"How's my butt?" "Good! I mean, fine. It's fine." - Sarah and Derek in Save the Last Dance

10:10 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

We are still riffing off STLD. Every other line we give the crazy homegirl "Aiight" and I've asked Kitty twice, "How's my butt?" so she could do the next line, "Good! I mean, fine. It's fine." and we've been practicing hand gestures from the funky modern audition piece for Julliard. Kathe has said that she wanted to use her shirt for a doo-rag (a la Julia's Gap shirt prior to her first entrance to Steppes) multiple times today or French braid her hair in a complicated fashion that could never be done on a person by themselves. It's just too much fun.

We went to a copyright session this morning and had plenty of time to contemplate all the egregious violations our school participates in (and it sounds like we are like every other school in that respect). We got an early lunch (California Raisin Brioche French Toast with apricot butter, yum!) and hit the vendors since after noon is when they put their books at half price which really saves us uber $$$$. We scored more free stuff (the big eyes really works on the male vendors) and when it hit noon cruised around. Kathe stationed herself at the HarperCollins booth (they don't sell their books, they let librarians pick one for free) and justified herself as queen of free booty when she just kept going to the end of the line and working it over and over again. She ended up with something like 8 free books! Go, Kitty Kat!

In the meantime, my Jeopardy-won rolling tote (nicknamed "Rolly") and I cruised around picking up all our Oxford University Press reference books, with stops at Libraries Unlimited and Scarecrow Press. I began testing the structural integrity of Rolly, and actually stopped to scam a coffee mug and Starbucks gift card from Columbia Press, when I spotted a familiar figure. Polka-dotted woman from the "Exhbit Hall entrance" was adjusting her knee-highs in an equally as unflattering dress. When she finally finished testing her elastic, she straightened up and glanced over catching my laser-like gaze filled with contempt. She actually blanched and looked around panicked. I simply gave her an icy smile, glanced at my overflowing Rolly and walked on. She scurried away and disappeared in the direction of the Baker & Taylor booth, undoubtedly to change into her cat costume.

Kathe was still working the HarperCollins line to great effect, so I parked myself in the Facts on File press booth which was across from HarperCollins and managed to get some other really good titles. With all our stuff, we knew we had to get some serious packing happening and ship these puppies out, so we headed to Sack Sitters. Approximately four million other librarians appeared to have the same idea, so we spend the next two hours pushing six boxes of books and free stuff around, snaking ourselves through the heinously long line until we got to the table and could ship the g-d stuff. Kitty actually lifted this one box that weighed 55 lbs! She's wicked strong. Since I couldn't pack Rolly in a box or my suitcase, I spotted a group of three librarians totally weighed down with stuff and gave them Rolly to help out. It was so great how grateful they were and I felt like I had done a nice mitzvah to help them. God rewarded me by having me see lots of cute puppy dogs outside the convention center where I got lots of puppy kisses! There's a Pet Expo across the way and they were headed there and I wished I had Bugsy with me to check out the doggy fashions.

We had afternoon tea at the hotel since we knew we'd be eating late at the closing gala and we met a really nice librarian, Karen, from Texas, who ate with us, and we learned all about her interesting school district and the challenges she faced. We boarded the bus (I had changed midday into jeans and sneakers for my sore feet) and headed a few blocks to the Heinz History Center. The place was PACKED with librarians and we had a nice, if crowded, meal. Lots of friendly librarians and we had fun looking around at all the exhibits (some silly pictures were taken) and the gift shop. I got Ethan a little present and some fun rulers (which will be prizes for Women's History Month) and boarded the bus for home. I think some of the librarians had had too much of the open bar as they started singing "99 Librarians" but the syllabic rhythm was off or they had drunk too much happy juice, because it was pretty garbled. We were hoping for a TNT encoure of STLD, but the network were showing Legally Blonde instead which we really like, so we're making due. I feel completely wiped out, but at least we don't have our author brunch with Jerry Spinelli until 9 am and it's right in the hotel. I hoping we have a little picture taking time before we have to go to the airport tomorrow!

This is JEOPARDY!!!

