Summertime reading hits different

We’re in Illinois for the next several weeks, in my childhood home in a small town in the middle of the state. Shifting gears from Los Angeles means there is an abundance of time and space and quietude. There is nothing to do here, really. Oh, there are plenty of pleasant, quiet, serene outings that take up a morning or an hour – the Abraham Lincoln New Salem village, the tiny zoo, a walk around the duck pond, a trip to the drive-thru coffee shop. I can drive my son past my old high school and show him where I played in the park as a kid. There are scrambled eggs in the morning, sandwiches at lunch, dinners made by my mother in the evening. It’s an absolute retreat from the world of Los Angeles, and my parents’ house is a house designed for reading. Every chair with a lamp and a side table and a foot stool. Every table with a pile of books and magazines. Trips to the well-appointed public library happen every other day, at least.

For me, reading in the summertime just hits different. I read more, for one. I may read three or four books a week, because I can read for several hours a day. I read more indiscriminately because my purpose has shifted. During the school year, I most often read for business. I keep up with trends, I vet books for the collection, I read teacher or student recommendations, I re-read a book that’s going back into the curriculum, I skim, I assess, I “librarian”. Summertime reading, however, is just for me. The activity itself is the purpose. The long, lazy mornings on the patio or the sofa with coffee. The heat-induced siestas where my eyes close for a few minutes and that drowsy, timeless feeling blurs the lines between my book and my dreams. The quiet nights where I read long past my bedtime because I don’t have a bedtime, for now.

If you looked through my goodreads ratings and isolated the summertime books, you’d see a whole lot of five stars! Five stars! FIVE STARS! That’s because I also like books more in the summertime. I like books more because I’m not judging them or studying them. I’m just enjoying them. In summertime, a five star book is a book I had a great time reading. A book that swept me away, or kept me guessing, or just filled the time pleasantly. Maybe the ending was too tidy or too swift, and maybe there are holes in the plot, and maybe this character wasn’t so well developed. Who cares? It’s summertime! Did I enjoy reading it? FIVE STARS!

I can’t help but wonder if my students get to experience this transformation in summertime. I suspect some do, if they aren’t over-scheduled by summer school, internships, camps, sports, etc. If their summers include empty time, do they fill it with murder mysteries and romance novels? Perhaps. For many of them, their required summer reading is likely to be looming over them, making summertime reading bliss harder to achieve. Do any of them read those books first, to get them out of the way so they can relax into their library books? I doubt it. They wait to read them until late summer (if they read them at all) to make sure the book is fresh in their minds for the first days of school when they’ll need to retrieve details for discussions and essays and possibly even quizzes. With Jane Eyre sitting on the bedside table, lurking, can they sink into a cozy fantasy novel without guilt? Do they lose themselves in a random bestseller if 1984 is just sitting there, daring them to start annotating it?

Every summer I think about this. Every summer I think that maybe I should create a summer reading challenge, or a summer reading book club, or a summer reading incentive for my students. But then, wouldn’t my own summertime reading become business again? I haven’t been able to make that sacrifice for my students. It means too much to me to have this retreat from my professional life. Perhaps if my school’s campus and library were open all year, it would be different. I know for some of you, you’re working right now, and summer reading programs are part of your school culture. At my school, everything goes quiet. There’s a little summer school, and then the campus empties. If I built it, would they come? Maybe. But for now, I’m going to go make another cup of coffee and pick up my next book.

What does summertime reading mean for you? Did you just go to ALA and pick up a new stack of ARCs? Do you use your summer to binge watch all the shows you missed during the year? I’d love to hear!

My most recent reads: Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus, The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill, Beneath the Stairs by Jennifer Fawcett, Search by Michelle Huneven.

Visually Thinking with Sketchnotes

Leonardo da Vinci is noted for many accomplishments in the fields of art, science, and invention, but he was also a master in the art of sketching. His notebooks filled with drawings and observations about the world around him reveal a mind that was insatiably curious and adept at making connections. This image from one of his notebooks exemplifies how his mind leapt from one observation to another. The flowing drapery of the pictured old man is mirrored in similar energetic linework on the facing page that depicts swirling water.

