Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Burton and Swinburne in the Strange Affair of Spring Heeled JackBurton and Swinburne in the Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Off the tracks amazing book! It starts with a roar and just doesn't stop. It takes real life historical figures during the Victorian period and then has disaster strike (the assisination of Queen Victoria by a crazy man). Meanwhile, a mythical creature is attacking young women and Sir Richard Burton is trying to track him down AND solve the puzzle of the werewolves! OH MY! It gets better and better the more you read. I can't wait for the further adventures.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Letter from a Student

A couple of weeks ago I received this letter on facebook from one of my former students. It was a complete surprise and made my whole year. When you read it, you'll understand why.

Hi Ms. Mclean!

I know that I haven't spoken to you in forever, but I think that I owe you (and B.) some thanks. Even though, as a student, I didn't enjoy going to B., it was mainly because of the small student body and what I felt was an inability to branch out, try different things, or grow as a person. I always really appreciated the efforts of my teachers. I will always remember being able to join the "adults" for the teacher book club discussion on The Lovely Bones (have you seen the movie? What did you think?)

Also, learning how to research effectively was one aspect of B. that students in other schools apparently don't get. I go to the University of Central Florida and I'm a senior. As an English major, I see all types of levels of knowledge of the students around me. Some still don't know correct English grammar (periods, capitalization at the beginning of sentences, quotation marks). Some students are very well-learned.

While most students here quail at the thought of having to do work, for example, a research paper, I actually enjoy it. I still prefer books over anything over the Internet, but I have been able to use specifically the Google tools I remember you teaching us (site:edu and site:org and such) to help me. I also used my NoodleBib account up until this month, when my association with B. was too long gone for NoodleBib to let me in anymore.

A few years ago, I actually won the Information Fluency Award at UCF for the undergraduate level from the library. I won the award for persuasive speech that I had written regarding the possibility of the Loch Ness monster being alive. I used simple techniques to research my information, but, according to the UCF library, they were ingenious techniques (I learned them all at B.).

So thank you! =]

-S. L. c/o 2007 .

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Library Video!

My two very talented student library proctors and their friend who is a very talented film editor have banded together to create the first of our library videos for the year. It has a WWII theme and is about combating book censorship and saving books and reading. Loosely.... It rocks. 8-)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Babies, Babies, and More Babies!

Many, many faculty at school are pregnant. Or their kids are! Or friends are. It's in the water. So, I have been making lots of baby related crocheted items. My favorite item to make is the baby hat. Below is Matt, who had twins. I made a boy monkey hat and a girl monkey hat for Alessandra and Anthony.
Below is a hat and bootie set I have made for Jennifer, who is one of the dog trainers at SEGD. She doesn't want to know what the sex is of her baby, so I had to go with a nature theme. Hence the leaves on the hat.

Jan's daughter is having a little boy. Jan runs all the systems behind the scenes in the library. Her nursery theme is Nature. So I did leaves and trees.

Hat 1 with some leaves. I tried a four leaf clover, but it didn't work out. This set of leaves was much easier to do.

Hat 2 I was particularly proud of. I thought the tree came out rather well. It is actually a patter for a fern, but put on the baby hat, I caled it a tree. 8-)

Hat 3 Just a nice hat with gender nuetral colors.

Zoe, an English teacher at school, is due in January. So I got to put my feminine side to work and use up some of my pink yarn.

Notice the pink booties. They seem big don't they? I think they are for gigantor baby. I'm just not a good bootie crocheter. I wasn't sure they would actually fit a human baby, so I made another pair. They look more normal. I need a good bootie pattern. If anyone has one, please share!

Here's a close up of the multi colored pink hat with three solid pink flowers.

Here is a photo of the solid pink hat with some solid white flowers. So, that's everyone that is pregnant for now. My work for the pregnant is now done!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Harry Potter Film Festival

Her Royal Highness (HRH) Berkeley is pictured above taking it easy at the Harry Potter Film Festival held last Friday in the Jean Ann Cone Library at my school. It went from 4 pm until 10 pm and we were able to watch HP 4, play some trivia, have a spell casting session, get sorted into our houses, and have a costume contest before ending with HP 6. We also had plenty of food! HRH had no problem with the costumes as you can see. Her main problem was not eating the food on the floor!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Awesome Anthem to Librarians by an Author

Author Cammie McGovern, (author of Neighborhood Watch) wrote an amazing article talking about her love for librarians. It actually made me teary! Read it.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

New Headmaster

We're in the middle of a search for a new headmaster. We will be having the final candidates coming through here in the next couple of weeks and it will all be very interesting to see who we finally end up with.

I am scheduled, along with all the other department chairs, to meet with the candidate for an hour. That means I might be able to get in two questions. So, we are having a team meeting to decide what the two questions should be.

If you got a new headmaster, what would your two questions be for him/her regarding the library? What would you ask that would give a feel for where they stand on electronic v. print materials (The Cushing Question) or does that matter to you? Should they be a reader? Should they be a technologist?

We have a headmaster who is a voracious reader of mysteries. He is also a strong library supporter. We've had quite a good run under his sponsorship because he believes in the mission of the library and that we are a part of the educational mission of the school and not just a warehouse for books that volunteers can run. His retirement is going to leave us feeling very sad.

So, if you have conducted a search in the past and found a question to be particular useful, please share it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Banned Books Week: Banned Author Buttons

This Wednesday we will be having a contest where students will need to identify the banned book author from a series of original drawings created by our student library proctor Yunhan Xu. She's an amazing artist as you can tell by her portrait of Harper Lee above. I'll be adding a drawing a day and seeing if you can identify who it is. I won't identify the one below until tomorrow. We'll be handing out a prize on Friday. There are ten authors to identify. We've also created buttons of them at Cafe Press.

