Wednesday, April 30, 2014

15 Ways You Know the Library is Still Here at the End of the Year

I was collaborating with a fellow librarian to come up with something with some humor in it to remind teachers about some of the things that are still going on with the library.  It prompted me to write this countdown:

15 Ways You Know The  Library is Still Here at the End of the Year:

1.       Students are coming back to class with checked out books

2.       Teachers haven’t received an email wanting a detailed list of everything they have checked out for the past 20 years

3.       When you see the library lights on, the door is actually unlocked

4.       Teachers are getting more requests to collaborate with them on technology than the previous six weeks

5.       You hear a mysterious beeping noise coming from the library (it’s inventory time!)

6.       When you send 15 kids to the library, 12 come back because of the rule of 3

7.       The panic in seniors begins to rise when they find out they owe a fine from their freshmen year

8.       There are updates on the library Twitter,  Instagram, and blog accounts

9.       The AP research students aren’t roaming the halls during their study periods

10.   Technology continues to receive requests for help or to open up a website

11.   When teachers email the library, they get a quick response along with #4 (see above)

12.   A teacher comes back bragging about the fact that they successfully booked the library for classes during testing season

13.   The principal asks if the librarian can do summer professional development, and the librarian comes by to say, “heck yes!” instead of an email

14.   The library box in the work room is still empty

15.   The laminator is hot when you come into work in the morning.

Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington

Soho Teen, 2014

Liv Bloom is an excellent art student trapped with a family she doesn’t think cares for her.  When she get an opportunity to attend  Wickham Academy, one of THE most prestigious boarding schools in the US, she jumps at the chance of not only leaving behind her family, but also going forward into a world filled with paint, oils, canvases and a dream studio. 

Liv is a student on scholarship and this becomes immediately apparent as soon as she steps foot on campus.  While everyone else was born with a silver spoon in their mouths, Liv has lived with a plastic one in hers.  She isn’t going to let that bother her though.  She figures she’ll fit in soon enough, but the first day in the cafeteria leaves her sitting with the weirdo loner Gabe Nichols, another scholarship student.  Life truly begins for Liv when she catches the eye of Malcolm Astor, the IT guy on campus.  When Gabe mumbles about the dangers of dating Malcolm, Liv ignores him…which will cause her to lose her life.

Now Liv is caught not only between two worlds, but also between two boys – one she loves and misses and the other who can hear her.  With the help of the two, Liv wants to find out who is behind the murder and why they’re covering it up as an accident.  Little do they know that the truth is more horrible that any of them realized with arms that reach long into the history of Wickham Academy. ..

What made this book stand out for me is the approach Amy Talkington takes to the supernatural that isn’t encountered on a normal basis.  That one spin will make you gasp, literally, in surprise.  Talkington writes about hope, romance, murder and mystery, all in one very clever and entertaining YA read.  Her characters, from the past and present, are not only syncopated within certain time periods, but interact for and with each other to move the mystery forward and the pages turning.  Readers will get a glimpse of the good life of wealthy kids, but also get to see the dirty rotten parts the characters are trying to hide as well.  Great for all readers, this will also attract reluctant readers because of the pace of the story.  Kudos on her first book!  Recommended JH/HS.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Silver by Chris Wooding

Scholastic Press, 2013
Adam, Paul, Mark, Erika and Caitlyn….all of them attend Mooringham Boarding Academy. These students have a web of relationships from enemies to friends, love to hate. The one thing that binds them together is the solitude of the Academy. Cell phones don’t have signals, and the nearest town is  a long walk no student is interested in. But the academy has more than enough to keep their students academically challenged, well-fed and healthy. Mr. Harrison, the headmaster, is not very pleased with Paul, the newest student to the Academy. Together, they possess a relationship of disdain and noncommittal acknowledgement of each other.

One day, Mr. Sutton, a mild-mannered science teacher, take his students out to the fields to find insects and it’s here where one of his students encounters a peculiar beetle. And that single small beetle is the beginning of the nightmare for those who survive the rampant horror and death at Mooringham Boarding Academy.

