Shoe or phone?

 

We cannot be the only school library that likes to have power cords available for use by students in need. Sometimes phone but mostly laptop, requests are frequent and desperate, so we’re happy to help.

Except for the fact that we kept losing them. Despite what I thought were some well thought out practices for tracking these expensive accessories: cataloguing and circulating them, attaching metre-sticks to them, allowing use only at our desk. NOTHING WORKED.

Until we started asking for a shoe or a phone. These seem to be the only 2 things that a student will not leave the library without. We haven’t lost a charger since we started doing this 3 months ago.

(Okay – on one occasion, a Grade 9 boy wandered out minus a shoe but figured it out by end of day and was back with the charger. I call that a win.)

Shining a light

While southern Ontario can hardly be considered the Great White North, we do have cold, dark winter months, so we have a number of initiatives to try and keep student spirits up.

Our administration is enthusiastically supporting a few ‘sleep-ins’ (where classes begin at 10am), our prefects have launched some great events for Spirit Week and our library has been experimenting with light therapy. It kept coming up on my radar through professional journals and social media, as light therapy lamps have been shown to help with lifting mood (and in more formal settings than ours, combatting seasonal depression).  With our library open 11+ supervised hours on most days, it offers a comfortable and supervised location for use of a light therapy lamp.  Before purchase, we consulted with both our Dean of Academic & Student Support and our Director of Health Services, both of whom are in full support.

Based on recommendations from 2 public libraries who’ve had light therapy lamps in use for over a year (and found a floor model more flexible), we chose this model http://northernlighttechnologies.com/sad-light-store/flamingo-floor-lamp  We’ve had ours in use for 3 months now, located beside some of our soft seating. We laminated the information sheet that came with the lamp and keep it immediately adjacent. If we notice that someone has turned it on but doesn’t have the light shining directly on their face, we will suggest they re-position (as per the information sheet).

As the lamp is located near our staff desk, we don’t monitor use, although we do notice who is using it regularly. Interestingly enough, it has been exclusively female students who are taking advantage of this resource in our co-ed school. Recently, I sat down with a female boarding student in Grade 11 who uses the lamp regularly:

  • She heard our announcement about the lamp in chapel, and so sought it out, using it
    while doing work during her spares
  • While she hadn’t used one before, she was familiar with light therapy as her mom uses a lamp at home
  • Rather than use it to lift her mood (as I know is the case for at least 2 other users), she finds that it helps her focus better when studying

While it’s entirely possible that there is a placebo effect for those who use it at less than a therapeutic level (ideally a minimum of 15 min/day, every day or alternate days), the lamp does seem to be providing benefit to some of our users. We will continue promoting it: writing this article has made me realize that I need to add a tab about the lamp on our LibGuides webpage (similar to TPL). This would provide us with an opportunity to direct users to other resources at our school that can help with keeping healthy (food services, housemasters, peer support, health centre, etc).

Now to figure out the gender issue….

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?

 

Why we chose the Silhouette Cameo 3 cutting machine

Enormous thanks to my colleague, Viola Lyons, for contributing this – as she did the research for the purchase, it made sense that she was the one to comment on the experience.

When we were investigating which machine to buy, it was difficult to find a truly unbiased review. We eventually settled on one of two options: the Cricut Explore Air or the Silhouette Cameo 3.  While we chose the Silhouette, we know of many people very happy with their Cricut.

The main feature that kept coming up in comparisons was the fact that the design studio software for Cameo 3 is more advanced and allows the user to create designs from scratch.  Having the ability to design is an important feature for us since we are providing the use of the machine in part at least to promote creativity.  Cricut has a large library of existing designs to import, and you can subscribe to keep receiving new ones, but it is not possible to create “one of a kind” designs to the same extent. We look forward to exploring this option with members of our sewing club who will create custom iron-on transfers for their creations.

The flip side of that is that there is hardly a review out there that doesn’t mention that the learning curve for the Cameo 3 machine is steeper!  Cricut is promoted as being an easier machine for the beginner to learn on. It has taken some time for us to get up to speed on the Cameo 3, but we’re learning lots and have been pleased with results to date.

Here are some of the factors in our decision-making process:

Material Length: The Cameo 3 enables the user to cut longer lengths of material (up to 10 feet) which is great if you intend to work on larger projects. Cricut can cut up to 24 inches. (We haven’t had need for anything longer at this point, but there is some interest in larger projects such as wall quotes).