Leonardo. Whirlpool and Old Man. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accessed 20 Jun 2022.

Though visually thinking with sketches is nothing new, educators and businesses have been exploring the merits of Sketchnotes as a way to communicate ideas in a graphical format. Sketchnotes can take a variety of forms, from simple infographics, to stick figures, to complex representations of processes (such as cell division).  A book by Tanny McGregor, Ink and Ideas: Sketchnotes for Engagement, Comprehension and Thinking (Heinemann, 2019) provides several examples of introducing Sketchnotes in the classroom and using this technique to spark student thinking. I took a dive into Sketchnotes after reading Ink and Ideas, and the following examples and reflections show how Sketchnotes can be used to enhance discussions of books. 

Book: The Magnolia Sword by Sherry Thomas

The first two chapters of The Magnolia Sword by Sherry Thomas are a master class in writing: introducing compelling characters, setting up conflict, and suggesting a trajectory (quest) that will set these characters on a future collision course. 

Specific details from the chapters were first annotated in a journal and certain words circled that would be emphasized in the Sketchnote (such as “Fated to Clash”). As I sketched in pencil the preparatory drawing, I decided to group textual quotes by the two characters, shown separated in the sketch by the Great Wall of China (denoting the location of the story). The textual quotes highlighted in the sketch show the fierce martial arts skill of each adversary while also suggesting their mutual attraction to each other (Mulan faces her opponent with both trepidation and thrill while Yuan Kai muses that if circumstances had been different, they might have met as friends). Transferring my journal annotations into this graphical format helped me to compare these two characters while also hinting at future conflicts (Mulan’s father bent on pursuing this feud and the looming threat of the Rouran Invaders).

Book: Jennifer Chan is Not Alone by Tae Keller

I read Tae Keller’s book as an ebook, so my journaling notes were added in the notes section of the ebook. I discovered that these reflection notes were not as detailed as when I read a print copy and took pen and paper notes.

For my Sketchnotes design, I chose a basic template so that I could plot story events  highlighting major moments in the book. I represented events around a quote by the main character, Jennifer Chan: “We pull each other close, we push each other away.” The pictured events show this tension, some frames denoting hurtful actions and some frames denoting moments of healing.

Though plotting story events is a helpful exercise, this type of Sketchnote would need to be supported by questioning to reveal the richness of the message of this story and the dynamics of the the characters’ grappling with the worries, pain, and hopes. Question prompts might include Which character would you befriend? or, Which characters’ actions were hurtful and how would you respond to that character? 

Creating these Sketchnotes was a fun exercise in making visual the ideas that surfaced as I read these books. The process of reflecting on the sketches helped to clarify connections and prompt questioning for book discussions. Though these Sketchnote examples are not Leonardo masterpieces, this process was a fun and thought-provoking experience. I invite you to take pen and paper and try your hand at Sketchnotes.

Great PD next week! Global Factcheck 9

Last October I had the great good luck to attend a conference for professional fact checkers organized by the International Fact-Checking Network at the Poynter Institute. It was cool enough to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and — as they vowed to be back in-person for 2022 — I thought for sure it would be just that.

Happily, I received an email just this week telling me that the conference will be hybrid this year. Next week (June 22-June 25) it will take place in Norway, but will also be offered virtually. You can find more information here.

At this very global conference you can hear panels, such as the one involving journalists from Brazil, Kenya, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Phillippines, discussing fact-checking during elections. Another multinational panel discusses media information literacy from the point of view of professional fact-checkers. There will be sessions on conspiracy theorists and on the relationship between research findings in the field and practical applications. It looks pretty great, to be frank.

So, if you are looking for a taste of PD for the summer, and want to engage with a field that is both familiar and unfamiliar, check out Global FactCheck 9! If you need a bit more flexibility on timing, I also recommend viewing recordings of sessions from past years of the conference on the International Fact-Checking Network’s YouTube channel.

Being the go-to for need-to-know

Credible information, scholarly information, our libraries are the source of it all, right? But what about the non-academic yet timely and critical stuff that many in our community need to know?

(Time to get vulnerable. These are clearly original, un-retouched photos – I figured authenticity was more important than perfection.)

