27 Feb

Merry Christmas, especially from the library!!

Some rights reserved by Bibliotheek Kortrijk http://www.flickr.com/photos/bibliotheekkortrijk/6553190285/sizes/m/

This little creative interpretation of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” takes on a definite library slant and is so cute! It is making its rounds on our SCASL Library Listserv, and very much worthy of sharing!!

“Christmas Wishes”

Written by Frankie Adkins, ML, NBCT
Professional Storyteller
President Ex-Officio
North Carolina Storytellers Guild
PO Box 295
Honea Path, SC 29654

‘Twas the month of December, and all through the school

The kids were excited; the teachers were, too.

The sun, it was shining; The weather was warm.

When from the library there came a loud cry!

“Oh goodness! Oh gracious! Oh what shall we do?

We have just too many books overdue!

We’ve sent out the notices to no avail.

What do you suppose has caused us to fail?

The semester is ending, the holidays neigh.

Why, St. Nicholas soon will fly through the sky!

We have an idea – What more can we do?

We’ll make an announcement to say, please won’t you

Bring your book back today, or as soon as you can,

So we can get on with our holiday plan.

Look under your bed. Check in your locker.

Maybe you’ll find a book. Won’t that be a shocker!

And all of the books will come back like they should.

That’s the end of this poem. (Don’t you think it’s quite good?)

So bring us a present, but not one you bought.

Your overdue book is the one that you ought.

Then go sing some carols and deck all your halls,

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Have a Cool Yule you all!”

26 Feb

I’m tickled to share my newest collection, “My Sweet…

I’m tickled to share my newest collection, “My Sweet Valentine”. Hope it puts a smile on your face.


Penguin in Cup, Bear in Cup, Cup, 7 Candies, 3 Polk-a-dot Papers (red, purple, yellow), 1 Flower Frame, 2 Heart Tags, 1 Scalloped Heart

17 large png images

300 dpi

Commercial use welcome! Hop on over to my TpT store to learn more.

Also don’t forget to grab my Valentine’s Day freebie.


25 Feb


@TXLA Another fabulous conference in the books! Wonderful speakers! Amazing authors! Incredible programs! Awesome librarians! #txla13

That was one of the tweets I read this morning. I arrived home late last night, weary and worn from my two day whirlwind at the Texas Library Association’s Annual Conference. The conference began earlier in the week, but I couldn’t snag the days for the entire conference, so just scheduled myself to attend Friday and Saturday, the last two days. I was an invited guest speaker, giving a breakout session on AASL’s 2012 Best Websites for Teaching and Learning.

Texas, the lone star state & yes. that’s a star made cowboy hats! #TxLA13 by lonestarlibrarian (Flickr)

As you can tell I did not take many photos. I think I walked around more star struck than anything!! When I agreed to come and be a guest speaker, I had no idea the sheer size of this conference! In conferring with my shuttle mates on the way back to the airport Saturday afternoon, I found out that TLA (or TXLA, as some called it) is the largest library conference behind ALA Annual. Yeah, it was definitely LARGE. For general sessions there was a humongous ballroom set up to seat well over 3000, and then another location to serve as an overflow room. WHAT? Yeah, they have to have overflow rooms since everyone attending cannot fit into the general sessions.


Just two days

I didn’t arrive until LATE Thursday evening. I worked Thursday, and then booked it over to Charlotte Douglas to catch my direct flight to Dallas-Fort Worth. Despite the issues surrounding airports with traffic controller layoffs, both of my flights took-off and landed on time. My only travel issue was upon return, when I could not remember where I parked my car. All I could remember was “long term one” and somewhere CLOSE to the entrance. LOL, yes, I walked up and down a few rows in the RAIN looking for my car.  My electronic key’s battery was weak, so I couldn’t just “flash” my lock lights. I had to walk around a good bit in cold and dark all alone. That was a little unnerving.



TxLA’s slate of speakers floored me. To discover my friends and rock star librarians (Joyce Valenza, Buffy Hamilton, Shannon Miller, and more) were speaking too put me in such a tizzy! Being a guest speaker too, I was in GREAT company. I must thank Mary Woodard of TXLA for inviting me AGAIN. Buffy had two sessions and Joyce had two.  I attended one of each which I will share here.

The Flipping Librarian 

I went to Joyce Valenza’s session titled “The Flipping Librarian.”  She absolutely flies through her material, and her handout is essentially her libguide on the topic.  Since I already understand the concept of the flipped classroom approach, the biggest take away from this session are some of the tools used.  I can’t wait to create and embed playlists in some of my virtual spaces using MentorMob. It is going on a nomination for AASL’s Best Websites for Teaching and Learning too, cuz I’m going to nominate it. Another I liked from the session was “Digital Libraries to School Libraries,” which lets librarians identify digital content, generate metadata, and ADD it to their OPAC so it can be searched in their system. How cool is that?? Another idea/takeway: Use google hangout to archive discussion/instruction in flipped classroom. Maybe Google hangout should be a BWTL too!

