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Origin Story III

Welcome again to the Independent Ideas summer series, Origin Stories.

Today we will head down south to visit Katherine Smith Patin at the Isidore Newman School in Louisiana.

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My job came from the grocery store.   I was just out of school with a degree in European history and a few education classes, lots of bills, and no plans. I temped in a bank, then tried selling French antiques, and concluded ultimately that I really, really missed school. I had an aunt who taught history at Isidore Newman in New Orleans, so I told her I might like a career in education. Within a week she ran into the school’s librarian in Dorignac’s, which is the type of grocery where you see everyone from celebrity chefs to your beloved first grade teacher. Mr. Prescott had a colleague who was retiring after thirty years. He was dreading the interview process, and figured I was worth a try. And since I was young (28,) I probably had the bonus feature of knowing about computers. The school administrators were less encouraging. Few know what library work entails, so after a smattering of questions they moved on, in some desperation, to my thesis, which was on the unfortunate topic of the anti-alcohol movement in fin-de-siecle France. The fact that I could speak confidently about absinthe and home distillery was no endorsement. They asked what I was reading. Flustered, I told them the truth. Thank goodness it was not David Sedaris, or even the civilized but unscholarly domestic fiction of Rosamunde Pilcher that I had binge-read in mental exhaustion after I finished school. It was a biography called The Aristocrats, by Stella Tillyard. I remember feeling embarrassed, as if I’d been caught in my underpants. There was silence, and then, “So you’re still reading history?” Feeling incurably dull and wondering how anything on my bedside table could be wrong (this was before Fifty Shades of Gray) I was passed on to the headmaster. We had a lovely discussion about my reverence for the teaching profession. My first day at Newman was Wednesday, July 1, 1998.

I know all schools have great kids, but Newman had so many of them. Verbally adept, clever, and playful—they did not fit the stereotypes of my high school experience. Newman is a place where the blonde cheerleader scores a perfect SAT, the football player sings in the chorus, and the gamer with the screen tan is a champion debater. Achievement is a state of mind, and the unknown is not frightening, but full of potential. In that spirit I started working on my MLIS in 2006. I did it because I thought I should. It’s the only “certification” we have. But who knew there were ethics in librarianship—controversy even! Censorship and equal access mean different things in different libraries. At Newman no one draws a Muumuu on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, but the independent school world is busily debating whether print or digital media is more conducive to learning. I like to think that I am helping kids find helpful resources in the most convenient formats for them. Somehow, along the line, being a librarian stopped being a job and became more of a mission.

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Don’t be shy!

We are still collecting Origin Stories and would love to hear from you.  If you would like to share yours (500 words or less) please send it to Allison Peters Jensen at allison.peters@coloradoacademy.org

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Speaking Picture Book

Working as a farm hand at my friend’s farm last week brought out the picture book in me. Daily I would be reminded of the dialogue, plot, or illustrations of farm-themed picture books. It occurred to me that perhaps it is possible to speak ‘picture book’. Does thinking in ‘picture book’ mean fluency in some strange children’s librarian literary language? I’m not certain.

Take, for example, the morning that my friend and I were fixing the door to the chook house where the layer chickens live safely from predators. While drilling a hole for the new latch I felt something attacking my shorts. Alas, it was a goat chewing on the pocket buttons. Immediately I thought of To Market, To Market by Anne Miranda and illustrated by Janet Stevens. A shopper goes to market and all the animals she brings home create havoc in her home, including a goat with an appetite.

On my first full day at the farm there was a tornado warning that spurred a flurry of activity. Most importantly, we had to secure the animals. With palpitating heart I worked through the chores thinking about Otis and the Tornado by Loren Long. Otis, the little red tractor, leads all the farm animals, even the bully of a bull, to safety when a tornado hits the farm. We were extremely lucky that the tornado passed around the farm. Unfortunately, it did hit surrounding towns.