Who is this?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Banned Books Week Is Starting!

What do you all have planned for Banned Books Week? We have quite a few things planned, which I will detail in the next few posts. First, is our very short video to kick it all off tomorrow at convocation.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Happiest Book Club in the World

I have tried student book clubs in the past, but since it has been initiated by me the success of them has been lukewarm. Usually the members halfheartedly read the books, just to please me. Mostly they liked that we had a nice room where we could all get together and chat and have nice treats. Which, after a while, was fine. But, I did yearn for a real book club.

So when I got an honest to goodness request to have on FROM A STUDENT you can imagine my elation. I tried to play it cool. Then I found The Jane Austen Fight Club video on youtube (you can watch it below. It rocks!). I showed it to the book club presidents (two of the most positive and cheerful girls in the entire universe.

They loved it. I suggested that we could show this video when they presented book club to the upper division students at convo and then our first book would be Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. So, now we have a Jane Austen (mashup) book club and will be reading Bridget Jones Diary, Clueless, Emma, PPZ, etc. I'm very stoked about it.

Plus, Paige and Hilleary are amazing book club presidents. At our first meeting, we made bookmarks.

Here's one of the bookmarks we made. They brought all the supplies, stickers, crayons, everything.

Everyone got a happy pencil with a cute eraser topper! 8-)

Here are the presidents setting up the table. They are so cute!

Here's the chest of jewels and prizes to be handed out to anyone who makes a great discussion point. At the end of the year the person who has contributed the most will win a gift certificate to one of the bookstores.

Here's how the table looked with some of the stuff laid out on it. They really are dynamos.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New Theme for Our New 2010-2011 School Year

One of our student library proctors (SLPs) designed a t-shirt for our SLPs to wear this year to follow our theme of comic book heroes (to celebrate graphic novels). We wore them today to celebrate spirit day and to mark the release of our Library rules video! It rocked!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Crocheted Baby Items

I am throwing a baby shower for a friend and am finishing up her baby gifts. I couldn't resist using Her Royal Highness Berkeley as a model and you can see what she thinks of the idea. I think she looks cute. I was thinking she looked more Snoop Berkeley, but a friend pointed out that Queen La Berkeley would be more appropriate. Either way, she's a cutie. I have finished up the blanket and only have the monkey faces to do now. Here's a peek at how it looks:

Both the afghan and the hat came from the Stitch and Bitch Guide to Crochet, which I highly recommend. Here's a look at the border, which I really like. The border came from Nicky Epstein's Crocheting on the Edge. I've made this afghan twice and made it with two of her borders. It's nice, because it makes each afghan a unique gift. One was a more boyish border and this border seemed more girly and flowery.

I also made another hat with pink yarn from the monkey pattern and some booties to match.

I had to use my other dog Willow as a model, just so she wouldn't feel left out. 8-)

Now, I have to start cooking food for the shower! It'll be a tea party for 17. Woot.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

New Project: Tunisian Shawl

I have started on a new crochet project from the Summer 2010 Interweave Crochet Magazine. It is their Tunisian Lace Shawl. For this you need a Tunisian crochet hook (crochet hook with a long curvy extension that ends with a button thingy...oh, just see the photo). I'm using the Denise Interchangeable Crochet Hooks from Stitch Diva that Mom and Dad got me for Christmas and they rock (the crochet hooks are pretty cool too, 8-).

You can see the end piece of the Tunisian crochet hook and see the button piece that prevents the stitches from falling off. The Tunisian stitch is really two stitches, one forward pass and one return pass. This next photo is a close up of the two strands of yarn in the lace pattern.

It has a right side and a wrong side. Here's a shot of the entire hook with the yarn I'm using.

I'm testing this pattern with yarn that I like. I started it with the yarn in the next photo. I will be using that yarn next when I make it for my friend Gisah.

I've developed a fondness for lace weight yarn and this shawl is perfect for it. The yarns I am using are a combo of a forest green and a variagated red to green lace weight yarn and pictured in the next photo.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Crocheted Wedding Dress

My friend sent me a link to 100 Layer Cake where they describe the beautiful wedding dress that the bride crocheted for herself out of doilies! It is gorgeous. The photo below is from 100 Layer Cake as well and is a close up of dress.

Read their blog for more details! It was quite an achievement.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I heard about Prezi last year at the AISL conference but I had a problem importing figures and didn't get to use it. This year I was upgraded to Vista and either that fixed the problem or Prezi upgraded and fixed the issue because I am importing figures just fine now.

Prezi (http://www.prezi.com/) is a super cool way to present data, information, graphics, video, statistics, art, you name it and be able to zoom in and move around in a way that powerpoint can't. It make presentations exciting and interesting. Here is a Prezi presentation that Technology for Learners and Teachers put together about it.

Even more interestingly, I think, is the ability it has to make children engaged and the way it may foster collaboration between departments. Rob Newberry, a Canadian teacher working at the Ramrudee International School in Bangkok uses Prezi with his students. He recently presented his findings at TEDIndia. But what was fascinating was the presentations he had his 5th graders do in Prezi. If you click on the link, you will be able to see one on landslides. It is fascinating and it shows how research (the library!), science, and art can collaborate to create a great Prezi.

It is a great tool and it is a cool tool. One that the kids will love. That may make the selling of it to teachers easier. Especially if librarians become Prezi experts and help in the training of the class. If there is a way to get teachers to link research, their curriculum and collaborate with another department as well, why not go for it? At the very least, you will be the hero for introducing them to a tool that will jazz up their presentations.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Book Crossing!

Well, I finally took the plunge. I've known about Book Crossing (http://www.bookcrossing.com/) for a while, and I sort of half-assed did it when I had a book that I was through with. But I finally signed up yesterday and made it official.

