What does AISL mean to you? Please share widely!

Happy New Year from the AISL board! After mapping our membership last year, we wanted to share our new year’s resolution with you and ask for your assistance in helping us meet it. If you’re reading this as a subscriber or as a link from AISL media channels, you’re already a member of the Association of Independent School Librarians. You know our value; we thank you for your membership.

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NAIS currently has 1541 member schools. We have 641 members from 390 schools. There are many professional organizations for librarians, but we are the only one that’s entirely focused on k12 independent school education. We would like to spread the word and grow our membership; we are stronger as a profession if we learn from and advocate for each other. As you can see from the map, we have strong representation across the East Coast, with membership extending as far west as Hawaii.

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While this blog and our social media channels are available to all, there are many member benefits. The primary benefit is the listserv, with virtual help available 24 hours a day. We have a burgeoning webinar series with presentations from experts and vendors.  There is an Annual Conference hosted by a team of school librarians each spring, and a Summer Institute, with in-depth study of a topic each June. We are constantly responding to members and offering services members request. In fact, our KARLS (kick ass retired librarians) formed 3 years ago because some retired librarians still wanted to be involved on a personal level even after retiring from the profession. How often do you hear that from other librarians? One founding KARL said:

“AISL is an organization that has members who are extraordinary librarians, dedicated to their students, creative, innovative, and passionate about sharing the joy of learning.  If I could recommend one professional development opportunity to independent school librarians, it would be to join AISL and take advantage of the opportunity to network with these extraordinary librarians. I was delighted when I retired and the opportunity came to help plan a retirement track for those of us who wanted to remain connected to AISL.  I am so happy that I am able to keep looking forward to the annual spring AISL conference to keep learning and see dear friends.”

AISL is run entirely run by a volunteer board. Membership fees are kept low so cost is not a factor inhibiting people from joining. The yearly membership fee is $30, and all memberships renew at the start of the school year in September.  Other common questions:

What if I am currently a library student?

We offer a discounted $15 membership for students earning library degrees. Many jobs are advertised on the site in the spring.

Why should I join this if I’m already part of a regional library group?

Library trends and challenges transcend local geographic boundaries. With AISL, your reach is all across North America, and AISL members are quick to respond to requests for information and advice.

Are your conferences popular?

The conferences are very popular and sell out quickly. Librarians love the tours of independent school libraries and the distinctive character of each conference based on the hosting city. We are working to increase registration slots at future conferences so more members can attend.

Is there a digest option for the listserv?

           There is. You can either receive emails throughout the day or one daily digest.


Please share this post widely, personalizing with your own AISL experiences. The board is happy to answer questions about membership. We’re looking forward to broadening our community. Let’s do more together!  

With warm wishes for a healthy, happy 2018.

Your AISL Board

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Following Through on Book Clubs, Part 2

In a post back in November, I shared my hopes for a new Windows & Mirrors book club that was kicking off that month at our school, with The Hate U Give as our first read. I am happy to share now that it was a success! We opened the library and provided pizza during both lunch periods, and had eighteen participants in total. While readers munched on their pizza, I played a video featuring Angie Thomas talking about her inspiration for the book, and then read aloud a lengthier piece on the same. I had the publisher’s discussion guide with me, but really didn’t need it. After eating lunch the readers enjoyed casually talking about the characters and moments that resonated with them, the parts that made them angriest, the book’s humor, and how they identified with the relationships among characters. In both meetings conversation spread to memories of learning about Emmett Till in Middle School and viewing that particular image for the first time.

Our Upper School readers loved this book. It was a strong first choice to start things off, being a pretty new book that has generated plenty of buzz with relevance to students and a movie on the horizon. It didn’t hurt that we had some readers ready to go – The Hate U Give was one of our Upper School Summer Reading options in 2017, and it is on this year’s county Reading Olympics list, so when it came to extracurricular reading time busy Upper Schoolers could cover more than one base with this book.

Since this book club is a collaboration between the library and our Global Diversity Council, the GDC faculty leader and I talk over book choices and logistics. We agree that student input on book choices would be a good thing, but to keep the ball rolling and get a few copies of the next book before winter break we chose the second book ourselves. This month we’re reading Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee. This choice allows us to open up this session to Middle School students and reveal new windows and mirrors.