Those who are lucky aren’t bitten. Those who are begin a strange metamorphosis. Their skin begins to turn silver and their veins look more like tech cables. Slowly, the bitten are losing their humanity to become zombie-like cyborgs with one mission in mind – create new machines for the collective. Adam uses his brute strength to fight while Paul becomes a leader through quick thinking. Mark lets his intelligence protect him and the others while Erika’s physical traits gets her further along in the game. And then there’s Caitlyn….

If you have readers who need the next sci-fi for young adults, hand them this book. A page-turner from start to finish, Wooding comes back into the world of YA with another great story that will create even more followers to his other books. The imagery he writes about is one that I could easily picture in Technicolor in my mind. Wooding runs that gamut from horror to romance, nanotechnology to humanity in one thrill fest of a read. What is equally rewarding are the characters Wooding creates, which makes this a read for both genders. It left me with the question, “Will there be a sequel?” Recommended for JH-HS

Paired fiction: Variant by Robison Wells Being by Kevin Brooks

Friday, April 25, 2014

Spring 2014 Booktalk: Fresh Off the Trail

I used this at the end of the booktalk as a comprehensive review of all of the titles :) Found out it works better than showing it on the front end...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

#whylib - My journey into librarianship...

Andy Plemmons started a campaign for School Library Month and asked librarians to share their story of why they become a librarian, which is a great idea!  I’ve read so many and all are not only inspiring, but gives a personal glimpse into the lives of some people I only know online.  I wanted to share my story as well.  

There were two factors that made me love books, reading and libraries.  The first  factor was that I lived in the middle of nowhere near the small town of Fredericksburg Texas.  Nowhere was named Morris Ranch and although I had fun playing in the creeks, old buildings and open spaces, there were many times when I stayed at home reading.  The second factor was that I grew up in a large family with strained finances.  Reading was one of those things considered both a recreation and better than that, it was FREE. 

To say I’ve known since I was a child I was going to be a librarian is an understatement.  While my sisters played with Barbies I would beg them to play library with me.  I would set up a table, and grab as many books in the house as I could (to make displays) and my sisters would check out books, “read” them, and bring them back.  And guess who was behind the circulation desk?  Yep….me.  The library was definitely embedded in my life.  During the week when my sisters and I had piano lessons, we would walk from the elementary school to the public library to wait until it was our turn. 

But it was the summers when I sought out the library the most.  I grew up without air conditioning, and the Fredericksburg Public Library was the only place I knew that was cool, quiet and filled with books.  I loved the smell of the building, looking up things in the card catalog, the children’s room, and getting my first library card with a metal embossed number on it. I even pretended it was my house, finding all the secret nooks and crannies and building my dream home in my mind. 

As I grew older, I still sought out the library as a safe haven not only in town but at school too.  Today, I am proud to admit I am a nerd, but back then as a teen, that wasn’t the case.  I was quiet, didn’t have many friends and was picked on.  So when I discovered how to live vicariously through a book, I tore through as many as I could.  In an age (mid 1980’s) when there was very little YA fiction, I read Terry Brooks, Stephen King, Anne Rice, James Michener and anything non-fiction…the bigger the better.  This also helped in my English classes as well as the SAT, where my score was so high, I didn’t have to take freshmen English in college (I consider myself a living statistic of how libraries with certified librarians directly influence academics and test scores).   

After high school, I went on to college where I had the chance to discover my  extroverted side.  I didn’t have time to visit the library anymore, and the passion subsided. I graduated with a double major in English and history and became a certified teacher, never knowing there was such a thing as a masters in library science.  So I felt like I found my niche in teaching English at the high school level, and with that, I found my reading passion again.  I also now had an audience of 14-18 year olds that I had the potential to make readers out of as well.  We read the classics and short stories out of the textbook, and I tried my hardest to make the pages come alive. I knew I hit the mark when most of the freshmen class went to see Luhrmann’s Romeo+Juliet together and could quote most of the movie. Then research time rolled around, and an epiphany happened….

