Kindness for the Solo Librarian

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d8/Seeking_human_kindness.JPG/256px-Seeking_human_kindness.JPG

Goal setting in a school library run by a single librarian can at times seem pointless.  Some days my to-do list gets longer rather than shorter.  Goals languish on the back burner while the fire in the middle of the library is tended to daily.  It is tempting to just let the months unfold reacting to the greatest need.  Being the only person responsible for multiple requests from teens, faculty and administration can mean our days are fractured and attempts to attend to long-range goals are frustrating and futile.  In order to avoid this frustration I have developed the KIND method of goal setting and follow though.  In short, this KIND acronym represents the following attributes, adapted to goal setting and getting things done; kindness, importance, noticeable and developing.  (Photo by Enver Rahmanov (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

RULE ONE.  Kindness. The first rule of goal setting for the solo librarian is to be kind.  Be kind to yourself if you get off track from your goals.  I put my new year’s goal on a list every year.  When I make the annual list I look at past year’s list.  There is one goal that is on the list year after year.  Instead of beating myself up over the fact that it hasn’t been accomplished I put it on this year’s list and celebrate that I am determined and persistent in pursuing this important goal.  By the way,  the goal that keeps coming up on my list it is to establish a teen advisory group.

I put it on the list this year, again, because not only do I know it is important I know that one day I will get that TAG established.  And without shame, I will say it is likely to be this year!

RULE TWO. Importance. Pick the goals that are important to you personally.  Validate yourself as a professional.  You care about your library and the students you serve.  Don’t pick goals that you do not believe in fully.  There are too many distractions in the year and if you do not pick goals that  resonate with meaning for you you aren’t going to carve out the time to work on them.   Goals that important to you and are also what teens want are goals that will keep you motivated throughout the year. An easy way to get input from students is to encourage them write a sentence or two on an index card describing their ideal library.   Make a list of all the things you would like to accomplish in your library.
Include everything you thing would be happening in an ideal library.
Circle the top ten things you would like to work on.
Rank the top ten in order you would like to work on them.
When ranking consider how likely you might be able to work on this goal, or achieve the desired outcome.  Put at least one goal that you know you can/will accomplish this year.

RULE THREE.  Noticeable. Make sure the goals you choose to work on are noticed.  For yourself, post your top goals where you can see them daily.  For others, choose goals to work on that your teens and your administrators can see and relate to the value of the library you manage.  You want to stay visible and let people see the value that the library, and you as the librarian add to the achievement of students.

RULE FOUR. Developing.  Some of the goals you choose you just won’t get to, will fail, or will not work out the way you had planned.  Make sure at least one of you goals is something that you can and will accomplish.  Perhaps it is a program that you have already piloted successfully and your goal is to expand it.  Nothing breeds success like success and it is important to see that you are setting and reaching goals.  Be flexible when it comes to developing your goals over the year.  I’m going to create a makerspace this year with the 3D printer as the focal point.  As I develop this goal I see how it may be very possible that the students that I am working with in support of this goal may end up being the same students that head up the teen advisory group.  I am planning to develop this goal from the ground up and I see that the need to be flexible when I empower others will be key to the success of these goals.  I can embrace these goals as developing.

KIND goals.  Those are my kind of goals.  Flexible, accessible, accepting and empowering of our school’s teens.  It is the same kind of library I like to foster.  The only way to create a kind school library where young people feel accepted and appreciated is to start with the way we treat ourselves.  If we are realistic about the competing demands for our time as a solo librarian we can begin to set realistic goals that we can  and will achieve.  Good luck as you plan your successes this academic year.

App of the Week: Party Party

Title:  Party Party
Platforms:  iOS
Cost:  $.99

 

Party Party Icon

If youre anything like me, you probably have so many photography apps that you sometimes call your phone a camera by mistake.  The trouble with such a bounty is that each app usually offers a singular use or function, forcing you to thumb through all the options for each photo op.

The Party Party app cuts through some of that cumbersome decision-making by offering an easy way to take and edit single photos, or take sequential photos that can be formatted as a photo booth collage or stitched together to create stop-motion animations.  In essence, you get three apps in one.

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Community Partners: Teen Services in a Rural Library

Taiko Drums

An interactive Taiko performance–forming new connections brings fresh knowledge to the library.

Rural librarianship can mean a small staff, but it can also mean a tight-knit community full of residents and organizations happy to share their knowledge. Working with other organizations and local experts helps maximize impact and expand services to new audiences without overburdening librarians. How do you find new partners? Leave the library!

