Thursday, July 3, 2008

ALA Anaheim Slideshow

Here's just a taste of ALA in Anaheim. For all our photos, go to

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Open Forum: AASL Learning Standards Indicators & Assessment Task Force

I chair the AASL Learning Standards Indicators & Assessment Task Force, charged with developing benchmarks, model examples, and assessments based on the new Standards for the 21st-Century Learner.

I first met with my task force members, who are some of the best thinkers in the school library field, last January at the ALA Midwinter Meeting, and continued working throughout the winter and spring via email, wiki, and conference calls, on the first draft of our document, Standards for the 21st-Century Learner in Action (working title). It contains chapters on Skills, Dispositions, Responsibilities, Self-Assessment Strategies, and Action Examples for Standard 1 (Inquire, think critically and gain knowledge) for grades 2, 5, 8, 10 and 12+. The draft was posted online for public comment in May and early June.

At ALA in Anaheim, we held an open forum for members to meet with us to provide more input on the work we have done so far. Several people attended and provided thoughtful and very useful feedback that will inform our work on draft #2.

Later this month, the Task Force will meet in Baltimore for three days of intensive work on our second draft, which we hope to post for further public comment in September.

Working with this Task Force has been the most challenging professional experience I have ever had. I truly enjoy working with this very knowledgeable and experienced group of professionals and look forward to the publication of our work in early 2009.

Members of the AASL Learning Standards Indicators & Assessment Task Force are:
Katherine Lowe, Chair, Massachusetts School Library Association
Cassandra G. Barnett, Fayetteville High School Library, AR
Melissa P. Johnston, Silver City Elementary School, Cumming, GA
Barbara K. Stripling, New York City Department of Education
Dr. Violet H. Harada, University of Hawaii
Fran Glick, Baltimore County Public Schools, MD
Colet Bartow, Montana Office of Public Instruction
Dr. Eloise M. Long, AASL Board Liaison, Kutztown Universtiy, PA
Jonathan West, ALA Staff Liaison

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tuesday, July 1

Could it be that it is already a new month? Time really does fly by when you're at Conference! Super Tuesday started out with a delicious breakfast for all in the Exhibit Hall, followed by a time of "freebies" and a mad rush for the post office line.

I participated in the Virtual Library Day on the Hill, where librarians e-mailed their senators and representatives on library issues. It is very easy to use the template that the ALA Washington Office has set up for users. All you have to do is put in your zip code and you automatically get the names of Kennedy, Kerry and Delahunt. There is a form letter available, but I sent them a juicy letter of my own. You enter your information (name, address, e-mail, etc.), hit "send" and off it goes! Very simple, but effective. I walked around with my bright red t-shirt about Voting for Librarians that was given to all participants, and encouraged AASL members I ran into to go and vote for school libraries so we don't become extinct.

The final program for me was the Closing Session interview with the lovely Diahann Carroll, which you can read about in another post. She really is beautiful, and doesn't look her age at all.

Conference is done, but the work still goes on. Go to AASL's website to see how you can get involved, and/or contact someone from MSLA to lend a hand on a state level. See you in MA!

Khaled Hosseini: Only a Storyteller

Let's face it: most of us have read the books, and some of us have seen the movie. We've laughed, we've cried... you know the rest. It makes you think that someone so intuitive about his Afghan culture would be a bit preachy about all the American presence in that country. You would be wrong. Khaled Hosseini is quite a modest man who is surprised at the success of his books. He simply states that he has been writing stories since he was a child and that writing is a natural part of his life. He grapples with organization, and simply writes from his heart.

In his interview, Hosseini answered the one question that is always asked: The Kite Runner characters are fictional. He humorously joked that he is always asked how the characters are doing in life, and politely reminds readers that these characters are not real. Yes, they reflect people in his life, but “it's a novel!” He is also free to let these characters go. Being part of the filming of The Kite Runner, he assisted in the choice of location, costuming, and such, but relied upon the screenwriters to enhance his original story. He is a fan of the film, especially the child actors who were “so natural and yet always professional. They had never been inside a movie theater before and here they were, part of a production that will appear in a movie theater.”

Most of the questions posed to Hosseini focused on The Kite Runner, but there were serious moments when the discussion turned toward Hosseini's latest book, A Thousand Splendid Suns. (Yes, this too will be made into a film.) For those of you who have not read this novel, Hosseini returns to Afghanistan and tells the story of three decades of family and friendship in the throws of war. The women in his book have distinctive viewpoints that make it hard to imagine that the author is male and Hosseini credits his medical background as his inspiration – as a physician in California, he has treated many patients compassionately.

Hosseini supports our presence in his country. He believes that, without order, the Taliban will become powerful; however, he says that war is not the answer. His role is not one of a commentator, but of a storyteller. His novels will capture the humanity that is needed if we are to end the violence in this world.

At the end of the interview, he thanked all the librarians for having faith in his novels and for promoting them to readers. It was moving to listen to someone who understands so much about the importance of suffering and forgiveness explain that, in his desire to create fiction, Khaled Hosseini has touched upon the tragic realities facing those in his homeland. And while he said that his next project is still vague, I look forward to reading every page with a box of tissues at my side.