Things that seem important so far:

  • Collaboration with another campus group. Many of the readers are also involved in the GDC, so they are able to maximize and diversify their participation in that as well as help publicize the book club.
  • We have been fortunate to be able to order a few copies of the books to circulate among interested readers over school breaks and leading up to the meetings. All copies of Outrun the Moon, including the library’s hardcover, eBook, and audiobook copies, were claimed within the first two days of the announcement and a few have come back and gone out again. Being able to provide access to a few copies is simple but important.
  • One of our ESL teachers has offered extra credit for participating!
  • I tend to err on the side of over-ordering when it comes to food, but it turned out two slices of pizza per person was enough.

Last week a student asked how she could get on the “selection committee” for the book club, so students are engaged in this concept and thinking of titles themselves. I created a Google Form to get the GDC members’ input on a selection with an LGBTQ focus to coincide with Day of Silence in April.

This morning I overheard a student tour guide in the library telling prospective families about the club, and while writing this post, two faculty members have emailed me with book ideas. I will really feel like this new try at an old idea is a success if our next meeting goes as well as the first and if the excitement can continue at least until the end of the year, or for a few more books. So far, so good!   

Please feel free to leave book suggestions in the comments. All advice welcome!

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Making Connections

Working with my 8th grade Middle School English teacher this year we borrowed resources from a High School AP World History course to create a Middle School project. The 8th grade students all read The Old Man in the Sea. The English teacher and I wanted to help students build a bit of background knowledge before they read the novel. We thought information about Cuba, Hemingway, etc. could help students build connections when they then started reading the book.

Using a general spice_chart_organizer from the High School AP World History course, we created a research project tailored just for The Old Man and the Sea. With the general SPICE chart students explore areas such as social, political and economic in order to learn more about a culture or civilization.

We applied this to Old Man and the Sea; however, we created our own SPICE categories and divided students into groups for each category:
S was for Social (family life, social classes)
P was for People of Importance (the author, people mentioned in the book)
I was for Interaction with Environment (marine life)
C was for Culture (language, fashion, religions)
E was for Economy (fishing, commerce)

TOMATS Spice Mini-Research

Some categories were definitely easier to research than others; however, the students all created unique group presentations that taught their classmates a bit about Cuba and Hemingway before they started reading the book. My personal favorite presentations involved facts and videos relating to the marine life. 🙂

Since the students will use SPICE in high school, we liked introducing verbiage and a format the students will see again and again. We also appreciated the cross-curricular nature of the project with the project’s English and history ties.

We plan to continue this project in the future, and I am always looking for new and creative ways to work with Middle School English classes that don’t involve (just) checking out books! If you have any ideas or suggestions please do let me know. Thank you!

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Wishing You Many Fresh Starts

Happy New Year!

Yes—I know today is the 10th.  And this post was due on the 5th.  So I am officially already behind.  Thus it may come as no surprise that my topic today has to do with do-overs.  😀

We who work in schools have the benefit of starting fresh each school year: students move to new grades; we add new units of study or new materials to our toolkits; we welcome new faculty or those who move into new positions.  Teachers often wish one another “Happy New Year!” in August; often our calendars and planners begin this month, and there is a sense of clean slates and fresh beginnings.

And then by December we are thinking, Whew—Need a Reset!  Some things have gone well, and maybe some things didn’t, and maybe some things didn’t even quite get off the ground.  So we take some time off, read some books just for ourselves (see Allison Peters’ excellent post, “Holiday Break is for Reading”), and before we know it, there’s another Happy New Year, and another fresh start.  We can gather new ideas from our colleagues (See Dave’s post “New Things for a New Year)  We can even start all over with a new planner!  (See this excellent piece on The Wirecutter:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/04/smarter-living/paper-planner-guide.html)

The truth is, of course, there is always an opportunity to begin again, and that is one of the best lessons we can teach our students (and ourselves).  If we allow ourselves a fresh start now and then, we can accept the idea that progress is a process with many beginnings: we learn from what we do, and then we try something new, or refine what we’ve done.

For those of you who might like to have a party to go along with your fresh start, here are some dates to note:

  • Chinese New Year:  February 16
  • Balinese New Year:  March 1
  • Sinhalese New Year:  April 14
  • Rosh Hashanah:  September 9
  • Islamic New Year: September 11
  • Aboriginal Murafor New Year:  October 30
  • Diwali: November 7

But don’t feel limited by these dates; the point is that we have the freedom—the opportunity—even the responsibility to begin anew many times a year.

So, again—happy new year!