Image result for pig in the pond

Visiting the large pet pig on the farm is a daily treat. She is enormous, friendly, and very polite at mealtime. When the sun heated up and the days became steamy, this pig would lay in a massive mud puddle. Oh, how I smiled thinking about The Pig in the Pond by Martin Waddell. One of my favorite stories! If you are familiar with the story, you will be glad to know that NO, I did not remove my clothes and jump into the puddle beside the pig!

Bernard Most’s cow stories, The Cow That Went OINK and Cock-A-Doodle-Moo! are story time favorites that played over and over again in my imagination as I watched the cows on the farm. The cows at this farm do not speak anything except cow. Moooooooo!

     

The dogs. Oh how I love the dogs on this farm. Again, I think of the Stevens sisters, and their book Find a Cow Now! The farm dogs love to herd the animals (any animals). They also love to play fetch and I am talking about serious games of fetch. Neither of the dogs is as destructive as the black pup in Chewy Louie by Howie Schneider, but I thought of Chewy Louie because of the intensity of the farm dogs and their determination to play fetch constantly. Chewy Louie is one focused dog.

       

Other books that paraded through my thoughts while at the farm were Margaret Wise Brown’s Big Red Barn illustrated by Felicia Bond, Big Fat Hen by Keith Baker, Moo, Baa, La La La by the amazing Sandra Boynton, and Click, Clack, Moo, Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin.

Not only did I find my mind to be a festival of picture books related to the farm, I found myself thinking “that would make a great picture book story!” When one of the dogs was herding the guinea hens that roam the farm I was ready to start writing. However, I was in the vegetable garden and my hands were covered in mud and holding a spade. There was also story potential when I saw a goat lying peacefully in a little red wagon or when it was pouring rain and the dogs were like wet mops. At feeding time a chicken flew up and on to my friend’s back, hoping to get its share of the feed first. And when we were repairing a gate and one of the many farm cats climbed up onto this same friend’s shoulders and then on top of her head, I could have written that cat’s tail (tale).

There were stories to be found in almost every minute of the farm day.

Do you speak picture book?  Do you think in picture books?

Do you have a favorite farm animal picture book?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Library UX

“Every decision we make affects how people experience the library. Let’s make sure we’re creating improvements”. ~ Schmidt, A. and A. Etches. (2014). Useful, usable, desirable: applying user design experience to your library. ALA TechSource.

This book caught my eye while at a May meeting of CIS librarians (those of us working in independent schools in Ontario) – shout out to library staff at Crescent School in Toronto for sharing this and other great resources with us.

I’m finding it fascinating, and with summer here and more time to think big, I thought I’d share some ideas that seem particularly relevant to me, and hopefully to you, in terms of library user experience (UX):

 

“Staff members are friendly and genuinely want to help”

I will soon be looking to replace an experienced and engaged colleague upon her retirement. This book reminded me of one of her best qualities – she really likes the students! I recognize the importance of library qualifications and expertise but when filling the position, will want to balance this with genuine interest in our 450 students from 30+ countries.

This section also noted how we all can become ‘entrenched & territorial” about what we do – great reminder for me to never shy away from re-examining how we offer library services. Schmidt and Etches offer a neat idea: place a whiteboard and marker by the exit, asking “Did you get the help you needed today?” Terrifying and exciting to think of what we might discover…

 

Service standards should be consistent across all platforms

We connect with our users in many ways – in person, by phone, over email, through chat, and online, including website and social media. This allows for great opportunity, but also the peril of an inconsistent and frustrating user experience.

Schmidt and Etches suggest that we find someone who’s never used our library, and ask them to run through a certain scenario (find the catalogue, put an item on hold, return an item). Include scenarios that bring them to our physical space, as well as our online presence. If possible, unobtrusively observe them. Afterwards, ask them about their experiences, about what was helpful and what was confusing.

This “journey mapping” should allow us to better understand the different ways in which people complete the same task, and what we can do to improve it. Implement what we can and test again!