2:39 AM 0 Comments A+ a-

Very productive today. I went to two great sessions, the first one was about marketing your libraries to your users needs (great ideas for the Library Advisory Board to get in on) and another on action research and how to do good assessments that offer good data that can drive your program. The sessions were packed and as I was rushing from session to session, I saw her. Snarky little librarian. I gave her a look of death with a lot of confident body language. She visibly startled and looked quickly away. She fears me. Life is good.

Lots of walking around in my high-heeled boots (I'm beginning to get blisters), but I visited dozens of vendors and we got lots of free stuff - pens, totebags, little gizmos, etc. (I have a really great pen for Elizabeth B. with bubble stuff in it! She can blow bubbles out the window!!) After another lunch at the Fish Market (Kitty had sushi), we went back to the exhibit hall to do some reconnaisance. Kitty hustled off to her next session, but I had signed up to play Classroom Jeopardy at the Brodart booth at 2pm, so I went in line and dropped off our stuff at the Sack Sitters shipping people (who babysit your stuff for you until you're ready to ship it.)

Well, I went back at two and sat through the sales spiel for the Jeopardy game (which we are so getting - it's awesome) and four other contestants and I played the game. It was neck and neck between me and this nice blond woman, with her finally pulling ahead by a few thousand dollars. But wouldn't you know, her strategy was off for Final Jeopardy and I ended up winning because I bet the farm!! As Jackie would say, Hoo-HA!! I got a free rolling tote which saved me from needing a chiropractor from my heavy free booty from the vendors, but I had to come back at 4pm for the Tournament of Champions to see which of us would win the free Classroom Jeopardy game. I showed up and, hey, I'm a team player, so I was woo-hooing the other players when they got the right answers and everyone was having fun except the guy standing next to me (player #2) who was this massive fellow with dead eyes who was SUPER SERIOUS about the game. He was smashing the button of his buzzer and really belting out the answer (regrettably always in the form of a question) but I stayed only a few thousand behind him up until Final Jeopardy. He flubbed the final question and things looked good for me but he bet wisely and won by a paltry $300. Oh well. He clearly has issues he's wrestling with and all my angst is channeled towards snarky librarian.

We were so tired that we went back the room and I took a cat nap before we went down to dinner. Kitty and I figured we would crash early when I was flipping around on the remote and I found it. Save the Last Dance was on. I have a thing for STLD. It largely centers around the wooden performance of Julia Stiles and the ridiculous lines she has. ("WhatEVER, Nikki.") Kitty is of the Lorelei Gilmore approach to these movies, so we stayed up until midnight watching it, commenting on Julia's ever changing hair styles, her performance, and the really bad body doubles for the dancing. We shut off the lights finally and giggled about it till we fell asleep.

Coach WHO?

10:06 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

Okay, I'm a little cranky so this needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Kitty and I went to the Exploratorium which is where many school librarians present their "best practices" in some form. We went into this room and first noticed that there were AMAZING free munchies in the center of the room, so - forget about the posterboard displays - we chowed down on some really nice lemonade and super chocolate brownies. Sated for a while, we then milled around to take a gander at people's work. Unfortunately, I'm shallow enough that I was distracted by what some of the people were wearing, so I kept glancing around and not paying attention. I mean, fanny packs??? A fanny pack wouldn't look great on Nicole Ritchie, so say nothing of someone less anorexic. And what is with flood pants? With knee socks?? And really unattractive clogs?? And, brace yourself, I actually saw someone in PEDAL PUSHERS. They were denim. Worn with knee socks. I've seen more attractive lederhosen on 80-year-old Bavarians. I think someone should let librarians not under 19 wear pedal pushers. No librarian is under 19.

We finished a little early because there's not much to see that is all that earth-shaking, so we decided to get a nice lunch at a local restaurant which revivified us. BECAUSE WE WERE GOING TO SEE LEVAR BURTON!! Yes! We got a seat on the floor in the ballroom (they ran out of chairs so we sat down on the floor) and listened to the chair of every forsaken committee in the ALA (and the Lt. Governor's secretary's hair dresser, or some similar weird permutation) and then they started the big build-up. "It is my extreme pleasure to introduce someone well-known to all of use as the coach (LeVar coaches people?) who locked out his basketball team out when their grades fell (whaaaa???). The man who Samuel L. Jackson is playing in a wonderful recent motion picture (LeVar is playing Samuel Jackson, huhhhh?) - COACH CARTER!!!!" What the f***?! Where the h*&% is LeVar Burton??!!!