Buffy Hamilton talks about MakerSpaces

How could I do it justice?  As usual her session was very thought provoking.  Her ease with the topic amazed me, and she gave PLENTY of different examples, from small scale to big scale (where libraries have purchased EXPENSIVE 3-d printers to use in a “makerspace.” Her tip for those just beginning the concept: Start small. Here is her slide set. Be sure to use her embedded links.

Her other session is also on slide share, and you can read her reflections and see her content over on her blog.

Shannon Miller

Shannon Miller at the Mackin DInner, April 25, 2013. #TXLA13. Original photo by Cathy Jo Nelson

Shannon’s visit to Fort Worth was sponsored by Mackin, where she was slated to speak at the after hours dinner. I luckily snagged an invite to the Mackin Dinner.  She did a very informal speech using no powerpoint or slide, but rather a simple yarn necklace with 10 notes. She was fabulous. Her speech was about making yourself as librarian indispensable and vital in your school and community. Shannon shared 10 ways to make inroads with your school and community, tips that implemented can go a LONG way to making you indispensable in your school. I tweeted some of them as she spoke, so check out my twitter feed for Friday, April 25, 2013.  Here are a few I was able to tweet:

  • Join Twitter; cultivate a PLN
  • Model and teach digital citizenship to students, faculty, and community
  • Be a collaborator! Work to develop collaborative working relationships in your school community.
  • Make inroads with admin; be their friend as well as TL. Develop a relationship.
  • Be linked to student learning. Be linked to your standards. TLs have a birds eye view to plugin here!
  • Be at every table plug your skills on at every meeting in your building.
  • Be inspiring to students, teachers, & community  Be creative; show the power of connected learning.

Friends, old and new

My sweet friends: Carlyn Foote, Buffy Hamilton, and Joyce Valenza. https://twitter.com/technolibrary/status/328232287776935937

Wow that sounds so harsh! My friends are NOT old. They are just experienced. At TXLA I reconnected with Sue Fitzgerald, my librarian friend and predecessor at Dorman High. Sue looks wonderful!! I can’t believe I didn’t get a photo op with her. I think she came to my session too. I spent a good bit of time Friday with Carolyn Foote, who I met for the first time in Atlanta at ISTE 2007 (NECC then.)  The last time I saw her was in San Antonio-ISTE 2009. We copresented with Joyce Valenza at the first Educon in Philadelphis that January. Much of our friendship has been virtual and online, so it was WONDERFUL connecting face to face again. Carolyn presented at TXLA, but it was on Thursday before I arrived. Read about her session (iPads in the library) on her blog.

Nancy Jo, Cathy Jo, and Carolyn-new friends a TXLA. Picture from https://twitter.com/lambertn/status/327963063879864320

I also made a new friend. Nancy Jo Lambert attended the Mackin Dinner event and sat beside me. She was one of the TXLA award winners, being named a 2013 TASL Librarian MVP Award for her most AWESOME library website.  We laughed at the “Jo’s” sitting together! There is so much power in connecting with like-minded school librarians. The networking at conferences like this is SO addictive. At times it is hard to choose between hanging out with your PLN and attending much needed PD through wonderful sessions. And TXLA13 had SO MANY to choose from.

Speaking of sessions…

Want to see the handouts that are available now?  Click here. I’m sure more will be added in the days to come. My own is not listed here yet, though I submitted it. I was told then it would be added after conference. I will be posting my session material on my blog soon.

Authors GALORE!

Okay it is difficult to explain how many authors were at this conference. This picture might do it a little justice though. You can tell from the author signing schedule there was a lot of competition for attention. This is yet another reason I walked around star struck!! Just look at the author signing schedule and activity posted in the Exhibit hall. I usually do not stand in line for author signings, but I decided to pay for and get Ruta Sepetys’s book Out of the Easy because she will be visiting our school in September. Most of the authors also had time in their publishers booth AND in panel sessions throughout the conference. What a treat to actually talk to Ruta Sepetys face to face! I attended several of the panel sessions of authors too.

Three of my TXLA13 photos (collage created at Big Huge labs).


Neil Gaiman – Last General Session

The view from my seat during the closing keynote by author Neil Gaiman. (Photo by Cathy Jo Nelson.)

