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!!