Diahann Carroll, Legs Diamond

Oprah considers Diahann Carroll a living legend, and certainly, she looks the same as she did when she starred on television in the 1960s. An award-winning singer and actress, she is mainly known as the first black actress to star in her own television show, Julia, and is currently seen on Grey's Anatomy. Her memoir, The Legs are the Last to Go: Aging, Acting, Marrying, Mothering and Other Things I Have Learned Long the Way will be coming out in October, 2008.

She claims that throughout her life she has been a perfectionist, but she is more comfortable with herself nowadays. “Good enough is good enough,” she says. Her background in the theatre and music, a process of rehearsal and performance, had caused to be fussy about her life. But because “you find out about yourself from your mistakes,” she now claims and has toned down her angst about perfection.

She believes that aging gracefully is up to the individual to choose. She mentions the character of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard who, as she ages, becomes oblivious to her waning (and then nonexistent) role in the film industry, and compares it to her own musical career and the crisis she faced when Motown entered the picture.

Briefly, she mentioned the discrimination she faced while on television. During the making of Julia, she was rejected by both the black and white community. She understands that this was a black working woman with a child who had maintained her dignity in the face of widowhood, and that no one seemed to believe her character was non-stereotypical. Today, her ideas on race relations are controversial. “We don't understand that the world was put here for all of us. When greed enters the equation, people who aren't prejudiced will say they are if it puts money in their pockets. Sometimes we are more greedy than we are loving.” She is a little more forgiving of friends and those she keeps close to her. As a breast cancer survivor, she speaks of loving support of her friends and family, but especially friends. They supported her through chicken pox while having fourteen weeks of radiation. During that time, she gathered information from reading and the Internet, and wanted to be courageous.

Men are a prominent topic in her new book. She agrees that her relationships were immature, selfish and tempestuous, and based on a lack of information. She hopes that the young women in show business today learn from their mistakes. What would she say to them? “There is no such thing as advice,” she says. “The only thing you can do is simply change yourself,” and once again she mentions relying on family. She thanks God for her grandchildren because they see her as she is without the accouterments.

She also thanks the librarian community. As a child growing up on 148th Street in New York City, she was grateful for her weekly library visits in junior high school - she felt welcomed and felt she had gained something more than she expected. She mentioned two good friends who guided her on the importance of reading: Harry Belafonte, who instructed her to read The New York Times each and every morning, and the late Roscoe Lee Brown, who enriched her life with poetry.

Ms. Carroll openly discussed her personal life. Throughout all the years, she has had a a multitude of therapies, including LSD therapies, and uncovered personal mysteries (she discovered how “she came to be in her parents' lives”). “It opened a door that my parents and I were afraid of. It started a dialogue.” (Southern manners had always stood in the way of real communication.) She said that she and Cary Grant benefited from this therapy, but because it requires so much time and effort, she does not recommend it for everyone.

Diahann Carroll is not ready to retire, but at age 73, will age gracefully indeed.

PLA President's Reception

After the PLA President's Program with Jamie Lee Curtis (see Valerie's Monday post) everyone was invited outside for food and drinks under the palm trees. It was such beautiful weather and pretty location, I had to post a photo so you could see what a fantastic venue this is.

From Here to Eternity

The ALCTS President's Program featured the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. The speaker was Dr. Linda Harris Mehr, its director, and the presentation highlighted the library's diverse holdings of film materials.

The library deals with a time frame from pre-cinema to the present and has nearly complete Oscar collections. Materials are in diverse formats and include books, pamphlets, periodicals, including trade, house organs (a type of studio-generated publicity flyer), fan and genre magazines, 10 million photos, color transparencies and slides, advertising materials, biography, film, and subject files, set and costume designs, musical scores and sheet music, postcards, 35,000 posters, personal correspondence, and over 10,000 screenplays.

Dr. Mehr outlined and discussed the issues that her library has to deal with and pointed out that her library's concerns are not unlike those concerns of other libraries. Materials have to be acquired, sometimes without the benefit of adequate funding; materials must be organized and processed; materials in various formats must be stored and preserved; there must be provisions for patron access of the stored materials; staffers must be hired who are talented, skilled, and dedicated.

At closing, we were reminded that the library, housed in Beverly Hills, is open to the public, with core collections readily available, and with provisions to see more specialized collections by appointment. This is a definite must-see for those of you who are film buffs.

AASL Awards Luncheon

A highlight of ALA Annual for me is the AASL awards luncheon. It is inspiring to see colleagues recognized for the good work they have done for our profession and for the students they serve.
This year's luncheon was especially noteworthy because the 2008 School Library Media Program of the Year Award went to our NESLA colleagues from Simsbury High School in Connecticut. Janet Roche and Maureen Snyder are to be commended for the program they have developed - particularly Assured Experiences, program that provides students with the opportunity to meet and master state and national standards in the content areas and in information technology literacy.

The awards luncheon program traditionally includes an author keynote speaker. This year it was Wendy Mass, author of A Mango-shaped Space, Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall and other books for young adults.

There are several AASL awards available for school library practitioners. Consider applying for one - or more!

Monday June 30

I began the day with the REFORMA membership meeting. I reported on my work with the CAYASC (Children & Young Adult Services Committee), and described what I do as the YALSA liasion for REFORMA. In addition, I gave information about my upcoming article on this brand new joint partnership which will be in the fall issue of YALS.

