The Return of Summer Reading Bingo

Based on the fun that was had last year, we’re bringing back bingo! Graphic designer & educator Bram Meehan of Santa Fe created our unique bingo board and has updated it for this year. All AISL members are invited to take part – and yes, there are prizes!

Here is the bingo board:

And here are the guidelines (also on the board), but the main thing is to have fun!

  • 1 book = 1 box (no repeated titles)
  • Each completed row (horizontal, vertical or diagonal) = 1 ballot in the draw
  • Completed bingo cards should be emailed to sstraughan@tcs.on.ca by Labour Day (Sep 2)
  • Multiple winners will be drawn, and gift cards awarded based on winner preference: local bricks & mortar bookstore or online bookseller
  • An optional Zoom wrap-up party will be held on Mon Sep 9th (5pmPST/8pmEST) where winners will be announced and an informal book chat will be held (winners not in attendance will be notified via email)

Share your ongoing bingo experience by DMing AISL socials!

The joyful conundrum that is our tinker table

When maker spaces started popping up in school libraries, we were honest with ourselves and recognized that for our school, the 3D printer & other technological tools are best housed in our tech wing. In our Gr 9-12 library, we choose to offer a low-tech tinker table with space and supplies for hands-on activities that are often, but not always, crafts – for example, friendship bracelets, Spirograph, colouring pages, etc.

We aim to switch up the activity every week and try to be creative in terms of materials, repurposing wherever possible (one-sided abandoned print jobs, scraps of fabric). Our community is kind and generous, for example, digging out old Rainbow Looms from home when we had a recent request for that blast from the past.

What is fascinating and frustrating is our inability to predict the success of the activities. My colleague Viola is the mastermind behind the planning and scheduling and is often stymied in understanding why a particular activity didn’t gain interest or traction.

Here is an example of the wins, the perennial favourites:

  • Button-making
  • Large-scale sticky mosaics 
  • Seasonal card-making 
  • Perler beads (requires supervision of iron)

Here are some duds, activities that gathered dust and/or were pulled early due to lack of interest; 

  • Origami (works in group instruction, not when left for self-direction)
  • Sketch a snowflake (too many instructions?)
  • Make & take in general (like to do it, don’t want to take it)
  • Tshirt bags (who knows)

It is clear that self-care projects are popular; we now know that make-your-own-lip balm will be a crowd scene and prepare accordingly. With the cold weather, we’re bringing back hand warmers (little bags of rice that can be microwaved). Soon we’ll be trying out school-tartan hair scrunchies using sewing machines generously donated by our Parents’ Guild.

We know that nostalgia plays a part – it definitely factors in when we put out the Lego. However, Playdough seems to fit that category but has been very hit-and-miss. Viola is on to something by thinking that it’s about getting the first penguin in the water; once a student sits down, they are often joined by another. Sometimes we’ll ask a library regular to get the party started; they’re always happy to help and it can generate some momentum.

Until we crack the code, we will keep throwing spaghetti at the wall!

Photo below is from Lunar New Year activities – fortunes and lucky red envelopes (with chocolate coins); note that the puzzle table is usually adjacent.

Book Bingo

Hopefully, you are all enjoying some meaningful (or not!) summer reading. For those interested, let’s check in on AISL Summer Reading Bingo:

Click here for the bingo card & guidelines:

Check out this shared doc for recommendations – intriguing and helpful on its own but also supportive of one of the bingo squares

Look at the AISL Instagram page for additional inspiration, particularly the #aislfridayfeature

Mark your calendars – live bingo on Monday, September 11 (at 5:00pm Pacific, 6:00pm Mountain, 7:00pm Central, and 8:00pm Eastern)

Yours in reading,

Shelagh (with shoutout to my bingo-planning partner, Catherine 🙂

Jittery about Generative AI

Three years ago this month, I wrote a blog post about the importance of being vulnerable in our work, as uncomfortable as it can be. Little did I know what lay ahead – recent technological developments are making me flex this muscle more than ever!

There have been some fascinating recent threads on the listserv about generative AI, with topics ranging from policy to privacy and more; as conversations continue, we will see how this .. increasingly impacts the searching, evaluating and attributing work we support through the library. Exciting! Daunting! And to be honest, slightly panic-inducing. But ­required of me as a professional and to be honest, as a human. So how do I deal with my emotional response to this brave new world?