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on NEW things for a new year…

Happy New Year!

I didn’t have the faintest idea about what I should write about this month. Among this month’s topic possibilities that are pertinent to none of the rest of you:

  • Sleep Number Beds – I got a Sleep Number Bed. It is a ridiculous amount of money for, basically, an air bed, but OMG worth every penny…
  • Family and Brain Drain – My niece and her husband who had lived in Honolulu after finishing graduate school returned to Columbus, OH where they met and bought a beautiful 3000 square foot home in a good school district in Columbus for the price of a fixer upper one bedroom condo in Honolulu. Uncle Dave is both thrilled for them and a little heartbroken at the same time.
  • The Theory of Winter Relativity – We have not had a “bomb cyclone” here in Honolulu, but our students are walking around with parkas and scarves because, you know, it’s winter and some of our daytime highs have been as appallingly low as 74 degrees. Kids aren’t wearing knit caps this week because those only come out when it is 72 or below. We’re not without reason, people…

So anyway, while trying to come up with something to write about when I have to post “next week Wednesday,” I realized that this post actually has to go out on Wednesday, January 10th. Also known as tomorrow!!! So here we are!


As the new year dawns, I find myself most excited about two things that might be pertinent to the rest of you:

Embedded Librarianship – Way back in 2016, Katie Archambault shared an awesome post about her efforts aimed at Personalizing the Library/Research Experience for her students by employing a model of embedded librarianship. It’s taken me a lot longer than hoped to follow her lead, but this semester we will be endeavoring to embed research instruction into three sections of a Junior/Senior English course on the Literature of War and four sections of Junior/Senior IB Global Politics. Teachers of both courses have scheduled their classes into the library for at least one 85 minute block period per week and on those days we will have an opportunities to do both mini-lessons and to schedule individual research appointments and provide personalized research support in 10-15 minute blocks. It is the first opportunity we have had to work with our upper level students that might venture beyond the typical “help them with databases” boilerplate lesson so I am excited to see where our students take us in this pilot!

Unto Us a Library Is Born! – After a LONG gestation. My colleague, Nicole, and I have given birth to a beautiful bouncing baby library! She is currently tiny and a little bit undersized by some measures coming in at about 750+ volumes (and a rather robust few hundred pounds), but she is being well fed and continues to grow at a good clip every month!

Mid-Pacific has a long history as a 7th-12th school, but became a PK-12 school in 2004 when a merger with Epiphany Elementary School was completed. Over time, library services were expanded in the main library for students in grades 3-12, but a model of robust classroom libraries was employed in grades K-2. A year ago, Nicole and I started library services with our Kindergarten classes on two book trucks that we rolled into classrooms. This year, we will continue with K class and will be expanding services to our 4 1st/2nd grade combo classes as well. The collection needed to accommodate the classes made continuing to move the trucks into classrooms for lessons impractical so our wonderful Elementary Principal carved out space where the collection can be housed and where we will deliver our library lessons. The sign on the door still says, “Conference Room,” but just between us… In my mind, it’s now the “K-2 Library.”

In an age where libraries everywhere seem to continually need to work to preserve their spaces for use as libraries, I feel completely blessed to work at a school where people at all levels are helping us find ways to make books, digital resources, and library instruction available to students!

Sometimes I complain about stuff, but the reality is that I work for an incredibly supportive team of administrators and with an incredibly supportive faculty! The School President along with the Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals are all “library people” so if I’m ever complaining even a little, please remind me of that wonderful truth!


We’re a PK-12 school. We service students in 3-12 in our main library, but haven’t had a K-2 lending collection until Monday of this week!


This is our new baby! Our K-2 library (sometimes known as the Elementary School Conference Room), is currently tiny at just over 750 volumes and a few hundred pounds, but she is being nourished well and will continue to grow! We couldn’t be more excited about the new addition to our library family!


And just in case you ever wondered, a fully loaded book truck builds up a LOT of momentum when you’re rolling it down the hill from the main library to the elementary campus!


A tiny librarian rolls a fully loaded book truck down a steep hill. You just don’t see that everyday. Believe me, it is very entertaining! I probably should have helped but I was trying to get a good picture because, you know, I have priorities. Hahaha!

Happy New Year, all!

May 2018 bring with it new eyes, new attitudes, new books, and lots of new library adventures to all! I’d SO love to hear about all that is new (and if it’s “new to you” it is, indeed, “new!”) in your libraries, so please hit comment and share!

