ALA Midwinter-Where to Find Me and What I’m Looking Forward To


So, in a few days I’ll be heading to Chicago for the American Library Association’s (ALA) Midwinter Meeting (sidenote to conference coordinators: why can’t the midwinter events be in WARM places?!?)  Although I’m not really looking forward to the cold (at least it won’t be snowing, right?), I am looking forward to connecting with librarian friends, attending some interesting sessions, and, of course, getting my hands on some ARCS of upcoming titles (lucky for me, this is both a professional AND personal benefit).

If you are also going to be in Chicago this weekend, here are some places you might find me:

ERT/Booklist Author Forum-I know graphic novels are super popular and a great way to get kids reading, but I still don’t feel that confident about developing a great graphic novel collection, so I’m looking forward to learning even more about them during this session.

ALA Masters Series-Start a Revolution: Stop Acting Like a Library-While I’m still a firm believer in libraries as places to find books, I also see libraries as community centers, and as such they need to meet their communities’ needs, which include more than just books.  So it will be interesting to hear what other libraries have done/are doing to innovate and provide good services for their patrons.

Best Fiction for Young Adults Teen Feedback Session-This is my first Midwinter meeting, so it’s my first opportunity to attend one of these feedback sessions, but I’ve heard in years past that it’s great to hear what teens have to say about books, and I’m really looking forward to it.

Women In Geekdom: How to Reach Out to the Nerds in Your Community-This sounds like a fun exploration of pop culture as well as a way to steal some cool programming ideas from great librarians.  Plus I love the focus on women-there are plenty of female nerds who can see the library as a place for them.

YA Smackdown-Although I don’t work in a public library, I do work with teens, and I think this will be a great opportunity to learn from and share with some great librarians.

ALA Youth Media Awards-So excited to get to go to the YMAs in person instead of watching the webcast this year!

These are just a few of the sessions I’m hoping to attend, in addition to a couple of the Book Buzz Theater events.  I’ll also be spending a fair amount of time in the exhibit hall, checking out what upcoming titles publishers are promoting. Here are a few of the books I’m really hoping to find at the conference:

PicMonkey Collage

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen-Sarah Dessen is an auto-read for me; her characters are always so interesting and compelling, and this book sounds like it’s going to be as good as the rest.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas-While I would prefer the next installment of the Throne of Glass series, because I NEED TO KNOW what happens, this new series sounds equally intriguing (and swoony).

Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway-This book has an interesting concept, and I LOVED the Also Known As books, so I’m excited to read more from Robin Benway.

Tonight the Streets are Ours by Leila Sales-Frankly, the concept of this one is a tiny bit creepy to me, but I’ve loved the author’s previous books, so I want to give it a shot.

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller– Trish Doller is SO great.  Plus I love road trip books, and this one has a very interesting twist to it.

Plus my super long shot because from the sounds of Twitter she’s still editing but I really, really, really want it book: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han- I’ve read all of Jenny Han’s books, and enjoyed them all, but To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was, far and away, her best work.  and I need to know what happens next.

Are you going to be at ALA Midwinter?  What are you looking forward to?  What books are you excited to get your hands on?

Blogging in the Library

blogOne of the classes I’m taking this semester is IST 611, Information Technologies in Educational Organizations.  Over the course of the semester, we’re exploring a number of different Web 2.0 tools that can be used to support a library program.

This week, one of the topics we’re looking at is blogging.  While blogging is by no means a new tech tool (as I think back to the rather embarrassing livejournal account I had in high school), I think it is certainly useful, and there is definitely a place for blogging in the library.

I think that blogging could be used to enhance the library program in a number of ways.  I like the idea of the librarian maintaining a blog to keep the school updated on library goings-on.  This could be a place for the librarian to let students and teachers know about new resources or events happening in the library, or even an informal professional development tool for teachers (through blog posts with tips on using social media in the classroom, or quick tutorials on a new website, etc.).

I also think it’s important for students to have a voice, and so I don’t think that a librarian-run blog is enough.  I think it would also be beneficial for students to maintain a blog; this blog could showcase student work, include student book reviews or recommendations, and include reviews of library events.  While it would be important for the librarian to collaborate with students to make sure guidelines are followed, this could be, for the most part, a student-run blog.  This would give students ownership of the library, while also helping them to develop writing and digital literacy skills.

While the two ideas mentioned above are both blogs that would be tied directly to the library, I think that blogging is also something that could be used as a collaborative project between classroom teachers and the librarian.  With websites like kidblogs that make it relatively easy for students to have individual blogs, the librarian could work with classroom teachers to help students set up blogs and do a few lessons about respectful and ethical online behavior and internet safety.  Then, student blogs could give students a voice while also serving the purpose of the class.  A social studies class, for example, could have current events blogs, while an English class could write blog posts rather than keeping a traditional journal.  Even a math class could use blogs; there could be a problem of the week, and students would need not only to find an answer, but also to explain how they were able to solve the problem.

Having a blog for the library would help keep the school community aware of what’s going on in the library and how the library can support teachers and students.  Having students participate in blogging, meanwhile, would allow them to have a voice in their education and have a stake in the library, while also developing their writing skills and learning other 21st century skills.  I think that blogging, on the part of the librarian or students, would be a great way to support the library program.

Are you a teacher or librarian?  How do you use blogging in your school or library?  Let me know!

Standards and Stuff:

Common Core:

CC.8.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CC.5.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

CC.11.W.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence. Explore and inquire into areas of interest to formulate an argument.


1.3.4 Contribute to the exchange of ideas within the learning community.

3.1.2 Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners.

3.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding in ways that others can view, use, and assess.

