The Copyright Quagmire

Copyright.  It’s one of those issues in education that doesn’t go away. Whether it is the 1,000 pound elephant in the room no one wants to acknowledge or it’s the topic being policed with the kind of gusto most often left for sample sales. Copyright causes confusion, panic and in some cases, arguments.  The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way.   But before we discuss a solution, let’s look at some real life scenarios: Continue reading

30 Days of Innovation #22: Staying Afloat in a Sea of YA Literature

I love YA literature, which is probably a good thing since at times it feels like I’m floating in a sea of books.  And the analogy is not an accident.  Depending on which statistic you read there are between 3,000 and 10,000 new books YA books published every year.  How then, can we be expected to sift through all of these titles and find that magic novel that will turn all of our students into life-long readers?  Unfortunately, there is no magic pill or super secret that veteran librarians can pass on to new librarians in some slightly creepy candle-lit ceremony.  The truth is, it takes work.  But the good news is there are so many different options for getting to know more about YA literature that there’s bound to be a strategy to keep even the most overwhelmed teacher-librarian from despair.

1)  Start with what you’ve got.  Learn your own collection.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have shifted and reorganized our library’s collection seven times in six years (why this happened is another story).  I say fortunate because it forced me to pick up/touch/look at nearly every book in the collection (about 17,000 titles).  While I don’t recommend this to everyone (I don’t think my clerk has forgiven me quite yet) in hindsight it was a fantastic way to gain an intimate knowledge of what was sitting on the shelves.   Okay, stop.   Deep breath.  For those of you hyperventilating at the thought of all the dust and heavy lifting, the same thing can be accomplished (almost) during inventory or repeatedly browsing your own shelves.  That’s right.  Get up and head to the stacks.

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Think Spring!: Tidbits to Clear Out Winter Blues

I love springtime. It’s nature’s way of starting fresh. Sort of how I feel at the beginning of each school year.  The possibilities are endless and my energy unlimited.  But as all teachers (and gardeners) will admit, successful planning starts early.  The ideas have to be nurtured  over time and eventually, with patience, a dream or idea becomes reality.  If you have a case of library fever and want some ideas to spark a spring spruce-up then this list is for you.   Some are obvious, some are new and others are tried and true (but useful to remember).  Here’s what I came up with:

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What to do with the Winners

Okay, so if you’re anything like me, this is a much anticipated time of year. That’s right–the discovery of the book award winners. I’m not going to go so far as to say it’s equivalent to Christmas morning for ten-year-old me, but forty-something-year-old librarian me gets pretty darn excited. I can hardly wait to check the lists and see which titles are already on the shelf.  Not there?  No worries.  I quickly check my book order wish lists and see if I’ve got them in the cue.  I don’t mean to brag (grin), but in 2008 I actually had ALL of the Newbery winners in my collection!  Can you imagine my delight?  I felt like I won my own little lottery.  Okay, but what happens after that?  Once you’ve finished basking in the glow of anticipating the impossible (which books will win) or are wrinkling your head over  lists of books that you’ve never heard of (dispite pouring over journals, blogs and reviews), what happens next?  Having the books in the collection is only part of the process.  Step 1) build a great collection.  Step 2) get collection circulating.  Is it just me or does it seem like moving non-fiction has its own special challenges?  I was excited to write this post because it forced me to think (again) about ways to get this special part of the library’s collection into the hands of students.
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Getting It Together (at least a bit).

So the start of 2012 brought big changes to the libraries in my district. We finally entered the 21st Century and changed circulation systems. Exit boring old InfoCenter and enter exciting new Destiny. As you can imagine, a mid-year migration has had it’s challenges (including a somewhat unexpected inventory). But one of the great things that comes from these times of change (at least for me) is a greater sense of inspiration. Once the inventory was complete (insert sigh here), I was faced with a sea of empty display areas. What should I do?  The possibilities always seem endless.  Should I display by color?  theme? author?  topic? I was positively humming with anticipation.    And then it hit me…I had display builder’s block!  But then I got an idea.  An awfully wonderful idea!  What if I finally did something I had always thought of doing? I plopped down on my exercise ball to face my somewhat dusty collection of professional journals. Yes, those back issues that are filled with great ideas that I always intend to use, but never do. Well, no longer. I pulled out a year at random (2006 was the lucky winner) and dove right in. I was finally going to use the articles to build more than my collection.  I was going to build some awesome book displays.

Display #1:
“It’s a Big World After All” by Kathleen Isaacs.SLJ
February 2006

 

 

 

 

Display #2
“Planet in Crisis” compiled by Eva Elisabeth VonAncken
SLJ April 2006

 

 

 

 

But that’s not all.  I then used the Resource List in Destiny and created book lists that students (and I) can quickly access right from the catalog.  No more searching next year for the books that I pulled for that “one cool display.”

 

 

 

And I plan to continue.  I’ve decided to mark the outside of each journal once I’ve finished using it and I plan to rotate the displays every two weeks.  Who knew that 2012 would be the year I really am getting it together (at least a bit).

 

 

Fit: Body & Mind

As a new YALSA blogger I should begin my first post with a short introduction. My name is Kim Anderson and I’m the Library Media Specialist at Jefferson Middle School in Champaign, Illinois. I’m a two-time graduate of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois (MLS, CAS), and I received my National Board Certification in 2008. I’ve been in education for fifteen years, seven in the classroom and six in the library. I was thirty-something when I finally found my calling in the library and have not looked back once. I love my work.  Love it.  When I’m not working, reading or thinking about the library I enjoy doing yoga, P90, Insanity Asylum, and gardening.  I recently decided I wanted to learn French and to play guitar.  Wish me luck.  Anyway, it is my love of talking and thinking about the library that lead me to start blogging here at YALSA.

At the beginning of each year our administration takes the JMS staff off campus for a retreat. I always arrive a bit early so I can walk out onto the docks and enjoy the peace of the lake while I think about where I want the school year to lead.  The solitude is short-lived though since the peacefulness doesn’t last long once the rest of the staff arrives. The day is always full of lively discussion, laughter and inspiration. This year our discussion centered around the research of Dr. Charles Hillman of the University of Illinois. Everyone was inspired by the idea that getting students moving could improve their academic gains. (You can check out “A Fit Body Means a Fit Mind”  if you want to read more).  The question is, how can I, the school librarian, help increase student fitness?  Last week the answer came in the form of two exercise bikes. In just under one hour we had two stationary bikes assembled in a corner of the library. They are battery operated (so no chords) and the wheels are completely silent.

The student interest was immediate. Now teachers just have to send their students to the library with a pass to read and ride. For now, the kids are enjoying a new place to move and I am happy to support a building-wide initiative.