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Thinking Like Leonardo

In the “Should it be STEM or STEAM” debate, no one is a better poster child of how Science and Art complement each other than Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo’s journals are filled with close observations of nature and the human body, as well as engineering drawings and notes detailing inventions, such as the precursors to the submarine, tank, and machines of the air.

Our students will be exploring how to think like the Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci in preparation for a writing workshop with Diane Stanley, author of the biographies Leonardo and Michelangelo. Following are a few curricular collaborations that highlight the genius of two Renaissance thinkers and creators, Leonardo and Michelangelo.

Leonardo’s Journals
Librarian Eve Zehavi will guide fourth graders as they discuss quotes from Leonardo’s journals and look closely at his sketches to determine what Leonardo emphasized about the act of thinking and creating.

How do you think like Leonardo?
How do you see like Leonardo?
How do you problem solve like Leonardo?

These are just some of the questions fourth graders will ponder as they reflect on quotes and sketches. Selecting one of Leonardo’s quotes and relating it to journal sketches, students will write a reflective paragraph using the model of “A Quote Sandwich:”

Top Bun of “Quote” Sandwich
(1) introduce the speaker and the quote

The “Meat”
(2) state the quote

Bottom Bun
(3) summarize the quote in your own words and connect to meaning of the quote based on sketches and designs in Leonardo’s journals.

Here is a reflective paragraph example that will be shared with students. Color coding shows parts of the “Quote Sandwich” and an image from Leonardo’s journal is selected to match the quote:

Painting Competition:
Leonardo and Michelangelo’s Battle Scenes

Our sixth graders have been studying the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and have been reading about the ancient artists and engineers who created them. One ancient artist, Scopas, created a famous scene of Amazons battling Greek soldiers, which appears on columns of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.  A history article described Scopas as a “Michelangelo of the Renaissance.”   Discovering this comparison became the impetus to have students compare and contrast this Greek artist’s battle scene with famous battle scenes by Leonardo and Michelangelo.

In one of the most famous painting competitions of the Renaissance, Leonardo and Michelangelo were each challenged to paint a battle scene glorifying the history of Florence. The paintings were to be on opposite walls of the same room of a Florentine republic council chamber. Leonardo was an older, established artist, and Michelangelo was a young, 25-year-old talented sculptor; both artists disliked each other and were very disparaging of each other’s artwork (Isaacson 367).  Author Diane Stanley depicts this painting battle in her two books Leonardo and Michelangelo, and this article from The Guardian will also be shared with our sixth graders.

I collaborated with the history and ELA teachers to develop primary source images and articles so that students can analyze these artworks to discuss comparisons. The history teacher, Cori Beach, will have students connect what they observed earlier in Egyptian art of a Kushite and Nubian battle scenes to the more realistic portrayal of soldiers in battle by the Greek artist Scopas. Donna Baughman, ELA teacher, will guide students to look closely at the artworks and to write in their journals brainstormed action verbs that help describe these battle scenes, such as the following:

Greek figures in the Scopas battle scene “lunging,” “stumbling,”

Expressive face of soldier by Leonardo described as “glaring” and “screaming”

Figures in the Michelangelo battle scene “twisting,” “arms thrusting”

Students will also make a list of transition words and bring these brainstorming journals with them to the writing workshop. Using this structure (adapted from Owl Writing Lab), students will write a comparison/contrast essay during the Writing Workshop with author Diane Stanley:

  • First: discuss how the Scopas battle scene is similar to either Leonardo’s or Michelangelo’s battle scene (and use specific examples and descriptive words).
  • Second: discuss how the Scopas and Renaissance battle scenes are different (and use specific examples and descriptive words).
  • Third: discuss characteristics of Scopas’ style (Hellenistic art) and evolving characteristics in Michelangelo’s or Leonardo’s art style (Renaissance, Humanistic art).

Looking Closely
We are excited to see how our fourth and sixth graders look closely at primary source images and quotes and connect to “Thinking Like Leonardo” and “Thinking Like Michelangelo” in this Writing Workshop. See below for further Leonardo resources to explore:

Treatise on Painting
(Leonardo’s notes on painting assembled and copied by his assistant, Francesco Melzi, and printed in 1651–Leonardo died in 1519)

Math and Science Activities for Leonardo

Math Forum: Leonardo da Vinci Math Activity

Da Vinci: The Genius
(Museum of Science, Boston)

Inventions Activity Quiz

Mirror Writing (Writing Backwards)

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson (for adult readers)
Leonardo da Vinci by Diane Stanley
Michelangelo by Diane Stanley

“And the Winner Is…” by Jonathan Jones (discusses the
painting contest between Leonardo and Michangelo)

Bibliography for Images:
Hamburger Low Polygon. Clip Art. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016.
quest.eb.com/search/186_1628980/1/186_1628980/cite. Accessed 27 Dec 2017.