Listening to Neil Gaiman close the conference was the very best treat. I heard from veteran TXLA attendees that this was the first year they had a really BIG NAME closer. There was speculation as to whether or not folks would stay. I have to say the room was slam full (and remember the general session ballroom looked to hold about 3000 people.) Neil Gaiman definitely made folks stay for the closing and his closing speech was so worth it.

In reflection

Great sessions, visiting authors, book signings, and more. The power of TLA and TASL coming together annually to put together such awesomeness has inspired me. I know SCLA and SCASL have worked together before  Maybe it’s time to revisit that idea. This conference was just awesome. I’ll close with these two tweets, one by a middle school TX librarian, and one from Neil himself that she retweeted.  Sums it up perfectly!! Magical. Yes, Neil, it was.


Screenshot of @TxBookiemonster (Amy Toombs) Twitter feed.

Screenshot of @TxBookiemonster (Amy Toombs) Twitter feed.


18 Feb

Could you switch from public to school librarian?

I received this request today–contact from my blog. I probably should have titled it something else, like:

  • Shhh, I’m a Quiet Librarian
  • Quiet Jobs for Quiet Librarians
  • Unquiet vs Quiet Library Jobs

By martins.nunomiguel

Please read the request:

Hello, I have a MLS and my background is in public libraries. However I am considering changing to school libraries. I don’t feel like I’ve really found the best library fit for me-has not been easy. What are the things you enjoy about being a school librarian? What are the things that you don’t like as well? I was especially thinking of private schools since I believe the people would be more respectful. My personality-I’m very much an introvert and looking for someplace quiet/peaceful. I’ve considered getting into cataloging or acquisitions. This might be better for me. I found working with the public can sometimes be difficult. I’ve had experience as a children’s librarian and also reference. If you don’t mind my asking do you have suggestions on things I can do to help me to understand where would be a better fit for me?


By Kamil Porembiński

Now the request kind of took me off guard, and I was processing during a busy lunch!  After reflecting I’m not sure I answered all the questions asked, but did try to paint a picture of what it’s like working in my job as a high school librarian. Hee’s what I said.


In a school library,  you have to be willing to set perimeters (rules, expectations, etc.) and then consistently use them. You have to do this with students and teachers too. Otherwise they will walk all over you.

You have to promote your program, and come up with innovative and interesting ways to get students and teachers using the library. The library is a learning hub as well as a place to explore interests through a variety of mediums (books, papers, magazines, and yes, even computers and Internet )  Meanwhile you’re also teaching with and for classes. You teach a wide variety of topics, but work to include information literacy ( location and access of information, utilization of information, plagiarism, web evaluation, and much more.) You do a lot of curriculum related tasks, lesson planning, and even project design, helping teachers breath life into projects, increase rigor, and make the learning more authentic for students. There is quite a bit of project based learning going on in the school library realm.


You also have to push yourself to know about the new technologies, and try to find a way to implement them in a school setting, harnessing them for learning, which where today’s students are at. It’s about staying relevant to the students of today.  So you not only have to be up to sped on current and evolving technologies, but also the pedagogical  practice of teaching.


Another part of the job is promoting reading advocacy, and that is what most laypeople think–all we do is get kids reading. It’s an important part of our job, but most definitely not all there is to do. Along with reading advocacy comes the task of creating, managing, and maintaining an up to date, relevant collection. This is probably the hardest and most guilt ridden part of the job, as many schools have severely reduced or in many cases eliminated funding for library collections. Often this is a direct result of those decision makers seeing the Internet as an adequate replacement, when in fact this is far from the truth.  You must continuously provide newer resources, and evaluate those offered, ensuring they are still current, meet the needs of the curriculum, and are diverse in content. There is a very big difference in quantity vs quality in a collection.
There are also basic expectations that vary from school to school that most faculty and staff must take on. Consider morning duty, afternoon, duty, and yes even lunch duty. I have a “”homeroom” of students I am responsible for as well, though at my school we only meet every six weeks or so. All are asked to take leadership of or assist with the sponsorship of clubs and organizations (and this is in addition to the library responsibilities and does not include additional pay.)


In my teaching context, and yes the school library position is in the teaching context, I eat right here in the library daily, as I cannot close the library during lunch. We manage with the help of an assistant, but often our lunch is interrupted for service to patrons (students or teachers.) I could close the door and go to a lounge to eat, but I choose to offer uninterrupted service, which is why my lunches are often discarded half eaten, or ignored until very late in the afternoon. I just value the offered service of my program more than my need for a lunch break.
I love what I do and enjoy all of the challenges a school library position brings. The good I can say is that no two days are alike.  But that can sometimes be a bad thing. As far as whether a school position is a good fit for you, I dare not say. I’m skeptical that an introvert can do it well, but it’s hard to judge. You have to be strong for your program and market your skills. You have to let the decision makers know what your strong points are and really bring them to the table for the sake of learning, not only in the library but also for the school as a whole.


