Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Do You Use LibGuides?

Since I am in the process of redesigning my library's website, I've been asking around and checking out what other independent school libraries are using.  The range of answers has been very helpful, however, one resource that keeps coming up again and again is LibGuides.  As far as I can tell, LibGuies is a web-based tool for making online library or subject guided collections of resources.  At $500+ per year (for my school anyway), I am trying to evaluate what LibGuides gives me that Google Sites, already integrated with our school's server, does not already do for free.  This post by Unquiet Librarian Buffy Hamilton helped get me thinking, but I'm just not sure that Google Sites is really lacking in any of these categories.  Certainly, LibGuides is stronger in tagging/organizing guides as well as in creating widgets, but as far as integrating other widgets or embedding content, I have no trouble doing this in Google Sites.  A benefit that I see with creating research guides on Google Sites is that my school has integrated Google accounts with our server, meaning that I can restrict the privacy of some sites to only show up for students who are signed into their school accounts.  This means that I can put all the password and log in information right there.  So I guess right now, I've decided not to go with LibGuides, at least not on our current budget.

Do you use LibGuides?  If not, how do you create online research guides?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

keep on keeping on

It's been a whirlwind month of things to do with the library and things not to do with the library (hello final month of marathon training!). 

For the library:
1.  We finally got some eBooks in my little school library and I'm happily promoting them at every opportunity that comes up!  They work, quite happily, with iPads/phones and Android tablets/phones.

2.  Finals are looming just around the bend which means that no one has time to read.  It makes me sad to see so many great books sitting, untouched on the New Books shelf.

3.  I've teaching 6th graders to make websites, which has been interesting and fun.  Teaching them about free use (and not so free use) of images and content is twice as interesting, but not so much fun.

4.I have been reading and reading.  We have a fledgling parents' book club that I run, which means that I have to get to read more grown-up books.  It certainly keeps my busy.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hooked on Audiobooks!

For as long as I can remember, I've been hooked on audiobooks.  Perhaps it's the fact that I grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, where we spent a lot of time in the car.  Or maybe it's because some of my strongest childhood memories are of listening, repeatedly, to an old tape of my father reading Old Mother West Wind stories that he recorded when he had to be away for a few weeks.  I loved the tape so much, that he recorded several more and I remember listening to them every night, even when he was home!  Audiobooks got me through library school and the many commuting hours that I spent in my car driving from way the heck over here to way the heck out there in and around Los Angeles.  And now, even though my commute is hardly much, audiobooks are getting me through marathon training.  Nothing makes a 19 mile run fly by more quickly than finishing up a great book while you do it!  So with all that said, here are a few of my favorite stories to listen to:

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
There is something magical about Jim Dale's reading of the Harry Potter books that manage to make the already enchanting series even more of a treasure.  I recommend the earlier books, as the later books in the series get rather long for audiobook form.

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Dairy Queen is just such an excellent piece of YA realistic fiction.  It's funny, it's heartwarming and D.J. Schwenk's character is so endearing.  The story is paced perfectly for listening and D.J.'s voice is brought even further to life with a perfect Midwestern accent.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Another book that instantly feels like a classic, especially as a listen.  Audiobooks read by the author can sometimes be dreadful, but Neil Gaiman's voice is perfection!

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
I just listening to this one, which is probably why it's on my mind, but it was such an excellently read audiobook that I had to put it on my list.  The characters are brought to life with voices that embody them so well, it's almost like listening to a play.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Test Me!

Recently, I was asked by my boss to run a pilot of a standardized test that assesses "digital fluency."  The test, though designed for undergraduate and working adults, runs testers through a series of real-world information literacy challenges, such as ranking the authority of various information sources, determining the best information source to complete a certain task and so on.  I was excited to pilot the test, though I have my doubts about how well the activities will actually assess information literacy skills.  After administering the test to several students, interviewing them about their experiences and writing about my experience as a proctor, I decided to take it for myself, because, really, how well can I judge a test without experiencing it myself?  Here's hoping that, as a Librarian and a Director of Information Literacy (my official title), I will ace it!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Recently in the Library...

This past week has been a blast.  Some happenings have been:
1.  Attempting to teach my 6th grade class how to write a MLA format, which is a bit heavy and challenging to teach them, since the majority have never heard of a citation before.  That is what their teacher wants though.  Oh and we also tackled plagiarism...which lead to some amusingly innocent, 6th grader interpretations ("What if I write something original and find out that it just happens to be the EXACT same words the words in a book?"  "What if I use the word 'the' and the word 'the' has been published before?" etc.).

2. Testing.  We are piloting a sort of info lit standardized test/assessment.  I have turned my study rooms into a test center of sorts and been a librarian/proctor this week.  Isn't it funny how librarians are always librarians/somethingelse? 

3.  Reading.  Daughter of Smoke and Bone is finally finished.  My thoughts are on good reads.  Next up will be The Death Cure (the final installment of the Maze Runner trilogy).  Also listening to The Help, which is excellent as an audio book.

