in which I attempt to be a rockstar teacher librarian :)

Posts tagged ‘books’

Someone Convince Me That Goodreads is…Fun.

Here’s the thing, I’m not a technology hater!  I am occasionally a late-adopter. (Okay, all the time). I use a cell phone that doesn’t even have voicemail capabilities, though I’ve realized that’s a little problematic…but haven’t decided to do anything about it. Yet. So, taking IST 611 is really good for me because not only am I being exposed to new technologies, I’m being re-exposed to technologies that I’ve tried and found wanting. I’m a harsh critic, or something.

We’re talking about social bookmarking this week. Diigo, Delicious, and Goodreads, Shelfari, and LibraryThing. I have tried a few of these. I have an account on Goodreads, which I created of my own volition and an account on Shelfari that I created under compulsion. I’m not particularly drawn to either of them. A few quick reasons why I’m just not feeling it:

  • I don’t really care what other people think of my reading choices.
  • I’d rather discuss reading, literature, or interests in person, not on a social network with random strangers. (Ignore the part where this contradicts my like of twitter. Twitter is for ALL subjects, I justify…)
  • I read because… I want to read. Not because I want to necessarily talk about reading. Reading is, occasionally, my escape from people.

Now. That’s a pretty limited list. Your job, dear blog reader, is to convince me that Goodreads/Shelfari/LibraryThing is useful and FUN. Because I’ve tried, time and again, and just not found the ‘fun’ factor. Is the fun factor something I’m missing? Or is it that the social network/social tagging/crowdsourced talk-about-what-we’re-reading stuff just isn’t that great to begin with?

Tell me your experiences. Convince me!


Some Quick Thoughts from an Elementary Practicum Student!

I know, I know, I’ve been fairly terrible about blogging during grad school. The truth is that I prefer micro-blogging. Think twitter posts and conversations, long comment threads in facebook groups, and the like.

That said, I want to try to be better about putting things down in blog form this semester.
Reasons why:

  • I have to post a blog once a week for my practicum seminar anyway. I may import some, as possible.
  • I’m taking extensive (paper) notes on each day of practicum. I’m going to have to type them up. May as well share!
  • Sharing is caring.
  • I want to look back and say “oh yeah, I did that!” not “oh yeah, I wish I had typed up some of those experiences before I forgot them”.

So without any further pontificating…a few things!

  1. I interact better with the younger age group than I thought I would, honestly. There’s a learning curve on both sides, teacher-to-students and students-to-teacher, but it’s going well so far!
  2. You know how we talk about teaching “just-in-time” so skills align with activities and projects? Right… well, learning just-in-time works too. Like learning how to use a technological tool 10 minutes before you teach it. Not everything has to be rehearsed, scripted, etc. — there’s a freedom in the land of improv, as well.
  3. One of the most frustrating things, after “I can’t find a book” is when the question “well, what are you interested in?” is followed up with “I don’t know”. It’s this that I’m still working on – how to respond, how to find common ground, how to help a student determine what their interests are. 
  4. It’s okay that I haven’t jumped on the iPad bandwagon yet, but time will tell if I can continue to hold that view.
  5. Not having the privileges to update software as needed so that other software/tools can be used causes frustration. Sorry, tech club. 😦
  6. Wrestling books are COOL, y’all. 😉
This book is double-sided. It's like a "choose your own adventure"... in WWE.

This book is double-sided. It’s like a “choose your own adventure”… in WWE.

Yes, I’m talking about books and reading. Deal.

Nothing overly complicated to see here, folks. It’s just that I love reading for the sake of reading and many times, we talk about the things we enjoy most. Oh, I know, it’s a walking cliche for a wannabe rockstar school librarian to love reading, right? But here’s the thing — it shouldn’t be. You know why? Because we’re models for the students we encounter, the children we see on a regular basis, the infant who simply loves the sound of voice.

Logan, Medford, & Hughes have recently researched the effect of  intrinsic motivation on readers of all levels. They found (unsurprisingly) that “academic success for children is usually founded on their ability to read proficiently, as most subjects across the school curriculum rely, to varying extents, on reading skill.” (2011, p.124) The American Association of School Librarians’ Standards for the 21st Century Learner (2007) further stresses, “The degree to which students can read and understand text in all formats (e.g., picture, video, print) and all contexts is a key indicator of success in school and in life.”*

And that’s the thing — reading isn’t just for school. I read constantly for my job – task lists from my supervisor, documentation on how to order services at a conference (the comprehension level required for such documents feel astronomical at times), reading between the lines of an email to find what someone’s really asking. And that’s a life skill. A necessary one. Some jobs may seem to require less reading, and that’s fine: I know quite a few people who, I’m certain, were meant to work with their hands. (Farmers, among others, you rock). But I dare you to make it through a day – no, that’s ridiculous – I dare you to make it through five minutes without reading something. (Staring at the ceiling does not count, but that’s currently the only thing I can come up with that might work).

