Friday, May 19, 2017

Young Naturalists @ Westmeade Program

by Karen McIntyre, Librarian at Westmeade Elementary (@kjmcinty @WESdragons)

"I thought you were a librarian.  What does a bluebird nest have to do with the library?”  It’s a response I sometimes get when describing the joy of watching young students experience their first gaze into the bluebird box after tiny naked birds have emerge from the blue eggs with their beaks open to receive worms.                                                            
In my first library job a City Councilman accosted me.  “Are you are trying to compete with day care?”  Stunned, I asked him why he thought that.  Well you are spending money on shaving cream, dirt, seeds and all kinds of arts and crafts supplies, you are supposed to read books to children.”  I invited him to stay and see for himself what I did.  He saw kids reacting to stories through activities.  Today we call them makerspaces.  He saw happy parents for whom the library provided a shared community.  My first practical lesson was that educating people about a good library is best told as a story!   

I recently heard a principal (not mine) say that having the kind of library program that provides open checkout, team taught lessons, and all that goes with it is a luxury.  Libraries,

as the repository of human knowledge and experience, are never a luxury.  Librarians as instigators of curiosity, research and reason, are never a luxury.   Time to tell the story!

Every school is a unique community of learners and every library program is shaped by that.  A good library will respond by also reshaping its community.  Let me illustrate what I mean with my school, Westmeade.  It  is in a part of town with a long history of conservation including on-going  support  to maintain a corridor for animal migration.   Working with the Westmeade Conservancy introduced me to passionate neighbors who were eager to help our students develop a sense of wonder in nature.  A partnership with our P.E. teacher, who was dedicated to healthy living, lead to our garden.  Soon students were eagerly rescuing worms to put them in the compost, and rejoicing in things that formerly would have elicited “Yeeews.” They were seeing wildlife through new eyes.  

Our community continued to bring us experts who helped create more contacts with nature.   Sam Jones, local Bluebird enthusiast taught us to build our bluebird boxes!  Then two years ago, Cynthia Lee, local nature educator turned up through a connection with a parent.  Her wonderful nature enrichment program at the University School in conjunction with Warner Park Nature Center became the model for our Young Naturalists @ Westmeade program.

What more awaits our school with the Library at its heart is yet to be written, but we hope it will include being the first school in Tennessee to become an environmental/sustainability magnet. 

What has that to do with the library?  Everything if a library's purpose is: 
to provide a flexible space with a wide and inclusive range of resources to support learning and teaching throughout the school. 
• to have a vibrant role in the development of a culture that promotes wider reading, motivated readers and learners for life.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Lunch Speakers at Hume-Fogg

by Amanda Smithfield, Librarian at Hume-Fogg (@asmithfield @hfalibrary)

My library is in a new location this school year.  Even though most of the library is open, the main entry is still not finished.  And while the new library is beautiful and has many amenities the old library did not, it’s a bit out of the way. So it may not surprise you to know that checkout and visits by individuals to the library are down, although class visits for working on projects are up.

What to do?  Well, as David Lankes tells us in The Atlas of New Librarianship, every librarian has the same mission – to improve society by facilitating knowledge creation in our communities.  How could I improve society when kids weren’t coming by the library as much?  That’s when I created my speakers’ series.

My new library is blessed with a very large classroom with flexible furniture.  Hume-Fogg has one lunch for all grade levels.  So I decided to invite a lunch speaker about once a week, although sometimes it ends up being more frequent depending on when people can schedule to come.

Usually, about 20 or so kids show up for these lunch and learns.  And finding speakers has been really easy!  We’ve had a lot of great ones: former TN Governor Bredesen, Justice Richard Dinkins, Lawyer Abby Rubenfeld, Southern Environmental Law Center Managing Attorney Anne Davis, local rapper and Hume-Fogg alum Starlito, grammy award winner and Hume-Fogg alum Street Symphony, among others.