4. Book Pushing.  We've had a lot of readers in the library these days and I am particularly proud to have some excited new readers in the library asking me for recommendations. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

7 Books that Changed the Way You See the World

After reading some lists from around the internetz, I was inspired to think up my own.  I interpreted the question on a personal level.  These books influenced me a lot in life, changing the way I see the world, myself and others in the world.

in no particular order...

1.  The Journey Is the Destination: The Journals of Dan Eldon by Dan Eldon
I was absolutely inspired to write, to to photograph and to play with images and tell my story when I saw this book as a teen.  I still keep art journals/scrap books/photo albums or whatever you want to call them and I still cite this book as a major influence as to how and why I make them.  I also think that Eldon's journals inspired a curiosity and a longing I have to see the world as a traveler.

2.  Radio Free Albimuth by Philip K. Dick.
I found an old, worn pocketbook version of Radio Free Albimuth in the garage when I was 14 or 15 and from that day forward, Philip K. Dick has been one of my favorite authors and science fiction (particularly the dystopian variety) one of my favorite genres.  It's not even his greatest work, it just grabbed me and kept me so absorbed and sort of blew my mind in the way that a battered old science fiction paperback could say so much about the world and human nature.

3.  On the Road by Jack Kerouac
I read this in high school (for fun, not for school, thank you very much!) and felt so inspired by the adventure and the history of the Beat Generation in general.  It made me feel a new zest for literature, life and for my country.  I wanted to travel around the country and the world (again with the wanderlust) and I wanted to take pictures, tell stories and meet interesting people.  On the Road has help up in rereads, although more recently I read into a lot more layers, including sadness, that I missed as an overly excitable teen.

4.  If I Die in a Combat Zone (Box Me Up and Ship Me Home) by Tim O'Brien
I first became curious about the Vietnam War in college, when I took a film class on Vietnam War movies.  My father, who was drafted and served in the war and never really talked about his experience until he drove me home from college for the summer that year.  His stories were powerful and shocking--I had previously believed that he didn't really see any of the scary bits during his time at war.  He recommended If I Die in a Combat Zone, a book that shaped the way I now look at people and their experiences.  Also a book that sparked a whole phase of reading and learning everything that I could about that time and place.

5.  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
After being enchanted by the Oz books (and movies!) as a child, I revisited Oz as a teen, reading through Baum's imaginative series repeatedly.  I wrote my first term paper in high school about The Wonderful Wizard of Oz...Oz was really the first subject I can remember researching in such a scholarly (by high school standards, anyway) depth.  The Oz books showed me that  even the most simple children's stories, can be worth a deeper look and a fresh perspective.

6.  Looking for Alaska by John Green
Although it is one of my favorite young adult books, Looking for Alaska is here not because I like it, but because I read it at a time when I was still wondering what I was going to do,  career-wise.  I was already in library school, but I had no committed idea of what type of librarianship I wanted to go into.  Looking for Alaska reached me in such a way that it became more clear to me that YA literature would be a part of my life from that moment on.  Luckily, the librarianship came along with it, making it a passion AND a job.

7. The Rough Guide to Belize by Peter Eltringham
A travel guide?  Seriously?  I know and I put this on here not for the content so much as the story behind how it ended up in my hands.  One day, shortly after I had graduated from college and started working an evening job in a college library, I stumbled upon the idea to travel to Belize.  Why?  I don't even really know why, but the seed was planted and I became obsessed with the idea of going.  I had left the country before, but never without a school program or on my own, financially, so it was a big idea for me at the time.  After a little internet research, I picked this guidebook and carried it around with me and obsessively studied it for over a year before I saved up enough vacation time and money to go.  By the time I went, I probably knew more about Belize, it's bus routes and intricate travel details than anyone ought to!  Still, it was an amazing, eye opening experience and, while the book is not the experience, I can't help but think that the careful reassurance of a guidebook telling you that you can do something, even if that thing is strange and new, is sometimes life changing.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Weeding the Garden...

Whew, with the week finally coming to a close (what is it about these 4 day weeks feeling so long?!) and my three day stint of talks on cyberbullying, I can finally get back to my piles and piles of weeding. Right now, I'm mostly pulling amusingly outdated YA fiction that hasn't circulated in the past decade (and some haven't been touched for well over 20 years!!!). A few of my favorites from the weeding pile...

Goodbye, Gentlehands!  I know that Gentlehands is supposed to be a quality book, but my students merely snicker at the title and move along.  At least it had its time, with many checkouts in the .
Little Britches, my favorite of the weeds.  Of course, someone had crossed out the R in our version (you live in a middle/high school library for so many's bound to happen).  Since I saw the cover and inevitably got the title stuck in my head, "Little Britches" has become a new nickname of sorts of my dog!
Bingo Brown's Guide to Romance.  The cover really gives me flashbacks of Saved By the Bell and Blossom reruns.