Here's the scoop. From their website, this is what they have to say on how they got the idea for their website: "We've always liked sites like Where's George? (which tracks U.S. currency by serial number) and PhotoTag.org (which releases disposable cameras then tracks their whereabouts and displays the pictures taken along the way) and GeoCaching.com (where you can stash and search for items with GPS technology), and so we thought to ourselves, "okay, what's something else that people would have fun releasing and then tracking?" And we thought of books, which made perfect sense, since everyone (well, almost everyone) loves books. Twenty-eight mostly sleepless nights later, on April 17, 2001, BookCrossing.com was launched."

Essentially, you register a book (which means you get a unique number for it). Then you log it into the bookcrossing database and tell where you have released it. Then you wait for someone to find it and go to www.bookcrossing.com and register that they have found it. Pretty cool!

My summer plan was to go through all my bookshelves and get rid of all the books I have read and no longer have room for. Those books that I can part with and those books that I feel would get picked up and read by someone else. I did it all in ONE AFTERNOON! Yea me! So I have plenty to start releasing into the wild.

Join me on this bookcrossing journey. If you do, please say that I referred you. My bookcrossing name is CDMCLEAN. I would like to follow you and see what you are releasing as well.

Happy summer!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

iPad Makes Some Changes

Our new reference librarian is also a rabid Mac devotee. She was recently watching the Jobs keynote address and noticed that he mentioned the iPad had added notetaking in its software upgrade. That is something we were waiting for in order to consider it as an ereader for textbooks. Essentially, Christina said:

Here is the link to the most recent keynote address from Apple: http://events.apple.com.edgesuite.net/1006ad9g4hjk/event/index.html

Here are some of the more interesting parts of the speech concerning the iPad:

2:15 – start of iPad presentation

6:30 – interesting little tidbit about magazines and an app called Elements ($13.99)

7:30 – iBooks (this is the most relevant part to Berkeley)

10:20 – end of iPad presentation

Highlights of the presentation:

- 5 of the biggest publishers of e-books report that 22% of their total e-book sales are occurring on the iPad.

- There is a new software update (free but won’t be available until later this month) that adds the ability to highlight, make notes, bookmark multiple pages, and view pdf files.

- Links to your highlighted portions and bookmarks are available on the book’s table of contents.

So there you have it. First, kindles in the high schools. Now with iPads adding annotations and notetaking are iPads far behind? They certainly are sexier and flashier and more user friendly. Apple does have a history of letting you share tunes (ten times),so perhaps you can share books as well? Too soon to tell, but my pen is itching to write that check.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Kindles in the High School

My local public high school, Clearwater High, will be getting rid of all of their print textbooks and going to an ereader next year. They will be purchasing an ereader for all their faculty and students the St. Pete Times reported yesterday. It appeared that Kindle had the lead, but the story did mention that they had to go to bid and had not settled on a vendor yet.

The story only makes a vague reference to the independent school that got rid of the books in its library, saying only: "A Massachusetts boarding school recently made waves by completely digitizing its library."

I think that moving to etextbooks is where ereaders are appropriate technology. However, I'm not sure that we're at the point where we can completely support etextbooks on an ereader and I hope that the principal has researched whether Amazon has all the textbooks he uses available on the Kindle. There have been problems with highlighting and notetaking with the Kindles, so this will be an interesting experiment to follow. It is a bit worrisome that they are taking a one-size fits all approach to this problem though. [Additional info: The Tampa Tribune has a more informative article and explains that they are doing the texts in stages with Math and English first.]

As one commenter wrote: "Kindles, Nooks, and the like are great tools, but I am not sure they are 504 compliant which could be a problem for visually or hearing impaired students. One e-reader that is about to launch is a free software download called Blio ( http://www.blio.com ). It will work across platforms and on most devices; it is also 504 compliant. For the cost of a Kindle, a school could outfit each student with a netbook that has the Blio software on it (it is FREE). The netbooks would be much more useful for many other assignments as well. Why not try to get the most bang for your buck?????"

I'll be following this story closely.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Doubleblind (Sirantha Jax, #3) Doubleblind by Ann Aguirre

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ah, now we are talking. A series that retains its spark and character development and has interesting things happen through all three books. While there were no heart breakingly poignant moments, like there were in the other two books, there were some great moments of political intrigue.

It's a solid entry into a great sci-fi thriller with some romance thrown in for good measure. The characters are all fully developed and continue to grow in every book.

I love this series and this writer!

View all my reviews >>

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tea Parties and the Library

I have a tradition in the library. It started with selection of the head student library proctors. I love having tea parties and the library assistant and I jointly run the library proctor program. At the end of the year we take the heads out for lunch. We thought it would be nice to take the girls out for tea. So a tradition was started. We went to the Royal Tea Room and had a delightful time. So every year we went to the Royal Tea Room and barring only one year, it was a pretty good run.

This year, we had to pick another place as one of our girls was going to Italy and we had to go to tea this Memorial day weekend. The Royal was closed! Another tea room filled in nicely.

This year our heads have come up with the brilliant idea to have a student library proctor retreat and do our training at the retreat. We will be teaching them about the library, playing games, but also having them make video book reviews to post on Destiny, learning glogster to make posters for the monthly displays and they will be choosing their charity, which will determine who they raise money for during the year.

We've got a great group of kids and quite a lot of them. So I expect a lot of videos, reviews, promotions, etc. from this creative group. It should be a great year!

Monday, May 17, 2010

My library assistant Jan surprised me today by creating a READ poster with Bingo as the subject. Bingo is the guide dog puppy we are raising for Southeastern Guidedogs for the Blind. Jan is pretty darn creative. Bingo's birthday is tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Berkeley Prep Library in Tampa FL Is Looking for PT Librarian

We are looking for a parttime librarian in the Cone Library at my school. It serves grades 6-12. Salary is negotiable. Contact me with resume or questions.

