In August, I left my job at the Darien (Ct) Library to become the Academic Technology Coordinator at Hamden Hall Country Day School. While I’d begun my library career as an independent school librarian (at Wilbraham & Monson Academy in western Massachusetts), I have never been in the classroom before.’  Having now switched from a school to a public library and back again, I feel like I’m getting a pretty good sense of the overlaps between the two areas, as well as the significant differences. If you’re considering making the move to a school, here’s what I’ve learned in my few weeks on the job. Read More →

As a part of our community outreach each fall, my public library sends representatives to as many “Back to School Night” open houses as we are able. ‘ Library staff bring posters and flyers describing our programs for children and teens, library card applications, giveaways like our nifty color-changing pencils, and raffle tickets. ‘ Students and parents can see what’s going on at the library, get a card and a fancy writing implement with the library’s name on it, and fill out a raffle ticket to win some books.

Since I am new, and the first full-time young adult librarian my library has had, I want the teens, parents, and teachers in my community to see me and have every opportunity to say hello. ‘ So, I have volunteered to go on five of these visits. ‘ The first two were this past week and the experiences were vastly different.
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When mk proposed the idea of 30 Days of Back To School, I was heading into uncharted territory as a solo librarian covering two libraries in my large public high school (we have about 2200 students in grades 9-12, with one library serving grades 9-10 and another serving grades 11-12), and leaped at the chance to write a greatest hits post on collaboration with classroom teachers.

If nothing else, I needed a set of reminders to myself about how to work effectively with faculty for the benefit of all students, and after the last couple of years of working in the Senior High library, I have a few ideas to share, largely based on the advice of my personal school library guru, Alice Yucht (and which I hope you lovely readers will add to in the comments). As I write this, though, I am preparing to leave my school for a job at Infolink, NJ’s Statewide Library Cooperative, as a Program Coordinator in charge of continuing education for libraries in South Jersey. While I’m very sad to leave my school, I’m also very happy to share with you all some of what I’ve learned along the way. Here goes!

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How many times have you wished you had the power to change your school’s summer reading program? Well, maybe you do! I had all but given up on making major changes to the long list (250+ titles) that had been in place for years, but when there was a shift in the English department leadership, I jumped at the opportunity to suggest some significant changes in the list and the program.

In my first few years here, I had only managed to add a few contemporary YA titles. I also tried to move away from the paper-consuming process of printing a multi-page list for every one of our 700 students by creating a goodreads account with just the summer reading titles. It was a well-received shift and created a better visual impact – especially the “cover view” option – and also allowed for students to search for a book by genre and other tags. The paper version had been sorted alphabetically by title, with no other information except the author given. Goodreads was an improvement, but seemed like a tiny one. What I really wanted was to give students and teachers a place and time to talk books; for students to see that reading is a lifelong habit; that reading can actually be fun; AND that teachers read things that they don’t necessary teach about! To me, the writing prompt that had been used for years as a schoolwide assessment was unnecessary at best, and a hindrance to getting kids to read for pleasure, at worst.

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Over the past several weeks my Twitter feed has been filled with links to articles, reports, and information about integration of ereaders, iPads, etc. into classrooms and libraries. From my perspective it’s been a long time getting to what looks like a tipping point for integration of ematerials into the learning experience. (The first ereaders – for example the Rocket ebook reader – came on the scene about 12 years ago.) It is pretty exciting to learn about what’s being piloted in schools and libraries across the country and learn how the use of these devices can improve and enhance teaching, learning, and library services for teens. Read More →

This post is a bit of a departure for me; as YALSA’s communications specialist, I usually post about the latest goings on in YALSA or put up advocacy alerts. (You’ll see that post on Friday.)

But this is 30 Days of Back to School, and along with two of my fellow students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Library and Information Studies, I’m going to talk about the new SLIS student experience.

I’m currently pursuing my library degree through Madison’s distance program. It’s been almost ten years since I finished my first master’s degree, so it’s been a bit of transition to get back into the school mindset. Last time, I was straight outta undergrad, I went full time as an on-campus student, and I had almost no responsibilities. This time, I’m going as a part-time distance student, which certainly has its advantages — flexibility, cost, less disruption to my life. Plus, Wisconsin retooled its distance program so that it takes place entirely online (it used to be done via videoconferencing), so it’s kind of an experimental year for our program.

To get some differing perspectives, I invited two of my classmates to join me in Meebo so we could talk about our experiences going back to school and working full-time. I’m joined by Kayce Austin of Fort Myers, Florida, and Kathrine Rogers of Bettendorf, Iowa.

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Several weeks ago YALSA Blogger Melissa Rabey wrote a post about To Kill a Mockingbird. When I read Melissa’s entry I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes from that book. The quote comes near the end of the story after all of the major events take place. Scout is ruminating and ponders: “…as I made my way home, I thought Jem and I would get grown but there wasn’t much else left for us to learn, except possibly algebra.”

I have always loved that idea that at some point in life learning ends. The idea that there is a time when everything that needs to be learned is learned. And that what you learn in school, like Algebra, can be the pinnacle of all learning. Of course, as adults we know that learning happens all the time. And, I think, one of the best things about learning as an adult is sometimes the learning comes in unexpected and surprising ways and places. For example: Read More →

One of the great perks of working in a school is the opportunity each fall to feel refreshed, take stock, and focus on improving for the upcoming year.’  Even year round schools have a natural cycle as students move to the next grade.’  YALSA provides a variety of helpful resources to prepare for the new year.

The Professional Development Center on the YALSA website is a one-stop shop for information on career development, learning opportunities and teen services resources including white papers, toolkits, bibliographies and more. Although YALSA’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Youths focuses on teen services in public libraries, many of the benchmarks apply to school settings as well. (Look for a rubric to be published in the future to help evaluate your services.) ‘ It’s an excellent reminder that we are about more than instruction, and can never forget our role as teen advocates and the need to provide an inviting and pleasant space.’  Reading through them, it struck me how I need to think more about creating opportunities to serve niche groups among my students.’  How cool would it be to invite the humane society or anime club to meet in the library and introduce the books and online sources we have available?’  I’ll ask them if they want to create a display and give them a set amount of money to research and select materials for the collection.’  Showing an interest in their special interests sends a genuinely inclusive message.

Speaking of purchasing, get a hand with your overall collection development by using YALSA’s book award and booklist resources. Helpful too is the forthcoming book, Annotated Booklists for Every Teen Reader: The Best from the Experts at YALSA-BK ‘ by Julie Bartel and Pamela Spencer Holley included in the YALSA Books link along with other timely titles for school librarians. Don’t forget to print out the 2010 YALSA Book Award Bookmarks.’  Do you have a technology goal for this year? The Teen Tech Guides are an excellent place to start, and look to the Advocacy Toolkit for comprehensive tips on dealing with budget and other legislative concerns.

This is just a taste of what’s available. Exploring’ the Professional Development Center had an immediate pay-off for me–I’m printing out the brochure, Teen Reading Guide for Parents and Caregivers, to give out at our upcoming Back to School Night open house for parents.

I’ve been writing for the YALSA blog over a year now, mostly about books and in particular YA classics.’  I love talking and writing about books, and I’ve found that the New to Me columns have given me a new appreciation for YA literature and reading.

Prior to beginning, I didn’t care for most of the YA literary classics that I had read.’  The Pigman felt much too dated to me and the characters were so unlikable that I couldn’t see the appeal of the novel.’  The Chocolate War was better, but it was somewhat didactic.’  And I still haven’t read The Outsiders, something that I’ve jokingly said will get me drummed out of the YA librarian corps.
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