After the meeting, I went to the exhibit hall with several members of the REFORMA Northeast chapter to personally thank two companies who had sponsored the professional development travel scholarship I won through this chapter to attend the conference.

It was late in the morning which meant most of the freebies were gone, but I wandered for a little bit anyway. The highlight of my search was being rewarded with the ARC for M.T. Anderson's newest release - part 2 of "The Astonishing life of Octavian Nothing," another missive titled "The Kingdom on the Waves." Each conference seems to have its own "ARC Treasure." Midwinter brought me Stephenie Meyer's "The Host," and now I get this one.

From there, I went to the AASL All Conference meeting for my "Diversity in the Organization Taskforce" introductory meeting. We threw ideas back and forth on ways to encourage diverse groups within AASL to come forth and join committees, and get involved in the organization. It was easy to see why this is an issue because as I looked around the massive room filled with large round tables filled with hard working AASL members I counted 5 people of color. Four of us were at my table.

When the meeting ended at 5, I was officially "on leave," which meant I could finally join my hubby who had been patiently bee-bopping around town since he came to join me at Disneyland on Sat. We had dinner then walked around The Garden Walk, an outdoor mall a few blocks away from our hotel. My legs are exhausted from yesterday's dancefest and from all the walking these last few days, so I had to call it an early night because tomorrow "Super Tuesday," aka "The last Hurrah," will be an early morning.

Hope you guys have enjoyed learning and reading about the many ways AASL, ALA, MSLA, and other groups within the organization are working to improve life for school librarians like yourself, and will be inspired to lend a hand. As the saying goes "many hands make light work." We need your hands.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, June 30, 2008

ALA Annual: Much work, but some play, too!

It has been great while here in Anaheim to fit in some time at Disneyland. Besides the Scholarship Bash on Saturday night, MSLA president-elect Gerri Fegan and I had the privilege of attending two special events Sunday night courtesy of Disney. The first was a cocktail reception at the Grand Californian hotel, were we were entertained by Bob Dorough, the composer/pianist of the Schoolhouse Rock songs that were aired on Saturday mornings from 1973 to 1985 between cartoon shows. Do you remember Conjunction Junction or Three is a Magic Number? Judging by the number of people singing along, it seemed like most of the guests there last night did.

Disney Educational Productions is about to release an updated series of Schoolhouse Rock songs on science and ecology, and we were given a preview, along with a selection of hors d'oeuvres, specially decorated Disney cookies, and cocktails.

After about an hour or so of entertainment, some Disney cast members escorted a small group of us into New Orleans Square in Disneyland where we waited outside a nondescript door with just the number 33 next it to hint that this was the legendary Club 33. This is a private club that Walt Disney conceived where he planned to entertain VIPs and the park's original sponsors. Although he died before it opened, it was completed and is a membership much sought-after by true Disney aficionados. We learned from our waiter that it is limited to 475 members and that people can stay on the waiting list for 10 years or more. Members get access to the club along with 365-days admittance to Disneyland and other benefits.

The public is not admitted to Club 33, so the only way you can get in is if you are the guest of a member or Disney management, so this was an uncommon opportunity. We were treated to a delicious, multi-course meal, starting with field greens, then a sweet red pepper bisque. Next came a large grilled prawn on a bed of baby spinach. We had a choice of either salmon or chicken for our entree. Everyone at our table chose the salmon and it was excellent. It came with broccoli rabe. Our desert was creme brulee. The wine I selected was a Pinot Noir from the vineyard of Fred MacMurray (remember Father Knows Best?).

After our meal was completed around 11pm, the park was still open for one more hour, so Gerri and I - all decked out in our dressy clothes - decided to go on some rides. We went on the Indiana Jones Adventure and Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, leaving an almost-deserted Disneyland well after midnight. This was a really fun and unique evening and an experience we'll bother long remember.

Click here to see all the photos from our special evening.

Jamie Lee Curtis, the "Take Action" Author/Actor/Mom

Listening to Jamie Lee Curtis address the audience at the PLA President's Program was an invigorating and stimulating experience. Her energy, enthusiasm, and spirited form engaged and enthralled the audience for over an hour. Jamie Lee based her address today on family values. This may seem "old fashioned" or moralistically didactic, but it was not so. She wowed the librarians in attendance with her real-life stories, demonstrations of her work ethic, and snapshots of her impressions of our society in moral decline.

Pornography, espoused Jamie, is much too easy for our children to find. It permeates our society, making our children vulnerable to its exposure. "Where are parents today?" Jamie Lee asks. Why do they find it so difficult to set limits? Is it the parents, or is it our societal mores that are at fault? Her books, she will tell you, are designed to bring children and their caregivers together for special moments as well as special messages, including her latest book, Big Words for Little People.

Jamie Lee was certainly entertaining, calling herself a devout "organizer of closets", not to be confused with "closet organizer". She is, as she will profess, a Mom first, and then, in no particular order, an actor, author, and "take action girl". Her numerous proclamations of being honored to be asked to address an audience of librarians were heartfelt. Her admission of SAT scores of 820 (combined) was both humorous and straight from the heart.

One other thing that comes straight from her heart are her books. Jamie Lee Curtis will tell you that her books do not come from time spent in an office with a computer, but from her real-life experiences with her own children. Like the time she wanted to write a book using the word "consequences" and her editor at the time said no. My children, Jamie claimed, know the word "consequences". But, still no go from her editor. She dutifully used another word - but went on to be sure she one day wrote a book about big words.