CD McLean

Jean Ann Cone Library

Berkeley Prep School

4811 Kelly Rd. Tampa, FL 33615




The parttime librarian should have an MLS from an ALA-accredited school and the relevant computer skills to enable her/him to perform tasks related to the ordering, receipt, maintenance, inventory, production, circulation, and utilization of materials and equipment. Specific library duties include collection development, including acquisitions (purchasing of materials that fit in with the curricular or reading interests of the middle and upper division, weeding outdated, inaccurate or damaged materials and replacing them with more current, applicable materials) and providing ready reference for students after school until the library closes. In working directly with users, she/he should be able to respond directly to the users’ needs. She/he carries out all tasks under the direction of the library department chair and works as a member of the library team with the middle division librarian and library assistant.

Parttime Librarian:

Hours: 30 hours a week, 11 am to 5 pm on Monday through Thursday and 10 am to 4 pm on Friday. The day ends at 3:30 pm on holiday eves and during exams. The parttime librarian is responsible for the closing of the library and for maintaining a quiet study atmosphere of the library after school. The parttime librarian is considered faculty and follows the same holiday vacations as faculty. All library staff work one week prior to the return of new faculty and continue one week after faculty has departed.


· Collection Development: Selection of new materials is shared equally between all three librarians, but this position is considered to be primarily responsible for understanding the holes and gaps in the collection and identifying them for purchasing materials to fill in. In charge of the weeding process, replacements and new book ordering. New book ordering includes processing all book orders including generating purchase orders as well as online ordering from online booksellers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and maintain an on order file.

· Provide reference assistant to students, parents and faculty as needed. Knowledge of databases and MLA formatting is necessary. Assist patrons in locating and checking out needed material.

· Prepare labels for Birthday/Memorial books. Choose appropriate books for those awards.

· Prepare receipt notices for our files as well as for the Development Office of all book/magazine donations that are received by Cone Library.

· Works with library assistant I to maintain paper and toner supplies on hand for both copier and printers, keeping paper supplied in trays. Part of the closing duties are to make sure copiers and printers have an adequate supply of paper. Close library

· Assist library assistant I with laminating or covering all books needing such.

· Preparing of orders of library materials to vendors, and when they arrive.

· Assist library assistant I in maintaining and updating Patron and Vendor files.

· Collect mail in the afternoon from front office and mall mailboxes.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Book Smugglers

While ordering some books for the library, I ran across an interesting blog: The Book Smugglers. The review I read was for Bleeding Violet, which I thought rocked. So much so that I went out and bought the book for myself for consideration for the library, since we had missed it for inclusion in our collection.

I added the blog to my feed and the smugglers to my twitter followers, especially as they follow my two favorite genres: speculative fiction and romantic fiction. I try to read a couple of books a month, but these gals read four books a week! They are super readers. I'll be interested to see how the book matches up to her review because it is very nice to be able to find a good reviewing source that does a more in depth, thorough review than the paragraph we normally find in the usual Booklist, Hornbook, etc.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Philip K. Dick Award Winner Announced!

My favorite award was announced in April: the Philip K. Dick award. Last year's winner was one of the best books I read for the whole year! They pick awesome books. I highly recommend you go out and get the winners. I'm on my way to pick up this year's winner:

The winner for this year is Bitter Angels by C. L. Anderson.

A description of the book from Amazon.com:

An Imploding Star System.
A Murdered Galactic Spy.
A Woman Seeking the Truth—and Finding the Unbelievable…

The Erasmus System is a sprawling realm of slavery, smugglers, spies—and constant, creeping decrepitude. Here everyone who is not part of the ruling Four Families is a slave of one kind or another. But the Guardians, a special-forces branch inside the United World Government for Earth, have deemed Erasmus a “hot spot.” Somehow, it is believed, this failing colony intends to launch a war upon the solar system.

Ex-Field Commander Terese Drajeske, now a mother of three, has been called back to active duty and sent to Erasmus, ostensibly to investigate the murder of her colleague—and friend—Bianca Fayette. At first blush, the death defies explanation: Bianca was immortal. But beneath that single murder lies a twisted foundation of deceptions. Suddenly Terese is plunged into a vortex of shattered lives, endemic deceit, and one dreadful secret. In this society without hope, someone has put into motion a plan that will cast humanity into chaos. And Terese, who has given up her family and her sanity to prevent war, may be asked to make the ultimate sacrifice….

Friday, April 30, 2010

I Got an Article Published in Knowledge Quest! Woot!

Last year, we were given a task to do a one-unit challenge. Not content to just do the task, I had to make it harder and mention to Debbie Abelock at Knowledge Quest what I was doing and did she think that might fit into one of her issues at Knowledge Quest, a journal in which I have always wanted to be published. She said yes. Then it came close to the deadline. Hmmm. I was looking at what we were doing and thinking, "No way is this what she wants!" So I sent her a pathetic email saying, "I think I should back out because essentially, I have crap to give you." She said, "No. Let me see it." Then she started to work her editing magic on it.

If you want a copy, please let me know and I will send you the pdf. I own the copyright. What you will see is chiefly good writing because of Debbie.

Creating a Curriculum Unit on Evaluation of Media," by CD McLean. Knowledge Quest Jan/Feb 2010.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

AISL 2010 Annual Conference Guest Post by Barbara Share

Today we will have another view of the AISL conference from my friend and fellow librarian Barbara Shara (Ransome Everglades School, Miami, FL). She attended some different sessions and also may have a different perspective on some of the same sessions. Thanks Barbara!