Here are some hints:
1. FINDING SPEAKERS – Just reading the local newspapers should provide plenty of inspiration for you.  Also, talk to your kids.  My kids have always been really passionate about the environment, and AP Environmental Science is a popular course here.  Kids were talking to me about possible cuts to the EPA, so I knew having an environmental lawyer as a speaker could have a big impact.  

2. EMPOWER KIDS TO REACH OUT TO SPEAKERS: I’ve had a couple of kids who have talked to me about arranging speakers.  I give them a few suggestions, but then I allow the kids to take it from there.  I love that I have kids who feel so passionate about issues that they do this!

3. HAVE KIDS AS FACILITATORS: I’m usually in the front with the speaker, but I usually ask a kid who has an interest in the topic to be a facilitator.  They write questions and they are in charge of “handling” the speaker – picking them up in the office, sitting at the front with me for the interview, and handling audience questions.  They get to have a personal conversation with the speaker, and those conversations can have a tremendous impact on a kid.

4. HAVE SNACKS: I fully admit that I may be going broke providing snacks for kids but some kids will skip lunch to hear an entire presentation, so it’s worth it to me.  I don’t think you have to have snacks to have interest, but it helps.

5. DISPLAY BOOKS RELATING TO THE SPEAKER: This is a great time to mention that you actually have books related to the topic being discussed.  Put them on display – they often get checked out!

6. WRITE A THANK YOU NOTE: have your student facilitator write a thank you note to the speaker.  It’s a great way to teach kids about the power of thank you notes as well as reminding them how to address envelopes!  Sad to say that some of my students do not know this.

So what’s been the impact of our speaker series?  Kids have heard from experts in their fields.  They’ve made connections to people who have and are making a difference.  And now my kids have new knowledge!  And who knows what good will come out of that in a few months, years, or decades?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Laura Hartley (L), Librarian at Waverly Belmont
Also pictured Stacey Cleghon (R), Library Clerk at Waverly Belmont

Get to know me!
1.  My family husband, Todd, (we've been married for 10 years this year), my son Zeke, who just turned 17 months, and our little boy who will be here in June!
2.  My secret talent is...hmmm. If I told you, it wouldn't be a secret anymore!
3.  My favorite local Nashville spot is...Any of the parks.
4.  If you could eliminate 1 librarian stereotype it would be...that the library has to be a quiet place. Of course, we all know that is not how it is anymore!
5. My favorite book or author is...How do you choose just one?? Some of my favorite chapter books are El Deafo, Brown Girl Dreaming, and Wonder. (Maybe I'll read an adult book again one day...)
6. The literary character I most identify with is...The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Being pregnant, I feel like all I do is eat, eat, eat!
7.  I decided to become a school librarian because...I wanted a change of pace from being in the classroom. I had this fabulous librarian at the first school I taught and she really showed me what all a school librarian does. She helped me out so much when I first started teaching...supporting me, my students and even co-teaching together. I always say she inspired me to look into being a librarian. She is retired now, but you may know her...Jana Whittle.
8.  I would love to travel to...anywhere! People say you get the travel "bug" and I think I definitely got it in high school. I've traveled to 18 countries (including living in Dubai for two years) and can't wait to travel more! Todd, Zeke and I just went to Canada over Spring Break and our next big trip will be to return to Europe next summer to visit some friends.
10.  I think life is better with...a cup of coffee, sunny days, and lots of time to relax by the beach or pool.

Get to know my library!
1.  Some of my student's favorite library resources are...Limitless Libraries, of course! Some books that are constantly checked out right now: all of Mo Willems (Kinder is doing an author study in class), riddle books, (thanks School Library Challenge), Raina Telgemeier books and Dav Pilkey's Dogman. 
2.  I am happiest when my library is...busy! I love having students and teachers use the space in many, many ways!
3.  One way I collaborate with teachers is...I am always asking teachers what they are working on in class and try to suggest resources, books, or lessons that I could teach to enhance student learning. 
4.  I would love to have...more time! More time to plan, more time to spend with students, more time to meet with teachers and collaborate! 
5.  The thing I love most about my library is...It truly is a beautiful space. We are lucky to be new and have tall windows and lots of updated resources. Oh, and of course, the students!
6.  My library is busiest when...We've been closed for testing or right after a break. I love seeing that flood of kids come in desperate to get a new book!
7.  My library is quietest when...we have testing.
8.  I think every library assistant. I have one this year and it's been a game changer. Not only does she allow students more access to books because she can physically be there to check out, but she has been an amazing help to me in so many ways that I didn't even know I needed help! Being in the library can also be somewhat isolating...what "team" do I belong to? I now feel like I have a team of two for sure! What did I ever do without her?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Alison Maliszewski Brooks, Librarian at Apollo Middle