None of this is mind blowing, is it? I didn’t think so. But it was last night, when I wrapped up several hours of working on various graduate school assignments, and eagerly picked up the book I just started** as a form of mental relaxation and entertainment, that I realized for the gazillionth*** time just how fortunate I am. I grew up in a family that found value in reading for both work and for pleasure; my mother willingly took me the public library about once a week so I always had fresh reading material; I had teachers that encouraged using free time to read; I undertook an undergraduate degree that allowed me to research fascinating topics****. And now, I want my actions to further encourage young people to develop that intrinsic love of learning, of the written word, of the joys hidden within – and that’s why I do this. That is why I do all this. And it’s a good reminder.

* – taken from a recent collaborative assignment, focused on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
** – “The Wild Queen: The days and nights of Mary, Queen of Scots” – Carolyn Meyer. (Fictionalized history).
*** -Not a real number.
**** – My senior history thesis was on the presidency of Warren G. Harding, last president to come from the Great State of Ohio. By the time it was done, I referred to him as Warren G.
***** – Note this was written at an incredibly early time of the morning, before I’d consumed my usual coffee intake. Excuse the rambling.

Meaningful Play – and reading! – at the Strong.

So I spent Monday through Thursday of the previous week in class. 9AM to 5PM, with occasional coffee refill breaks (you know how I am about my coffee) and of course time for lunch (you know how I am about eating). But IST 612, alternatively known as Youth Services, was a great class. Can’t underscore that enough. I absolutely loved it minus the parts where I was slightly overwhelmed and I learned entirely too much for my brain to comprehend in 4 days.

So, my new perspectives, ideas, thoughts, and creative quirks have spilled over into real life. Ack! I spent the weekend decompressing and continuing to caffeinate in Rochester, a city that’s right down the thruway/canal. May as well explore while I’m living in Upstate!

So, Friday late afternoon, I found myself at the The Strong. If you glance at their website, you’ll discover that The Strong incorporates several different facets of life and fun and museum-ish things.

  • The National Museum of Play!
  • International Center for the History of Electronic Games
  • National Toy Hall of Fame

Now, in my I need to decompress immediately before my brain collapses state on Friday, I chose to focus most on the National Museum of Play because…well… play. That sounded fun.

And it WAS. I sat on the stoop at 123 Sesame Street. I read children’s books. I built towers of blocks. I drove a stunt racecar using my hands with an XBox Kinect. I organized a laser light show. I tried on superhero capes. I played an electronic harp in the Giant’s kingdom. I discovered a secret door in the Mystery Mansion. I walked through a tilted room to see perspectives change. I saw the Lorax in person!

standing against a wall mural

Proof that I am taller than Mr. Snuffleupagus. He’s tanner though. If orange is considered tan. Is it?

Short summary: I had a lot of fun. But I learned stuff, too. Which is even more fun. (That’s just how I roll.) But there’s something else that, as a newly-escaped-from-intensive-class-school-media-student, I appreciated all the more.

The public library system of Monroe County has an entire collection at the Strong. The books are located throughout the museum – expect to find graphic novels in the superhero section, and primary-age books on color and letters and numbers in the Sesame Street section, and books of all shapes, sizes, and silliness in the ‘reading adventureland’ section. Kids who don’t have a library card can sign up for one – right there inside the museum – and take books home. Then they can be returned to any library in the whole county system! For those who return often, there’s a book drop at the entrance to the museum.

While I won’t spend enough time giving this idea justice… think about it for a moment. How awesome is that, as an example of how to reach your community? Parents accompany kids to the museum – especially if they’re younger kids – and now, they can combine their fun trip to play with a trip to the library. No extra car seat wrangling involved.

I love it. And it made me quite happy to see it. And my poor boyfriend had to hear about how much I loved it, in between me trying on superhero capes and trying to make them swirl through the air dramatically, so I figured I’d blog it out of my system so I can stop talking about it. What do you think?

(Edit0r’s note: no promises to stop talking about it anytime soon. Also, I spent 4ish hours playing the museum. It’s fantastic. Take your kids, take your self!)

Polling My Audience.

I know I’m not the only person in graduate school for library science that still reads YA fiction on a regular basis. I’m not going to force you to admit that you read it, but I’m curious, from those of you that will admit it – what are your go-to, top 3/top 5/top arbitrarynumber YA fiction books?