Years ago, our AP Research classes were inspired by the work of Carol Kulthau and the information search process and began creating their own emotional continuum as a way of acknowledging the feelings that accompany the “cognitive thoughts and physical actions” inherent in the research process. At the beginning of each class, they make note of how they’re feeling about their research (here is an analog version; some classes do digital):

My students’ experience had me wondering if acknowledging Kulthau’s stages and their inherent emotional affect could lend me perspective and hope for my own knowledge journey in terms of AI. Looking at the vocabulary on this class’s continuum, I can say with certainty that I am feeling shades of lost, scared, worried, apprehensive, and overwhelmed. However, I am also feeling my usual robust sense of curiosity, along with some determination and a mild dose of excitement.

Taking action always helps me feel a bit more grounded, so I’ve got some plans, which include continuing to check in with my emotional self along the way to build what Kulthau calls “tolerance for the mounting uncertainty”!

Creating a children’s collection in a high school library

I don’t think our high school library is unique in getting requests for children’s materials from time to time. Whether for young families living on campus or our students tutoring young kids from our local community, we’ve had a number of picture and chapter books on hand for years.

This year, 2 members of our library team decided to formalize this collection and did so by harnessing the power of  Week Without Walls (WWW), an annual event when all Senior School students & staff perform volunteer service in our area, including some sites on campus. 

One month prior to WWW, a team member emailed staff & posted a notice in the parent newsletter, asking for donations of books suitable for up to 12 years of age; 10 families donated a total of 203 books.

When the week arrived, 4 students were assigned to this WWW group based on their shared passion for reading & children, and over the course of 8 hours:

  • Reviewed donations; a handful of books didn’t make the cut based on physical condition and appropriateness
  • Created a variety of materials to support the collection including identification stickers (items aren’t barcoded so the stickers highlight where they are to be shelved) and dividers noting their creative and unique categories, such as “Kids in Charge” and “Interactive” (pop-up books and I Spy), “Guide for Life”, along with some traditional genres.
  • Colourfully painted book ends (seen above)
  • Bookmarks that celebrate and encourage reading 

Initially, the students were keen to catalogue the books so that they’d be searchable in our database but time didn’t allow for this, although it was great to have students get a glimpse of how much goes into this detailed behind-the-scenes work.

I’m grateful to work with colleagues who created such a meaningful initiative for our students and for students who enthusiastically embraced the opportunity!

Heavy lifting, literally

Raise your hand if you’ve done any or all of the following in your role as librarian:

  • Carried heavy bags of books (or snacks, craft supplies, etc) into your school from a distant parking lot
  • Changed table & chair configuration of your teaching space multiple times daily
  • Transported boxes of books to & from classrooms (and up/down stairs) for book talks and/or displays
  • Moved furniture in your library by yourself when you should have asked for help

As cerebral as our jobs can be, I’m increasingly reminded of the physical demands of librarianship. Carrying a heavy bodily load is not new to those in schools (teachers are often loaded down with marking to be done, although perhaps less now with digital submission), and certainly not to our field. Look at this excerpt from a current job description for Reference Librarian with the Maine State Library:

“The employee is occasionally required to stand; walk; sit; reach with hands and arms; climb or balance and stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl. The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 pounds.”

25 pounds is the weight of a car tire – that’s a lot, but I bet many of us do it more often than we like to admit. Then there are the ergonomic issues: a 2009 study that looked at the issue of on-the-job injury published results with the title “What Do Meatpackers & Librarians Have in Common?”. 

While our intellectual prowess is valued and exercised every day, sometimes our jobs are hard physical work, so let’s take care out there. I’m now dropping off heavy items at the entrance before parking my car and while I love a nice heel as much as the next shoe-obsessed person, I’m slowly accepting that flats are my friend. 

On that note, I just looked out my window and realized that I clearly need to share this with my new colleague who is carrying pumpkins in for an arts activity – gotta go!

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.

1 week & 2 days until AISL2022!

The AISL2022 conference planning committee is hoping you will join us for all or part of 2 half-days of emerging, engaging & evolving. Here is some information we thought you might want about this event coming up March 3 -5:

What is AISL2022?   AISL2022 is this year’s annual conference for the Association of Independent School Librarians. We have a rich history of conferencing and connecting and while the conference is usually held in person, this year’s offering (like the last) is virtual in light of the current pandemic.

What do I get for $40? The conference includes 18 great programs, 4 exciting author panels, roundtable discussions, poster sessions, and, of course, the Marky Award and Skip Anthony lecture for you to enjoy. And the prize-giving that has been occurring during registration will continue throughout the whole conference!