Sorry if I could not be of more help. I hope I’ve shed some practical light on this role as you contemplate a position. I am going to post this on my blog anonymously, and see if any of my readers can offer insights.


After rereading this, I realize I have only scratched the surface of what I do. I failed to include any reference to staff development and teaching/leading teachers as well as students. Nor did I include that working at other levels is vastly different. I left out the importance of connections and PLNs. I failed to mention personalized learning through these avenues as well. Quiet? I have yet to see it be quiet in the library—unless we are closed for testing, which I might add has also become an inherited responsibility as a direct result of working in a school setting.


So I now ask my readers to respond to some of the other questions I failed to answer. Thoughts??


Picture Attributions:

Book.  http://www.flickr.com/photos/22178197@N00/4421317209

Weekly Photo Challenge #18 – Sexism.  http://www.flickr.com/photos/27823668@N04/8443103496

17 Feb

May: the educator’s most challenging month of the year

May is here and that means most students (and many teachers too) are looking forward to summer break.  Our last day of the regular school year is May 31. I love that we are out before June arrives (well, not me, as I have ten more days to go beyond teacher workdays.)

Earning our paycheck…and break
No matter. It’s still a very tough time of the year to engage students. I frequently tell my colleagues we really earn our paycheck from just a few days during the school year: first day, each day before a long break, and the last few weeks of school. These are the days that really good educators separate themselves from the ones who perhaps made the wrong career choice or need to retire. So how will you fill the remaining days of the school year?

Again I say, those who can engage their students this time of year clearly are jam up teachers and educators. Which brings me to our summer reading kick off.  

Library Engagement
Unfortunately, we will stop circulating books this year on May 14. With 14 more school days, and all books being due May 21, this will be a challenge for those who are readers and USE the library. Oh, of course, we’ll make exceptions for our regulars. We know who they are–know them by name. Last week, on April 30 we had a drop-in catered breakfast for our top circulating students. These are the kids who check-out all year long and support (and probably drive) our reading programs. We had BoJangles biscuits and fellowship around books that morning from 7:30 – 8:20, the bell to begin first block. Each student selected a free book from a stock of probably 100 we had accumulated this year from Atlantis, a paperback subscription service we use. For those who stressed over their free book decision, I admit I let them take more than one. This is about knowing your students and which are really avid readers. And a reader is always extremely happy when rewarded with free books.

Summer Reading 

Ruta Sepetys signing my book at #TXLA13

Our school also promotes summer reading. Our English department annually sends a letter home for summer break reminding students of their upcoming English course “required reading.” While their lists are still under construction, there is always a mix of popular fictions and classics. There are also nonfiction options for the students who are not fans of fiction. This year’s rising tenth graders are being asked to read Ruta Sepetys‘ book Between Shades of Grey in preparation for her visit in September.  We are delighted, as that is one of the books on our South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Nominee list! Each summer we promote the reading of these books. I have  summer reading kick-off contest in place. I need some ideas for how to engage our readers over the summer. Send them my way if you have some.

Let the Summer Reading Begin
Just in case you’re curious, here’s our summer reading kick-off contest.

2013 DHS Summer Reading Kick-off!

DO Judge a Book by its Cover
2013 Summer Reading Kick-off Contest

  • WHO?  Sophomores and Juniors
  • WHEN?  May 13-24, 2013

Summer Prize Pack:

Book of your choice from the DHS summer reading list and a lunch date package valued at $25 (so you and a friend can have lunch and discuss the summer read!)



The library is displaying the nominated Teen Books that are in the running for YALSA’s Teen Top Ten! Before reading any of them, we invite students to come in and literally judge the books by their cover. Enter your votes IN THE LIBRARY. Vote daily!!
  • Do NOT vote for your favorite book
  • Do NOT vote for a book because you like that author.
  • Pretend you’ve read none of these.
  • Vote for the book whose design alone would entice you the most to read the book.
Simple as that! Voting takes place from May 13-24 lunchtime. All students who voted for the title with the most votes go in a drawing, so it’s really important to put your name and DATE on your ballot. Students may vote once a day each day of the contest. The drawing will be done live on the PM Announcements Friday, May 24.
Want to know more about the titles in our contest? Click here to read about them.  The “projeqt” below shows the covers.  Let the “judging” begin.



Paycheck:  www.flickr.com/photos/34132573@N00/2696769586
Found on flickrcc.net

Yalsa Top Ten Logo:  http://www.ala.org/yalsa/teenstopten

Ruta Sepetys: Picture from my own Flickr stream (licensed CC)


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