AISL 2010 Conference in Nashville

The Association of Independent School Librarians, AISL, was formed in January, 1987 to address the particular issues and needs of librarians in independent schools. Our founders envisioned an apolitical and affordable association with no formal structure and no officers. Rather, it would provide a means of exchanging ideas and information and keeping in touch.

AISL is an informal organization and a complement to other library organizations. Many members also belong to the Independent School Section of the American Association of School Librarians. As Mark Hillsamer, one of our founding members states, "Creative program planning and exchange of information and ideas are endeavors of both organizations. Close associations will keep us all moving forward into the complex, demanding, and ever changing profession we all love, librarianship."

The quote above is from the AISL website and describes the organization. AISL has an active listserv and once a year a conference is held. The conferences are located in different cities each year and the host Librarians decide on the theme, program, workshop topics, etc. Although the subject changes each year, whatever is current in Library, technology, and teaching trends are just a few of the subjects that are offered.

AISL Nashville Music and So Much More was the place and theme for this year.

The conference opens with registration and the opportunity to meet, greet and network at the Hospitality Suite in the conference hotel. Whenever there is time to network, I ask Librarians about their Library; how many students, how many volumes, how many staff, do they have digital resources and how do the students use them; are there vendors they recommend; what courses do they teach, the physical dimensions of others Library, etc . I also give them my information and we learn from each other in a pleasant setting.

We visited the following schools over a 3 day period:

University School of Nashville, Montgomery Bell Academy, Father Ryan High School, Oak Hill School, Ensworth Red Gables Campus, Ensworth High School, and Harpeth Hall.

The next day started with a welcome breakfast and the Keynote Speaker. Pat Scales, SLJ (School Library Journal) columnist and School Library Advocate spoke about Censorship and Intellectual Freedom. Her speech related censorship to the society “at the moment” and discussed the Christian attitude as well as the volume of violent books that were noticed after Columbine. Ms. Scales also mentioned that the AR (Accelerated Reader ) program was a serious cause of censorship as the program just goes by the numbers (Lexile scores) and does not consider the content of the book and the age of the student reading (here at Ransom we do not have this program). Ms. Scales also mentioned that in some schools AR is used as a tool to decide what books to purchase. Ms. Scales spoke of the Librarian as a guide to students for their reading as well as types of ways to limit the books (removal from shelves, using a restricted shelf and having a parental consent form). The website commonsense.org was also mentioned for parents to use for helping chose books for their children. Ms. Scales urged us to know what the constitution rights are for our state as well as federal rights for Libraries. We were also urged to teach students not to laugh when taking the words of books out of context, and that students should be aware of their First Amendment Rights.

Workshop – Tips for Designing an Elementary or Middle School Web Site

I chose this workshop so that I could learn more about how to make our Library page better for the students and to see what new technology was available for web sites.

The presenters suggested that the website have information on Summer Reading lists, students book reviews, and follow up actives from author visits. These new technology terms were introduced:

GLOG – an educational blog

VOKI – a digital poster

There were examples of these as well as talking about Wiki, Twitter, and Podcasts.

We then broke into groups to look at specific web sites from schools and discussed the layouts, links, and all the other information that can make a web site easy to use or difficult to maneuver for students. The discussion was informative and seeing the website helped to understand the use of colors, links, pictures, different fonts, and all other features to make a web site stand out and be usable for students, faculty, and parents.

Workshop – Say GB to PP, Hello High Tech Alternatives

The purpose of this workshop was to give us ideas for presentations that were more interesting than Power Point. The instructors suggested the purchase of a web cam so that students could do book talks, make announcements and give general information. The downloads presented were:

Avatar – this has cartoon faces that when calibrated with the persons eyes and mouth, will have the face of the cartoon, but the voice of the student.

Toondoo – this has cartoon figures, backgrounds and uses balloons for conversations. You can create stories, etc. You cannot add music, you can add this to a power point and then add music.

Photostory 3 – this download allows you to add many special effects, voice, you can import songs, music (plays on Windows Media Player).

Glogster – this is an interactive poster or digital poster that you can imbed video (from you tube, wiki, etc.).

Cushing School - The next workshop was a discussion of the changes at Cushing School in Massachusetts. Liz Gray (Dana Hall) and Carolyn Hilles (The Wheeler School) made a presentation that discussed the changes at Cushing School and how it has affected the library community.

Workshop – Newbery & Caldecott the Inside Scoop – this workshop gave us information on the process of how books are reviewed for our trade magazines (Booklist, School Library Journal; Kirkus Review, etc). The presenters spoke about how to get on the committees to be reviewers, the time involved, how long one is on a committee, the responsibilities as to traveling and the excitement of voting on a winning book.

Workshop – Technology Integration – Helping Teachers Use Technology in the Classroom – this workshop focused on using different types of technology in the classroom with emphasis being on the teacher, IT person and Librarian all working together. One example given was that the students read a book (Cold Sassy Tree) and then the students created “dummy” Ning accounts and went on the Ning as a character from the novel. They had to stay in character as they communicated with everyone and use examples and scenarios from the book in their conversations. Another example was using Jerome Burg’s Google Lit Trips; from this you can add text, YouTube videos, etc. to create a map from a book (The Odyssey would be a good example for our students). Another example used was having the students became mushers on a virtual Iditarod trip and keeping a journal of their experiences. The students wrote in character as a musher. They also used Twitter (again, having “dummy” accounts) and JING, having the students write in character, not as themselves. With all these projects, the teacher, IT person and Librarian were involved in the planning, organization and day to day teaching of the project.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Report on the AISL Annual Conference 2010 in Nashville

Schools Visited
• University School of Nashville
• Montgomery Bell Academy
• Father Ryan School
• Ensworth School (both campuses)
• Harpeth Hall

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Keynote speaker: Pat Scales (author, School Library Journal columnist and School Library Advocate)

Pat spoke about censorship and intellectual freedom and started with the Peter Zenger case. She said one tactic libraries have taken is to just move the problematic books to the adult section. “Massachusetts seems to have lots of censorship problems,” she said.