 

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign

Perhaps the rest of you are more aware of font guidelines, but I found this very useful:

  • Serif (eg. Times, Garamond) is good for blocks of text for long-form reading
  • Sans serif (eg. Arial, Verdana) is better for signs, headlines, reading on screen
  • Pick two (perhaps one serif and one sans) and stick with them alone
    • If only using one (which can be ‘unrestful & difficult to parse’), choose Helvetica

The book also pointed out how unprofessional hastily-prepared signs can look (“taped-up paper signs make us sad”) – guilty as charged! Instructional signs often highlight something that could be better designed for more intuitive use (eg. self-check machine). And overall, we should check that signs pass the “tone test” to help create a positive user experience. For example:

 Absolutely no cell phone use in the Library

Polite use of cell phones is encouraged

 

Watch your language!

 Yep – with all of our library acronyms and jargon, we’re the worst. I don’t even recognize all of the terminology, so how can I expect my students to keep up? Schmidt & Etches remind us that even words such as “database, catalog, reference, EBSCO” mean little to our users.

The only contention I would make here is that this book is applicable to all (including public) libraries, and I do see value in using terms that our students will encounter at college/university (eg. database). However, I will endeavour to keep the user experience in mind when choosing my words.

 

And more….

Tweaking your web design and navigation? Designing marketing materials? Trying to come up with a new colour scheme for your space? For 164 pages, this book is an amazingly engaging and accessible read, with useful examples and practical ideas, many of which can be easily implemented.

 *This message brought to you by a librarian who is not receiving any financial kick-back for her enthusiastic endorsement of this product.

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Postcard from La Jolla and the AISL Summer Institute

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Listening to Dr. Regina Ballad discuss Women and the Bible.

We’re midway through this year’s Summer Institute, hosted by Sarah Lucy at The Bishop’s School here in lovely La Jolla. This summer’s theme is Collaboration, specifically with the teachers we work with throughout the year. Phrases from the prospectus include ‘intellectual enrichment’, ‘building enhanced relationships with teachers and the subjects’, and ‘deep thinking’. This summer’s focus will be on developing a connection with some of the topics our teachers present in order to increase our effectiveness when we work with our teachers. When we have a better understanding of a topic, we are able to be more effective in our work with both teachers and students. That’s the thinking, anyway, and I can already see that it’s spot on.

Jen Reading and Marsha Hawkings adding CO2 to water to see Ph balance alter. Session on Climate Change.

Jen Reading and Marsha Hawkins adding CO2 to water to see Ph balance alter. Session on Climate Change.

Yesterday we were privileged to participate in focused sessions on Shakespeare, Beethoven, Chaucer and Poetry in World War I presented by master teachers from the Bishop’s faculty. Each session was distinct and (in theory) independent from the others, but as we librarians know, everything is connected. Beethoven’s 9th symphony’s role as a paean to Peace echoed through the poetry of Rupert Brooke and Wilfred Owen. Thinking of new ways to present scenes from Coriolanis or Twelfth Night connected down the centuries with the ways Chaucer came to write his Canterbury Tales. Climate Change, Global Markets, George Washington and Women in the Bible are the other sessions covered at this institute. Two parts to this brings rewards. The ideas that spring forth about how to work with teachers connected to these subjects are exciting, but also– the personal inspiration of my own exposure to these amazing topics is surprisingly rewarding. To be able to have the time to be a student and to learn– it seems like a real indulgence. But stepping back from my inner guilty conscience, I can see that this time spent on immersing myself in these topics is a very useful exercise which will enhance my ability to work effectively with our teachers and students. It just happens to be, in addition, exciting and deeply satisfying. As you can see, I am working hard on trying not to feel guilty.

Bishop's School teacher presenting on the Global Economy.

Bishop’s School teacher presenting on the Global Economy.

