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Our Library Sucks!

And ya know what?  The kid is absolutely RIGHT.  Our library DOES suck!  But I’m trying to improve things.  I would love to know more about e-books and what some of the best ones are.  I don’t think it would solve all our problems in my library, but it might help alleviate some of the ennui toward our current collection.  Once the rest of the SMARTBoards get installed, that might alleviate some of the problem, becasue then we’ll have room to weed again. 

I feel like I’ve been weeding since I got here, and I still haven’t gotten a chance to get to the 900s yet.  And we’re not just talking biographies and autobiographies, we’re talking the entire history section.  Other than the scant few titles I’ve been able to scrounge up via teacher recs and stuff I’ve just known to order because we need it, the entire history and geography section makes me want to cry.  Hopefully after CHristmas things will get better.  I’ll be unveiling the plan soon!

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Olivia Bravo of Kanawha County Public Library mentioned an awesome link to a project she’s working on for the 150th anniversary of John Brown’s Raid in Harper’s Ferry.  It’s part of the West Virginia Memory Project and I’m sure it’s also someplace on the LOC’s American Memory site as well.  I’ve added it in on my school’s portal page for teachers, as well as linking up the two aforementioned pages.  For those of you who aren’t sure how to use the database, there’s even a handy, dandy “How to Use This Database” link at the bottom.  Here’s the link to the database:

http://www.wvculture.org/history/wvmemory/imlsintro.html

The pictures are great!  I’m so glad to see stuff like this going digital!  It’s going to make some 8th grade WV History teacher’s life so much easier!

Thanks, Olivia!

Happy Halloween!

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Back in the day, when I was in elementary school, we looked forward to Halloween.  We looked forward to candy, class parties, dressing up in fun (and funny) costumes, candy, trick-or-treating, candy, scary stories, candy, scary movies, and of course–it’s all about the candy!  I still love Halloween!  I still love candy!  I am still totally down with all things creepy, scary, and done in memory of the dead. 

It wasn’t until I was in high school and had a rather confused substitute teacher for an English class (the teacher taught both Spanish and Junior and Senior English, but everyone wound up watching Spanish videos) that I found out about the Days of the Dead, celebrated in Mexico.  I still recall the opening sentence of the video, because many years later, substituting for a different Spanish teacher, I had to show it to some students when she was out on a personal day around Halloween (“Los Dias de los Muertos est el celebracion de muertos y vida. . .”).  Just as the video states, it is a celebration of both life and death, and I find it to be a really beautiful tradition, full of food, family, fun, celebration and reverential remembrance of those who have passed on.  In fact, the only tradition I can recall (which almost no one celebrates anymore, unless they are from an old, staunchly traditional European home) is the dumb supper, in which one sets out food and drink for the dead, then leaves it from midnight to morning so that the dead may feast.  Some Catholic churches may still hold masses for All Saints and All Souls Days, but if they do it around here, I’ve never been.  Sure would like to go, though. . .

Here are some links to some good, solid information on Days of the Dead festivities:

http://www.tomzap.com/muertos.html

http://www.holidays.net/dayofthedead/index.htm

http://artswork.asu.edu — Click on either Teachers or Students, then follow prompts for historical and art activities. 

If anyone out there knows of any stuff I missed, please send ’em my way so I can run an addendum!

Enjoy

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I’m at work on an ISE day, but I had to write this post to share.  I’m looking at six kids in my library.  Five are reading and one is working on note cards for a research paper.  It’s the quietest room in school.  The last time it was this quiet, I was administering a test.  Of these six students, four are freshmen.  One is a sophomore and the other is a senior.  Three kids have asked when the new books are in (between Monday and Wednesday, kids, they were shipped on Thursday, the 8th).  This is the quietest it’s been in here all week. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I think you should be able to talk in a library, especially if you’re doing a group project.  I think you should be able to fit at least two classes into a library, more if and when necessary.  I know sometimes you have to talk to somebody to get something done.  But seeing these kids doing traditional-style, quiet, independent reading just made my day.

Happy reading!

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Since I’ve finally stopped working (for now) on school stuff (work-school, not Mansfield-school), I’ve been–doing more work. Most of what I’ve been doing has been grad-school related, and some of it is what this post is about. The course work really is good, but I’ve learned something about myself–I honestly cannot take more than one class a semester, and I really shouldn’t do two at once while still trying to work. Maybe next summer will be a little different, since my grandmother has died, but I doubt it. And on that note, just let me add-upheaval sucks!

Next Wednesday, July 16, I’ll be in Fairmont at my alma mater (it used to be Fairmont State College, I don’t know what sort of poxy, high-falutin’ moniker they’re going by now–I think Fairmont University?) for the WVLA’s Summer Refresher Workshop for school librarians. I’ll be doing two presentations–one on building a virtual school library (I know, I know, done to death, but I was stuck for a topic) and one on hell-raisin’ school librarians. The first one will probably be a snore. The second one–might get me into a spot of trouble, but at this point, I don’t care.

Folks, there’s a problem in this country with the school library, it’s image, and administrators and school boards who think in this digital age where any and everything can be found on the web the school library is a huge, rather irrelevant room filled with musty books and a leaky roof. Anyone who did a Library Power grant, anyone who has ever read AASL’s Information Power or happened to luck into a copy of The Information-Powered School knows that school libraries are more important and relevant now than they ever have been, and they are and can be ever-evolving. Some districts and states, however, will never know about this and will never allow their children–no matter what age or grade level–to reach their full potential as people if they keep cutting school library positions and allow pre-existing school libraries–filled with books, AV and computer equipment, furniture, and other print and non-print resources to sit vacant.  No Child Left Behind might actually help more than harm us, because in the Land of the Bubble Sheet, the school library may be the one place where kids can really sink their teeth into doing research and learning critical thinking skills.  I’m not sure where this post is going, exactly, but I didn’t want it to just sit here, taking up space.  So tell me–what are you doing for advocacy in your state or district?  God knows I’m always open for suggestions, so wing ’em my way!

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One of my student assistants noticed our cart of free books.  These books are free because they are being weeded.  They are being weeded because some of them haven’t circulated since the mid-60s.  This is what got me thinking–if many of my kids have iPods and mp3 players, and if some even have access to SmartPhones, why can’t we do audio books via podcasts?  Why not do e-books?  Why not purchase some e-book readers and maybe circulate those?  We’re getting new stuff in all the time, and my kids are rather tech-savvy.  So here’s my question, dear readers–are any of you all doing this?  If so, what do some of your policies look like?  How much did it cost you?  Is it better or worse than traditional print?  Are you guys rural and relatively poor, like us?  Suggestions are always welcome!

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While continually preparing my collection (and myself) for The Big Inventory, I’ve decided to back up (and back off) a bit, and open myself up for suggestions.  So here’s what I need to know–who else out there is taking inventory at the end of this school year?  Do you do this annually?  If so, when do you start shelf-checking/cleaning up, and how often do you weed?  Annually?  Once a year?  Once every five years?  Come on, people!  Spill yer guts!  I’m running out of time and available workers, and Iknow I’ve got to get this done, soon-soon-soon!  We’re midway through the 600s just now, and my knees have finally given out.  I’m itching on places on my arms and wrists that I didn’t realize were susceptible to dust and ick, and I think I may end up nursing a spider bite before this is all said and done.  Sounds like I’m begging?  That’s ‘cos I am!  Any and all help would be appreciated!  Thanks!

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