Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Librarian as Change Agent

I love, love, love my job.
I have a BLAST every day at work.
I love kids & I love books & I love technology.
I love knowing that I make a positive difference in people's lives.
I love creating a safe haven for my kids.
I love assisting teachers with lessons.

With all that said it kind of blows my mind that not everyone realizes how awesome & important libraries and librarians are in today's world.  We still have SO many folks in positions of power who do not yet see the light when it comes to librarians being powerful positive change agents and libraries as absolute necessities. I am beyond blessed to have extremely supportive administrators, but sadly, I realize not everyone has that situation.

It pains me even more to say that many administrators and other stakeholders feel this way because they have not seen what a positive difference an on-fire-for-learning-in-this-century librarian can make.  If your district's power players do not see YOU as a fellow power player than it is up to YOU to change that.  Gandhi's powerful quote--"Be the change you wish to see in this world" applies completely here.  Be the change and don't keep it a secret.  Instead, shout it from the proverbial rooftops, friends.

  *** note here to say I also realize there are many amazing librarians doing amazing things who are trying SO hard to be this change and are finding it extremely difficult to do so with little to no support.  Please know this is NOT to tear you down, but to attempt to help build you up. Together we are stronger!***

I am good at what I do and work to be better all the time, but I am by no means a rock star in the larger librarian world.  I admire the rock stars and learn everything I can from them.  What I am, however, is a hard working librarian, passionate about my job, and determined to make the world brighter in my neck of the woods each and every day.
THIS is what I DO have control over (and so do YOU!)

Here are some bits of wisdom I've picked up along the ride (from numerous bloggers, speakers, TLA sessions, Twitter chats, books I've read, etc.) that I hope will be of benefit to you on your journey, as well. This is by no means an exhaustive list, of course, but rather some tidbits to jump start you if you feel you need some jump starting!

1. Be positive.  H. Jackson Brown, Jr. had it right when he wrote #188 in Life's Little Instruction Book. Now, I'm not saying you can't be a realist, but it is always better to come at a problem offering possible solutions rather than just complaints.  I'm also not suggesting you must be over the top---just remember you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Be someone that folks want to be around. Remind yourself that we GET to do the best job in the universe---aren't we lucky?!

2.  Know your job. Be good at what you do. Be stellar.  With so many people mistakenly believing they don't need libraries now that they have Google and smartphones we cannot afford to have mediocre librarians. With the power of Twitter to build an empowering PLN all free and from the comfort of your own home, not to mention the amazing webinars available and great info that can be found in various blogs & books---well, there is something that fits everyone's style and budget to be found. You simply cannot remain solely the quiet keeper of the books and expect to remain relevant.

3. Stretch yourself. Create a plan and move forward.  What would best fit the needs of your patrons? Makerspace? Book clubs? Comic con? How can YOU with your vast librarian knowledge best fill the gaps that exist at the school?  How can YOU work with your teachers to create powerful lessons? What are the ways you can help the school get to that next level of greatness? What is listed on the Campus Improvement Plan that you can help make a reality?  With stretching yourself, I feel compelled to add---you must learn to push past the fear of failure and the fear of making a fool out of yourself.  Sometimes that happens in the learning process. When it does---learn, laugh, and move forward after tweaking your plan.  

4. Inform your stakeholders.  This can the hardest part for a lot of folks.  You can be doing the best, most creative amazing things in the world but if no one knows about them....well, then no one knows. You aren't changing perceptions.  If it bothers you to "brag" on yourself--then don't, but by all means then BRAG on THE LIBRARY.  How can you get the word out to your stakeholders?  From posters to social media figure out how to ping ALL your stakeholders from students & teachers to parents to admin and school boards--and then DO IT.  
5. For Pete's sake, HAVE FUN!  We have the very best gig on the planet (well, I imagine rock star has its perks, too, but you get what I'm saying here, right?) Have a ball every day. If your work follows your passion then it doesn't feel so much like work.  Technology is fun! Books are awesome in all their forms! Life is GOOD, people! Enjoy the ride.

 "Profound and powerful forces are shaking and remaking our world. And the urgent question of our time is whether we can make change our friend and not our enemy."                     --Bill Clinton

"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."                                                                       --Apple Inc. motto

and a few resources for your learning pleasure:

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Dystopian Novel Options

Created for the amazing English teachers at NHS for use with their classes.