Get to know me!
1.  My family includes...too many people to list! haha  My immediate family is just my husband, Noah and our cat, Thomas.  I also have parents, a sister, brother-in-law, and nephew nearby, as well as LOTS of in-laws!
2.  My secret talent is...speaking with a British accent.  It's my superpower when I need the kids to really listen.
3.  My favorite local Nashville spot is... Arrington Vineyards!
4.  If you could eliminate 1 librarian stereotype it would be... that my job is somehow "easier" than a classroom teacher's.  It's different, but has just as many challenges.
5.  My favorite book or author is... Madeleine L'Engle.  I love many of her books, but A Ring of Endless Light really shaped me when I was growing up.
6.  The literary character I most identify with is... oh, probably Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables.  Not in looks or in family situation, but in her very humanness--that she is flawed yet loveable, and also because she grows up to be a teacher.  I read her entire series when I was younger and loved them all.
7.  I decided to become a school librarian because...I get to work with ALL the kids in a school, not just "my class."
8.  I would love to travel to... New Zealand.  I love traveling, and that is at the top of my list of dream places to go!
9.  I think life is better with... books and laughter!

Get to know my library!
1.  Some of my student's favorite library resources are... Culturegrams, playaways, DVDs, and any Anime/Manga books, and of course, using Limitless Libraries!
2.  I am happiest when my library is... bustling and full of students!
3.  One way I collaborate with teachers is... by co-planning lessons using whatever resources are available--from Traveling Trunks to the Dewey Decimal obstacle course!
4.  I would love to have...a clone so maybe my to-do list would get done every day... haha!
5.  The thing I love most about my library is... seeing students', parents', and teachers' reactions to how big and beautiful it is!
6.  My library is busiest gets close to PBL project time or I am collaborating.
7.  My library is quietest when...there's a school-wide event going on elsewhere in the building.
8.  I think every library needs... an amazing library clerk to help keep everything going wonderfully!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Katie Garrett, Librarian at Isaac Litton Middle

Get to know me!
My family includes...myself and my two dogs.
My secret talent is...painting furniture.
My favorite local Nashville spot is...Welcome Home – it’s an adorable home goods store run by wonderful people.
If you could eliminate 1 librarian stereotype it would be...that librarians always want the library to be a quiet place.
My favorite book is...The Catcher in the Rye.
I decided to become a school librarian because...I love reading and working with students and it was a natural transition after teaching Spanish for six years.
I would love to travel to...Cuba.
I think life is better with...good friends and good books.