Censorship can be trendy and can follow fads. Her example included Columbine, where for a while all books that included school violence where suddenly under scrutiny and on the banned and challenged books lists when they had never been on them before. Another example she gave was of a picture book where all the people in town were animals. The police happened to be pigs. In the 60s, the police unions challenged the book as offensive. In the 80s, Christian groups objected to the animals who got turned into rocks as they felt it was an “out of body experience”.

Ms. Scales said children were getting books that were way too mature for them. Part of our job is to make sure that we steer them to material that is age appropriate. She gave us an example of a public school librarian in Apache Junction, AZ who was using Accelerated Reading (AR) as there collection development tool. AR looks at ONLY the reading level of a book, not the maturity level. So, she got a call from a media outlet wanting to know her stance on the issue of having a 4th grader reading Perks of Being a Wallflower which contains mature themes and is for grades 9 and above. She said reader guidance is of ultimate importance. It’s our job to know the book and to connect them to the right one.
She said the restricted shelves are not the answer. Recently, they took a case of parental permission to court and it was decided that requiring parental permission labeled her child as evil and they won. They result is open access. It is much better to not require a child to read a particular text or to have a substitute or to have the ability to opt out.

She highlighted Commonsensemedia.org which seeks to give guidance to parents and to rate books. She found that they spot check and don’t fully read. She was also concerned and mystified by how they assign educational value. There were several books on their list with clear educational value that they had as having none. Their reviewers list their only qualification as having children and being parents. Since they are seeking to guide parents, it is a troubling group.

Now, private schools are not protected by the 1st amendment the same way that public schools are.

She ended with a very moving quote from Steven Pico who was the high school student who fought the banning of his high school library’s books all the way to the Supreme Court, who said: “What I shall never forget is the silence of my teachers during the book banning. Only one of my teachers ever commented to me about the book banning. She was the English Department Chair, a good English teacher who had instructed me as a junior and in a “Great Books” course as a senior. One day after class she whispered to me, “Stever, you’re doing the right thing.” I will never be able to forget that she felt the need to whisper.” (“An Introduction to Censorship” by Steven Pico, School Library Media Quarterly, Winter 1990)

University School of Nashville

Founded in 1925, USN is a K-12 school.

Controversial Fiction
Speakers: Marty Vaughn (Girls Preparatory School), Katie Archambault (Girls Preparatory School), Robbie Quinn (Montgomery Bell Academy) and Sean Kinch (Montgomery Bell Academy).

Around 1942 with the release of 17th Summer YA fiction became problem solver fiction. Then came the Coming of Age novels like Catcher in the Rye and A Separate Peace. With the publication of Weetzie Bat the category of YA fiction grew to appeal to 12-34 year olds! Many of today’s popular authors are also trying their hand at YA fiction and in the time period from 1995-2004 there was an 84% spike in YA book sales.

There seems to be a split in YA literature. There is the dollar driven side that includes Gossip Girl that has no literary merit, lots of brand names, TV offshoots and commercialism. The other side is the literary merit side that includes books on any topic: drugs, vampires, suicide, etc.

YA authors show young adults the dark of the woods. Is our job to protect them or prepare them?

What is the best thing to do? Make sure you have an up to date collection development policy. Consider putting in the reason you purchased the book in your MARC record. Read the controversial books so you know what is going on in them.

CONTEMPORARY BRITISH NOVEL: See attached handouts. Mr. Kinch discussed his lesson that included pairing classic literature with controversial contemporary British literature.

GRAPHIC NOVELS: The medium itself is kind of shocking. The name is part of the problem. It suggests shocking content. Really, it is more like comic books. We use some graphic novels to transition some readers to novels. If he purchases graphic novels that are based on novels, he does so only when they have exact text/translations. He tries to buy complete sets of series.

Beyond Powerpoint
Speakers: Angela Klausner (Battle Ground Academy), Erin Barclay (Battle Ground Academy) and Susan Gaultney (Battley Ground Academy)

This session went over a couple of tools that might be used to do interesting things in the library.

1. Logitech webcams: Use them for booktalks. Perhaps Kelly Cucchi could be in charge of these? Things to be aware of: picks up background noise easily, you can use an avatar instead (shy kids like this, but the calibration time is lengthy).
2. Toondoo – free software: It does take a while to master, you could do a book review in this software. She used it as a middle division project in 5th Grade English and History and they used writing skills to execute the assessment. www.toondoo.com
3. Photostory: digital storytelling. Write out the script. Test the sound levels before recording the final version.
4. Glogster.com: allows you to have an interactive homepage on a wiki. You can put the widget on the wiki. Glogster is an interactive poster maker.

Lunch and Proquest presentation.

Evening Presentation by John Ingram, CEO of Ingram Library Services
At Montgomery Bell Academy
Mr. Ingram said content is what matters, not the device. An etextbook isn’t the device, it’s the content. His company put together VitalSource, which is a dental etextbook, which has revolutionized how the dental schools are using textbooks. It’s been a great success. They are beta testing the design in a high school with success as well and it has shown a 14% rise in biology scores and a 27% rise in algebra scores. (Note: An email query to Mr. Ingram about the etextbooks availability revealed that they were not able to go live or do further beta testing in the secondary school market at this time.) Students were able to share notes, highlight, annotate etc.

