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....

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The summer ahead....

Yesterday, I made a list of my summer commitments to give my administrators at school. It made me a little sad, seeing how few open days I have over the months of June and July. My friend Laura is thinking along the same lines.

I'm actually getting a little jump on things by leaving this weekend for a super-quick trip to Paris (if there is ever a tragic phrase, I think that might be it)...for the QQML conference, where I will be presenting with my dissertation advisor. It's the last of the lingering UNT things. A joint presentation was a condition of a faculty research grant we received, which will cover most of my airfare. I'll be back in time for graduation.

"Take a camera on your vacation" -- LC

The first week of May, I will be at home, having postponed my Haitian excursion due to vision issues, but my husband will be at a conference, then that next week is all our state conferences -- Alabama School Library Association (Monday, June 8), the Alabama Educational Technology Conference (Tuesday, June 9 to Thursday June 11), and our quarterly Alabama Library Association meeting (Friday, June 12).

June 24 to July 1 will be ALA Annual in San Francisco -- Batchelder meetings, Odyssey awards, and a presentation on the Common Core are on my horizon there.

July 7 to 9 I will be working with our state department of education in Montgomery on technology integration for our new Social Studies course of study.

July 11 to 18, I will be in the Boston area for the Walden Woods project for some Thoreau-based professional development.

July 24 to 28 will be an actual vacation -- Key West for Hemingway Days.

Our teacher institute is August 8. Eek!

Monday, May 11, 2015

The scariest thing ever to happen to me...

Not the tornado. No, Friday I woke up with a painful right eye. It got worse throughout the day. I spent the weekend in my glasses (which I almost never wear), noticing that my eyes hurt extra much when I tried to read Agatha Christie's Third Girl (my comfort reading). I listened to Z, Therese Fowler's Zelda Fitzgerald biopic, with my new bluetooth earbuds instead.


With my eye still very red and abraded feeling, I called into school this morning, and went to an ophthalmologist. It turns out that I have a corneal ulcer, something that, if not treated, can lead to "the loss of vision" full stop. I have pills, eyedrops, and an appointment to go back in a week. No contact lenses or eye makeup in the meantime (not exactly the look I was after in graduation season).  I am rather blind in my glasses, which the ophthalmologist said were too strong for me in any event. I have a feeling this is going to be a protracted ordeal.

It's only the briefest suggestion of what it would be like to be restricted in my most normal practice, but it gives me a new appreciation for my senses. I cannot wait until I can read again.

Friday, May 1, 2015


Sometimes, when I attempt to describe my dissertation research, I feel ridiculous. "I found that kids who read comics and other forms of visual narrative enjoy reading more and use the library more than peers who only read text."

Of course they do. But we live in an era where we have to prove *everything*.

Just like it's obviously beneficial to read aloud to children, and it helps to let them choose the books.

Really, have we lost all sense? When we have to go around constructing experiments to prove the worth of the arts and other public goods, I get even more apprehensive about our society.

Meanwhile, our president wants to hook everyone up with ebooks, just like Comcast wants to provide low-cost internet to households in poverty. There are such better ways to spend our money, but I guess it's up to us to prove it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Librarians: Information Superheroes!

In my last activity as Alabama Library Association president, I spent the bulk of last week in conference mode.

I had an incredible bay view from my quarters

My welcome note from the program:
It is truly and honor and privilege to be able to welcome you to our annual association convention. Like many of you, I have fond recollections of family trips to the beach, which in my childhood always meant Gulf Shores. Alabama’s gulf coast holds so many memories. I can vividly remember my first glimpse of the indelible bloodstain at Fort Morgan and especially treasure a romantic visit to the Malaga Inn in downtown Mobile. From the azalea trail to the first American Mardi Gras and the Moon Pie drop on New Year’s Eve, the Alabama Gulf Coast is home to a very special way of life, and I am especially thrilled that we will be able to include our colleagues in the Southeastern Library Association for this joint conference.
The lovely and historic setting at The Grand at Point Clear made it a natural choice for reconnecting with colleagues, recharging after a busy school year or semester, or gearing up before summer reading begins, and I hope that you will join me in taking the time for reflecting upon our tremendous privilege to work in such a valuable and fundamental role in our communities. Our event theme, “Information Superheroes,” is a nod to all we do. We hope that you will begin to recognize and publicize the Herculean tasks you accomplish daily and your many skills which you so selflessly deploy.

Last summer, I heard Discovering Alabama’s Doug Phillips describe our state as one of the richest places on the planet in terms of environmental diversity. This is one of the most special and unspoiled places in an area overflowing with natural beauty. Whether you are a native or a newer Alabamian, I think you will gain a special affection for the landmarks and landscape of Baldwin County over the course of this conference.

The conference committee is eager to share their local knowledge with you, and do let the members of your association’s governance know if we can help you with anything during the event. We have worked hard to make sure that there are a variety of speakers of both general and niche interests among our program, and hope you will enjoy this annual celebration and rejuvenation of the libraries of the state of Alabama.
Preconference tour of the bay front with local historian John Sledge
I picked a downright amazing convention committee chair who made the four days in Point Clear edifying and fun for everyone with a really adorable and apt superhero theme, which I wrote about here in The Communicator, our Association newsletter.

Keynote speaker Longmire author Craig Johnson with convention chair Wendy Congiardo

Best theme tie-in goes to my friends from Mountain Brook
I really only got the kindest feedback from the attendees and exhibitors who attended.

The exhibits were hopping every time I happened by.

Highlights included:
Rachel Hawkins delivered a sunny and heartfelt talk at the President's Luncheon.

The groundbreaking Lilly Ledbetter was among our Alabama Author Award winners.

What we all need: more silver!

My talk on leadership for our Emeritus Council program:


How could you not enjoy yourself with a setting this idyllic?

Then I spent Saturday repping the Association at the Alabama Book Festival.

Now that this year of heady responsibility is behind me, there are so many things I want to do in the library, so I'm hoping I can turn my attentions to some long-term planning. I feel like I've been overly reactionary for the last few years, making things work as best I can, and I want to spend the spring and summer shifting into a proactive mode in our great new space.
Special thanks to everyone who made the trek down south and those who make Alabama libraries services such a force for good -- I am convinced that we do indeed punch above our weight.