Jamie Lee Curtis was funny, inspirational, informative, and ebullient. But most of all, she was honest and genuine. She concluded her address by reading her new book Big Words for Little People to the audience. She read the book straight from her heart - just as she spoke - straight from her heart!!

Affiliate Assembly II

So, just what is the "Affiliate Assembly" and what does this have to do with an American Library Association conference? The Affiliate Assembly meets twice during ALA conferences, both the annual in June (where we are now) and the midwinter conference in January. There are nine regions, (New England being one of them) with each state in a region sending two Affiliate Assembly delegates to the conference meetings. I am currently serving as the Affiliate Assembly delegate for Massachusetts. The assembly was established in 1977 to provide feedback to the governing board of AASL and to further broaden the base of communication between the AASL membership and the governing board.

Region One members in Attendance:

On Sunday morning, June 29th, the Affiliate Assembly met from 8am - 12noon to review the concerns set forth by a number of regions, to vote on open positions, and to hear from our current president, Sara Kelly Johns, as well as to welcome our incoming president, Ann Martin.

The session began with committee reports. Among some of the reports were:

  1. Intellectual Freedom Committee: now have a new brochure entitled "What is Intellectual Freedom" which should be coming to their website soon.
  2. The Standards and Guidelines Task Force: Susan Ballard of NH talked about the committee's plans to implement the new standards.
  3. Legislative Committee: Bob Roth spoke of plans for Virtual Legislative Day as well as strategies to support the Skills Act.
  4. Standards and Indicators Task Force - Kathy Lowe (MSLA) discussed the timeline for completion of standards and indicators designed to make the new AASL Standards for the Twenty-first Century Learner more concrete and measurable. They are currently in draft format, and a new revision is planned for this fall.
  5. Knowledge Quest - editor Debbie Abilock placed an all-call for suggestions for future issues for 2009 - 2010.
The assembled delegates then heard from both Sara Kelly Johns, our outgoing president, and Ann Martin, our incoming president. Sara thanked the membership for their support, and announced that though there was still much to do, that AASL was in good hands with the upcoming presidency of Ann Martin. Sara reiterated the fact that there are many task forces that need members, and for all AASL Members to check the website for information on committees being formed and those that need members.

Ann Martin outlined her plan of action as new president of AASL as follows:
  1. Increase membership in each region by 10%
  2. Encourage all members to vote in all elections
  3. Discover Leadership in AASL through:
    1. Professional Integrity
    2. Collaboration
    3. Innovation: challenge the status quo, make your mark
Julie Walker, AASL Executive Director, spoke to the assembly about her survey for all states asking what quantitative standards they had in place. These surveys were distributed and completed by the affiliate assembly representatives from each state.

Additionally, information about professional development opportunities, including the Fall Forum, sponsored by AASL was distributed. The opportunities available through AASL's e-academy were discussed. There are many wonderful opportunities for valuable professional development through AASL, accessible through the e-Academy website. Registration for spring and summer 2008 is currently closed, but updates and new opporunities will be coming soon.

That's all for now. Very busy and exciting times here in Anaheim. Sometimes, I am amazed at the fact that I am present during decision-making which affects all of us every day!!

Affiliate Assembly Delegate

Sunday June 29

Wow! What a day! I sat with Amy at the Coffee Klatch, sponsored by YALSA, and it was fabulous! I took photos of each of the authors at our table to add to my "bookcase." Future library = author photos + their book(s) = booktalk "real" authors to students. Afterwards, there was a large photo session where all the authors posed for the paparazzi = us! I wasn't shy about going to authors that weren't at my table & asking them to pose for photos. They were happy to comply. Thus, in addition to the ones Amy mentioned, I also got photos of Margarita Engle, Mary Pearson, Barry Lyon, Jay Asher, John Green, and Sherman Alexis.

Afterwards, I spent time at a very interesting meeting on how to help reluctant boy readers, given by CA Teacher of the Year Alan Lawrence Sitomer. Alan teaches at a predominately African American and Hispanic high school in a section outside of Los Angeles, and has a heart to reach his students with the fact that they need to get literate in order to succeed. Unfortunately, I had to leave early, and hope that someone who was there will blog about it.

I was there for 30 min. and he spent that time talking about alot of impressively sad statistics showing that African American & Hispanic students score lower than White & Asian students on their reading tests on a nationwide level. Thus, this leads to situations where these students drop out (at a rate of 1 student in the U.S. per every 9 seconds = 3000 students/day.) Without a high school diploma, poverty sets in. Poverty leads to crime & drugs which leads to jail. The cycle repeats generationally. He also gave the interesting fact that the 4th grade state reading exams are used by the Department of Correction. They use the percentages of students who score below level to forecast how many beds they'll need in the prison in 9 years. How very sad! Another sad statistic was the fact that CA spends $40,000 per year on one inmate and only $8000 per year on one student.

He begins his school year with these stats and tells his students they need to see themselves as a car, and school as a place to gas up, because it has everything they need to drive; however, they have to get out & pump. He said if they're waiting for teachers to check their gas, tire pressure & wipers, they won't get anywhere. By telling them these statistics, he wants to get a rise out of them enough for them to take ownership of their lives.