As we continue with our sessions, I am very grateful for the opportunity to feed the intellectual curiosity that I have perhaps let lie fallow in the decades since college. With all the librarians here there is a wonderful synergy flowing throughout the conference, with tasty box lunches out on the terrace, at dinners and breakfasts and on quiet conversational walks through the delightful village of La Jolla. We are able to discuss these issues that are of personal interest, and -wouldn’t you know- we often end up figuring out how these issues would fit into our projects and curricula.  That’s education for you!

Thanks to Sarah Lucy for organizing this amazing Summer Institute, and thanks to Linda Mercer for being the brains behind the development of AISL’s Summer Institute in the first place. Next year the Institute is being organized by Katie Archambault to be held at the Emma Willard School. Watch for details and don’t miss this opportunity to get your AISL fix in the middle of the summer, when there is a little bit more time for reflection and regeneration.

 

 

 

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Ode to a 12 Month Employee

I thought about how to title this post as I walked home for lunch…some of my other thoughts included “Pros and Cons of working during the summer”, and “Hello <hellooo, hellooo> is there anybody out there <out there, out there>??!.

So yes, I’m still walking home for lunch. Then back to work. Most of you, I hope, will be alerted of this new blog post from your poolside seat, or perhaps working in your garden, sweat on your brow, or your phone will buzz in your pocket as you push your child on a swing, or as you sit catching up with a long neglected friend over coffee, or <gasp!> maybe you’re reading a good book?

I say good for you, 10 month employee, good. for. you.

I am only a teeny bit jealous.

You see, there are things to get done in my world. Things that I simply can’t find time to do during the school year. Here are a few of my major tasks to complete over the next 6 weeks:

  • Go through the thousands of books donated to me by faculty moving homes, offices, by those retiring or simply those purging their shelves at the end of the year. I’ll keep the things we need and sell the rest through Thriftbooks, splitting shipping and proceeds. I’m saving up to fund stage 1 of a Learning Lab concept that I’m excited to try out here. More on that in a future post. Anyway, books are stacked everywhere. It’s insane.
  • Complete inventory of print collection. Disclosure: has not been done since 2010. I’m going in. This could be interesting. If you don’t hear from me in a week, someone call for help.
  • Weed like crazy.
  • Add weeded books to aforementioned boxes of books headed for resale.
  • Migrate to Libguide 2.0. Loved the posts about pulling old content and reposting updated material as needed during new school year. Have decided not to spend tons of time mulling over migration and losing content. I’m just ripping off the bandaid and migrating, fixing as I go next year.
  • Creating curriculum for Sophomore Advising Program. While I have you, are any of you lead class advisors? Do you work with Sophomores? Care to share any big advising program successes?
  • Create a playbook of mini research lessons for teachers to choose from next year, a la carte if you will.
  • Replace dinosaur self check-out computer with iPad station. Has anyone already done this? Do you have a mount that you prefer that allows the camera to be used to scan barcodes using the Follett App?
  • Create as much newsletter content as possible so that I can adhere to my bi-monthly newsletter goal (swallowed last year by putting out fires continuously). Database profiles, good books I’m reading this summer (YES, 10 monthers, I am still reading. So far, “Saint Anything”, “The Attachments”, and I’m just finishing up “The Red Tent”…all very good reads), cool apps for education, blogs to follow, that sort of thing.

You get the picture.  You know what the weirdest part is? I’m pretty o.k. with this. Granted, we are spending mucho dinero on summer camps for 3 kids and there is a ton of fun stuff to do in this area in the summer months which will have to wait for the weekends, and I *completely get* that doing non-work related things is totally necessary for recharging one’s battery (soul??).

It’s also really, really nice to check things off the work to-do list to give professional peace of mind, and to run an effective library program during the school year. Especially for the solo-librarian. If I had a team to divide the to-do list with, I don’t think that I would find the summer months as necessary as they are. That makes me a little sad to type, but it’s the truth.

I’m a loud librarian and it’s creepily quiet in here. By August, I’m going to be be standing outside waving people in.  I thrive on the life and activity that my students provide in the space, but it’s also really nice to wear shorts and flip flops, to blast my favorite Pandora station, and to just get *stuff* done.