Blade settings: The Cameo 3 comes with an autoblade.  This blade will automatically calibrate to the correct setting each time you set up a project. You still need to “tell” the machine what material is being used but it will then do the adjustment for you.  The newest Cricut has a smart set dial which I believe accomplishes essentially the same thing so the difference here is likely quite minimal.

Cutting Force and Materials:  Both machines will cut over 100 types of material and so far we haven’t been limited with the Cameo.  However, some Cricut fans claim that the Cricut has a greater cutting force and is able to cut materials such as cork or leather – the Cameo is not designed to cut these thicker materials.

Precision:  Some posts claim that the Cricut cuts with more precision. For our purposes, I don’t think this will be an issue.  Everything that we have created with the Cameo, including some very intricate pieces, has been expertly cut and meets our needs.

PixScan Technology: One feature which we have not explored is PixScan technology.  This feature is only available on the Cameo3 and enables the user to scan and cut preprinted images.  We’re not quite there yet!

So far, we are delighted to have it – we are able to whip up letters and shapes for bulletin boards and displays with ease and we are looking forward to using it in our makerspace for personalizing water bottles, laptops and other creative endeavours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Button button, who’s got the button?

As part of our low-tech makerspace, we recently purchased a button maker. (An informal poll indicated that kids were more likely to make and wear smaller buttons, so we went with the 1″ model).

This week is the first time we’ve made it available: with our Terry Fox run scheduled for tomorrow, we invited students and staff to stop by the Library and make a button in memory of someone they’ve lost to cancer:

Of course I neglected to take a photo of all the students in action, so here is a shot of when we cleaned it up after the morning break rush:

It’s been very well received, and we look forward to using it with groups (our Gay Straight Alliance has already made a request), as well as for reading promotion.

 

Plus there was Google cardboard swag

I’m halfway through a 2-day Google for Education conference (EdTech Team Eastern Ontario), the goal being to ensure that I’m as on top of my game as possible when school resumes after Labour Day for those of us up North.

Wonderfully, I’ve found that many key basics hold true and I’m not as much of a dinosaur as I thought!  Equally as wonderful, I’m picking up some awesome shortcuts. For example, when sharing a Google doc with students, replacing the ‘/edit’ at end of URL with ‘/copy’ prompts students to make a copy (thereby preventing overwriting of data).

Remembering how it can be tricky to put my finger on specific PD resources once the school year is in full swing, I organized the presentation slides for easy access in future. All presenters welcomed non-commercial use of their materials, so please help yourself: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B0_CuGu2bGqaWkJfOGFOZUhTMms

I highly recommend Session 3 – we love making posters and other promotional materials but aren’t trained in graphic design, so I was curious to know what was possible beyond Canva (which remains awesome). This presentation offered simple tips and tricks using Google Slides (just change page setup to 8.5×11 if you intend to print) with lots of time to try them out – I’m excited about walking through these slides with my library team!

(Folder will be updated with slides from presentations I attend today)

Back to the Google cardboard…which is more fun than should be legal,

Shelagh

Playing book fairy

(Warning: I’ll be library-nerding hard here, it being a safe space to do so 🙂 )

Oh, the thrill of connecting a reader with just the right book, at just the right time! I particularly enjoy making a literal connection; this could be placing a book in a reader’s hands (although a member of my library team brought back an interesting tidbit from our provincial conference, about how to find greater success by not holding a book when talking about it, but placing it on a table/bookshelf, allowing for something akin to transfer of ownership to the reader…fascinating! But I digress…)

Making a literal connection could also be following up on a conversation over the lunch table or by email, by placing a book in a school mailbox, or on a reader’s desk.

As I’m on and off campus throughout the summer, I like to keep this going when opportunity allows. Sometimes I’m dropping things off for people who live/work on campus, sometimes I’m bringing things to people who live near me (we’re in a small town, and I’m lucky to live close to quite a few colleagues)

I had 2 deliveries this morning:

  • A teacher has finished reading Narnia to his kids and was curious about Percy Jackson, so I gave him the first 2 Olympians. He also likes Michael Lewis, and we didn’t have The Undoing Project – I’d ordered it, it recently arrived, so it’s in there too.
  • I ran into a colleague in the park yesterday, which gave me a chance to tell him that I was disappointed about being off my game when he asked me for some summer reading suggestions at the very tail-end of the school year…my brain was fried by then. Based on his reading interests, two books had come to mind, and bumping into him reminded me to get them to him – The Mandibles and The Art of Fielding.