Botanical table by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), drawing 237. Photograph. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016.
quest.eb.com/search/126_142634/1/126_142634/cite. Accessed 5 Jan 2018.

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus: The Amazon Frieze. British Museum.
Accessed 27 Dec 2017.

Leonardo, Heads of Warriors, Study. Photo. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016.
quest.eb.com/search/109_223586/1/109_223586/cite. Accessed 27 Dec 2017.

Michelangelo. Battle of Cascina. 1504. Fordham Art History.
Fordham University. https://michelangelo.ace.fordham.edu/items/show/12
Accessed 7 Dec 2017.

Leonardo da Vinci. c. 1514. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 31 Aug 2017.  quest.eb.com/search/140_1809909/1/140_1809909/cite. Accessed 7 Dec 2017.

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Holiday Break is for Reading

All through the beginning of this school year, feeling like I was not getting enough time to read what I wanted to read, I quietly chanted (to myself!) “Holiday Break is for Reading; Holiday Break is for Reading; Holiday Break is for Reading…”

With just a few days left of this holiday break, I am happy to say that I have spent time reading similarly to how I did as a child: crashed out on the couch or on my bed during the day and under the covers with a small book light in the wee hours of the night.  It’s been wonderful.

Following is a list of my holiday break books, plus a few gems from the fall.  In no particular order…

Ghost: Track (book 1) by Jason Reynolds

My fifth-grade students have been crazy for this book and book two, Patina.  Now that I have read it, I understand.  Castle Cranshaw, aka Ghost, is a runner.  He has a natural ability for running that he discovered in the most terrifying of circumstances.  Luckily, a local track coach recognizes his talent and takes Ghost under his wing to help him as an athlete and a young man trying to make sense of the world.  The first chapter of this book is so expertly crafted that I closed the book for a few moments before starting chapter two to let the story sink in.   When I get back to school I’ll be after Patina.

It All Comes Down to This by Karen English

I’m not going to lie, I picked this one off the new book shelf because I thought that the cover was an interesting swirl of images.  The story introduces 12-year-old Sophie in Los Angeles in 1965.  Her family is the only African-American family in an all-white neighborhood.  Sophie struggles to find friends, feels uncomfortable and sad about her parent’s rocky marriage, and is dreading the day her older sister leaves for college and leaves her alone.  My favorite character in this book is the family’s new housekeeper.  She seems like a crotchety old woman who has nothing good to say about anything, but as the events in the story unfold and the layers of her character are peeled back, you discover so much more.  Sophie does too.

Greetings from Witness Protection! By Jake Burt

Nicki Demere is a foster kid; an unadoptable (she thinks) pickpocket.  Nicki, along with several other foster kids who have struggled to find permanent homes, is selected to take part in the U.S. Marshall’s witness protection program.  Her task: to move in with a family, assume a new identity, and keep the family safe from the extremely violent mobsters they are hiding from.  Good luck, Nicki!   I picked up this one because the reminded me of a favorite from last year, All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor.  I was not disappointed.

42 is Not Just a Number: The Odyssey of Jackie Robinson, American Hero by Doreen Rappaport

This is a must read for anyone interested in baseball, Civil Rights, and American Heroes.  I was stunned by all the new facts I learned about Jackie Robinson.  If you haven’t read it yet, the time is now.

The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Perez

Does anyone out there make zines anymore?  Malu, the punk-rocking, skateboarding, cilantro-hating, middle school student, is a master zine-maker.  This book is about her first year in a new school that’s 1,000 miles away from the home she’s always known and her punk-rocking Dad.

The Wall of Fame Game: The Magnificent Mya Tibbs (book 2) by Crystal Allen

With Denver’s annual Stock Show starting this week, it was fun to read about a family that’s boot-stompin’ fun.  Mya and her little brother Nugget are worried about how their family will change when their baby sister Macey is born in a few weeks.  Will they get to continue all their gosh-darn-root-tootin’ family traditions?