New Post on InfoSpace

Sorry for the lack of updates over here, friends.  Things have been a little busy lately, with schoolwork and hurricanes and whatnot.  However, if you miss reading my inspiring words over here, I DO have a new post on InfoSpace today…

So if you’re a library lover, but don’t feel like you have the time to USE the library, go check out my post over there-it’s all about apps that make using your library easier.

Don’t forget to let me know what you think!

Digital Bookmobile on InfoSpace

Remember yesterday when I promised you an upcoming post on the Digital Bookmobile? Well, the time has come, my friends. Head on over to InfoSpace to check out my thoughts on this giant tractor trailer full of digital resources.

Southern Festival of Books-Digital Bookmobile

Happy reading!

So You Want to Be a Librarian…

I know you’re all SUPER excited to get to read TWO posts in one day.  I live to serve, devoted readers.

Anyway, our latest assignment in IST511 was to create a video loosely based on the topic “You Need a Graduate Degree for THAT?!?” (Which is, for those of you who are NOT library students, something we get asked (and frustrated by) on a regular basis.)

Because I love you so much (and because it’s not my voice on the recording), I am going to share our amazing creation with you.  But first, a little background info. When Stephanie, Jen, Jenn, and I decided to band together to work on this project, our original idea (brainchild of the brilliant Stephanie) was to do a video version of the meme that was really popular last year, featuring stereotypes of what other people think certain professions do:

We wanted to include some humorous stereotypes, but we also wanted to emphasize the fact that these stereotypes are often wrong, that librarians and libraries are evolving, and that the profession is both valuable and integral to our constantly changing, increasingly digital society.

Librarians don’t just sit around reading books all day and giving loud people dirty looks; they facilitate knowledge creation in their communities.  And so, without further ado, here is our take on what librarians really do:

What do you think?  Let us know!

P.S.-Our class is full of brilliant people.  Check out some other amazing videos made by a few of my classmates.

Library Links

Happy Friday, friends!  Here’s some library news floating around the internet:

-Have I mentioned yet that it’s Banned Books Week?  Well, you can get some banned and challenged books for free!  Here is a list of 18 “controversial” books, such as 1984, The Call of the Wild, and The Lord of the Rings, that are available for free in ebook form.  Also, you can enter to win 30 ebooks that have been banned/challenged/censored/etc.

-Over on Flavorwire, you can read some authors’ interesting responses to their books being banned.  I personally enjoyed the reactions of Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut; what do you think?

-Meanwhile, the Lawrence Public Library in Kansas asked local artists to submit artwork based on their favorite banned books.  All of the submissions are on display this week at the library (and online), and the library selected 7 to turn into trading cards.  They’ve been giving away one card each day, and this project has become so popular that you can also buy them!

-Obviously, Banned Books Week isn’t the only thing going on in the world.  After 7 years of litigation, publishers and Google have reached an agreement about digitized books and journals for the Google Library Project.  What do you guys think about this?

-With so much information available to us digitally, is there still a need for actual, physical libraries?  The answer is YES, and one person explains why here.

Have you found anything interesting lately in the world of books and libraries?  Let me know!

P.S.-Shameless plug time.  As of yesterday, I also blog for Information Space, the iSchool’s blog.  If you aren’t sick of my rambling on and on about banned books, check out my post over there.

on bias and asking good questions

Everyone is biased.

During last week’s 511 class, we were given the task of going out “into the community” and asking them questions.  Some groups were assigned to talk to people in the library, while some were forbidden from going there.  Different groups were assigned to ask one of the following questions:

-how can the library help you?

-what problems are you having?

-what are your goals for your degree?

With fairly broad questions, we definitely got some interesting responses, and we decided that some of the questions weren’t all that great.

I’m not going to go into a detailed summary of what we discovered in our very official, scientific survey (because then I’d have to kill you, of course).  But another topic we’ve been discussing lately is bias, and I think that it would be interesting to examine this activity while focusing on bias.

As we all now know, it is completely impossible to be unbiased, as a librarian or as a human being.  No matter how hard you try to remain completely objective, your decisions are shaped by your worldview and your background, and even simple tasks are, in fact, biased.  Want to look something up online rather than in a book?  Bias. Prefer Omnictionary* to Wikipedia?  Bias.  A member wants to know something about Pepsi, and you’re a lifelong Coke drinker?  Bias.

So even though we can and should try our best to provide a variety of resources so that members can make their own, informed decisions, our own experiences are still going to shape how we do our job.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just something we need to remain aware of, especially when engaging in conversation with the community.

I think it’s especially important to be cognizant of our biases when asking questions.  In order to determine what communities need from their libraries, it’s kind of necessary to actually, you know, talk to community members.  And in order to truly determine what they need, not what we think they need, or what we want them to need, the questions we ask matter.

As a former teacher, I know how easy it is to try to lead students to the answer you have in your head, based on the questions you ask.  While this does get you an answer, it’s not necessarily helpful, because it doesn’t really show you what the student actually knows.  Similarly, if you ask leading questions when conversing with community members, you’re probably going to get answers they think you want to hear, rather than what they really need from the library.  Also, if you ask questions like ‘how can the library help you?’ or ‘how can we fix things?’ to people who are already using the library, you’re probably not going to elicit responses that will help you make big changes, and you might also insult some people.

We can’t just discard our biases; our personal experiences shape how we see the world and how we do our jobs.  Now that we know how biased we are, we can make adjustments to the conversations we have.  The questions we ask (and how we ask them) are important, and making an effort to acknowledge our biases and form our questions accordingly when conversing with the community will, I believe, be beneficial in the long run.

*This is, unfortunately, not a real thing; fellow John Green enthusiasts may appreciate the reference.