And can I just tell you how much I’m looking forward to a 3 week southern adventure with my children later this summer? I will be leaving my laptop at home.

Time to get back to it. I hope you enjoy whatever it is YOU are doing this summer.

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What I Learned from My Sister’s Stroke

Talk about a curveball.  My younger sister  had a stroke about six weeks ago.  She is now “finding the new normal” in a rehabilitation center. She, like many of us, is a high-energy, hard-working, go-the-extra-mile type. In these last six weeks, a few platitudes have been brought sharply into focus, and without sounding too cheesy (as the middle schoolers here would say) here are a few things I will try to incorporate into my library practice.

Don’t be Quick to Judge. Ask Questions. Give the Benefit of the Doubt

When I say “my sister is in rehab” I sometimes get a fleeting “Oh really?!” look.  I usually add “for a stroke” but with or without the qualifier there can be an awkward silence. Do I jump to conclusions with students and colleagues? Do I cut people some slack when I can?

No One is Indispensible (part one)

No matter how important you are (I see the comments from solo librarians and traveling librarians who are wearing a lot of hats these days) life will go on without you. If your heart (or some other organ) is telling you a change needs to be made, start figuring it out before  the decision is somehow made for you.  Ultimately, it is not your problem to make it work for everyone else. Things will go on. You will be missed, but things will go on.

No One is Indispensible (part two): and Shouldn’t Try to Be

Learn how to say no, if you need to. There are lots of books on being more assertive. Be willing to share information with your colleagues and family.  Don’t be the only one who knows how to unjam the copy machine, or where the list of contact phone numbers is kept. You may not have time to leave notes or hand off projects. I will try to remember to share the practical knowledge about this library with my colleagues when I can.

Build up Good Karma When You Can.  You Never Know When You Will Need It!

Ellen’s neighbors, colleagues and friends have been incredible. Truly, jawdroppingly amazing.  One of the reasons for this outpouring is that Ellen and her family made many contributions into the “favor bank” over the years and now they are able to make significant withdrawals without running dry. The give and take is all a part of being collegial, and I will try to look at it as more of a marathon than a sprint.

Best wishes for a summer that rejuvenates you,

Maggie Knapp
MS/US Library
Trinity Valley School
7500 Dutch Branch Rd.
Fort Worth, TX 76132
817-321-0100 x410

 

 

 

 

 

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Origin Story II

Welcome back to the Independent Ideas Summer Series, Origin Stories.

Today we meet Kate Hammond from The Perkiomen School in Pennsylvania.

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My Origin Story

“I wish I could take her to the library and hand her over to the librarians. Please teach her about everything, I’d say” (A.S. King, Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, p.44).

At this point in the novel, Glory’s friend Ellie is being manipulated by her boyfriend into unsafe sex. Glory’s wished-for solution? The magical, trustworthy power of the library and librarians.

In the early 2000’s I was a volunteer for Planned Parenthood. I talked to students in Baltimore about preventing STI’s and pregnancy, answering questions that often revealed an appalling lack of knowledge about the human body and reproduction. I demonstrated how to use male and female condoms. I handed out brochures. I left these sessions feeling uneasy. How many students weren’t asking questions who needed to? How many were blowing off my extremely didactic presentation, who might need that information that very afternoon?

Later, while working as a research assistant in the school of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale on a study with pregnant and parenting teens I met many young women who had not had access to information they needed to stay safe, healthy, and avoid pregnancy. If there had been any attempts to deliver information, they hadn’t stuck well.

If teens weren’t getting the information they needed from home, school, or friends, they needed to be empowered to get it themselves. Where? Who makes sure the resources they need are there, as well as the skills to access, evaluate, and use information? Protects their privacy? We all know the answers to those questions, but when I first figured it out, it was a calling – and a relief!

One day my brain clicked and I Googled “teen librarian” to see if there was such a thing. I discovered YALSA and the book For Sex Education, See Librarian by Cornog and Perper (Greenwood, 1996). Perfect. Did I mention I also love YA fiction?