Note the ziploc bags, also doubled-up with plastic bags on this misty morning.

This is strictly for fun, when my schedule allows, not onerous in any way – and I’ve found people to be so appreciative. I’ve also found it a good motivator for getting myself out for a walk!

 

 

“We’ll see you soon, mate”

Like you, I’m done. Between the flurry of exams, graduation and end-of-year meetings, my brain is heading into hibernation. It doesn’t help that a ton of my wonderful library nerds graduated this year:

However, a few days spent with colleagues, looking ahead to next year, has been amazingly rejuvenating. I’m still excited about packing up and heading out for a bit, but I’ve already got a little butterfly in my stomach about 2017-18.

Looks like I chose the right career – happy summer all!

How about a high school book fair?

After watching our Junior School (Gr 5-8) Librarian, Sarah Torrible, host 2 very successful book fairs in partnership with Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge, Ontario, those of us in the Senior School (Gr 9-12) started wondering if we could pull one off in our high school library.

Informal surveying of kids indicated considerable interest, so in the spirit of ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’, we booked it for earlier this month. Now that the dust has settled, here’s a bit about how it went…

Blue Heron drove the items to us for set up (I returned the ‘leftovers’ the following weekend). You can see from this photo that some of the kids couldn’t even wait until the boxes were unpacked to start perusing the goods!

It was a ton of fun watching the students’ faces when they came through the doors – “I haven’t been to a book fair since I was in elementary school!”.

Blue Heron and library staff worked together to set up displays, with over 700 items for students & staff to choose from…

We ran the sale for 2 full days, including evenings. Books were charged to account (the bookstore was happy to accommodate cash/credit sales, but we decided to keep it simple and got approval from school admin to allow charging to accounts).

Both student and staff response was very positive:

  • It was lots of fun connecting readers with genres that are less represented in our collection (eg. cookbooks – we have a few and I’ll get more once we get a student kitchen, I’m going to make it happen! –  sold like hotcakes, particularly the new Eat like a Gilmore)
  • The bookstore was thrilled with the number of classics we sold – the Word Cloud Classics in particular did well, selling out the first day
  • Poetry, unsurprisingly, was a big seller – just wish we had more copies of Milk and Honey available for sale
  • It was fun to have book-related merchandise as well – journals, tshirts, jewellery, pillows – although they didn’t sell quite as well as the books
  • Timing the sale near a holiday helps with gift sales (we sold quite a bit for Mother’s Day, but Sarah does even better just before Christmas).

In addition to putting smiles on faces, we ended up with over $400 in bookstore credit to spend on items for our collection. We’ll definitely do this again. As we have such a large boarding population, I think we’ll try to tie it in with a parent weekend. And we’ll definitely add extra staffing, as running the sale while running the library kept us hopping!

One is not the loneliest number….

Shoutout to Shannon Acedo who reminded me of one of the (many) golden nuggets from #aislnola2017: reference to a wonderful fact from Katie Archambault & CD McLean’s presentation, that a 10% increase is “substantial and verifiable..and so can be considered a marker of success” (Acedo, 2017). Please note that Shannon, a thoroughly professional librarian, is still looking into the actual wording, but I think her reflection is more than sufficient for the purpose of this post.

This has been a timely touchstone for me. I tend to judge the success of a program by the sheer number of student participants. Picture me buoyant: “We ran out of the many pages we’d prepared for our blackout poetry event!” Picture me gnashing my teeth: “Fewer kids signed up for our reading marathon this year than last!”

If it were you saying this to me,  I’d tell you to give your head a shake. Quantity is one (often narrow) indicator of value, and there is too much meaning to be found in the other ways we reach kids to be ignored.

I’m over the moon when a program or event really lands – but I will endeavour to also celebrate the minuscule successes:

  • Running a Sunday mindfulness exercise for the one student who shows up
  • Valuing time with the one young man who participates in a pilot community book club
  • Taking time to really listen to the few kids who make it to school bookclub every cycle, shelving my frustration about schedule conflicts that keeps others away

What’s your 10%