Earlier this week, April Witteveen wrote an installment in the YALSA Blog’s Back to School series about making new connections within the school system.  She recommends “stepping outside your comfort zone” which also applies to forming community partnerships. If you want to form a partnership to deliver new programming opportunities, step outside the building and strike up a conversation.   Continue reading

YALSA’s 2014 Maker Contest

onion

By: Amy Boese, Member of Makerspace Resources Taskforce

Summer is so full of riches – sunshine and gardens and summer reading programs are all happening fast and furious. So share the wealth!

You can’t send everyone a jar of your grandma’s dilly beans, but you can certainly tell the YALSA world what went down with your latest and greatest making project. Ready to go? You can find all the details here.

Making in the library comes in all shapes and sizes. From basic circuitry and LED-infused clothing, to building bridges out of rubber bands and robots out of toothbrushes, you’re making some amazing things out there in libraryland.

Often for me, the pieces of a great idea comes from a tweet or a fleeting image on Instagram, (I’m forever grateful, paper rollercoaster pioneers!) but filling in the substance of those programs can require more work. The YALSA Maker Contest 2014 wants to pull all the greatest making ideas together so we can send out the details and *everyone* can be more successful.

Plus, you can win fabulous prizes and the accolades of your peers!

To sum up, here are the basic criteria:
- Did you introduce making in your library? (See the Making in the Library Toolkit)
- Were you specifically reaching young adults? (ages 12-18 years)
- Did your program happen this summer? (June-August 2014)
- Did your program demonstrate an innovative approach to engaging teens through making?

You have until Sept. 1, 2014 to submit your application.

I am so excited to see what you’ve made with your summer!

Robotics for the Rest of Us

When I first started my job, I used to spend hours planning programs, planning for every possible thing that could possibly go wrong. I would arrive at my events an hour early and would nervously pace the room, thinking all the thoughts we’ve all had: Do I know what I’m doing? What if a teen has questions I can’t answer? What if I get fired and have to be a barista again? 

But since 2006, librarianship has changed. We are no longer expected to be experts and with the advent of the Maker Movement, teen programming has become more about HOMAGO than lesson plans. This led me to do something last winter that I never, ever thought I’d do: I started a Robotics Club with no knowledge of robotics. If I can do it, so can you. Here are my thoughts: Continue reading

Gamification of Summer Reading

Home Screen of Teen Summer Challenge

Games often provide an opportunity to have fun, learn new things, simulate real life, and explore things only dreamed of before. Whether playing a board game, role playing game, or a video game, players are challenged to overcome obstacles and use strategy to solve problems and meet goals. In classrooms teachers are using game elements more and more to encourage practice, assess mastery, or explore new concepts with students, while keeping lessons interactive and engaging.

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Robots Teach the Basics

The Booth & Dimock Memorial Library in Coventry, Connecticut purchased its very own 3D printer this past winter. That forced us to take the leap from encouraging the maker-mentality to full on maker space. It is still a work in process (and always will be) but we learned many great things during the past few months. Here is my favorite.

Sometimes it takes a complex project to make you learn the simplest of tasks. 

Robot

Our maker space brought other departments looking for collaborative programming before our 3D printer was even out of the box. We jumped right in and tried to pick a project that would encompass six ninety minute workshops and teach a variety of skills. We decided to make these robots to expose a group of eighth graders to 3D printing, soldering, wiring and coding.

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Fun with MaKey MaKey

In November, I began a 6-week series called Maker Mondays. The program attracted a small following and has since become so popular that I extended it into June and am even creating a summer Maker camp for teens. Maker Mondays is a program for grades 6-9 and serves around 15 students each week. Every Monday, we learn a new skill or do a new project.

The favorite activity by far has been the MaKey MaKey. MaKey MaKey’s are invention kits that work like simple Arduinos. It consists of a simple board and wires with alligator clips.

The MaKey MaKey

The MaKey MaKey

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Market Summer Reading with Social Media Apps

Make the most out of mobile social marketing apps to promote your Summer Reading Program by using Snapchat, Instagram and Tumblr this summer. As 21st century librarians are always on the go, even more so during the summer months, mobile social marketing apps can be effective tools of communication. Here is a breakdown of three high-traffic platforms to engage your audience in real time with a few simple taps.

1. Snapchat is a photo-messaging app that launched in September 2011. Today, 46% of Americans ages 12 to 24 years old use it. As of May 2014, Snapchat users send over 700 million pictures and videos each day.

Snapchat is unique in its ability to create short (1 to 10 seconds long) images or videos, which can be enhanced with graphics or text, and sent privately and ephemerally to your friends, followers and family. Once the message has been reviewed it is permanently deleted from your account, your recipients’ accounts and from the Snapchat servers.

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