I came to a school library by circumstance; my husband took a job teaching at a boarding school, and I finished grad school that first year. I would gaze longingly at the school library across the street. After our second year (and first baby), the librarian retired and I was in the right place at the right time, more than ready to get to work. I discovered that school is the place – I know all of my patrons and get to see them grow as learners and people. However, my original inspiration has fallen by the wayside as I’ve become happily immersed in this multi-faceted profession. I’ve been hoping for some help or signs to get me back on track in some way. I have been lucky enough recently to have been given a few:

  • A conversation with a friend about the state of sex education here and everywhere
  • Another conversation with some aware students about the disappointing presentation they heard. Someone was yammering at them about STI’s.
  • My suggestion of an Unconference session on Sex Ed. and the Library was thwarted by an unknown person scared of or against the conversation
  • An invitation from AISL to share my origin story
  • The quotation from my author hero, A.S. King, which reaffirmed that yes this is, can be, and should be an important role to play. Thank you!

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We are still collecting Origin Stories and would love to hear from you.  If you would like to share yours (500 words or less) please send it to Allison Peters Jensen at allison.peters@coloradoacademy.org

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Origin Story

Welcome to the first post in an Independent Ideas series, Origin Stories.

We all have origin stories. Stories that tell why we do what we do and how we got to this place in the world of Independent School Librarianship.  Some of our stories march in straight lines, some wind and turn and twist, some just hop from one lily pad to the next.

How did you become a librarian?  Why did you become a librarian?  How did libraries find you?

Today, Barbara Share from the Ransom Everglades School answers those questions.

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How I decided on this great profession

I grew up in a small town in Ohio, really small. The love of reading was instilled in me at a very early age. So in addition to all the normal growing up stuff, I spent a LOT of time reading. The local Library was a huge (at least to me at the time) building and just walking in and seeing the old architecture gave me great comfort. The books were easy to find and I would go to the section and just pick up the first book, sit down and read. After I finished I would take a few home, the Librarian would look up my name from a drawer full of cards and write in the information. At home, I had a comfortable chair would read until called for dinner (or anything I was supposed to be doing). The reading continues even now. When I find a really good book, everything else (I mean EVERYTHING) pretty much stops until I’m finished reading.

Fast forward to high school. Yes, I’m still reading! My mother was not well and she started thinking ahead for what profession I should consider. Librarian came to mind because I would no doubt meet a very intelligent man, get married and live happily ever after (that actually happened – but that’s another story!). Most Jewish moms have these thoughts!

So, I majored in English and minored in Library Science (25 hours). I loved it! Especially learning the research. But now I had to get into grad school. It just didn’t happen right away. My grades were not stellar (my mom died my freshman year), I didn’t have a direction     – but I needed to work.

I moved to Miami, FL (doesn’t everyone have a grandmother in South Florida?). I worked retail stores until a got a Librarian position at a Catholic School (my maiden name is Bernstein – you can only imagine how much fun I had!). Three years there and off I went to the corporate world and realized I needed that Master’s Degree to better myself. So I snuck in to the University of South Florida taking extension classes (an hour’s drive from my place) every weekend for a year or so. One class a semester. I took a leave of absence to go on campus for the last semester to finish (otherwise it would have taken another 2 years) and then back to work. Although the corporate world was busy – it just wasn’t my thing. Thank Heaven I eventually found myself back at a private school – this time an independent one and have been very happy! And yes – I’m still reading!!

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We are still collecting Origin Stories and would love to hear from you.  If you would like to share yours (500 words or less) please send it to Allison Peters Jensen at allison.peters@coloradoacademy.org

Happy Summer!