At our main desk, we post the schedule (whichever is relevant that day) by our fruit basket. While yes, most get into the swing of things by October, it’s referenced often throughout the year:

When there is a special schedule, such as end-of-term term photos, we put that up on either side of our front door (and if we don’t have time to print out an update, we make the change quickly, if not beautifully):

This year was the first year since 2019 that we had our all-school photo. Getting 700+ people organized on our front lawn was a bit of a feat when most had no prior experience doing so. Although a photocopier issue prevented us from making the grade-organized plan bigger, having it at the bottom of the library stairs in our Commons helped some people figure out where they were heading.

Although far from glamorous, posting schedules for what’s going on in your community can help cement your reputation as the source of all good information.

Unstuck in time

I went through a phase where I tried every online task manager I could find. I tried multiple apps, different systems of task organization, and almost every categorization scheme I could think of. And finally, after trying all that, the system I’ve found that really, truly works for me is a notebook that I turn into a weekly planner. I get to see my whole week laid out in front of me, and I have columns on either side of the two-page spread – one for tasks to do this week, one for tasks that I want to keep on my radar for next week(s). And, at the top of the page, I list my top three priorities for the week. This week, one of those priorities was “AISL blog.”

And here I am at 9:00pm, after an 11-hour day at school, just sitting down to start writing it. It is that time of year when I get a little unstuck in time so even though I knew my blog post was due Thursday, and that today was Thursday, I somehow did not connect that this meant that I needed to post my blog today.

It’s also that time in the school year when the year isn’t over yet (one week to go!), but it definitely feels over. Classes are winding down, schedules are changing, and special events abound. It’s very easy not to know when you are.

I’m also looking ahead to summer. I almost have my first year at this job under my belt and I have So. Many. Projects I want to work on this summer. I’m rethinking the library space, and also doing some big curriculum planning with teachers. I have a bunch of tech tools I want to learn and tutorials to make. And, so far, I am keeping track of all my ideas for summer projects by jotting them on post-its and sticking them in my planner. Maybe I haven’t found the perfect organization system quite yet.

Here’s hoping the end of the year is wrapping up well for all of you, and that we all get some time where it’s okay to forget what day it is.

AISL: Vision to Reality…Hygge Edition

Library Mindfulness Room Proposal:

 My vision is to transform an underutilized room in the Upper School Library to a Mindfulness Room, where students can unwind and meditate. After the crazy year we have all had, I have been collaborating with the school counselor to bring more Social Emotional Learning activities to the library. And I think that having a calming space in the library could be beneficial to not only our library but also our entire school community.

It would be a massive understatement to say that these last 2 years have been rough! However, one positive aspect of the pandemic was that I FINALLY had the time to do all the mundane tasks that I’d been putting off….like organizing my apartment!

Naturally, I procrastinated during the first couple of months of lockdown and instead spent most of my time watching endless hours of television. I especially loved watching Architectural Digest Home Tours on Youtube, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, and the Home Edit on Netflix. Once I was done binging on reality tv (and done feeling appropriately disgusted with myself lol jk) I finally got that push I needed to do something about my living space!

After a lot of decluttering and many many many breaks, I was finally able to be proud of my newly decorated and organized apartment! The change in scenery in my living space made me feel instantly better. I felt at peace… I felt calm… I felt like I could escape from all the craziness happening in the outside world. I felt like this cat…

So when I found out that I was awarded the AISL Vision to Reality Award, I wanted to do the same for my students. With the funds from AISL, I was thrilled to be able to transform an underutilized (and sometimes problematic!) study room into a space where students could find some respite during the school day. I also wanted students to have a quiet place to meditate and unwind. For this project, I relied heavily on the Danish idea of Hygge. The Oxford English Dictionary defines Hygge as “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.”

In order to turn this dreary study room into a cozy retreat, I made sure to add comfy seating, gentle lighting, plants, and low-stress activities like the paint-by sticker activity! It’s wild how just a few changes can make such drastic improvements to a space!

So far, our community seems to love the new and improved space! It was even used as a place for our Muslim students to pray during Ramadan!

I’m excited to have been able to do this for our students and it would not have been possible without the help of AISL, so thank you!