I talked with him later at the expo while he autographed his latest release "The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez" for me. It's a YA story about a Mexican American girl, oldest of 7 children, only one who speaks English, born in America, trying to break the cycle & go to college. It's about the challenges she faces to try and be the first in her family to live her dream. He also has a trilogy of urban fiction. I like his style.

While at the Exhibits, I also got other authors to pose for me and/or autograph their books which were either $2 or free. These included Marc Aronsen, Charles R. Smith Jr., Kathleen Krull, Anya Ulinich, Andrew Clements and Neal Shusterman. I'd call this an Author Day!

I rushed to the Pura Belpre awards, where various Honor awards for authors & illustrators were distributed, as well as the top prize to Margarita Engle, author of "The Poet Slave of Cuba" and Yuyi Morales, illustrator of "Los gatos black on Halloween." Each of the acceptance speeches were heartfelt. The presentation was sprinkled with Spanish songs sung by 3 soloists (including Yuyi) and guitar playing. The highlight of the day was a mini concert by a children's Mariachi band. There were about 20 talented, costumed kids ranging in age from about 4 to 14 wowing the audience with their vocal skills and playing of instruments from guitar to violin to trumpet. They entertained us while the audience mingled for refreshments.

I then ran to the Book Cart Drill Team Championships. It was my first time attending this, and I can't wait to see it next year. The creative way the 9 teams used bookcarts was unbelievable. There was one school librarian team, but the rest were public libraries. Dressed in fabulous costumes, acts ranged from a 007 spoof to the Beach Boys to the California raisins. The crowd favorite was a team from CA who came out as mad scientists, complete with wild wigs, lab coats and a complete chemistry set on each bookcart. They danced their way through a musical number where they poured a drink in their beakers (which began to bubble merrily) and drank it. They writhed and shrank beneath their carts, stripped their outfits and became zombies - complete with ripped clothing and ashen/bloody faces.

Suddenly Michael Jackson's "Thriller" began to play and they stepped their way, zombielike, through the song w/ their bookcarts - just like the famous video but with the carts for added flair. They brought the house down, and wound up taking home the first place Gold Cart. Mo Willems, of the "Pigeon" books fame, was MC, and was hysterical.

I had an hour and a half to get ready then I was off to the annual REFORMA fundraiser. I met Bob Roth there for a little bit. The party was stomping good, and Spanish music reigned supreme. I shimmied with Camila Alire (she loves dancing as much as I do) for almost 2 hrs before I took my first break. Meringue and Salsa were the dances of choice, and everyone had a blast, with monies going to fund REFORMA scholarships. WHAT A DAY! I danced for another 3 hrs. before I called it a night. Again, as I said before, sleep is overrated during Conference. Yawn!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

YA coffee Klatch

Okay I am officially author struck!!! Some people may go speechless over movie stars, I do over authors. This morning I attended breakfast with a number of authors whose books have won either the Printz, or another YALSA award. The way the event works is that attendees sit at a table, and there is one open seat for the author. Said author sits down and talks with each group for 5 minutes, and then a whistle blows, they move on and another author sits down. It's somewhat like speed dating! I was lucky enough to be in the seat next to the author and got to sit next to David Levithan, Terry Trueman, Dana Reinhardt, Megan Sayres, Cecil Castellucci, Geraldine McCaughrean, Susan Beth Pfeffer, and Gary Schmidt! They were all great people, and by the way,easy to talk to.

Maximizing Your Impact:Classroom Collaboration for Teaching Information Literacy and reading Comprehension Skills

I attended a program given by Judi Moreillon, author of Collaborative Strategies for Teaching Reading Comprehension: Maximizing Your Impact, and Debra LaPlante Teacher Librarian.

The basic premise of the program was two fold, integrating reading comprehension skill building into the library, and building collaborative relationships with teachers. The first part of the program focused on building students' comprehension skills. Activiating and building Background Knowledge, Visualizing,Questioning, Making Predictions and Inferences, Determining the Main Idea, Using fix up options, and sythesizing. As a group activity we matched the comprehension strategies with the new AASL standards. Most of the material can be found in Judi's book.

The second part of the program showed various types of teaching collaborations. One book Judi models her practice on is Marzanno's Class Instruction that Works. In one example of team teaching, the librarian and teacher brought a class in to the library and the teacher read a story to the students while the librarian modeled questioning aloud, something they wanted the students to learn to do.

This program was valuable,and having the resources available for the future will certainly help.

Ethics in the Age of Web 2.0

AASL, ALSC & YALSA joint program on Intellectual freedom

Candace Morgan, ALA Committee of Professional Ethics, chair
Dr. Rebecca Butler, Northern Illinois University
Terry Young, West Jefferson HS, New Orleans
Cassandra Barnett, Fayetteville HS, Arkansas
Christine Sherman, Thompson MS, St. Charles, IL
Frances Jacobson Harris, University Laboratory HS, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Andrew Medlar, YA Specialist, Chicago Public Library
Helen Adams, Online Instructor, Mansfield University
Nancy Kranich, Information Ethics Fellow, Center for Information Policy, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Debbie Abilock, KQ editor, co-founder of NoodleTools

Helen Adams introduced all the speakers on the panel. After the first speaker Candace Morgan gave an overview, each panelist highlighted a different aspect of the ALA Code of Ethics, giving an in depth exploration of the topic, uncovering ethical dilemmas that I hadn't really considered previously. Debbie Abilock summed up the panelists' key points at the close of their presentations and moderated the question and answer period at the end.