I was gearing up to go to the library to teach students how to use the Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature (if you don’t remember those, you missed out!) when the librarian told me I couldn’t use the library because I wasn’t signed up for it.  This was in a junior high/high school situation located in a small town where I was the only high school English teacher.  Well, I used the library anyway.  Little to none of the students ever used the library because of the negative connotation associated with it, which both angered and saddened me. Then BOOM!!! My passion for libraries came back with a vengeance and I decided I could be a librarian and make a difference!  So off I trotted to Sam Houston State University, where I received a masters in library science in 2000. 

I became the librarian at that school and made some major changes.  When bond money came through, the district built two new libraries (one elementary, the other at the JH/HS) and I cut my librarian’s teeth through many experiences from opening and moving a new library to learning how to work with elementary aged children as their librarian.  I got to work with other districts who didn’t have a librarian on record and continued to create relationships with the students.  Out came the cobwebs and in came couches, technology, YA books, and open doors. 

I chose a great time to become a librarian too.  The year 2000 ushered in a lot of technology, including social media and web tools I had never heard of before.  It was also a time when computers were constantly changing, along with the cell phone (anyone ever own a bag phone?).  Not only did I embrace the changes, but it embraced me back.  And as they say, the rest is history….
I still go back to where it all started – my hometown library – and see that while it has changed throughout time on the inside, it continues to be nostalgic and safe. Now, as part of the profession, I find myself looking into the future and cannot WAIT to see the changes, with the reassurance of a constant – relationships.  Change is scary but having a constant helps ease that fear.  SO glad I grew up the way I did and had those influences!  Now I get to go work at my passion every day and make the library and librarianship just as important as the classrooms on campus. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It's 'Appy Hour! Over 40 Educational Apps in Four Different Categories

This is the presentation I did for Texas Library Association's Tech Camp, 2014. The list of apps is found below. I originally presented this without the names as part of audience participation :) 1. Skitch 2. Join Me 3. Aurasma 4. Mindmeister 5. Touch Cast 6. Loopster 7. Video Star 8. Paper 53 9. Mindmapper 10. Videolicious 11. Dropvis (this costs .99 cents, but as I told the audience, that’s a Sonic drink during Happy Hour but lasts a whole lot longer  ) 12. Davinci Note 13. QR Reader 14. PicCollage 15. Muzy 16. I-Books 17. Kindle 18. Titlewave 19. Destiny Question 20. Gale Cengage for Schools 21. Symbaloo 22. Haikudeck 23. Voicethread 24. Mindomo 25. Popplet 26. Prezi 27. Animoto 28. Google Drive 29. Livebinders 30. Pinterest 31. Linkedin 32. Google Hangouts 33. Twitter 34. Scoop It 35. Google + 36. Yelp 37. Facebook 38. Tumblr 39. All Recipes 40. Fast Food 41. Weather Channel 42. Runkeeper 43. Uber 44. Airbnb 45. Flixster 46. Calorie King

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman

Alfred A. Knopf, 2013

It started out as a typical summer day in a small town in Kansas but ended in unanswered questions of why innocent lives were gone...

Daniel was in the pharmacy when it happened.  Usually an under the radar guy, he doesn't remember much of anything except the aftermath.

Jule was at home, trying her hardest to be invisible in a family who flaunts their power.  People look at her and see emo rebel, but all she wants is normality.  Then she opened the door to her home.

West was walking back with the person he loves but understands why he has to has to hide their relationship. He will never forget what happened on the road that day.

For Cass, it was just another babysitting gig, trying to make a little pocket money. She's the popular girl everyone adores, but now her name is akin to evil.

Ellie lives by the rules of the church, hoping this will make her life better than it was before.  That day she walks into the church to find the unexpected.

Now, all of the residents in the small town of Oleander can't get out.  Soldiers, guns, tanks and trucks are keeping them confined and the quaint town  is quickly becoming a hellhole of death, insanity and power.  These five teens are up against the most difficult struggle they have ever faced, but will they survive?

