Youth Council Caucus

This Midwinter conference, I attended a meeting of the Youth Council Caucus (YCC). There were well over forty people that came from the three ALA youth divisions. The momentum was exciting as ideas and information sharing buzzed throughout the room.

A few months ago, when a few of my colleagues told me that it was important to have youth member representation on such entities as ALA Council or to attend the Youth Council Caucus, I thought it was a good idea in principle. Meaning, it made sense to me on the level that I work with youth every day and am passionate about what I do. But beyond that, I didn’t completely understand how such representation helps. Until now. Continue reading

AASL: Pre-Institute on New Standards

Like many high and middle school librarians, I am a member of both YALSA and AASL. For this year’s Midwinter Conference, I was fortunate to attend the AASL Pre-Institute Bringing ‘Em On: 21st Century Skills Aligning with Standards. Led by Pam Berger, the hands-on workshop taught participants about both the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) and the new AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner.

Whether you’re in a school or public library, you may be interested in checking out the standards, which focus on giving our patrons the skills they will need to thrive in the world that awaits them.

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Dollars & Sense #8: Doing Your Tech for Less (or for Nothing!)

Having a snazzy web presence doesn’t have to cost a lot. One of the great things about the Web 2.0 environment is that so many tools are available for free. What’s more, you don’t have to have particularly sophisticated technical skills to create something that looks great and is fully functional. Sites like Wikispaces, Pageflakes, and Animoto provide the templates, the underlying coding, and the storage. You can even build your entire website using a free service like Google Sites. When you use tools like these, you are taking advantage of cloud computing, meaning your content lives on externally hosted servers and is accessible to anyone who has web access.

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An AASL report

I’ve just returned from the American Association of School Librarians National Conference in sunny Reno, Nevada. While there, I attended a number of great sessions of interest to YALSA members. Here are some highlights:

The opening general session featured speaker Dan Pink, author of A Whole New Mind and Free Agent Nation, and a contributing editor of Wired magazine. His take-home message was that the world now needs and values adults who are artistic, empathic, and inventive. It’s no longer sufficient to (merely) be skilled in logical, linear, and analytical thinking to achieve economic success. Pink was a dynamic and entertaining speaker. He described how his attendance at law school permanently and profoundly improved his earning power – because law school was where he met his wife. His less than stellar academic performance there “made the top 90% of the class possible.”

I attended two very good sessions on Web 2.0 tools in school libraries, one by Annette Lamb and the other by the team of Shayne Russell and Sophie Brookover (Sophie was unable to attend in person). Annette emphasized that it’s not necessary to use a lot of new tools. Rather it’s more important to use new ways of thinking about the tools. We should think in terms of moving from e-learning to c-learning – using Web 2.0 tools for connection, cooperation, collaboration, and so on. She suggested that we give Second Life a couple more years to become easier to implement before we really see its potential in school settings. Shayne’s presentation made me impatient to get home and try out some things now. She shared concrete examples of using resources like Flickr, del.icio.us, blogs, and wikis to transform and improve student learning. Shayne and Annette both emphasized the benefits of using free and open source applications whenever possible. I wasn’t able to attend Joyce Valenza’s inspirational presentation on Web 2.0 and information fluency, which was so oversubscribed that a second session was arranged for the next day.

YALSA’s own Francisca Goldsmith did a stellar job presenting ideas for how to celebrate the upcoming Teen Tech Week (TTW) in school libraries. She took a low-tech approach to the event, reminding participants that we need not be limited in our celebrations by a lack of expensive technology. Even paints, pencils, and hand-cranked ice cream makers involve forms of technology. A few members of the audience described their own programming from last year’s inaugural Teen Tech Week. One participant sagely advised the group: “If you are going to plan a graffiti wall, don’t tell your principal in advance.” Others were concerned that the upcoming TTW, to be celebrated the first full week of March 2008, would be taking place during peak standardized testing season in their schools. As a member of the TTW committee, I assured them that TTW was bigger than its assigned week and could really be celebrated at a time most convenient for their schools.

A major event of the conference was the release of AASL’s new Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. The four standards are prefaced by a set of common beliefs. Each standard is accompanied by a set of skills, “dispositions in action,” responsibilities, and self-assessment strategies. I went to one of the sessions given by task force members Cassandra Barnett and Barbara Stripling, who walked participants through several examples of standards implementation. The new standards replace the standards for student learning published in Information Power, published in 1998.

For more coverage of the AASL conference, check out the AASL blog.

Keeping Up With Publishing, Even When You Aren’t A Librarian At AASL

Reno advertises itself as “The biggest little city in the world” and it certainly does seem big enough to hold—simultaneously—a national conference of school librarians and a cowboy association get-together….along with the requisite slot machine pullers, prospective newly weds, and the “just plain folks” who live here all the time.

Friday evening, Becca Todd, the district librarian from Berkeley schools, and I sought out dinner at Louis’ Basque Corner, which she’d overheard in an elevator (whether from a cowboy or a librarian, I don’t know) is “the best Basque food in town.” In true Basque restaurant style, all the seating is family style, so if your party is less than eight, you become joined with someone else’s undersized “family.”

We were seated as the final two at a table where a foursome in their late seventies and a pair of equally seasoned men were already at table, but hadn’t yet ordered. The two fellows next to us did a superb job of including us in some of their convo. while leaving us to our own between times. They introduced themselves as Reno natives and we allowed as we were visiting librarians. Notably, they snickered only a little when we allowed as we were from Bezerkly.

Some time between the goat soup, tripe, mussels, and main courses, the fellow next to Becca looked us over mildly and asked:

“So, what do you make of this Dumbledore thing?”

Becca, ever the librarian, clarified the question” “You mean his being outed?”

“Yup. Do you think it was necessary?”

“Well, no, and maybe that was Rowling’s point: his sexual orientation isn’t the point of the story.”

“Hm. I have this friend—she’s a witch, you know, a Wiccan? But now she’s mad about this Dumbledore thing. Too bad, huh?”

“Yes, too bad.”

And we finished off the meal (cheese for me, sundaes for Becca and the guys), all contented in our new found shared literary interests.