Monday, January 30, 2012


I have participated in Bobbi Newman's Library Day in the Life for rounds 4 and 7. This is the 8th round.

I'm a high school librarian in North Alabama. This was my work day. It was a bit unusual in that I was out of my library doing professional development for my faculty most of the day, but typically breakneck.

5:48 Get out of bed, before my alarm goes off. It almost never does.

5:53 Am mostly dressed, in a tweed skirt from Jigsaw, boiled wool jacket from Anthro, and the new black Frye boots I splurged upon for my birthday January 2. I put the kettle on to boil.

6:05 Breakfast: Earl Grey Choice organic tea in a gorgeous typographic mug one of my students gave me at Christmas and steel cut oats. Go out and get the newspaper, glance through it. Check email and feed reader on the iPad. Another teacher from my school has followed me on twitter. He has a locked account. I almost never send follow requests to locked accounts...

6:17 Out the door. I do not scrape, but I probably should have. It's 32 degrees. I went out without a coat, so I cross my finger we WON'T have a fire drill.

6:36 Arrive at school. Meet science teacher in the parking lot, who asks how long the professional development I am leading happens to be. I tell her 45 minutes, which turns out to be way optimistic.

6:38 Turn on equipment. I'm rather frantic because I did not prepare adequately over the weekend for the workshops I am conducting for our faculty in preparation for Digital Learning Day. We are really focusing on BYOD. I crib shamelessly from a workshop I did two years earlier... frantic file location, transfer, and a little xeroxing ensues.

7:16 I run downstairs and get the custodian to let me into the multipurpose room to hook up my laptop and turn on the projector.

7:30 Students are allowed in the building, so the library opens officially. Our busiest times are between 7:30 and 7:50 and the fifteen minute break mid-morning. I get into conversations with students about the Beatles, Cassandra Clare, a supersonic Christian rock concert, and check out a slew of manga and fiction.

7:50 Before I leave to go to give my first presentation, I ask our two first-block student helpers to box up some old projectors and tape players I am hoping to get rid of.

7:56 Begin first workshop session. All day long, the groups are enthusiastic and engaged. There is a lot of conversation about online tools, I emphasize how we need to have students creating more digital products, instead of just pushing our own content at them (at which we have become rather good, I think). Our assistant principal for curriculum chimes in enthusiastically allaying policy concerns. There are excellent questions about accountability and digital equity.

9:10 Back up to the library for break. Check email. Have a talk with teacher about my husband's craft brewery. Check out books ranging from Becca Fitzpatrick to Love in the Time of Cholera. Check on the second block aides' reorganization of overflow storage.

9:45 Back down for the second faculty group. We have four blocks, so I will theoretically see all the teachers at some point in the day.

10:55 Back to the library. I told the third group to report at 12, so I have some time. Found out that the overflow shelving reorg has already attracted two sci fi readers...

11:00 Lunch at circ desk: peach Chobani yogurt

11:22 Our scheduled class comes in. I check out Simone Ekeles, Vampire Academy books, and find the "blue fairy books" (Melissa Marr). Also direct students to dinosaurs and basketball.

12:00 Round three with the faculty PD.

12:55 Back to the library. In the third session, a teacher claimed she cannot use PollEverywhere without installing plug-in. We spend twenty minutes immediately after the workshop trouble-shooting. Even my terrible student computers under restricted student logins can create polls. It is just her, but I am afraid she scared off her colleagues. I also think I agreed to help create rss feeds for one classes' vodcast and help another teacher craft an electronic textbook.

2:41 Back to the library. Talk to a student who wants biography of Langston Hughes for scholarship application topic. I check email. One of the students from my online cataloging class tells me she has a family emergency and, shockingly, that she has not internet access at home. Umm, why would you choose an online degree program without internet access?

2:50 Faculty kids invade the library as they do most afternoons. I agree to meet a teacher at 7:15 in the morning to help her set up equipment. We also have some girls staying after school for tutoring in the library. I hate to kick them out at 3:30, but I have to scoot to prepare for class.

4:02 Arrive home. Make and eat a grilled cheese sandwich.

4:30 It's Monday night, so I'm adjuncting Cataloging and Classification. Dial into the Wimba classroom and rant about Sears subject headings until 7:20. I work through about half of their next assignment with them (I'm a really easy teacher), and then let them out ten minutes early.

7:22 Email, feed reader, mail-mail (which includes UK pb of the latest JoJo Moyes, Me Before You).

8:15 My husband comes home. We talk about taxes and the brewery and local talk radio.

8:37 Bathtime, bedtime. I listen to an episode of the Archers on my iPod, as I do most evening before sleep.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

ALA Midwinter Recap

I was really on the fence about whether I would even be able to go to the ALA Midwinter Meeting. I have always enjoyed Midwinter more than Annual, but I haven't been up-to-par since Christmas and wasn't sure I would be able to take the physical demands of conferencing, especially since I am on Council now.

I'm SO very glad I decided to push through it and come to Dallas. Council was fascinating. Thanks to you all who voted for me as Councilor-at-Large last spring. I especially loved the conversation about the nuances of language in the resolution about publisher's discriminatory policies on sales and pricing of econtent for libraries. Some felt it was caustic, while others argued that we should not name specific vendors or publishers because we need long-term positive partnerships with them. I, having worked for a vendor, was not worried about strident language there.

I took it really easy in Dallas. I took naps, only really went out to dinner two evenings, both of them really early, but was still able to catch up with many friends and colleagues. And it was definitely the best Youth Media Awards for me in terms of having read the winners -- I'd read both the Newbery (Dead End in Norvelt) and Printz (Where Things Come Back), and about half of the Alex list too -- Ready Player One, Salvage the Bones, The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt, The Lover's Dictionary, and another couple I liked less. And I am really excited about hearing Gantos' acceptance speech; a fan since Hole in my Life, I've heard him at ALAN and found him personally both intriguing and hysterical -- a real life Joey Pigza.

