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FYI–I just received this in today’s mail at school, and this may be something for all you YA and school librarians, as well as some of you English teachers who enjoy educational web stuff and web reviews.  The web site is Flamingnet.com (http://www.flamingnet.com) and along with the cute, reading-bookworm graphic and the book covers of the most recently reviewed titles, it looks pretty good.  I was so impressed with it that I linked it here as well as on my own school library page, and I plan on making an announcement about it Monday at school via the school announcement sheets.  I’ve got kids who would love to get involved with something like this.  I highly recommend this!

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The Happiest Place on Earth

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!

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!

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!

Open to Suggestions

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!

The Big Fling

We’re weeding in my library.  Okay, let me back up a bit–because those of you who know me, those of you who’ve had classes with me at Mansfield (go mounties!), those of you who have seen the small mountains of books surrounding my desk–you know that I’ve been weeding since I got here in the fall of 2003.  You know that the library smelled a great deal worse then, and that it hasn’t gotten much better since we’ve begun this whole weeding fiasco.  Some of the rather amusing things I’ve found this week:

1.  Economics in Action Today, copyright date 1967. 

2.  A book of popular commencement speeches, copyright date 1931.  I think this one was donated by a former graduating class–1964, I think?  Water damaged, smelled, pages missing, hosting a small family of spiders. 

3.  A book on career planning from 1969.  Last circulated in 1980–from a teacher.  The spine was barely cracked and, other than a small bit of mold on one corner, it looks quite new. 

4.  Lots of rebound copies of what may have been quite popular novels back in the 1940s, but have since fallen by the wayside.  What is it with rebound copies?  Why are the colors always so hideous, and why are the spines always so bloody hard to read?  And what’s with the spiderweb-printed end papers?  In one copy of Hardy’s Return of the Native, someone had doodled in a spider. 

5.  Speaking of spiders–yeah.  Lots of those.  And they’re angry. . . and probably plotting my doom as we speak.

There will be more, trust me.  I haven’t even made it into the 500s yet (horrors. . .) and I’m gearing up for my annual Shuddering Fit of Dread for the 920s. 

I once saw a crafting segment where a woman in DC makes purses out of discarded books, library or otherwise.  Though I’ve always wanted to do this, I never have.  I’m sure the artistic potential is there, I just haven’t tapped it yet.  I believe this same woman cuts up the juicy bits of pornographic novels, seals them onto something more substantive, and sells them as earrings and pins.  Now that’s slapping censorship in the face!  Or kicking it in the nards, if you prefer.

Inspiration

No, not the software, although that’s cool, too! The inspiration I’m referring to comes from Joyce Valenza’s manifesto on her wiki, in which people were invited to discuss how one might begin to understand that they have morphed into a 21st century librarian. In light of this, I’m seriously considering purchasing a smallish flash drive for each of my kids. Not just my student assistants, but every student in my school. We’re medium-sized (by our standards) but small (by others’ standards–about 700 kids in grades 9-12). I’d also like to buy one for all my teachers and principals (roughly 65 people). This post is going to segue into what I call The Dream. So here goes:

The Dream is to one day come into my library and find kids working frantically already working on our desktops (already doing that bit), printing off papers, doing research, or just checking e-mail (check, check, and check!). They would also all have a USB flash drive, preferably 2 gig or higher (I need a new one, my 4 gig is almost full–has maybe 500 meg left?). Each kid would have a separate flash drive with all their textbooks on it, which they could use via a school-issued or personally purchased laptop. Teachers would work either in the library or in their rooms, or even from home, on their own laptops–wifi rocks! We could all communicate via Ning or another IM tool, everyone could update their own blog, everyone could contribute to the school wiki, and everyone would have an option of checking out good old-fashioned bound books or downloading an e-book, either onto their–yup, you guessed it–laptop or an e-book reader of some sort. Everything would run like clockwork, everyone would have updated anti-virus protection, the irresponsible kids would be duly punished for screwing up (and wouldn’t do it again–at least not at school), and the good kids could take cool classes and get sweet perks for good behavior like memory upgrades and more web space. We could even hold meetings via video conference. It would so totally rock!

And it won’t happen, probably, until I’m ready to retire, about twenty-five years from now.

But that’s why it’s The Dream.

Oh yeah–if anyone knows of somewhere that sells bulk flash drives for a reasonable price AND will take a school purchase order, please be a sweetie and send the link.