Sunday, November 8, 2015


I have been to a half-dozen AASL National Conferences now, but this year's was one of my favorites. I'm adding Columbus to my list of lovely Midwestern cities (along with Minneapolis and Chicago). The sessions were stimulating, and the conversations with old and new friends gave me much fodder for thought. I got a particular thrill from hearing Eszter Hargittai at the closing section, as she is one academic whose work I follow closely and believe reveal fundamental truths about our society and the ways we relate to technologies.

As I wrote earlier, I spoke twice, at the ESLS research session and with Maggie Crawford from the Newseum on using social media in the classroom. I got to help several librarians send their first tweets!

On the whole, the vibe was optimistic, especially coming after what seems like years of gloom-and-doom. It seems like more school librarians are trying new things and pushing the boundaries. Like "making," innovation, design thinking, and guided inquiry are all new names for old tricks. Two years from now, the event will be in Phoenix. I hope we will all have as many triumphs and inclusive moments to report.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

On my way to AASL...

I was at a meeting today -- if I were staging my biopic, I'd want a whole committee deliberation where things are praised as being "literary" or decried as "not literary," which is ridiculous because so many amazing things are not literary and so many terrible things are literary -- and a retired school librarian asked me if I were going to AASL. Her nice recollections about the conference, which she described so sincerely as her favorite, made me slow down and appreciate the fact that I'll be in Columbus, somewhere I've never been, tomorrow morning for our every-other-year professional meeting. Thousands of school librarians...

I'm doing two presentations, both on Saturday. I'm speaking on a research panel for the Educator of School Librarians Section (ESLS) early that morning and then with Maggie Crawford from the Newseum for the "Making a Change" session later in the afternoon. I'm most looking forward to hearing Eszter Hargittai, the really incisive sociologist whose work on the "second level digital divide" really inspired my own beginning doctoral work.

Now I'm really glad to be headed to AASL. What had seemed like a chore now feels like a thrill.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What October?

I can say without a doubt the last two months have seemed like an eon, replete with all sorts of onerous tasks, wasted time, and and tying of up loose ends. As much as I love Halloween and all the autumn changes, I'm ready for the calendar to turn to November.

The #IBBYNYC Regional was as amazing as I knew it would be. The walking tour with Leonard Marcus, talking about the picture book bohemia that was Greenwich Village not so long ago, was a definite highlight, but I think about all the listening I did -- I heard Lois Lowry talk about falling in love late in life and Chris Radschka talking about Vera C. Williams dying, Susan Cooper being skewered for writing about Native Americans in Ghost Hawk, David Almond sharing his notebooks, translators talking about being funded by supportive national governments rather than publishers -- a whole world of ways of living, the sort of treat that will keep me going. And I managed to see Hamilton, which was as good, and as strange as everyone said it was. A mixed race hip hop musical about the Founding Fathers? Isn't that a Simpsons' punchline? 

Now, I'm in the weeds with award committee reading. If you're more organized than I am, tonight and tomorrow night, the Library of Congress is hosting some interesting online sessions for teachers looking to do more with inquiry, questioning, and primary sources in the classroom. Sign up here.

Monday, September 28, 2015


I bought three brand-new shiny young adult books this month, and I plan to keep all of them for myself. That almost never happens. But I couldn't resist:

Asking for It by Louise O'Neill,  because Only Ever Yours really was that good. I imported this one.

Most Dangerous by Steven Sheinkin. After hearing the Pentagon Papers bandied about as the whistleblower touchstone in ALA Council chambers, I felt I needed to know more, and Sheinkin is never boring. Now I sort of have a crush on Daniel Ellsburg.

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy, because the ARC rocked my world and I wanted that adorable pre-order pin. Murphy will be in Nashville for the Southern Festival of Books next week, so I'm determined to shower her with the praise she so rightly deserves.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The greatest generation

My husband has some remarkable longevity in his family. Until just a handful of years ago, all of his grandparents were still living. The second of his grandfathers died last week at home. It was expected, but still difficult.

Harry was crazy athletic and physically active well into his late eighties, had served in the South Pacific theater (Guadalcanal), and was one of the first Marines to work with the nascent technology that would become radar. I never knew either of my grandfathers, but since I've been married for almost twenty years, Harry and my other late grandfather-in-law, Barry, filled those roles for me. They were funny, smart and unflaggingly supportive.

Harry was the archetypal patriarch, and a role model for us all. I feel especially fortunate to be a member of such a loyal and expansive extended family through marriage. Now, we will all worry about and dote upon his widow, left alone after seventy years. Hers is a position that seems both incredibly fortunate and incredibly difficult.