Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Women's Conference

Sometimes working at a school brings responsibilities and opportunities you just don't get at other jobs. Tuesday I was lucky enough to chaperon several teenagers at The Women's Conference in Long Beach.

I was thrilled when by mid-day I still hadn't heard the term 21st century skills. Nobody urged me to change with my profession (which I am happily doing, by the way), and nobody discussed library Facebook pages. Instead we heard people discuss women's issues and universal issues of leadership, risk-taking, health, balancing work and home, experiencing grief, overcoming obstacles, and activism. It was a good break from the day-to-day issues to have time to listen to and think about broad issues, the big issues that run over, under, and through my daily life in the library. I realized I didn't miss the Internet Librarian conference as much as I thought I would.

The exhibit hall was a unique experience, full booths of clothes, jewelry, snack bar samples, breast cancer information, make-up, and Barbie. But the highlights for me were:
  • Hearing Katie Couric discuss the failures and perseverance that led to her success.
  • Wishing I could pull up a chair and join the conversation led by David Gregory between Madeleine Albright, Amy Holmes, Valerie Jarrett, and Claire Shipman about balancing work and parenthood, the changes of this balance over the years, and the importance of good communication with your families when choosing this difficult role of working mother.
  • Watching retired school teacher Agnes Stevens win one of four Minerva Awards for her activism. She founded School on Wheels, a one-to-one tutoring service (and more) for homeless children in Los Angeles.
  • Hearing Maria Shriver speak about her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and through her story, remind me how to support my daughter.
  • Listening to Jane Goodall imitate the sounds of a chimpanzee.
  • Chatting with the teenagers about how "amazing" and "inspiring" the day was, and noticing they had a flicker of feminism in their eyes.
I thank my school for sending me to a great conference!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Jumped - on a Kindle!

I finally read a book on a Kindle. I didn't want to like it. But, I found myself wanting to own one. This Kindle we bought for our library, to eventually develop a program where we circulate it (and maybe others) to students and faculty, something many school libraries are starting to do.
I brought it home, added the National Book Award Finalist Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia, and started reading.
At first I didn't like it. But once I fixed the size of the font so that I wasn't having to hit "next page" as often, I felt very comfortable with the size of the Kindle. Angrily, or maybe disappointingly, I slowly started falling in love. Maybe it was the novel, which I did enjoy, but I think it was the Kindle. I didn't miss the feel of the page, or the smell of the binding. I liked not having to prop the book open. I enjoyed imagining my daily newspaper in that little slick device instead of all over my breakfast nook.

But I didn't like the note taking/bookmarking features. I couldn't see using it for margin notes if I were a student is a class at my school - especially because our teachers grade the margin notes. Could you imagine turning in your whole library to a teacher to take care of for a few days while he or she graded your notes?
I didn't enjoy the glare on the screen from my recessed lighting.
I didn't enjoy trying to flip back several pages because I forgot a section I had read too late at night the previous evening. It was time-consuming to skim back as the text uploaded page by page.
Even with the drawbacks, I do love the Kindle. I hope it isn't checked out all the time so I get more turns to download and read books on it.
Now I am even more curious about the other e-readers.
Do you have a favorite reader? Does your library check out more than one type of reader? The current Wired Magazine (October, 2009) gives the Kindle a 9/10. I Agree.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Book Review - I'm Down: A Memoir by Mishna Wolff