Follow this link to see the video:
 Dystopian Novel Options

Thursday, April 23, 2015

TLA Recap, Part 2 of 2

TLA was fabulous, of course.  This is the final installment in the TLA recap for 2015.  

Wednesday evening I had a lovely dinner at Parkside Austin put on by Macmillan Publishing.  Their fabulous school & library marketing manager, Katie Halata, is the epitome of graciousness. Authors Jessica Brody, Cecil Castellucci, Kimberly Willis Holt, Jacqueline Kelly, Emmy Laybourne, Jennifer Mathieu, Mary Pearson, Marie Rutkoski, Dan Yaccarino and EugeneYelchin were there.  (I just could swoon all day over this guest list, couldn't you? I mean seriously!!!)

Librarians Sonja & Jeri photobombed by the fabulous author Jessica Brody
Everyone was incredibly lovely and the conversations were lively.  I found myself seated next to Emmy Laybourne and across from Mary Pearson during dinner (again--seriously!!! I pinch myself). Let me just say that Emmy and I bonded like peas & carrots.  She is an absolute delight.  I am currently in the middle of reading a few new books, and her Sweet is one of them.  OH LAWD, but I am captivated by this story! You must rush out and get this book right this second. It was an altogether fantastic evening.

Thursday morning began early with a District 8 business meeting.  I am (was) the outgoing secretary, so it was my moment to take notes.  It really hit me during this meeting how many amazing librarians are out there doing such fantastic things for their patrons.  While few of us will ever receive awards for our work, we show up consistently, working hard to provide a wonderful warm atmosphere for our patrons so they may find & use a wide variety of information.
I LOVE this gig so much, y'all.

I went to some amazing sessions.  YA Historical Fiction, Marketing 101 for Libraries, YA Contemporary Literature, to name a few. I just feel giddy with the fabulous knowledge that now fills my brain after TLA!  :) Seriously amazing authors with such eloquence spoke about topics that are SO important---why diverse books are important and necessary, how to hook kids into reading, etc., as well as great ideas on marketing everything we do for our patrons.

Dinner the final night was an absolute celebration. It was like the very best kinds of dinner parties--the kind with old friends who are both witty and charming without trying too hard.  The kind you feel you can just kick your shoes off and be yourself and laugh over shared experiences. Yes, the folks at Harper Collins are fanflippintastic, and dinner was fabulous.  Author Julie Murphy and I are soul sisters, for real.  The fabulous Patti and I bonded over curly hair products (as we curly girls are prone to do.)  Is anyone on the planet cooler than Alessandra Belzer?  More darling than Molly Motch? I think not! Here are some shots of me with my new BFFs and some lovely flowers from the middle of the table.
we needed a selfie stick! ;)

hot stuff!  
aren't they gorgeous?
The Amazing continued on into Friday morning.  Author and Graphic Novelist Jeff Smith (JEFF SMITH!!!!) spoke in a room filled with caped superhero librarians.
Jeff Smith, author of Bone
And then I wept (WEPT) at the TASL (Texas Association of School Librarians) meeting when the winning Letters for Literature essays were read aloud by the students who wrote them.  All were wonderful, but the young lady that won the high school division had the room mesmerized by the power of her words.  She got a much-deserved standing ovation when she finished.

Oh yeah, and the #txlchat moderators won an award there, too---I am so fortunate to be part of such a great group.  Sharon Gullet, our fearless leader, deserves more accolades than we can talk about in the space of one blog post.  She has been the most wonderful mentor I could have ever dreamed of throughout my library career and I am forever in her debt.

I guess that is just about it.  TLA 2015 was a fantastic time of learning, networking, hanging out with friends both old and new, and recharging my batteries.  I'm completely ready to tackle the final 6 weeks of the school year and finish strong. Bring it on!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

TLA Recap, Part 1 of 2

I look forward every year to attending the Texas Library Association's annual conference. It is truly always a highlight of my year.  A. It comes at a great time--right around my birthday, in fact, so that it feels like a mini-vacation celebrating ME,  B. I connect and reconnect with other bookish folk from all over Texas and lands further out, as well, and C. I come back renewed and excited dragging bags of new books with me! I mean, seriously what's NOT to love about that, right?

For the past few years, my TLA roomie has been one of my very best friends on the planet, fellow bibliophile, and librarian Angie.  Angie and I worked together years ago, and she is now the librarian at my former middle school library.  Here we are looking cute at an event sponsored by one of our book jobbers.  Hey, it's a tough job, but someone has to do it, right?