Thursday, April 15, 2010
Father Ryan School
Session on Cushing Academy
There was a big discussion on the current situation at Cushing Academy. It went over the history and what is currently going on there. It also included information on the Future of the Book Conference (http://www.bu.edu/phpbin/buniverse/videos/view/?id=434 ) at which the Headmaster of Cushing, James Tracy spoke. Christopher Ricks also spoke and had some great counter arguments. The link will take you to the actual conference.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Visited Ensworth Red Gables Campus
Tech Committee Meeting
We had a Tech Committee meeting at breakfast. Martha Reilly agreed to take over the website. Teresa Crafton, Barbara Share, and Diane Neary all agreed to be website testers. We mentioned the idea of wiki pages for things like policies, etc.

Flip and Kindle Presentation
Phoebe Warmack (Woodberry Forest School) gave a great presentation on how her boarding school for boys uses the Kindles. They got them in the summer of 2008 for three main reasons:
1. Motivators
2. Budgetary (books only $9.99)
3. Green (hardback bestseller can be purchased and then disposed of without recycling or taking up shelf space)
She was also attracted by the physical storage. They have seven devices. They like the portability, the e-ink, the kindles make the library look good and they create buzz. She started with four and now has 5 kindles and 2 DXs. Anyone can borrow them. When they are deciding whether something is a kindle purchase, they look at
High interest, low shelf life
1 person recommendation
Academic need
All summer reading titles

The library staff are the only ones who can purchase titles. They create MARC records for al the books and they have a prefix of KIN. They circulate for 1 week. They are also deregistered before they are checked out and they are not checked out with chargers.

She also recommended the site http://www.edukindle.com/

Barry McAlister (Montgomery Bell Academy) presented on the Flip camera and had some very interesting new information. For example, I didn’t know that there is now another camera called the Insignia that is a Flip style camera with a flipout screen. Very cool.

Workshop – Technology Integration – Helping Teachers Use Technology in the Classroom (text by Barbara Share)
Speaker: Karen Douse (Harpeth Hall)
This workshop focused on using different types of technology in the classroom with emphasis being on the teacher, IT person and Librarian all working together. One example given was that the students read a book (Cold Sassy Tree) and then the students created “dummy” Ning accounts and went on the Ning as a character from the novel. They had to stay in character as they communicated with everyone and use examples and scenarios from the book in their conversations. Another example was using Jerome Burg’s Google Lit Trips; from this you can add text, YouTube videos, etc. to create a map from a book (The Odyssey would be a good example for our students). Another example used was having the students became mushers on a virtual Iditarod trip and keeping a journal of their experiences. The students wrote in character as a musher. They also used Twitter (again, having “dummy” accounts) and JING, having the students write in character, not as themselves. With all these projects, the teacher, IT person and Librarian were involved in the planning, organization and day to day teaching of the project.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron (Shades of Grey, #1) Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron by Jasper Fforde

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Jasper Fforde has done it again! He has created a totally new series that is startling in its strangeness and while it is lacking in the hilarity of his previous works, it is compelling and thoughtful.

Eddie Russett lives in a world far in the future where lives are defined by the color you see or don't see. There is a power struggle going on, a cruel struggle of those who see color against those who don't see any. It is a world of social order where rules are followed without being questioned and technology is abandoned by order of the government.

But Eddie is a questioner. And there the trouble begins.

This book is quite a departure for Fforde as it is much darker than his other works, but it is an excellent read.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Driving Tips and Suggestions for Visiting Ireland

Here are some tips and suggestions for having a pleasurable experience while driving in Ireland:

  1. It takes two. One person to drive, one to navigate (unless you do the smart thing and get GPS). Why? See Item 2.

  2. Signs. Ireland is a country of confusing signs, no signs, or signs with so much text that you think James Joyce wrote them. You can't drive and read the signs at the same time essentially. Learn to speed read. Plus the signs are both in Irish and in English. Signs might be on the left-hand side of the road or as in the case of the photo below, on the right-hand side. We were looking for the N20 and N21. That sign was on the opposite side of the street.

Green signs indicate motorways. These photos of signs show what you see approaching a roundabout. A huge sign with lots of city names in two languages and lots of arrows. You know you need to figure something out because there is a major roundabout coming up. So you start leaning forward and trying to pick out your town, your next highway number!

Here is a view of a sign with several city names close up.

Irish signs have lots of information. Learn how to speed read and look ahead.

Most often, what will happen is this: you will be driving and all of sudden you will approach a roundabout and you will have about 3 seconds to read the sign and decide which exit to take. You can always stay on the roundabout and go around again! Or, your navigator can keep their eyes peeled for signs which usually only appear AT THE ROUNDABOUT (which in my opinion is too late!) and must try to discern your next city from as far away as their syesight will allow.

3. Color of signs: Brown indicates an item of interest like a castle, abbey, etc. They will also have a little graphic to tell you what the item is (castle = castle, etc.). Advice: There is a sign that shows a crown with a bicycle. We never did figure that one out. Fred thought it meant "You're effed." I think it means bike trail to the castle. But, don't use the car to follow it!

Another piece of advice: Avoid all signs to visit famous wells. What is a well? It is a hole in the ground with water in it. A castle or an abbey is easy to find if you get lost. They stick up out of the ground and are easily sighted. A well. Nope. As Fred says, "You're effed." Trust us. We tried to find St. Brendan's Well and it did not end well, so to speak. Avoid all wells.

4. Driving the ring of Kerry: Do it in a counterclock wise direction. You will be following the motorcoaches, but trust me, you want to do that. It is much better to be behind a bus than in oncoming traffic forced to back up on a narrow lane with your lane being the on that is on the cliff side having to reverse to let the big ass bus by! See yesterday's post for a video on what to expect driving the ring of Kerry. Here's the video again of what to expect when you drive the ring of Kerry.