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

This is an amazing sequel to the amazing Newbery Honor book The War That Saved My Life.  If you haven’t read these two yet, please put them at the top if your pile!

Beyond the Bright Sea and Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk.

I’m a big fan of listening to audio books in the car.  Lauren Wolk is an amazing new talent in the middle grade world.  Her books Wolf Hollow and Beyond the Bright Sea are two of my all-time favorites and reading them again via audiobook has been a treat.  The beautiful language, deep and complex characters, unexpected plot twists, and profound lessons about life are just as compelling the second time around.


What did you read over the holiday break?





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Preserving Our School’s History


I don’t know how many of us school librarians are checking our email during winter break … for those who are, I apologize for the tardiness of this blog. Of course, I could use the usual excuse that I’m on break, that I had guests visiting, that it’s a crazy time of year, yada, yada, yada … all of which were true, but we’re all busy, so those are not good excuses.


I think that the real reason that I kept procrastinating is that this post was due on December 22nd, which would have been my dad’s 88th birthday. I thought about him all day and that he was the one who encouraged me to attend and then graduate from college (he was the first person in our family to do so and I was the second).


But what I kept thinking about was that he had a great story to tell and now he’s not here to tell it. I should have recorded his oral history or had him write down some of his major accomplishments or his thoughts and dreams.


How many of our independent schools are archiving the school’s history? La Jolla Country Day began in 1926 … the school will celebrate its centennial in eight years yet our Heritage Project was just started three years ago by an employee in development who had no idea that librarians should be part of the process. This former employee said nothing to any of us in the library … she just visited history centers to find out what and how. When I heard through the grapevine that she wanted to start putting our school’s history in some sort of order, I jumped onboard. An interested board member had office space that he let us use for a few months and we took boxes and boxes of papers and photos that had been stored above the gym to the space and started the process of assessing what we had.


And, as probably happens too frequently, the employee retired, the office space was no longer available and after a few old photographs of the school’s founder were used for publicity, the boxes went back into storage.


However, interest had been generated as people started talking about 10 years, then nine, now only eight until 2026 and the Parents’ Association put moneys aside to spend on a now-named Heritage Project. Also, fortuitously for the library, we hired an assistant (now our middle school librarian) with not just an archiving class or two under his belt (like me) but actual archiving experience.


There are some schools in AISL (mostly older and on the East Coast) that have their history online, accessible through their school’s website. There are even a few, fortunate schools that have a dedicated archivist on staff (lucky) but many of our schools are probably in similar situations to ours … the school is old enough that much will be lost unless we make preservation a priority. We recently lost a major benefactor to our school … she lived close by and was accessible to interview … but now it’s too late. We have a new theater tech teacher who wanted to line the walls leading to the theater with photos of past drama productions but all of the photos we could find were from recent productions. The teacher ended up scanning photos from yearbooks but the quality wasn’t great.


Speaking of yearbooks, we need to ensure that we have copies from every year. The science dept. wanted to give a yearbook to a retiring teacher from the first year that she taught at the school (1998). The only copy available was one that I had in the library and, as the yearbook adviser, I loved their idea for a retirement gift! The other upper school teachers all signed her old yearbook … only a handful were pictured with her (obviously many had moved on) but she enjoyed it nevertheless. We also need to ensure that we are preserving our newer, digital school activities. I’ve asked our yearbook rep if we could get a digital copy of this year’s yearbook, but so far no luck. Does anyone work with a yearbook company that will provide a reasonably priced digital copy?


So I just want to end with a plea that our schools start taking their histories seriously and not to forget to keep digital back-ups of current school happenings. So, Happy 2018 to all! May we enjoy the present, be curious about the future and preserve our past!














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A eulogy for our local newspaper

Last fall, I read Cecily Ross’ The lost diaries of Susanna Moodie, a fictionalized journal based on the life of a woman who emigrated to from England to the backwoods of Canada in 1830s.

If that hasn’t put you to sleep, know that I am fascinated by Moodie (and her sister Catharine Parr Traill) for a number of reasons, the greatest of which is that they settled in the area I call home. I often walk by the Cobourg wharf where their ship landed, have made the 10-minute drive into the country to see the historic plaque posted where Moodie first lived, and read the daily paper in which she published her poetry.

But no more – our local paper, published since 1831, has been shuttered. Sad but not surprising; many of the people indignant about the cut hadn’t shown their support with subscription dollars, and advertising revenue has understandably declined along with readership.