Turns out Mr. Jordy "Precious" LaForge felt that his butt was more valuable "directing" a project and cancelled, so Coach Carter (who I'm sure is a very nice person) is high fiving and whistling (he actually had a whistle) down the center aisle. Puhleeze. I stalked out with Kitty behind me going "I want to see if he looks like Samuel Jackson!" (Conclusion, Coach Carter was better looking than Samuel, who is certainly a fine looking man.)

So we went to stake out our spot in front of the exhibit hall. It was 4 pm and the hall didn't open until 5:30 pm so we were the first ones there. YESSS!!! We asked the security guard guarding the opening where was the spot we should be and sat where she indicated. We got our our exhibit hall maps and began checking the material to figure out where we should go first. Answer: Greenwood Press's booth. Why? JANE AUSTEN BOBBLEHEAD DOLLS!!!!!

Of course, our magnetic personalities, witty banter, and obvious organization drew a crowd who we made friends with them and told them all about our tradition of being first in the exhibit hall. They were charmed and made fun comments and we were having a great time until... she appeared. This little (4 foot 9 inches tops), older librarian gave this smooth look into the exhibit hall in the space in front of us (a large area designated as to remain clear by the security guard) and then STAYED IN FRONT OF US. She cut the line!!! And she has the gall to signal her friend to come join her. In front of us! So our little group had to stand (it's only 5 pm, we are going to have to stand for a half an hour) and get behind this woman. But I'm not going to let this pass. I get alongside of her, look down (remember she was short), and say, "Excuse me, but my friend and I have a tradition of being first into the exhibit hall. It's why we came at 4 pm and sat down. Would you mind getting behind the other people who were here first?" No response. Not a flicker. I'm ticked. "Are you purposely not looking me in the eye or answering? Or you actually trying to AVOID me?", I asked. She whispers back, still NOT LOOKING at me, "I can't believe you're actually talking to me about this." Is she sh*****g me? She cut in front of 40 people who were all waiting for freaking LEVAR BURTON who didn't show and then got convention center rug imprints in our librarian butts waiting to be first in the exhibit hall!!! That's why I'm talking to her!!

I actually considered starting a rumble, or at least a firm shoving match, but by now there were a ton of librarians all crowding around, jockeying for position, so it would have involved others. So I decide to let it go and simply burn this woman's face into my brain so she can be on my "go to hell" list forever. No sooner do I decide this then a mousy woman in a red dress with white polka dots, actually says to me in a snooty way, "You know, you shouldn't engage in any behavior that you wouldn't ask your students to do." I just looked her and said in a VERY distant voice, "I believe that's what I'm doing." I would open up such a can of whoop-ass on any student who tried to cut a line of deserving people who had been waiting for an hour!!! The exhibitors were trying to get to the door through the throng of now-packed in like sardines librarians (thank you, short, snarky line-cutter librarian) and an exhibiter comes up to me to squeeze by and of course, I let him. Polka-dots snipes, "I think you should at least plan on letting the exhibitors through." Me. Raised eyebrow. "I believe that's what I'm doing."

They finally let us through, little snarky librarian is first through the door (but I know Kathe and I were the first people through who deserved to be there) and she goes right to the Greenwood Booth that has the bobbleheads!! And she's first!!! Okay, I'm second but just to show you that good karma pays off, I was chatting up the Greenwood rep about the Jane Austen encyclopedia that just came out and - she gave me two extra free bobblehead dolls!! Justice.