Please enjoy some before and after pics!


not cute 🙁


cute 🙂

Students to Alumni

It’s late May, and that means that many of us have just watched a group of students become alumni in a matter of minutes. Whether they are heading from your school to middle school, upper school, college/university, or the rest of their lives, one second they’re your students and the next they are invited to call you by your first name. (Sniff – they grow up so fast.) When it comes to preparing them for the next stage as information finders, users, and creators, our job, for better or worse, is finished.

So I usually spend at least part of commencement exercises thinking, “Well shoot, do these kids know how to do research? Can they suss out misinformation? Do they know how to construct a non-ridiculous search query? Can they ask good questions? Are they going to provide proper citations in their first college research papers, or will they learn hard lessons? Will they ever use a library again? Will they read for pleasure? Did I do enough? HAVE I FAILED THEM???”

I am pretty sure the answer to the last one is no, at least I hope so. First of all, I happily recognize that I have colleagues who also value inquiry, reading, and approaching information with a discerning eye, and the development of our students’ information literacy doesn’t rest solely with me. I also have hope that the information literacy instruction they receive in college will ring a bell – (as in, “oh, right, that’s what Ms. Hammond was always going on about.”) I also know that many of them, but not all of them, will go into those first year library instructional sessions knowing exactly what they’re about to see. I wish I could be a fly on the wall.   

As we close out 2021-2022 and put our minds to next year, I remember that our job, for our young alumni, is actually not finished. We’ll get emails or calls from college asking for help, reassurance, and guidance. We’ll see them at Thanksgiving when they come back to a campus that feels so much smaller now, and they’ll tell us about how that first research paper went, or that they love their college library. They’ll post a video to YouTube that gets flagged for possible copyright infringement, and remember to consider Fair Use. They will push back when their social media connections do not check their sources before spreading outrageous information. They will take their kids to storytime. They’ll stand up for intellectual freedom. They will be fine and do good, and when they hear the phrase “school library”, perhaps they’ll associate it, even unconsciously, with support, belonging, and learning. 

A Few of Our Favorite Things…This Year

We all know the end of the year comes at us like a freight train. Tracking down AWOL borrowers, those last-minute final projects, unruly seniors (or 8th graders), and end-of-year malaise often leaves very little time for reflection. This year more than ever as we stumbled toward some sense of normalcy after the Covid-centric year of 2020-21, looking at what’s working and what’s not feels important. I’m not talking about the big picture goals I discussed in my last post — I’m talking about the small, everyday changes that make a difference in our crazy library world. Sometimes those small things can mean the difference between sanity and losing it. Here are some smallish things we tried this year that had a large impact.

Furniture —Go With the Flow

I don’t know about you, but our students love to move the furniture around. We used to let it drive us up a wall — yelling at students to move things back, spending enormous amounts of time pushing things back to the “right place”, and really just allowing it to rule large parts of the day and evening. This year, we tried a different strategy. We let go of our preconceived floor layout and began the year with some furniture in the “wrong” locations. For example, they love to have two of our cozy chairs smushed together in the window even though they barely fit. We preemptively put them that way, and guess what? No one has moved those chairs all year. 

In the conversation areas of the library, when they pushed tables together to make one long one we left it like that. When they pulled them apart, we left it like that. At the end of the day, we still straighten chairs, etc., but we do not waste time moving tables, and like the chairs, now they hardly get moved anymore. Having no “right” place and giving students the freedom to rearrange has lowered our aggravation factor enormously.

No More Electronics!

We stopped loaning most of our electronics during Covid — mainly laptops and computer chargers. Before the start of the school year, we had a long discussion with our IT department about bringing these items back. We are a bring-your-own-device school, and somehow students (and faculty) managed through the entire 2020-21 year without any electronic borrowing from us. Why would we need to change that? Prior to Covid when we had 20 laptops and 6-8 miscellaneous chargers, we spent hours every week tracking them down. The chargers weren’t supposed to leave the building, and the laptops were only for daily loans, but somehow that never happened. Things went days or even weeks without being returned, and getting them back was almost a full-time job. 