This was a well-organized and prepared session that was extremely informative. Below are summaries of some of the panelists' key points. If handouts are posted on the ALA website, I will add the link here.

ALA’s Code of Ethics – Candace Morgan
• Doesn’t tell you exactly what to do. You have to decide based on reflection about the principles outlined in the Code

Personal convictions vs. professional duties – Dr. Rebecca Butler
• Everyone has ethical dilemmas
• Our ethics may not be the same as others
• Laws and ethics can collide
• As professionals, we need to be able to distinguish between our personal convictions and out professional duties and act accordingly
• What is best for you may not be what is best for others

Relationships with vendors and the potential for conflicts of interests – Terry Young
• Keep confidential information confidential
• Kickbacks are never acceptable
• Be a professional at all times
• Follow established procedures at all times

Resisting censorship and providing access to information – Cassandra Barnett
• Collection representing multiple viewpoints
• Materials selection policy
• Educate community about selection policy and reconsideration process
• Retain professionalism – speak only about issues – show respect for complainant
• Support system: ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, ACLU, community members, faculty, students

Labeling and leveling of collections – Christine Sherman
• Social change – increasingly conservation administration, sophisticated childrens/YA literature
• Labeling not always policing – sometime about improving access
• Restrictive labeling – odious practice provides rationale for purchasing worthwhile but edgy titles, way to protect books for more mature readers
• It is possible to uphold the Code and still meet the needs of students, improve access, and provide a wide range of materials

Ethics and Web 2.0 – Frances Jacobson Harris
• Evaluate Web 2.0 tools as new access tools
• Ethical obligation to
Provide some level of access
Actively teach responsible use
Dialogue about use of the tools
Use networks and tools ethically and responsibly with respect integrity of school/library and interests of students
Respect privacy of students use of online communication tools while maintaining regard for well-being

You go, Girl!

Part of the Auditorium Speaker Series included a presentation by Sally Ride, first female astronaut, and Tam O'Shaughnessy; it was aptly named You Go, Girl! Girls (and Boys) Can Make a Difference for Our Planet.

In elementary school most boys and girls enjoy science and are curious about the world around them. Unfortunately, the interest in science drops off between fifth and eighth grades; both girls and boys are lost, but girls are lost in greater numbers. The good news is that kids don't need to be converted to science. Instead, this interest needs to be sustained and nurtured, and we already know how to do this: kids need to be shown that science is creative, collaborative, and fun; kids need to know that there are all kinds of human/normal people who are scientists; and finally, kids need to know that science is all around us and relevent.

Sally and Tam feel that there should be a focus on climate change and on the earth's resources. Supplementary books for the school market and professional development for educators are two ways that can highlight these two areas and lead to positive changes. Sally and Tam are authors of a book entitled Mission Planet Earth that addresses some of the concerns that people have about our earth.

At the end of the session, we were left with a number of questions: What are people on the planet going to do about the changing climate of the earth? How can we rally others to help solve the problems? What role will science and technology have in the development of our future? The vitality of our planet depends on our ability to motivate and educate our students and to help them to make contributions that matter.

Advocating for All Libraries: Saving the Library Ecosystem

I attended this session, which was developed by ALA President-Elect Jim Rettig. Jim's two presidential initiatives will be outreach and inreach. Outreach involves the difficult task of getting people's attention, while inreach entails communicating and sharing with all libraries, whether school, public, academic, or special. Ideally, the libraries should all be part of a shared library ecosystem that will have strong, integrated programs. When this happens, the benefits will be far-reaching for patrons, libraries, and librarians.

The breakout sessions dealt with four topics:

Commonalities in Library Advocacy: Getting the Message Out
(Who are our audiences and how do we reach them?)

Creating Best Practices of Successful Collaborations
(How do we obtain and share information about what's happening around the country?)

Finding Solutions
(Identifying the obstacles and ways to overcome them)

Creating Connections that Stick: Shaping the 2008-2009 Year
(What can we do to affect change in the upcoming year?)

Jim Rettig will be utilizing the collected information and ideas to help carry-out his outreach and inreach initiatives during his upcoming term as ALA President.

The ultimate goal is to sustain and develop advocacy efforts on behalf of ALL libraries; the recently created ALA Advocacy Office will be another tool that can be used to help integrate diverse advocacy efforts throughout all divisions of ALA.

Greg Mortenson: Three Cups of Tea

My book group back home in Lunenburg is reading Three Cups of Tea, so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see the author and hear him retell in person the captivating story of what led him to build schools for girls in remote villages like Korphe, Pakistan and later to found the Central Asia Institute and Pennies for Peace.

Greg told his story, showing slides of the people and schools he has built in their villages in Pakistan and Afghanistan and introduced Julia Bergman, the librarian who helped him build libraries in his schools.