We worked the room with lots of free stuff which was good. We cut out at 6:30 pm and went back to the room to prep for the Independent School Section Networking Reception. I called Ethan, who helped me adjust the laptop to accept the wireless network at the hotel (still no internet based FirstClass or Exchange so no work email which is frustrating) and Kitty checked on her little man, Thad, who's perfect of course building forts with his grandmother. With things good on the home front, we located the networking reception in one of the function rooms. We had paid for $29 each for this reception so I expected a nice spread. Um, no. There was a cash bar (we couldn't even soft drinks for free and had to beg for water) and only a cheese block and crackers with some whole grain crackers! I actually pinched the grapes which were a garnish for the platter, I was so hungry. Then we looked around - NO CHAIRS!! There was about 20 more people than chairs (Kitty Kat quote of the day, "Pittsburgh is the city of rivers, but not the city of chairs.") so we decided to sit in a corner on the floor but were saved by a nice group of librarians who found us a chair which we both sat on, eating our cheese plates.

We passed a nice night and a great time talking to the other librarians, but I'm definitely of the opinion that it wasn't worth $29. We ordered dessert back in our rooms and watched Sex in the City again for solace. Verdict of the day? I had a great time with Kitty and it was an adventure. I love Pittsburgh - it's so beautiful - but I'm keeping an eye out for little librarians.

We are in Pittsburgh!!!!!

11:21 AM 0 Comments A+ a-

Well, Kitty and I arrived safely in Pittsburgh last night. The plane ride (and it was a PLANE with propellers and everything) was quick, if noisy, but the real adventure came when we got in the shuttle to go to our hotel. Our driver was, oh how shall I put it, a MANIAC. He didn't signal, drove 80 miles an hour everywhere, and began referring to his days in "combat" (he appeared to be of an age that he could have been in "Nam") so I thought he might be having a flashback involving post-traumatic stress disorder. Kitty almost crossed herself at one point, and she's not even Catholic!

We settled into our hotel (a nice room but the bathroom could be better - we need more countertop space - jeez, we're two women here!) and were so tired that after we called home, we got room service. The food was really good and we changed into our pajamas and watched Nanny 911 and Sex in the City. We hissed every time ESPN went by!! Yeah, girls night out!! Kitty invented a librarian "gang sign" and we practiced "throwing" it at each other so we could signal to each other when we thought another librarian was going to go by.

We slept a little late, called the school to figure out a snafu with the school credit card (which was the hotel's fault), and went down to the chi-chi Terrace Room restaurant for a nice breakfast. How elegant. We then walked leisurely down to the Convention Center (which is an easy two city blocks away) and admired all the great cityscapes. Pittsburgh is a BEAUTIFUL city!! I'm so impressed by all the historic buildings intermingled with the clean, steel skyscrapers. We're taking LOTS of pictures for everyone to see. Soon, the Exploratorium will start opening up and we'll get to see the presentations from other librarians about some best practices that have worked for them, so we're excited! Talk to you soon!

Guitars and other shopping

11:06 AM 0 Comments A+ a-

All right, I realize it's been eons since I've posted anything to my blog...Fortunately it appears like there aren't any social services repercussions for neglecting one's journal to the world! My wonderful husband, Ethan, and I traveled from northeastern PA to my mother's house in New Jersey this past Friday (I love my mother very much but hate going back to Hackensack, too many people, too many cars, too much rudeness). We were thrilled to enjoy the return of air conditioning to our car after a multi-year hiatus (thank you, Rymer Heating and Cooling of Wilkes-Barre, PA) and since Ethan's birthday was coming up, we thought we'd go to Rondo (a music store) in Union, NJ to ask about exchanging his Les Paul knock-off guitar he bought from them over the internet for another guitar without the small flaw Ethan found on his model.

Anyone who has a partner interested in music (when they themselves know nothing other than an appreciation of their loved one's ability) realizes that a well of patience is often drawn upon for these music store visits. Rondo's selection was extensive (although Ethan was only looking at the Agile guitars) and I settled down to my usual spot perched on an amplifier with its handle making a permanent imprint in my bottom. (An aside: I think that music stores, particularly those who cater to a male clientele, would be served well by having a little seating area for the friends and family of interested shoppers as it would allow the shoppers to spend more time looking and probably making the f&f more comfortable allowing wallets to open wider.) He looked at several really beautiful guitars, but my favorite was a model that was one step up from the guitar he was exchanging. It had the same pretty gold top, but the abalone figuring in the frets was much more pronounced and the mahogany neck and back had a gorgeous color. Ethan seemed to really like it, but it was more than the one he was returning, so he got very concerned. (Ethan is incredibly cheap with himself, although generous with anything I want, god love him.) It took some doing, but I convinced him that with his birthday just two weeks away, I saw no problem with trading up and getting him such a lovely guitar that he will play all the time.