So IT gave us a handful of emergency laptops for situations when students were actually having a problem that did not involve leaving their laptop in their room because they were too lazy to put it in their backpack, and we continued with our Covid-inspired policy of not loaning chargers. It’s been great. Once students realized that we did not have them, they brought theirs. Shocking! I know I will probably get some flack that we should provide items that students need, but I think when a task’s pain-in-the-neck factor for staff far outweighs its benefit, making a change is warranted.  

“Virtually” Any Time

So many of us discovered a lot of resources and applications during Covid that continue to make our jobs easier. Two things we started using that I will not give up are Calendly and Zoom. I love Calendly because many students are just not comfortable approaching the desk to ask for help. My Calendly link on our portal page allows students to easily make an appointment with me, and the bonus — I get the heads up about the subject of the meeting. Most students still just come up to the desk, but for those who need a quieter way to reach out, Calendly works great. 

We have night staff for academic support, but sometimes no one knows an assignment or a student like I do. Zoom allows me to meet with students from the comfort of my home during study hours when I am normally not at school. As we reach year three of the virus, I know Zoom sometimes gets a bad rap, but as a faculty member who lives off-campus, it has been a godsend. It allows me to connect with students when they need me most — during their evening study hours.

With those thoughts — here’s hoping for a peaceful end of the year, a restful summer, and a healthy 2022-23 school year for everyone.

What we talk about when we talk about concussions: More questions than answers

Are you in the same situation as me? Do you have multiple students who suffer from concussions each year? Some of my practice has been changed forever by students suffering from concussions. I’ve worried and fretted about how to support them. But I have looked and found few answers. While I cannot really figure out how to go forward, I cannot help but want to have policies in place in support of students with the range of symptoms that come with head trauma. So, with one of my at-home students currently confined to a dark room from a concussion, I thought I would throw the question out here: do you have policies or practices in support of concussed students? Do you feel like it would be a helpful issue to address? Do you have ideas on where to start?

In past years – and based on an admittedly quick search now – I have not found any literature in our field on this topic. One student with whom I became quite close spent close to 12 months over the course of her her 5-year high school career shut in dark rooms suffering from concussions from increasingly benign activities – we have talked quite a bit about her experiences.* I am currently parenting through my own child’s second, non-athletic concussion. And, in addition to multiple concussed students each year in our school’s general population, I am currently mentoring two second-semester seniors in our college-level historical research course who live with persistent concussion symptoms on a daily basis.

So. Here is what I’ve anecdotally got:

The student experience

One of the challenges of concussion protocols is that symptoms vary widely, so it is not – I am told by experts – possible to come up with a one-size-fits-all policy.

School concussion protocols acknowledge that light and screens can be particularly painful. Reading is hard. Students need to rest frequently. According to my students, the corollary is not only that they cannot focus on threads of ideas or remember what they hear for more than a few moments at a time, but that they simultaneously feel the need to be polite and engaged, and so tend to cover for their cognitive deficit when they are interacting with me.

They report that they continue to interact, even though it hurts and is confusing, because one of the hidden outcomes of the earlier stages of concussion is profoundly overwhelming boredom, sometimes partnered with depression. Existing in a dark room for days (or significant chunks of days) on end without company is emotionally excruciating. One can only sleep so much. In fact, with all the lying around it becomes hard to sleep at night. But all those awake hours with nothing to do are so very, very hard. The result can be profound depression, along with an inability to engage with emotion.

Coming back to school, there exists a tension among competing forces of teachers wanting to support students, wanting students to learn the content of their classes, and wanting to help students catch up. The general result seems to be that in our sincere desire to support concussed students in all the ways (as one school’s learning specialist once told me: “We do not cut content, just work. A student who completes a class is just as well prepared as his classmates.”) students experience teachers saying they are following the protocols but not actually doing so. Add to that situation the oft-observed student practice of having both sides of a conversation with a teacher by themselves, without the teacher’s knowledge, and you get experiences like: “Sure, my physics teacher said to only worry about completing this reflection, but that means he expects me to catch up on all the daily work too, he just did not write it in the plan.”

So, where does the librarian fit into this?

How we interact

It seems helpful to tell a student up-front that I know that head trauma makes it hard to concentrate for long. I let her know I will be checking in at regular intervals (aka, every few minutes) and I am in support of her telling me when her concentration runs out. And then actually asking and responding appropriately. If I just pop out with that question mid-conversation, without the up-front warning, students tend to pretend they are okay when they are not.