In the most magical moment of the meeting, I was dashing from the awards announcements to Youth Council Caucus when I passed a beaming John Corey Whaley walking down the conference center concourse clutching that morning's Cognotes. I asked if I could take his picture, and he very sweetly suggested I get in the frame, too.  I had come upon 28-year-old Whaley's debut novel through word-of-mouth at ALAN, and I was glad to see it was more than my own regional prejudice in appreciating its incredible charm and winsome voice. To take both the Morris and the Printz is an incredible accomplishment, and I am thrilled for him.

Exhibits were, again, a wash. I got some ARCs, few enough to pack in a single checked tote, but nothing I was really longing for (Timepiece by Myra McEntire, I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga), but I think some of the issue were the exhibits-only pass-holders who camped out in line for hot ARCs like Kristin Cashore's Bitterblue. There was some vitriol online about this from librarians, and I was happy when some publishing people I spoke with agreed it was problematic. But the publisher previews have given me all sorts of titles to anticipate this spring, and I really enjoyed attending the RUSA Awards which gave me some grown-up titles to add to my list as well.

Friday, January 20, 2012



A high school somewhere else in Alabama is getting a new library. I was tickled they asked me for my pie-in-the-sky vision of a school library space. These are my suggestions:


If there is a single thing I would emphasize, it’s having many more electrical outlets than you think you might ever need. The furniture with it built-in is great, but have it in the floorboard and the floors (in the middle of the space) as well.

Depending on the local Internet setup, I would go ahead and request an equivalently excessive number of drops. Wired networks are always faster than wireless networks. If yours is the rare wireless network than can support a huge number of concurrent connections, think about using them for bring-your-own-device access to a guest partition and using a wired connection for school machines.

I would include a minimum of three mounted data projectors, considering the size of the school and library. This would allow for a variety of configurations for instruction and virtual fieldtrips and other activities.

While I love as much natural light as is possible in the space, I do think all windows need to have shades for projection.


In probably the biggest shift in thinking in the decade since our own facility was constructed, I believe seating really needs to be modular and not fixed. 

I also think there should be areas where students can spread out at tables as well as areas with really comfortable, nap-inducing furniture. Some libraries are getting furniture from Ikea, and I can’t help but notice how one particular library vendor’s chairs looked as if they were plucked straight out of DWR.


Alcoves where students and teachers can talk and collaborate in small groups are going to be increasingly important.

Libraries need a “quiet space,” a place where devices and electronics are discouraged and students can concentrate. I think this sort of disconnectivity will become an increasing luxury.

Library configuration

Computers should be integrated in the stacks, and any lab areas should not be divided out with doors or partitions.

When labs are an element of the library, I love a theater set-up facing away from the stacks.

Dedicated OPACS should not requiring login, and it’s a good idea to have them at the circulation desk for student guidance. I prefer big circulation desks, with lots of space behind them, more like reference desks than circulation counters. I think having a bustling desk reflects a sense of community ownership for the library, which can also be accomplished by having as many dedicated spaces as possible for student workers, parent volunteers, and teachers on their planning time.

In this day and age, you really need special laboratory-type areas with scanners, digital cameras, green screens, and other equipment for student authorship. Those can require special furniture and connections. If you wanted to go all out, you could include gaming areas and recording studios like Chicago Public Library’s YouMedia, the ultimate YA laboratory.


Consider interfiling nonfiction and genre-izing fiction. Unifying materials types in one place in nonfiction requires a great extend of shelving which reads as uninterrupted, while dividing fiction into genres can be served by a smaller shelving units. Those are just two trends in organization to bear in mind. 

I can't wait to see what they come up with and hope I will be able to visit!

Monday, January 16, 2012


When I was working for an automation vendor ten years ago, I would always ask for libraries in Dallas. I loved that, thanks to direct flights and efficient freeways, I could be anywhere in the metroplex a few hours after I left my house. Then I really ramped up the Texas travel in 2005, when I began Ph.D. coursework and went to Denton a dozen times in one year.

I'll be going back to Dallas again this week for the ALA Midwinter Meeting. I attended Council orientation this summer, but this will begin my actual term with that. I'm also keeping my fingers crossed that I might be able to attend the Youth Media Awards for the live announcement of the Newbery and all the other awards as well. I've had committee meetings on Monday mornings the last couple of years.

Unfortunate governors aside, there is something I really like about Texas, and I am really looking forward to this conference. Any excuse to wear cowboy boots...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In the spirit of Forgotten Bookmarks...

a fascinating blog and book by Michael Popek, I have a cache of things I have found in books over the years, but this find over the weekend is among the most intriguing:

Found in a paperback copy of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, with Central Jr. High School written in the front cover and the cryptic  "F-CHR 00000934" in the back cover.

I am rather sure I picked up the copy from among the donations to Alabama libraries after the April tornados. One of our novel class reads a Christie, and many choose And Then There Were None, so I would have wanted any I could find. I just hope the reader didn't NEED the numbers, especially that emergency one.

But speaking of bookstores, if this doesn't bring a tear to your eyes... well, you're just a heathen, I suppose.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Trend I love: gorgeous books

While I believe print is necessarily becoming more physically appealing as part of its evolution, here are some lovely recent book objects with nice electronic versions, too:

Why We Broke Up (2012) by Daniel Handler

Every You, Every Me (2011) by David Levithan

Missed Connections (2011) by Sophie Blackall

How cool that what could be more traditional novels are being embroidered with really lovely, integral art... I am all for 2012 being the year of the most gorgeous books yet.