Of course, the love for his guitar and the happiness I take in him enjoying it, has always been tempered (guitars are getting to be a regular purchase for our family on big birthdays) by my having to hear about how great the guitar is for days and days afterward. Please keep in mind that I'm very happy that he's happy, but I begin to get a buzzing in my ears akin to a shorted out amplifier after a while! We took some pictures of the guitar to post on Harmony Central and Ethan did his post about how great the experience was with all kinds of details (the free gig bag and free hat was a highlight). I discovered that to post information without a pictures on the site was considered "cowbelling" since everyone obviously wants to see photos to judge for themselves how great your guitar really is. Fascinating.

We finally went to my Mom's house and met her high school best friend, Sharon, who was wonderful and then headed out to Nordstroms to see if there was anything left at the tail end of their semi-annual sale for us. Ethan did really well, with three beautiful pair of dress shoes and three pair of slacks in his new slim waistline size. I didn't have as much luck in the shoe department with my wide, duck feet, coming away with only a single pair of Franco Sarto shoes, but I got lots of tights for the fall, a ridiculously expensive but stunning cashmere sweater that my mother insisted on getting me (she's wonderful!), and a really neat skirt by Spanx which is this amazing apparel company that makes the most comfortable shaping fabric in the world that makes everyone seem way slimmer and tighter! It is so much more comfortable than control top pantyhose (which I hate) so I'm pretty psyched. The only thing I felt badly about was the fact that I had really wanted to get some dress boots for all my long skirts for the fall, but when I came home I hopped online and discovered the fabulous online shoe store, Zappos, with tons of wide sizes. Since I also have a thicker ankle and boots appeared to be made for women with emaciated calves, the customer feedback on the various types of boots (along with actual dimensions for the other areas of the boots) was incredibly helpful and hopefully I'll get them this week and will have made a good choice.

Great Visit to Blair Academy

10:00 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

I had a wonderful "best practices" visit out to Blair Academy's library, the Timken Library, where Elayne Reiner generously gave me two whole hours to discuss her library space and talk about her program there. The library is beautiful (of course, like all libraries it has its pros and cons) and had the fun "love in the stacks" conversation that all boarding school librarians have about kids who find the unlikeliest places to smooch and display affection. I know I learned a lot from some of her great ideas and she is going to let me bring my Decoration Committee (a subset of my Library Advisory Board) out there in the fall to take digital pictures and to interview the library staff about what they like and don't like about their space. Since Elayne gets into some serious holiday decorating before Halloween and Christmas, we're going to try and time it to get a peek at her interior design skills. After meeting her and seeing her energy up close, I'm thinking she's very HGTV.

Of course, this trip was very exciting for me since it was the first time I got try out my iPod shuffle in the car (I got gotten a non-Apple FM transmitter from Best Buy which worked great, only a few switches needed to maintain the signal) with my custom playlist. How awesome to have every song be a favorite (although I felt a little guilty for not listening to an audiobook of something recent)!

So, a great trip all-round, and I look forward to more of them. Stay tuned for further customization of my blog as I work on the exercises for my super online class! I'm psyched to see how I can develop this further!

Read a super article...

5:03 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

In the last issue of ALAN (The Assembly for Literature for Adolescents) Review, there was an amazing article which was the transcription of a speech given by author Laurie Halse Anderson (author of Speak, Prom, Catalyst, and Fever 1793) to a group of Arizona educators and I was blown away. Ms. Anderson is a great writer (I've loved everything she's written and we teach Speak in our English curriculum at Wyoming Seminary) but I was wowed by her sense of humor and deep insight into the heart of adolescents. She captured so clearly how the more genuinely caring adults that exist in teenagers lives, the more likely they are to weather the incredibly difficult situations that all teens face (I've never met anyone who has had an incident-free adolescence). No wonder her books kick butt.