I learned to love audiobooks due to careful cultivation by my former five-year high school student. Her first concussion kept her in a darkened room for something like six months; music and audiobooks were the only activities she could manage. While she was a font of knowledge that got me hooked on the genre, she also had a lot to say about the kinds of audiobooks that worked for her during recovery: slow moving, not too much emotion, often well below her reading level so they took less cognitive effort to follow but did keep her mind active.

One of her favorites provides a good example of what worked for her when she missed a significant portion of tenth grade: Saffy’s Angel, by Hilary McKay. The book was character-driven, with a slow-moving story. The characters are engaging, and the book is quietly funny. School Library Journal rates it for 4-6 grades. The humor is very helpful when stuck in a dark room, but laughing hurts and so quietly amusing seems to work well. Again, students report that emotional content can be impossible to process, and I believe that a particularly well-crafted story for an audience younger than the student herself can make for a good fit. Slow-moving stories make it easier to process when you find you cannot remember all that you hear.

Based on advocacy by this student, we determined to add audiobooks in our Overdrive collection (though she may just be learning that fact from reading this post). I would love to crowdsource a list of audiobooks that can provide a sort of emotional “high-low” listening experience that might work for concussed students of different ages.

Additionally, while our library does not tend to collect curricular books – or focus on providing fee-per-use audiobooks of reading from our curriculum – it might be worth considering a special budget category (above and beyond your budget as it stands) for supporting concussed students. Anyone have anything like this in place?

(Another parent’s point of view on concussions and audiobooks can be found here.)


Generally, my colleagues seem to cut back on research assignments for concussed students, but I am also aware that there are plenty of assignment that fall into that gray area that classroom teachers do not call “research” (at least, for the purposes of considering collaboration) but that require both searching for and navigating information resources.

This is where I feel we would really benefit from having a policy in place that gets rolled into the school’s concussion policy. I would like to have well-informed practices in place that would automatically involve our library staff in helping teachers think through the necessary learning objectives around a project. Is this assignment intended to help her learn to pick search terms? To pick good results? Or to navigate content in sources? She should not have to do them all, nor should she be responsible to complete steps that lengthen the use of her eyes and focus when they are not helpful to fulfilling the learning objectives. So, how can we help lighten the load?

I’ve not really gotten beyond this point in my thinking, and would truly love to hear from others how they handle this element of our work.


Overall, I am a huge proponent of teaching students how to read academically, especially in the latter years of high-school. The notion of reading scholarly works from the outside in should be, I believe, a central part of any college prep curriculum that involves reading journal articles, as should discipline-specific guidance helping students understand the parts of articles and what a high school/early college student does and does not need to actually understand in an article. (For example, I’ve distilled this article into a three-page outline that I often share with students reading in the social sciences and some sciences.) Textbooks create a different kind of challenge in reading, since they are written for compact delivery of factual information.

But I think a strong base in reading for different purposes and a curricular acknowledgement that good reading does not always involve reading and understanding and taking notes on every line of text is good for all students. And then we have a base to build upon for supporting recovering students in being selective in not only what pieces they read, but how they approach reading them.

(And now I want to learn more about how visual note taking may or may not be a useful tool with students recovering from head trauma.)


So – this lengthy post is more thinking and wondering than answers, but I would be so very grateful to hear your thoughts and practices, as well. As schools seek to improve their care of students suffering from brain injuries, librarians have another opportunity to offer thought leadership and compassionate care.

*This story with my alum’s permission.

on if you give a librarian a library…

How’re your weeks going? The last few weeks have been a bit of a blur. I’m kinda exhausted!

“Why are you exhausted?” you ask?

Well, thanks for asking! I’m exhausted because I’ve been living library life like a character in the Laura Numeroff book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

Cover image of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
  • If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk…
    • When you give him the milk, he’ll probably ask you for a straw…
      • When he’s finished, he’s likely to ask for a napkin…

Here’s my kind of crazy tale of, If You Give a Librarian a Library…

A few years ago, we gave birth to a library that lived in our elementary building. At the time we weren’t offering any services or library access to our K-2 scholars and teachers so we found a spot in the elementary building, bought books that Kindergarten through 2nd grade humans might love, and and opened for business! I wrote about it here: on new things for a new year…

Our little K-2 remote library collection eventually grew to 8 overflowing trucks, but we eventually ran out of space.