When I first picked this book up, I had to stop more than once and ask myself if Robin Wasserman was writing this for adults or teens.  I have long enjoyed her other novels, but this one is more, has more and packs a punch.  A psychological thriller, readers will be drawn into the town first by what happens that day and will want to stay around to see the disintegration of society and culture in a world where the citizens are slowly turning into their own nightmares.  This book isn't for the faint of heart.  Her writing is a blend of Stephen King's The Stand and Michael Grant's Gone but with a signature all its own.  Wasserman leaves the reader wondering what exactly has happened and when the truth is revealed, it isn't even close to what you might have imagined.  Raw and cunning, I couldn't put down this novel that wrings and twists five teens' lives into one final outcome.  Recommended for HS.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Top 10 Social Media Sites to Use in the Library

Today's libraries are relying and more and more on social media to not only promote the building, but also the programs, books, special dates, and future events to patrons on a scale that more easily manageable.  Here is a list of the 10 most popular social media sites libraries can use now:

1. Facebook - this site gives a library not only a voice, but a picture too.  Use this site to friend your patrons, administrators, teachers and other librarians to create a network and to share ideas.  Post ideas, successes, displays, teacher librarian in action to name a few.  Use the chat option if you'd like to help students with homework after hours.  Take into account the option for allowing comments or not.

2. Twitter - this is fast becoming the number one site all teens are using and have accounts for.  Utilize Twitter for quick updates, sharing websites and webtools, and snapping a pic.  Make your Twitter handle unique enough to create a library personality and add a graphic or image (mascot, anyone?)  It's up to you whether you'd like to create a separate account for professonal learning networks.  Business in the front, party in the back, as they say.

3. Instagram - pictures tell a thousand words, and you can pack a lot of words with a snapshot.  Use this site to show off the library and the many areas it contains.  Take pictures of bulletin boards, creative signage, new books that have come in or students in action (check with your local district policy about students images).  Friends colleagues and everyone in your building to grow your followers

4. Vine - a quick video is a sure way to catch action going on in the library.  It can be goofy or serious, the theme is up to you.  Create a vid of yourself doing a quick reminder of library events.  Catch one of teachers using the library for different purposes.

5. Goodreads - link it, embed it, share it anyway you go, but an online bookshelf is a heavy hitter when it comes to books and circulation.  Create any shelf you'd like and post it for your patrons to use to find the best books you recommend.  Or create one of a state list, reading list on campus, teacher favorites, student favorites - the sky's the limit.  Make multiple shelves for multiple book lists!

6. Shelfari - see above. Another wonderful way to share reviews and books with book lovers everywhere.

7. Tumblr - The interface is cool and so easy to use.  What's more, teens are flocking to this site.  So take advantage of it and create a blog by adding links, video, pictures, articles either created by you or found on the web.  Tumblr has many options for backgrounds, but it's the content that makes your Tumblr unique.  Search the site and see what's out there and start building a place you can call your own

8. - Want to share and curate at the same time?  Create a for the library and start curating into 5 different categories.  What I see most are educational sites, apps, and information but there is so much more to curate when it comes to libraries.  Think about book trailers or databases; homework help sites or books by genre.  If you build it, they will come

9. Pinterest - LOVE is the only description I can give about Pinterest.  As a curation site, it allows you to make as many bulletin boards as you want.  Create a library board about the library.  Start one for the book talks you've been doing so students can look back at past titles.  Find ideas to start a book club. Look at ways to decorate the library for the holidays.  It's easy to start running down a rabbit trail, but boy is it fun!

10. Youtube - While this collects videos, it's a perfect site for you to create a channel and upload it with so many things.  Try  putting amazing book trailers on it.  Or how about creating screencasts for students and teachers to use?  Do one on databases or digital literacy.  Create a video on the OPAC or how to access e-books.  This site is not only entertaining but teaches those who use it about so many things (trust me, I've used it for tutorials myself!)

BONUS: Of course use Blogger!!  Easy to use, great layouts and options for make yours personal. 
Create lists to share, books to review, videos to embed, and the list goes on.  It's the alternative to a library website, so tab away!

Not only does social media promote the library, but it's also a great way to show administrators how the library is being used in the millions of ways they may not know about!  So go forth and get social!   If you know of any other social media that is great for libraries, please leave a comment and share.  See you online :)