I was looking at my bookshelf and realized I was curious if there was overlap. Teen/YA/”mature YA” fiction has expanded in the last decade or so – from authors to topics explored – and I love soliciting other people’s opinions. So I’m asking. Let me know, if you will. 🙂

At least three books that would be in my TopArbitraryNumber:

Mini Book Reviews.

Because at least if I comment on the five novels I read this weekend, I’ll feel like I was productive, instead of being wracked with guilt over reading five novels. I don’t actually review books. I just…talk about them. That said, my mental health hasn’t been this good in a while, so apparently my guilt-inducing weekend has been good for something.

YA Novel — Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins.
The rundown: there’s a girl, a boy, some other girls, some other boys, and some parents. Set in San Francisco. Modern, quirky characters, who are both likeable and annoying as hell as the case needs be. Very Sarah Dessen-like story. Easy read, but not a weak filler novel.

YA Novel — It’s Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han. Follow-up to the oft-talked-about The Summer I Turned Pretty, which I read a while ago but didn’t find all that interesting. This was sitting on top of the bookshelf at Salina Library, however (as in, not enough room on the shelf) so I took it. This one I’d definitely chalk up as a filler read, but then again, I’m not exactly the targeted age bracket. Plotline moves slowly, somewhat predictable, and just feels…lacking. It successfully helped me avoid real life for a few hours, but wasn’t all that entertaining.

Adult Fiction Novel — Embrace Me, by Lisa Samson. I’ve read a few other novels by Samson in the past; they tend to fall under what many would consider ‘inspirational fiction’, but they’re not the overdone, driven-by-a-lack-of-plot usual fare under that banner. She creates rich, deep characters, and in this novel, flips between two characters in two different time frames to piece together a story. Overwhelming theme: redemption. Doesn’t work for everyone, but I found myself drawn in by the reality she interjected into her mostly-believable tale. In the interests of full disclosure, part of that was just self-identification.

Bunheads — by Sophie Flack. The first novel from this author, and one can assume semi-autobiographical, although she writes it as pure fiction. The author was a member of the corps of the New York City Ballet, and writes what she knows – and writes it rather well. Could be cliche in that “choose between your current life and what could be” way, but somehow manages not to be. Granted, will it change your life? Probably not. Will it serve as entertainment and perhaps even edification? Most likely.

Adult Fiction — Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. My mom told me to read this book more than a year ago, and in my terrible decision making I ignoring it, despite owning a paperback copy (I think I picked it up for 25 cents knowing that I’d want to read it one day). Seeing that they created a movie based on the book, I chose to read it now – before the potential of ruining it could come to pass. Fantastic. Slow at first, but became engrossing and I fully admit I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning last week simply because I had to get to the end. If you’re thinking of seeing the movie, but tend to be a reader, read it first. I can’t evaluate the movie for you, but engaging the imagination is rarely a poor choice.

New Librarianship requires New Librarians.

I got into an email conversation this week that went something like this.

“I’m a teacher and I want to be a school librarian. What classes do I need?”
“It’s a 37-credit hour program; you’ll earn your MLIS and NYS certification.”
“No, no, no, I’m already a teacher. I shouldn’t have to take that many classes.”

A few days later, I got into a conversation while in the learning commons about the idea of a learning commons.

“Oh, are you a student here?”
“Yes, I’m in the Master’s of Library and Information Science program here at SU.”
“Oh, so you can explain to me why it’s not quiet in here?”
“Ah, yes, I can. It’s a learning commons. Conversation is encouraged, collaboration among students, and you’re surrounded by great resources to use as well!”
“Hmph. I don’t see anyone studying or using resources. I just hear noise.”
“Well, the other five floors of Bird Library, as far as I know, are quiet floors, if that’s what you want…”
shocking: she didn’t move from her place on the “loud” floor.

And this got me thinking. We know what the ideas and concepts and theories behind “new librarianship” are. But to look at us… you wouldn’t necessarily think “new librarian!” (well, at least in the “not-using-old-standards” way. you might think “new to the field”.) So… I decided to do a very high-tech, super-resourceful Google Image search.


This is what the general populace thinks of when they think “librarian”.

I tried Google-Image searching cool librarian, awesome librarian, hip librarian, badass librarian… and the results were less than impressive. I did find these gems, though:

So…apparently it’s hip/awesome/cool to be…old-fashioned. Huh. Go figure.

All this to say…

WE are the face of librarianship. And as time progresses, we will be what people think of – we’ll be the new results on a google image search page (dear goodness, I hope so, anyway. Enough stereotypical clipart already.) So… what will be the mental image of a librarianship once we’ve successfully integrated all our fantastical plans and innovative (drink!) ideas? Just something to consider…

And as a closing – to be totally stereotypical librarian – this pictures makes me think one thing: WANT.