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Greetings to you all, I am posting Jennifer’s blog about her impressions from the conference today.  Enjoy and have a safe, restful and wonderful summer!  Barbara

 

The Difference

I have so enjoyed seeing the posts written by the other conference attendees—especially the Storify about the whole experience. Looking at those pictures and posts (some of them mine!), I have been able to relive and review the truly inspiring sessions (Libraries as Incubators! OMG makerspaces! Sofas covered in uniform fabric! ), the awesome venues (The Yacht Club! Sunken Gardens! The Ringling Estate!), and the new friendships I began (Mary! Kim! The Publix trip and the Bad Bananas!).

So it is perhaps surprising that I have been wrestling a bit with writing this blog post. Now it is the 11th hour, and I am using the deadline as my impetus to just go ahead and say what I’ve been thinking, and figure that if any of this truth is uncomfortable or “wrong,” then I can use that knowledge to grow.

Being an Independent School Librarian is different from being a public school librarian. And from what I can see so far, our conference is different, too.

A few years ago, my wonderful school had a campaign focused on sharing our appreciation for our teachers, our campus, our educational and extra-curricular programs. As a part of this effort, car magnets were distributed. They were large—I’d say about 6” x 8” at least—and they said “I Know the Difference.” (Did I mention that these magnets were Large?) Well, I had a really hard time putting that magnet on my car. In fact, I think I put it on my fridge instead. Even though I know we are different, in all the good ways, I couldn’t do it. It seemed too “Nanny Nanny Boo Boo,” if you know what I mean.

It’s the same with admitting that the AISL conference is different (okay, when I say different I mean better. There.). I said to many people while I was at conference, and afterwards, that this was the single most relevant and rewarding conference I have ever attended, and it truly was. Day after day I was presented with robust program ideas, solid research, and personal stories which directly related to my own professional situation and which were focused on creating high-quality, challenging and enriching programming for students. And although I know that all of us—private and public school alike—must be aware of the financial realities at our schools, connect with our constituents and advocate with our admins, that was not the primary focus of this conference, as it so often has been at the public-school level. It is a sad fact that when, year after year, public school librarians find it necessary to fight for their survival, the focus can easily become about survival at the expense of substance.

There, I said it. I have put the bumper sticker on my professional car: I Know the Difference. And it still makes me cringe a bit.

So where does that leave me? I am still a member of my local public school librarian’s organization, serving as the Special Public and Independent School liaison. Have I just betrayed all of those colleagues? I hope not. I have to believe that doesn’t have to be the end of it.

In this regard, the theme of our 2015 conference, Bridging Our Differences, was especially meaningful to me—particularly as a first-time attendee. I am so grateful to have found my professional organization, and I see the value it can add to my life both professionally and personally. My challenge now is to find ways to share that richness: with my students, my faculty, and my public library peers.

 

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I’m sorry…

While I was updating our hallway bulletin board recently, a student noticed one of the book covers being posted. It was something she’d read and loved, and she was eager to chat about it – so we did. After a few minutes, one of our Senior Leaders (whose office is adjacent to the board), popped her head out to ask what book we were talking about, because our conversation was so interesting she wanted to read the book.

A connection like this makes our day, as does offering readers’ advisory. But recommending a great read to someone who has asked for a suggestion is one thing. Suggesting that someone take a look at a book I think they’d find interesting is another. All of our kids and colleagues are busybusybusy. The many demands on their time are important and worthwhile, but often fill up so much of their schedules that they “don’t have time to read”.

Somewhere along the line, this response has gotten into my head because I find myself apologizing for the mere suggestion that someone carve out time to read for pleasure. It’s got to stop.

Our listserv has been peppered with recent studies about the importance of reading for pleasure, and the panel of college librarians at #aisltampa highlighted the relationship they see between pleasure reading & academic success. We all know that reading reduces stress, increases focus, and expands a reader’s vocabulary, among so many other benefits. I need to put this research into action!

So – for the purposes of accountability, I hereby pledge to you that I will stop apologizing for suggesting that people take time out their busy days to read for pleasure, whether it be chapter of a book, a magazine article, or a blog post. I will help them find the right book for the right time. And I will gently suggest when they may find time to read.

My name is Shelagh and I am not sorry.

 

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