TLA started off with a bang this year.  I missed out on the Tech Camp pre-conference last year and was determined to make it this year.  Thank goodness they opened the enrollment from about 200 last year to around 600 or so this year!  It was well worth attending.  Honestly, my head was spinning from SO much GREAT information just from Tech Camp alone.  I'm working on ways to incorporate Maker Spaces into my current library situation, as well as thinking about other ways I can incorporate my learning.  I took notes galore--some on my phone, some on paper, as I am an equal opportunity note-taker. I heard Aaron and Colleen Graves, Matthew Winner, Lisa Johnson, and the Tech Chics (Anna Adam & Helen Mowers) all give amazing info that I can take back to my school.  

After Tech Camp, our #TXLchat group met up at our table for the Great Ideas Poster Session.  It was awesome to meet folks in real life that are part of the best PLN on the planet, and to chat up new folks, as well.  I'd like to take this opportunity here & now to invite you to join us every Tuesday night from 8:00-8:30 CST for some great discussions on all things library on Twitter using the hashtag #txlchat.

a few of the #txlchat crew at our poster session!
Tuesday evening was spent at lovely dinner put on by the fine folks at Simon & Schuster. Held at NoVa, a group gathered around the table to celebrate the ever-amazing Laurie Halse Anderson.  I cannot tell you how much I admire her--as an author, and a fellow human on this planet.  She is equal parts brilliant and warm, as were the others gathered there, and the night was fantastic.  I enjoyed catching up with friends old & new, being entertained by stories of the shenanigans of other people's children, and learning about the fabulous Brooklyn Sky-Farm. Hearing Laurie read from her work-in-progress was icing on the cake.  Speaking of icing...the dessert that evening consisted of a homemade fried blueberry cake donut ball rolled in powdered sugar with lavender icing for dipping.  Yes, it was as fabulous as you might imagine.

Wednesday started off with the first General Session of the conference, with author David Baldacci as our keynote speaker.  Awards for Texas library fabulousness were given out, and then David Baldacci took the mic.  He was charming and self-deprecating, and hilarious to boot.  I attended sessions on budgeting for Teen programming and telling your library story through your online presence.  Then I attended the Texas Tea---a meet and greet with YA authors.  Over 50 authors attended, but each table of librarians met approximately 8-10 of them as they rotated through their assigned tables.  I enjoyed meeting the authors, of course and have several new titles on my "to purchase" list for the high school.  

Highlights were chatting with Marie Lu and having another of my weird-but-in-a-good-way moments with another author who shall remain nameless right now.  Now most authors come to the table, give their elevator speeches, pass around their book and a bit of swag and are then ready to chat until the bell rings to change tables. Author Dude skipped the first parts and went straight into the chat portion of events with our side of the table.  He asked, "so do any of you write?"  I said nothing.  Mostly because I have no finished product I would be willing to share.  I don't have a manuscript---I have multiple WIPs and no sign of finishing any of them particularly soon.  My friend Angie, however, pipes up with "she does" and points to me.  

"I KNEW it!" he said.  "So, whatcha working on right now?" 
Then it was my turn to give an elevator speech. He listened and when I finish he looks at me and says something along the lines of  "My agent would love it. I'm serious.  You have a million-dollar idea right there."  

I honestly can't remember his exact words because...well, because duh! I'm gobsmacked and floating above my body. Anyway, he reaches over, grabs a napkin, and writes his email address on it.  He told me to send him my manuscript when I finish and he will forward it to his agent for me. Just another sign to keep on keeping on, right?  I appreciate that the universe sends those my direction every now and again. 

To be continued....

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

TIME for a new display

Today I realized I still had my ginormous Easter basket filled with awesome books display up. Pretty as it was, the time had come to make a change.  I was waiting until just the right time, of course, for changing to the T.A.R.D.I.S display. Looks like today was finally the day!

There was an immediate reaction from my Whovians.  Before I even finished the display, phones were out and photos were snapped, hugs were given and squeals were heard.  I loved seeing my kids so excited!

I've had this standee ready and waiting for a while---and I think now that we are in the home stretch of the school year, it adds just the right touch of whimsy for those of us wishing time would pass just a bit faster.

As much as I am enjoying the front of the display, though...I have to say that what tickles me the most is what I wrote on the back of the chalkboard sign.  This sign is not quite as sturdy as I would like, so...

My kids have gotten a big kick out of this, too.  

Until next time...