I read this book to laugh out loud. Recently caught in a slump of serious books, I needed a comedy. Although I did laugh out loud at parts, this memoir mostly made me empathetic to the many trials and triumphs of growing up different and trying to please. I'm Down is actually quite serious. Mishna is white, as are her father, mother, and sister. However, her father grew up in an African American neighborhood, and he identifies with that culture, wanting his children to do so too. Mishna's sister seems to have no problem fitting in, but Mishna is self conscious of her extreme whiteness. Just as she finds a way to fit in at school, she is sent to the much more white private school, where she is too black in culture and too far down on the economic scale to fit in right away. The memoir explores race, identity, class and privilege. Many of the moments about Mishna's wealthy and yet unfulfilled friends stand out to me, and make me think again about the variety of experiences of our student body. Mishna is overjoyed to go to a friend's house and play Nintendo and eat Hotpockets all day undisturbed by adults, while her friend just wants her parents to pay attention to her. Mishna is embarrassed as she tries not to inhale the warm cafeteria lunches that her wealthy friends look at with disdain. And the section about skiing is enough provoke me to feel what is must be like to be a child on scholarship at one of our independent schools. Mishna's family doesn't understand the responsibilities her school places on her, nor how important these responsibilities are to her. She straddles two cultures and it doesn't always work to her benefit. Mishna is worried, angry, sensitive, scared, but above all, she is hopeful. I highly recommend this quick memoir to everyone in high school through adulthood, but especially to those of us who work with teenagers, many of whom struggle to fit in at home and at school every day.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Overhead Party

We had a little going away party for the overhead projectors yesterday. Don't they look like they are socializing in the conference room? The are replaced by projectors and SmartBoards. I think we are keeping two, just in case (in case what? I don't know). I am happy to see them go. The technology department troubleshoots/fixes the projectors and SmartBoards so we have one less type of equipment to manage.
Goodbye overhead projectors!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Conference at my Desk

Friday I sat at the reference desk with our library assistant, and I checked my Twitter account. Buffy Hamilton, The Unquiet Librarian, had sent out news that the keynote speaker for the SLJ Leadership Summit was getting ready to begin, and she forwarded the link to the CoverItLive session. Jealous of all the school librarians at the event, I decided to attend the summit virtually (luckily my school doesn't block many sites).

CoverItLive is a live blogging program where you can read and post comments and photos, collaborating and engaging with people from all over the world - live. There is a streaming video function too, but that wasn't offered for this session. It is so easy to use, that even as a novice, I was instantly ready to interact with the conference attendees.

Luckily I had relatively few questions at the reference desk, but I was able to go in and out of the discussion when I needed to assist students. As Buffy Hamilton, Cathy Nelson and other librarians publicized the essential questions and ideas of the speaker, Bernie Trilling, other people participated either through Twitter using the hashtag #sljsummit09 or by responding directly into CoverItLive. The conversation was expanded, as well as the attendance at the keynote.
Sadly, I only participated in the one session. My day took me away from the reference desk. But I am excited to go back and read/watch the sessions. Thank you, Buffy and Cathy, for taking me to the Summit!

The conference focused on librarians taking the lead in 21st century learning, and the sessions covered aspects from databases to advocacy. This new leadership direction for librarians excites me,and I am looking forward to reading the blogs of the librarians who attended and learn some of what they learned! I am inspired to get to the SLJ Summit next year. Want to join me?

Friday, October 2, 2009

This Made My Day!

On Fridays as I drive into campus at 7:25 AM, I always just catch a story on NPR's StoryCorps. I look forward to hearing these short oral histories of regular people. Sometimes they are interviews between generations of family members, and they are always touching. They all impress me. These few minutes pull me out of my daily routine, and remind me about how special each day is.
Today's was about a librarian changing a teenager's life, and it made my day. Please listen to it - it may remind you why you became a librarian.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

School library Journal Leadership Summit 2009

I am a bit sorry I didn't apply to attend the SLJ Leadership Summit. Some librarians who are my online pals these days are going. I learn from them every day, and I would love to meet them and work with them in person. Are any Independent School Librarians going this year? Let me know - I hope we are represented! How does the experience compare with AASL and AISL? I have enjoyed both of those conferences in the past, but this year I am only attending AASL. The timing is right, and the other librarian I work with is going to AISL.

So many conferences, so little time! How do you choose which to attend?

Let's try to follow the SLJ Summit blog and twitter streams, and maybe we can join in the discussions that way. The conference starts tomorrow (October 2nd).