Monday, July 27, 2015

Find out who you are and do it on purpose



I just finished a book so good and so resonant I didn't want it to end: Dumplin', by Julie Murphy. Willowdean Dickson is a heroine for the ages. I know this will be a go-to recommendation and a regular re-read when I need a boost. In fact, I'm sure I'll revisit the painfully small Adobe Digital Edition text well before the pub date. 

Coming on the heels of reading Adam Silvera's showstopper More Happy Than Not, it seems like 2015 is shaping up as quite the year from YA voice. 

It seems like everyone I know is grappling with anxieties, body images issues, and forms of grief. Hearing someone else giving voice to their challenges and seeing it through to the other side can make reading a transcendental experience. But whatever will I read next?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Let's Get Real, Your Little Free Library is Just a Shelf of Books You Don't Want Anymore

In Nebraska. people claim that the books in those twee Little Free Libraries in front of their houses have been taken! More precisely, too many books were taken! From the shelf of books people are supposed to take. That anyone could feign outrage demonstrates a lack of fundamental understanding about what a library, and especially a Public Library, happens to be, and how that differs from an LFL.



Sorry, but there aren't limits on what someone can take when you put a box of things on your curb. And few of the inventories of LFLs equal the number of things one can borrow under checkout limits at my local actual Public Library in our county. So basically, these LFL promoters are dilettantes who want the minimal cachet of the profession of librarianship, but only want people to take one book at a time? Which suggests a basic lack of understand of reading behavior.

But I'm not surprised, because the LFL crowd doesn't get collections, either. I've looked in the LFLs that abound around my area. There isn't anything in there I'd want to read. A few potboilers, outdated self-help, poorly-bound book fair paperbacks from a decade ago, pages falling out. Clearly, the owners are no librarians, or they would have weeded all the contents wholesale. Let's call it what it is -- your cast-offs, Lady Bountiful.

My husband and some of his friends own a microbrewery. Someone who works there wanted to start a "Public Library" shelf. What was on said shelf? Free community newspapers. So it's more a newsstand, but with only free things. I suggested they allocate a few cents from each sale to the purchase of quality materials. I'd volunteer to do selection. But then they got up in arms about how to get anything good back.

Welcome to librarianship.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Approaching Walden

Every summer, I like to learn about something totally new, another string to my bow....lately, I've been on an Americanist kick. Last summer, it was Emily Dickinson, where one of my co-NEH fellows testified that the best learning experience she'd ever had was at Approaching Walden, held at the Thoreau Institute.



I had the opportunity to go to Concord to immerse myself last week as part of that program. It was a little amazing how easily the aura of Thoreau was debunked by learning about his actual time in the woods near that titular pond. I realized so much of what we think we know about Thoreau was a consciously cultivated persona he crafted to be provocative rather than reflecting the actuality of his experience.

The biggest surprise was not the time spent hiking and observing in nature, but, and I think it was partly because of the makeup of the group of the two dozen excellent teachers, most from Massachusetts but others from all over, I came out of the week on a real social justice mission. It didn't hurt that we had a terrific lecture from visiting scholar Ali Taghdgarreh about translating Walden into Farsi, which got all us thinking a little more broadly about our own access to information.



I always enjoy New England, and in addition to Walden Pond, Concord is home to the Ralph Waldo Emerson House, the Old Manse, the North Bridge, and Orchard House, and close to Brook Farm.

I got to visit some of my friends coming and going. On the heels of a busy ALA, it had been a while since I've been so continuously social. As Thoreau wrote, "I have an immense appetite for solitude, like an infant for sleep. and if I don't get enough this year, I shall cry all the next." But it was worth breaking that summer quiet for the thinking and learning this last week.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Librarians unite in San Francisco

Sometimes, I think this little blog is devolving into a debrief of my conference experiences. Well,  my very personal experiences, when you consider that I'm posting the more interesting bits to SLJ (Early Learning and Law and OrderThe Los Angeles Public Library Asks what's Your Queery?; and Teaching Kids to Deconstruct the Advertising Pitch).

I was in a funk before I left, what with the Charleston massacre. I was also feeling regionally shamed. Now we have to change the names of basically everything from the nineteenth century down here and suffer self-congratulatory editorials from Yankees about how, because of one nutjob, the south shames the rest of America? But of course that was offset somewhat by the Supreme Court decision.



The San Francisco Pride route went literally right through the middle of ALA. It was a joyous celebration.


My favorite thing this year was the 'zine pavilion. I really want to work on these sorts of old school self-publishing projects with teens. And I got to play with a letterpress, bonus! Thanks to Annemarie Munn of Ladybones Print Shop for sharing. I'm totally in the market if you run across one...



Another awesome creative thing at Annual: the Recovering the Classics display. Another great activity to borrow to get teens thinking and (dare I say it?) making things. I will at least add an object to that omnipresent verb.

On the work side of things, I presented with Sarah Hill and Laura Ward on the Common Core. My slides below.






I also got to help introduce Dutch picture book author-illustrators Ingrid and Dieter Schubert at the USBBY program. I love this picture of Jenny Brown, who is who I want to be when I grow up as she has not just one but two great gigs, as children's editor and director of the Center for Children's Literature at the Bank Street College of Education, snapping their picture.


My biggest personal event was the Odyssey Award celebration Monday afternoon (hence the rather bedraggled committee members at the top). After listening to them for hours on end, finally meeting Chris Myers and Dion Graham, Jayne Entwhistle, and Tim Federle was just mind-blowing. I think a good time was had by all, especially as Chris and Dion read H.O.R.S.E. all the way through for us.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Summertime, summertime

This summer is practically pacing itself -- a week after school ends with no commitments, then our state association conferences last week, then another easy week before the particular madness that will be ALA Annual. ALA hasn't been back to San Francisco since my very first conference there in 2001, so it's sort of sweet to be heading in that direction.

Last week the amazing AASL President Terri Grief was our keynote at ASLA, the state school library association conference, and I was luck enough to hear here rapid-fire overview of 100 YA books she read most recently. I also got to listen to author Ted Dunagan and then have lunch with him and Dr. Betty Morris, one of my mentors.

I don't think we've ever had such an incredible turnout for ASLA, it was really thrilling to see us out in force and sporting the terrific #overdue tee shirts our vendors produced highlighting the necessity for state library materials funding. Our state superintendent spoke, said some nice things about the librarians present, and reassured us that funding would be incrementally increasing over the next few years. Four of the five school librarians in my district were there...

I spent a couple of nights hanging with my colleague Cyndy Dunning from Mt. Carmel Elementary in Madison County Schools. Cyndy has created lots of STEM activities in their space, and it was fun to hear all her little ones were up to there.

I love to present at AETC, our state ed tech event which follows on the heels of ASLA, and a few year ago, I started proposing the same session for both conferences in an effort to work smarter and not harder. This year, I presented on what started as an overview of design tools and ended as me waxing poetic about Canva, and got some really great feedback from attendees at ASLA and both my AETC sessions since then. Here's that....