What if I can’t get away from school? Registering allows you to not only take part in live sessions but to access all material after the conference, so you may wish to register even if you’re unable to attend at scheduled times. This wealth of information is only available to those who’ve registered for the conference. Note that programming is scheduled over 2 half-days rather than 1 full to better accommodate a variety of schedules.

I’m unsure about the virtual format. AISL2022 is being hosted on the Whova conference platform. Whova allows us to integrate sessions, speakers, and sponsors, providing you with one place to access all the conference offers – either on the web or using the Whova mobile app.

Tell me more about the Skip Anthony lecture. We’re delighted to once again feature wonderful authors as speakers at our celebratory Skip Anthony event. Rayna Hyde-Lay of Shawnigan Lake School in B.C. shares these details:

  • Pamela Harris will speak about her novel When You Look Like Us, the story of a brother searching for his sister after she goes missing.  Law enforcement and other community members don’t get involved with the search because she runs with the wrong crowd, and all the while he is trying to keep her disappearance a secret – until he can’t anymore. This is a lovely story of sibling connection, difficulties in families and community support.
  • Jenny Torres Sanchez : the author of We are not From Here is also great to follow on Instagram. The novel involves the struggle of three youths in their hometown and their decision to migrate to the USA.  It is passionate, filled with beautiful descriptions of tough decisions they each face, both while they are traveling and the decision to leave; this book “broke my heart and gave me goosebumps”.

I miss connecting with people! Join in on a Chat n’ Chew Lunch on Thursday, or Brunch with a Librarian on Saturday to connect with someone new (or old :). And use social media to connect online; see #AISL2022 on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

I miss connecting with vendors! In our pool of generous sponsors, we have 2 (FactCite and Overdrive) who will be hosting virtual booths; see the schedule for the time dedicated to those who wish to connect with them live online.

How do I sign up? Click here to sign up for AISL22! If you need to pay by cheque, just use the “alternate pay type” option.

The flurry of February

While this title is a nod to the snow currently falling outside my window, I’m actually referring to the swirl we find ourselves in at this time of year. While we all have important days and events to recognize all year, for us February seems to be a special kind of flurry. Like you, we are usually selective about what we can manage in terms of promotion and program, but this month seems unique in its bounty of non-negotiables:

Entire month = Black History Month

Feb 1 = Lunar New Year

(Feb 1-5 Placeholder for provincial library conference)

Feb 14 = Valentine’s Day

(Feb 17-21 Placeholder for mid-term break)

Feb 20-26 = Freedom to Read Week (the Canadian Banned Books week)

Feb 23 = Pink Shirt Day

So in the shortest month of the year, we have 2 significant cultural events to acknowledge and celebrate; a week when it’s critical and timely to recognize how fortunate we are to get to choose what we wish to read; an important anti-bullying initiative; and a holiday that’s just fun to mark with crafts & treats; all while accomodating some staff absence for conference participation and break. The goal is to do it all with meaning, hopefully informing and advocating along the way without too much overlap and competing attention.

While this encompasses all parts of library programs & services, here is our plan for our physical space:

  • Main hallway display and front entrance display marking BHM alll month, adjusting as needed to promote specific activities planned by our Black Student Alliance
  • Main in-library display highlighting titles related to Lunar New Year for 2 weeks; replaced by romance books for Valentine’s Day
  • Tinker table (our low-tech makerspace) will feature supplies for Valentine’s Day, then shift to button-making for Pink Shirt Day
  • We’ll roll out a bookcat display for Freedom to Read week (with caution tape and heavy locks for dramatic effect) and post our popular giant banned books poster near the entrance

Is your February full of similar challenge and opportunity? Or are you similarly blessed at a different time of year?

Elf on the library shelf

During the month of December, we welcome Elf back to our Senior School library; a new clue is posted every day, and students are invited to find Elf, take a “shelfie” with them and email it to us a ballot to put into a prize draw.

Sometimes, clues are related to the collection, sometimes we run with a current theme (this year, we borrowed a winning gingerbread house for a day; Elf also found their way into our UV sanitizer (new COVID addition to our space).

In a school of 500, we get dozens of pics each day – the winner this year had submitted one daily, and won a box of Elf on the shelf cereal + $25 gift card for Tim Horton’s. She loved the prize but seemed most excited about the bragging rights!