Bergman's cousin is Jennifer Wilson, the wife of the late Jean Hoerni, the eccentric millionaire who funded Greg's first school and later, the Central Asia Institute. She described the series of serendipitous events that brought her and Greg together. This is the description of their meeting from Three Cups of Tea:

"In October 1996, Bergman had been traveling in Pakistan with a group of friends who chartered a huge Russian MI-17 helicopter out of Skardu in hopes of getting a glimpse of K2. On the way back the pilot asked if they wanted to visit a typical village. They happened to land just below Korphe, and when local boys learned Bergman was American they took her hand and led her to see a curious new tourist attraction - a sturdy yellow school built by another American, which stood where none had ever been before, in a small village called Korphe.

'I looked at a sign in front of the school and saw that it had been donated by Jean Hoerni, my cousin Jennifer's husband,' Bergman says. 'Jennifer told me Jean had been trying to build a school somewhere in the Himalaya, but to land in the exact spot in a range that stretches thousands of miles felt like more than a coincidence. I'm not a religious person,' Bergman says, 'but I felt I'd been brought there for a reason and I couldn't stop crying.'

A few months later, at Hoerni's memorial service, Bergman introduced herself to Mortenson. 'I was there!' she said, wrapping the startled man she'd just met in a bruising hug. 'I saw the school!'

'You're the blonde in the helicopter,' Mortenson said, shaking his head in amazement. 'I heard a foreign woman had been in the village but I didn't believe it!'

'There's a message here. This is meant to be,' Julia Bergman said. 'I want to help. Is there anything I can do?'

'Well, I want to collect books and create a library for the Korphe School,' Mortenson said.

Bergman felt the same sense of predestination she'd encountered that day in Korphe. 'I'm a librarian,' she said."

The most moving part of Mortenson's talk came when he told us about the hate mail he received after 9/11 that almost caused him to abandon his efforts. Thankfully his wife reminded him that education overcomes hate and fear. "If you educate a boy, you educate an individual, but if you educate a girl, you educate a community."

The Auditorium Speakers Series is always a huge draw at ALA conferences. Next I'm looking forward to hearing astronaut Sally Ride and her co-author Tam O'Shaughnessy speak about their book, Mission Planet Earth.

Saturday 6/28

I attended the AASL President's program, which you can read about in another post. I left a little early to allow time to get to the YALSA Margaret A. Edwards luncheon where an author, and his/her specific work, is honored for its popularity over a period of time. This year's recipient was Orson Scott Card for his books "Ender's Game" and "Ender's Shadow." I had never read his books, but since I'm a YALSA member and like meeting and learning about authors, I had bought a ticket to attend.

A free copy of "Ender's Game" was part of some of the freebies given out to all attendees, and I noticed it had been written in 1977. When Orson spoke, he declared that he couldn't believe he'd won for a Young Adult book because he'd never written a Young Adult book. He said his intended audience for the books was adults, and he had the main character be young so that the adults could reminisce back to their childhoods. His speech discussed his ensuing analysis of his writing and the reasons why it has been popular to Young Adult readers. He shared letters he'd gotten over the years from both adults, young readers and Young Adult readers telling him how the book had made them become a reader and how they read it over and over and over and over.

Afterwards, he signed some books before his scheduled book signing in the exhibit. When he signed my copy, I admitted that I had not read it but that he had inspired me to read it. He laughed and told me not to tell him if I didn't like it.

I spent some time in the exhibits, which is also described in another post. Besides mailing myself 2 boxes of ARC's and free hardcover and paperback books, I had a chance to chat with Laurie Halse Anderson when she signed a copy of "Twisted" for me. My friend and fellow REFORMA member and CAYASC chair Lucia Gonzalez , along with illustrator Lulu Delacre, signed her recently released children's book for me "The Storyteller's Candle." It is a bilingual book, and is the first children's book to be written about Pura Belpre, NYC's first Puerto Rican librarian. The Pura Belpre award is annually awarded by ALSC to an outstanding Latino/Latina writer. Lulu has recently released her first YA book, and slipped me a copy of it to review for YALSA, which I'll do when I return back home.

I also met Megan McDonald, author of the Judy Moody books, and had her sign a couple of her books for me. Everytime I meet an author, I photograph them and/or me with them. In my future library, these photos will be set up alongside the author's books to show the human aspect of a book.

I attended the Opening Session with Ron Reagan, political analysist and son of Ronald Reagan, speaking on the topic "What is going on in Washington?!" He discussed the upcoming election, as well as the pros and cons of each of the candidates, including jokes and tongue in cheek remarks throughout his presentation. His comments were in turn humorous, insightful, depressing and thought provoking.

Last on the agenda was a night at Disneyland. I logged over 22,000 steps on my pedometer and am exhausted. I am reminded of a speaker at the Institute who said that during the conference "sleep is overrated." She wasn't kidding!

Fabulous Films for Young Adults

YALSA has issued its 2008 winners! For those who are searching for just the right film to enrich content area subjects, we recommend the following independent films for you. These are middle school and high school level films and should definitely be previewed for language, violence, and sexual content, but the messages they impart are important in the lives of teens (without all the hype). Here is a synopsis of the films that were voted the best of DVDs and videos that came out in 2006-2007. The YALSA committee mentioned that some of these films were pricey and some were reasonably priced, but the high price often includes public performance rights. For more information about pricing/rental/booking fees, check the YALSA website at .