5. Be prepared for anything: Livestock on the road, children on the road, being behind a truck that is carrying a huge load of hay. Ireland is a big country, but it's highway system feels like country roads, small town.

Insert photo of hay truck

6. Back up: Be willing to back up. You are going to miss your turn, take the wrong exit, overshoot or mess it up. But you are in beautiful Ireland. Shrug it off. Find a turnaround and reverse it.

7. If you see a castle sign, follow it: You never know what you will find! More on castles in a later post!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Driving in Ireland

Driving in Ireland takes nerves of steel, which I don't have. Fortunately, my husband does. So, he drove all 750 miles from Dublin to Shannon, around the ring of Kerry and to the many small castles that we decided we needed to see.

Here is a short video of the very tight roads that he had to navigate on the ring of Kerry.

Another thing that you have to be prepared for in Ireland is that at any moment livestock might wander out on the road. So BE PREPARED!

All in all, we had a lovely time driving around. It was only stressful half the time: when we got to a roundabout and had to decide which way to turn! But, I'll tell you more about that in my post on Irish signage. The main thing to remember is it really does take two to drive in Ireland, although with GPS, this may be going away. The second thing to remember is if you make a wrong turn, you are on vacation, so don't worry, just turn around at the next corner and try again.

And finally, if you know you can't drive on the wrong side of the road and your spouse can, don't be a pill and give lots of annoying, aggravating "suggestions." I'm sure I broke that on occasion, but I tried really hard to not be a back seat driver. It's a really tough job and they don't need your help, unless of course they are on the wrong side of the road (which did happen once!) and in that case: Scream away!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ireland: Two Days in Dublin

Day 1: Christ Church Cathedral and Dublin Castle (Chester Beatty Library)

We started our day in Dublin by checking into our B&B The Azalea Lodge,which was wonderful. Right off Bernadette told us which bus to catch to get into Dublin and we were on our way for a bit of lunch (see previous post on Avoca). The Azalea Lodge is rated #1 on Trip Advisor for B&Bs for Dublin and I can see why: it was shiny clean, the bed was uber comfortable and Bernadette was super helpful in both recommendations for dining and how to get around. We arrived at 10 am and Bernadete was waiting for us, made us a pot of coffee, had scones for us and explained how to get around and where to eat. While the B&B is outside the city center, it is a short bus ride in. We missed the first breakfast as we overslept, but our second day we were able to partake and Bernadette puts out an amazing spread. The only odd thing is that there are no face cloths, but I am going to email Bernadette about that. We weren't there long enough for it to be a problem and I wasn't sure if it was an Irish thing or not so I wanted to wait until I went to other B&Bs to see. The Azalea Lodge is a true treasure, in my opinion.

We walked to Christ Church Cathedral first. It was very beautiful. We were particularly pleased to hear the organ being played while we were walking around!

I love this photo because of the soft lighting. There is a very small Spanish style house in our neighborhood that has a ceiling like this (on a much less grand scale!). I love it!

Our next stop was Dublin Castle and the Chester Beatty Library, which was voted the best museum in Europe! My particular interest was in the illustrated manuscripts, but they also have illuminated copies of the Qur'an and Egyptian papyrus texts. Because you can't take photos inside, I just have a photo of the sign outside.

Day 2 Breakfast

We slept in and unfortunately missed Bernadette's lovely breakfast and so went to The Cheese Pantry.

I was particularly pleased with my coffee which you can see from the photo below is very strong and creamy. I think it was really a double espresso. The breakfast was just fine, but the coffee was the thing!

Overall, we were a bit disappointed in Irish salmon. The Scottish salmon is much better tasting.

The big day was here: my trip to see the Book of Kells! That was the purpose of the trip for me. Being a librarian, I have always wanted to see the Book of Kells, which is the most famous illustrated manuscript (to see some images of the pages click here).

It was an amazing library. Not only did it have an educational lead up that gave you an intricate knowledge of the book and illustrated manuscripts in general, but they had videos on how to make vellum, how to bind a book like the Book of Kells. They had a video of someone writing in that style of calligraphy with the sound up loud so that you could hear the scratching of the nib on the vellum. You had to step up to the room where the book was held. Sort of like entering a throne room. Fred said it was smaller than he expected. I just loved it. It was amazing. It wasn't as vibrant as I thought it would be, but it was exceedingly fabulous.

St. Patrick's Cathedral and Park was full of people on St. Patrick's day. It was a lovely day for the parade. The cathedral itself was lovely. I prefer Christ Church, smaller and more intimate.

Although, Jonathan Swift was the Dean of St. Pat's. That has to matter for something! Turns out he was quite a guy. He pointed out the hypocritical priests who were getting drunk and acting immorally and held them accountable. He really was a guy with a high moral standard who walked the walk.

Avoca Warning
Now, I do have to add a bit of a warning here about Avoca. It is a handweaver shop, but it seems to be quite a racket to me. When we stopped at the outlet place in Wicklow on Day three, we were quite disappointed to find just a tiny area of handweavings and most of the store taken over with bric a brac for the home. Mostly Crate and Barrel type of stuff. Frankly, I was hoping for some really lovely handwoven things. I did find a great throw and a cool book for a friend, but mainly it seemed a stop for tour buses as it was a big restaurant with a huge buffet. The main thing that irritated me was when Fred went to pay, the woman at the counter asked him if wanted the credit card charged in dollars or euros. I can't imagine what kind of surcharge Avoca is getting from all of those tourists who don't know better and say dollars! So be forewarned. If asked, say euro! Let the credit card automatically charge you the going rate of the day without a surcharge.

Plus, they didn't remove the ink tag from the throw, so I am doubly irritated with them!