On a different tack, I've been seeing articles about blogs everywhere, so I don't know if I'm just more aware because of my super class, or if it's synergy, but this is cool. There was an article in the latest edition of American Libraries (April 2005), a column in e-School News, and, of course, the cover article from the May 2, 2005 Business Week about blogs and business. Blogs, blogs, everywhere!!

Speaking of a link to the ALA, I was astonished to find out that an article I wrote last Spring had been published on the AASL website! I thought they had scrapped the idea, but it turns out that they did go ahead with it. Entitled "Independent School Library Media Specialists: State Certification Unnecessary" it outlines some of the reasons that state certification programs don't necessarily fit what independent school librarians do on a daily basis (yes, librarians - I don't know of any independent school that doesn't use librarian rather than library media specialist, which I understand the reasons for, I just think it's a silly name). I actually offered to argue the opposite side as well, considering that I do hold state certification as a Teacher Librarian in Massachusetts as part of my program via Simmons College. It's nice to be devil's advocate and I do totally see both sides of the picture. As always, the issue just rests with qualifications, namely that each school (public or private) insure they are getting an employee with the necessary background in library science and education. Enough said. I'm going to visit a great school tomorrow and tour their library, so I'll keep you posted!!

Blog Evangelist

10:11 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

People have said such nice things about my blog - my kids at work, my fellow librarian at work, (who is also my friend, Kathe, and who TOTALLY needs a blog since she's a great writer and an amazing pop culture expert - you should have seen her expounding upon why Kirk Cameron is evil today), and my classmates and blog teacher - yeah! I'm impressed at how versatile and easy it is to do this. I was experimenting with using the remote email address to post a blog and I did hit some snags - I use FirstClass at work which is an email client for schools and it looked like it inserted a hinky html tag that made my formatting a little wanky and when I went to fix it, the post came up blank even though text was there - I'm going to have to experiment with that and get a sense of learning the html tags just to familiarize myself and head off any problems.

My students thought the blog looked great until I showed them some of the cool templates available at francey.org and then they started Jonesing for all the really spiffy ones. I'm definitely looking forward to thinking about creating a customized template that has everything I want in a blog with a good look that appeals to the kids (they seem to really love the retro look of the 40s and 50s). So far here's what I like about the blogs I've seen and my checklist for a revamped library website:
  1. I want all my current pages on my website formatted with the headbar and navigation features of the blog template (I'm assuming this is basically a CSS?).
  2. A calendar feature at the top (convenient for post navigation and quite honestly, handy to remember what day of the week it is!).
  3. The ability for students and faculty to set up a username and password so they can contribute to the blog (like for book review pages) and I approve the posts before they go up.
  4. Pictures of book covers and fun photos of our library programming (like movie marathons - all 5 Star Wars movies on the 14th - and our Poetry Slams).
  5. An upper navigation bar with clean rollovers thus freeing up my left hand navigation buttons on the current website, particularly all the areas I haven't developed yet because I didn't have the time (now a moot point as blog librarian).
  6. Can I have feeds from This Day in History and The New York Times that put headlines on the blog page, to keep my current events junkies interested?
  7. A "search this site" feature and a Google search bar (with lots of nearby links to Boolean searching techniques and electronic databases, natch).
  8. A nifty "contact us" interface that makes people want to contact us - with nice things to say!
I hope I can get everything - the kids would love it and I'd look like a web goddess to the teachers (little do they know how easy it is!).

A valuable experiment

11:13 PM 4 Comments A+ a-

I am taking an online professional development course through the continuing education department of my graduate alma mater, Simmons College (where I got my Master's of Library and Information Science) on Blogging and I'm really excited about setting aside a month to delve into the issues and details surrounding this method of web publishing. As a librarian in a high school, I'm very interested in taking the website of Kirby Library and finally developing it into an interactive, ever-changing website that will be a place people want to go and not just have to go to get the necessary research links. (Note: do NOT look at anything other than the Students section as the other sections are totally undeveloped!)

At the moment I'm collecting questions about blogs that I want to answer in the course of the month and also collecting URLs of weblogs that I think look great and are well organized so I can analyze what it is about them that I like and want to emulate. I also plan on presenting all this research to my wonderful Library Advisory Board (18 enthusiastic students who love the library) and get their feedback and "in the trenches" perspective. Stay tuned!!