What will I miss about having the local paper in our library?

  • Reading coverage of school events (and having someone to ask to cover an event)
  • Learning about students’ & colleagues’ non-school activities in the community
  • Keeping up with obituaries of those who’ve passed in our small town
  • Watching someone complete the crossword or Suduko
  • Having a plethora of newsprint for art teachers in need (she says with partial sarcasm)

I am no Luddite, but felt it important to mark the end of this chapter. I’m curious to see what fate lies ahead for our national papers – one has recently changed formats, and I’ve been surprised to see it being read more frequently in our casual seating area. Coincidence? Temporary halt of the inevitable?


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And Time Keeps Marching On

“AHA moments” result from random encounters. One of my advisees recently surprised me with this as a Christmas gift.  

It’s shiny, hand-decorated with sparkly bits, much lighter than you’d imagine, and made from her home 3d printer. Her home 3d printer. She received it last year for Christmas, and apparently the model retails for approximately $250 dollars. I think that’s proportionately—and maybe even in real money—less than the black and white paper printer I had in college. How times have changed.

What struck me, however was not the gift itself. It was the normalness of all of this for her.

When I was in elementary school, my dad bought an AppleIIGS computer. I was obsessed. And despite the bad rap that some computer games have, my parents knew what they were doing. The only games I remember playing in the early years were “Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego” and “Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing.” Those games and also “The Print Shop.” If there was a birthday/yard sale/dinner menu happening, you can bet there was an accompanying card/banner/sign. For those of you unfamiliar with “The Print Shop,” it was a software package that “provided libraries of clip-art and templates through a simple interface to build signs, posters and banners with household dot matrix printers.” My grandparents were always thrilled to receive a card designed by me and printed in color on our very own home printer that could be counted on to screechingly and consistently print one page per minute. For me, nothing seemed strange about having a home printer producing cards. They never imagined home computers would become ubiquitous.

Side note-Since librarians like finding answers, I remembered that we had a dot-matrix printer but I didn’t know the name for the type of paper with the perforated borders and the little holes. Wikipedia to the rescue with the answer of continuous form paper.  I also got other keywords like fan-fold paper, burst paper, and tractor-feed paper. This is exactly what we want to model for our kids for starting-level research, right? So often I see searches thwarted prematurely when students don’t have the background knowledge to get to the search terms they need for the subject they are researching. But that’s fodder for another post…

Tying this back to schools, most changes are more subtle. Rolling in quietly like waves year after year, our roles shift a little each fall with technological innovations. Barring that aha moment, I don’t think about the ways that school librarianship has changed since I entered the field in 2005. But in ways large and small, librarianship has a different shape. Consider—

  • Changing search strategies. Google has gotten much better at anticipating searches and providing information directly in their search engine. A few years ago, we barely had tabs and content didn’t automatically synch across devices. As an iPad school, I love that I can airdrop materials right to students’ devices.
  • Learning Management Systems that automatically give the librarian access to all course materials and assignments, as well as student progress and grades. (I never miss the feeling of co-teaching a research lesson after being handed the assignment instructions as the class walked into the library.)
  • Google Drive, Libguides and other options for easily sharing information and collaborating in the cloud. It’s so easy to create and share. The burden has shifted to organization.
  • Free Amazon two-day shipping for items needed immediately for projects.
  • The ease of finding MARC records online for items that need to be cataloged. (See above)
  • Federated search engines, imperfect though they may be, that make it easier for students to use the databases that libraries purchase, and to find and cite the information they need.
  • The rise of visual search, especially in student presentation preparation, from image matching and location recognition, to sortability options for the ideal image.
  • Author Skype sessions that are less costly than in-person visits and the new AISL webinar series that lets us learn from our inspirational colleagues outside of the time and space constraints of the annual conference.
  • Conversations around the terms libraries, learning commons, and maker spaces. The fact that we need to specify the need for quiet spaces in our bustling collaborative spaces is a world away from the shhhing librarian.
  • SMARTPHONES- ie. the ubiquity of the Internet.  Need I say more?

There is always hand-wringing about new technologies. But there’s also the potential for positive momentum. We’re continually recalibrating towards a new normal. Since we’ve all entered the fields in different years and even decades, I’d love to hear your perspectives on the specific technologies that have changed schooling and your role in librarianing. Just some food for thought this holiday season, and I hope everyone enjoys their semester breaks.

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