings, which speaks volumes regarding the way folks feel when they are given the proper training.  Nothing feels better than a job well done (okay, so there may be a few things--but you get what I'm saying here!) I also read The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Gary Chapman and Paul White, and of course applied the wisdom of Marie Forleo.

I want to keep the training simple and straightforward, yet *hopefully* not bore them to tears. In keeping with that, I have created a three-fold approach per class period with student pages--yes, it will be repetitive for me, as well as being an investment of time.  I believe it will pay off in the end. Each day we will build, 2.learn a new skill, and 3. review & reward. I haven't included specific team-building exercises in my list.  I'm still thinking on what will work best with such a small amount of people, but basically my goal is that they will actually KNOW one another and be able to work together as a team.

1. Day One. We do a short intro. Kids will receive their Training Guide and fill out a short information sheet about themselves. We will go over any and all questions they may have regarding the guide.  There will be snacks.  Snacks are good.  Snacks create a hey-I-care-about-you warm fuzzy vibe.  We appreciate snacks at meetings.  Teens appreciate snacks at meetings.

2. Day Two. We tour the library. Yes, all my pages are seniors--but to assume they know the sections of the library would be a mistake ---one that I definitely made last year! They will be introduced to the super-secret inner sanctum of the library (okay, the supply closet, but whatever.) We spend time on what it means to "posh" the library (that's what I call cleaning & straightening the library and is explained in the training guide above) with specific real-life examples. We move on to working the copy machine and shutting down computers.

3. Day Three. Shelving 101. We start with fiction because that seems to be the easiest to comprehend for most people. Because I am transitioning into genre-fied fiction sections, this one will come with a warning that change is coming and explanations of the shifting spine labels. I'll move into the other shelving specifics and the pace will be determined by how well the students are getting it. I plan to make videos going over the details of the various types of shelving for the kids to watch, and I'll link them here when I have them completed.

4. Day Four.  We do a super quick review of shelving and then practice for the bulk of the class period.  We will learn to shelf read on Day Four, as well.

5. Day Five. Boot camp survival certification day! This will be the first celebration my library pages earn. I know it may sound a bit silly, but I honestly plan to have certificates for them and a little ceremony.  Do I think they will keep these forever?  Heck no, but I hope it will be a fun way to show them recognition for a job well done.  These certificates will be their storing place for future badges to be earned, as well. I had considered something digital, but we really aren't set up for that at this point. Also, one of the regular rewards my kids can earn are special passes for 30 minutes of free time to be used as they need/want to use them.

So, this is the basic boot camp training plan I've made for the year. After my kids have mastered the boot camp skills, those who are ready will move on to the Ninja Jedi skills of processing magazines and then books. I'd love to hear your feedback and want to know what you have done in your training of student aides that has been super successful!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Library Page Boot Camp

Over the past couple of weeks, I've started developing my new-and-improved training for my library pages. I've done a lot of brainstorming and have asked an awesome librarian friend of mine to brainstorm with me because I really, really want to get this right this year. 

The one thing I've totally committed to doing is to refer to them as Library Pages--mainly because it tickles me. I mean, seriously doesn't Page just feel more bookish than Aide or Assistant or Clerk?  So, Page it is. Whew! It feels so good to have that major point settled! ;)

Last year, while I loved my students and appreciate what they did do, the training I provided was severely lacking.  This became more apparent as time went on, and I'm determined to make some serious changes in my training program so that the library runs more smoothly and we are all um...on the same page, as it were.  
(Yes, I have the Nerdy Humor Sickness.  It's a Thing and I totally have it.)
If any of y'all out there have some great suggestions you'd love to share I'm all ears, by the way--but here are the nuts & bolts of my thoughts at this point of my work-in-progress:
  1. My goal is to train them & treat them in a way that encourages a strong work ethic.  I don't want a lot of sitting around or staring at screens.  We have student pages because we need them to do work.
  2. I want it to be FUN.  Okay, so we know a training (and the work itself) won't be Broadway show fun or county fair fun, but you know what I mean, right?
  3. I want the expectations to be crystal clear.
  4. I want a working environment that encourages self-motivated workers, but also is a safe place to ask questions without fear of appearing dumb.
  5. I want to reward a job well done. 
  6. The basics they need to know are: shelving fiction, shelving non-fiction, shelf-reading, keeping the library organized, neat & pretty, and working the circ desk.
  7. The second-tier skills they need are working the copier and processing magazines and books.
  8. These can be "boring" skills to learn, so I want to add some interesting ways to impart the knowledge--some video, something interactive, etc.
I want them to know that I love to be able to write strong recommendation letters for both scholarship and work opportunities for my kids.  I want them to know that hard work pays off. I want them to take pride in a job well done and feel a strong connection to the library being amazing in part because of all they do.

I am looking for ideas I can incorporate specifically from companies who are well-known for creating awesome work environments for their employees.  It isn't enough for me to have kids who are just assigned to work in the library for a class period their senior year--ultimately, I want pages who LOVE to be there. 

What are YOUR thoughts?

image from