Get to know my library!
Some of my student's favorite library resources are...the makerspace and Limitless Libraries.
I am happiest when my library is...full of students.
One way I collaborate with teachers help them look for quality resources to use in their instruction.
I would love to have...more iPads available to check out to students in the library.
The thing I love most about my library is...our makerspace.
My library is busiest when...all areas of the library are full of students checking out books, researching on the computers, and working in the makerspace.
My library is quietest when...students are testing.
I think every library needs...a culture of welcoming all of their students.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Diane Chen, Librarian at Stratford High STEM
Get to know me!
1.  My four sons are all grown and out of the house, so now I share a house with my best friend and travel buddy Debbie. I have a new grandbaby and a step-granddaughter who loves to get books in the mail from me. My dog Benji is the love of my life right now.
2.  My secret talent is crochet. I love yarn art work and three dimensional projects like the afghan I made with a chess board and all the pieces.
3.  My favorite local Nashville spot is McNamara’s Irish Pub & Restaurant. You can listen to live music nightly and everyone there loves to tell a good tale. No one minds when you hold an impromptu book club either.
4.  If you could eliminate 1 librarian stereotype it would be the idea that we sit around behind a desk. We are so busy at Stratford that I don’t bother to sit down at all. I didn’t even notice when the students borrowed the chair behind my desk for three days.
5. My favorite book or author is Tamora Pierce. I love fantasy and her Beka Cooper series and the Circle of Magic series.
6. The literary character I most identify with is a composite of all mystery solving female detectives including Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, and Kay Scarpetta among others. I have a cynicism of romance and love of forensic science to solve crimes.
7.  I decided to become a school librarian because one classroom does not present enough of a challenge. I love computers, technology, and connecting students with learning through reading and experiences so the library is a natural outlet. The library is such a creative place that I can incorporate my love of languages including Mandarin Chinese, German, Spanish, and sign language into storytelling and instruction.
8.  I would love to travel to Africa, South America, and the Middle East. I’ve been to Asia and Europe (Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Italy, Monaco, France, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Mexico, and Canada). I travel whenever I have the opportunity including the summer Debbie and I visited 13 national parks.
10.  I think life is better with a dog beside you. Dogs appreciate your presence and I love to curl up with my Benji and read a good book. Everyone should rescue a dog! It changes your life.
Get to know my library!
1.  Some of my student's favorite library resources are our color printer and the supplies in the maker space for their presentations. We focus a great deal on Communicating and Creating whether it’s the posters, . We added some stickers to books and the most popular categories are Romance and Horror.
2.  I am happiest when my library is bursting with students from all grades 5-12, working, reading, and sharing with each other.
3.  One way I collaborate with teachers is by meeting them in their rooms, hallways, and at events. It’s important to be out of the library and in their spaces because the library goes beyond our four walls. Digitally I am always connecting with teachers via text and social media.
4.  I would love to have more space – we are always full of students and have to balance both high school and middle school schedules. Students are always asking us for more books, more computers, and more movies. We have students sitting outside on the balcony space.
5.  The thing I love most about my library is it’s a comfortable place for everyone to come in, sit down, read, and work on technology. We constantly rearrange the furniture to accommodate many small groups. Even faculty members pop in just to sit down and read.
6.  My library is busiest when both campuses are synced between 9-2. We open at 6:30am and stay open til 4:15. Two nights a week I am here for tutoring til six. We never seem to be empty – even on weekends.
7.  My library is quietest when it’s late at night. I finally experienced a quiet moment at 8:30pm one night. Once!
8.  I think every library needs flexibility in schedules, furniture, technology and instruction.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Piper Nyman, Librarian at Shwab Elementary

Get to know me!
1.  My family husband Jeff, Sophie (13) and Olivia (11).

2.  My secret talent is...that I have no talent. My motto is, "sing anyway."

3.  My favorite local Nashville spot is...Warner Parks, Edwin or Percy, they are both amazing!

4.  If you could eliminate 1 librarian stereotype it would be...
"shhh!" I am a proud loud librarian.

5. My favorite book or author is...Barbara Kinsolver and Sherman Alexie.

6. The literary character I most identify with is...I couldn't name just one.

7.  I decided to become a school librarian's the best job in the world!

8.  I would love to travel to...all of the ancient places that aren't so safe right now.
9.  I think life is better with...audiobooks! I love books of all kinds, but a good audiobook is a special kind of escape.

Get to know my library!

1.  Some of my student's favorite library resources are...they love PebbleGo and all of the comics (of course!)

2.  I am happiest when my library is...humming with activity.

3.  One way I collaborate with teachers being involved in all of the school-wide teams I can fit into my schedule - especially the Leadership and Data teams.

4.  I would love to Bluetooth scanners for checkout.

5.  The thing I love most about my library is a nice shape (though small) and has great natural light.

6.  My library is busiest's time for Open Checkout after it's been closed for assessments.

7.  My library is quietest when...I am reading/telling a spooky story.

8.  I think every library needs...face-out displays, lots and lots of face-out displays.