Fast forward 5 years and our amazing little library has outgrown its space. Basically, by the time that our young scholars reach the end of 2nd grade, they’ve just about read their way through the tiny collection and space constraints just would not allow us to continue to build out the collection as needed. Last semester we had the seemingly simple thought, “Hey, let’s have the K-2 classes come up to Kawaiaha’o Library! We’ll be able to continue to build out the K-2 collection and our strong readers will have access to things that they’ll love! It’s going to be so AMAZING!!!”

Me, on the inside at the time…


Our little idea has somehow turned into an epic cascade of problem-solving that involves:

  • Librarians painting a back room that was once a librarian’s office, that became a study room, then became a conference room, then became a closet, then became a swing space for material from our Archives when there was a construction project, and most recently has housed furniture that needed to be stored in order to allow for social distancing in classrooms. What will become the K-2 library room now has a lovely light blue wall! Honestly, I didn’t know what the heck I was doing, but I’m pretty stoked at how much less dungeon-like the room feels simply by painting the wall light blue instead of our (kinda depressing) standard institutional grey! 🤣
Adds #HowToPaint to the list of skills that I was not told I would need to develop when I was in library school…
  • My staff weeding and removing 2500 books in our HS oriented nonfiction collection that just has not seen much use in the last few years.
Boxed and ready to go to the Friends of the Library!
Deaccessioning in progress.
Having books on every cart and every available surface in the library gives me anxiety.
  • Shifting and reconfiguring all of the stacks in our nonfiction collection to make them more accessible to 3rd-5th grade sized humans…
  • Boxing significant parts of our middle fiction collection to empty shelving so that facilities crews can move shelves to new places over the summer.
  • Facilities Management Services crews coming in to move shelving and stacks around within our space to help us create age “zones” for our collection.
  • Delivering about 2000ish of the 2500 weeded books to our public library system’s Friends of the Library warehouse 250 books at a time (because that’s how many boxes can fit in a Hyundai Sonata…).
Hello, Friends of the Library!
  • Pushing all of the book trucks up the hill from our elementary building to their new home in the “big library” up on the hill.

Pushing a fully loaded book truck uphill is a surprisingly good workout. On one trip I was huffing and puffing my way up the hill past some students and I hear, “Whoa! good butt workout Mr. Wee!!!” 🤣🤣🤣

To which I had to reply, “I’m old and I don’t do Crossfit sled pushing. Don’t just stand there telling dad jokes, help me push!!!” 🤣🤣🤣

My kids thought I was hilarious, but by the time they were ready to help me push I was at the top of the hill. #Teenagers #Sigh 🤣🤣🤣

I know I sound really, really grumpy (because I am) as this process unfolds, but I know that I will be happy with the result next August when we have everything put back together and we’re up and running. In our last meeting with our K-2 classes I offhandedly mentioned, “This is our last time seeing you here in our mini-library space because next year we’ll get to see all of our K-2 classes in the big library up on the hill!!!”

Oh my goodness!!! The number of faculty/staff parents who have told me in passing in the hall, “My child is SOOOOOOOOO excited that they get to go to Kawaiaha’o Library next year!!!” has been a wonderful surprise.

Surprises like learning how excited young students are to get to borrow books and just come to “the big library” make every bit of the sweat and effort worth all of the sweat and effort! I know I’ll be happy with the outcome in the end, but you know, when you’re in the middle of the process, sometimes you just have to write to your AISL friends to complain. That’s library life… 🤣🤣🤣

Gotta run, another student needs help printing. In the midst of all of this we set up a new printing work flow to make it easier for students to print from their school iPads and personal devices. What i’ve learned from watching numerous middle school and frosh students attempt to tap on the screen of our desktop iMacs is that “how to use a computer mouse” has become a legacy skill!!! 😳😳😳 #IFeelSoOld

But that’s a post for another time!

Happy summer, all!