The Grace Lee Project
What's in a name? Korean filmmaker Grace Lee thought she knew. Growing up in the midwest, she knew that a) she was the only Grace Lee she knew, and b) she wasn't like anyone else in the community. It made her feel unique, original. When she went to college, she discovered that there were many other women who shared her name. Not only that, but people who knew any Grace Lee described the same qualities. It was almost as if all these women were smart, nice, and quiet. So who IS unique? Grace performed an exhaustive search for her "twins" through various methods, including a website that invited all other Grace Lees to respond. A fun film for information literacy and other social studies areas for both middle and high school.

Nightmare at School
This is a nine minute animation from the National Film Board of Canada all about the anxieties teens have about their first day of high school. It is a humorous thought-provoking piece about transitioning. It contains an homage to the Polar Express in that a train serves as the metaphor of the jouney about to begin. Dark corridors, mazes, mysterious people who disappear into mid-air all pervade the film and create the actor's nightmare feeling. The film is wordless, but filled with sounds and music that enhance the tension. School counselors at the middle school level would find this an invaluable tool for those entering high school in the fall.

This is one of the films that needs a cautionary note, but the character education component makes this a film that high schoolers should see. Produced as an animation production workshop at Los Angeles Juvenile Hall, it takes a look at kids behind bars. Their crimes are violent (all the episodes of Law and Order come to mind) but the significant point is that these children have been convicted as adults and are serving life sentences. Over 200,000 kids are serving time today for adult offenses and it is at the largest juvenile prison in the US. that we see these kids up close and very personal. It is harsh and stark and important information, especially for those children who feel that actions may not have consequences. The film does ask the standard questions: does the media plays a role in the proliferation of violent crime? Are we condemning a generation unnecessarily? It cites statistics that youth crime is down, but that the sentences are longer. Will the penal system create super predators? As an educator, I feel that the interviews that are painful to watch, and yet at the same time, I wished some of my students could see this so that I could discuss it with them. The statistics are staggering. This is an important film for both public and high school libraries. (Narrated by Mark Wahlberg.)

The Guarantee
A promiment nose on the face of a dancer has unusual problems. In this creative, personal narrative, reminiscent of Woody Allen, a ballet dancer tell his story about trying to be physically perfect at the request of his ballet teacher. You see, it's his nose. After a lifetime of name-calling, and verbal harrassment, he opts for plastic surgery in exchange for the guarantee to be admitted into a dance conservatory. How ironic that this school actually refers him to the “company plastic surgeon!” The narrator vivdly explains the whole procedure and the outcome with whimsy and irony. What teenager cannot relate to the price of outer beauty and the agonies of "not being perfect?" What is perfection ? Should we all strive for it? How does peer pressure push kids into action?

Eminent Domain
Use or misuse? This documentary examines the constitutional issue that makes business and homeowners shiver. An excellent demonstration of governmental power, the bias here is thwt eminent domain is an abuse – a man's home is his castle is the message. (The government takes your property even if you don't want to sell it.) The Fifth Amendment is scrutinized with examples that include the interstate highway system and Washington DC's urban renewal. How does this apply globally? What are the abuses that involve private industry? Some sources say it's a good tool, others say it is is abuse of power. What rights do citizens have in relation to their American Dream? How far can the interpretation of this Amendment go? How does it affect those who are poor? All these questions will stimulate classroom discussions.

It's Not About Sex
Oh, yes it is. This film is produced by teens for teens and cuts right to the chase. Attorneys don't mince words about the legalities of sexual crimes. They provide definitions about sexual predators and sexual violence. What are the causes of sexual violence? Prepare students ahead of time about the realistic vocabulary. Powerful statistics and personal interviews bring out the emotions involved with incest and child abuse. This documentary is highly recommended for high school sex education classes. No words are minced and the facts are astonishing. Is it psychological? Is it cultural? What makes people sexually violent? Again, we are asked to consider how media contributes to sexual violence? Where do we get the message of what it takes “to be a man/woman?' Advertisements? Song lyrics? There are examples of music that glorifies sexual assault. Public libraries might consider using this film as part of community service collaboration projects.

In Debt We Trust: Before the Bubble Bursts
This is a hard-hitting documentary about young adults being “strangled” by debt. “While some music and narrative is tongue-in-cheek ("hard to serve the master and mastercard”), there is no denying that young people are the next target for financial institutions. A minister whose church actually aids those who have had credit problems by asking for donations to pay their bills, states quite frankly, "A credit card is a loan – period." Can we live without credit cards? In a society that shops till it drops, are educators doing enough financial literacy? We are living in an economy that relies on consumerism to fuel itself, and very few students have a grasp of the concept of debt. This film attempts to explain that cutting back on spending is as important as cutting back on waste.

Fish Bowl
This is an interesting 28 minute film set in Hawaii 1975 in which a 12 year old girl explores her identity and the meaning of friendship. While it is rife with mild profanity, it is common to adolescents of the time. There are quite a few messages bout cliques, those who are "undesireable" in social circles. We've seen a lot of these messages before.

Again, thanks to the Alex Committee for all their hard work! The theme for 2009 is "Coming of Age Around the World." Please check the website to nominate your favorite film for next year's Alex Awards.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

How lost can you get in the vendor hall?

Very lost. Today I was immersed in talking with vendors, attending demonstrations, picking up freebies, having a picture book signed by Eve Bunting for my granddaughter, learning all about incorporating ebooks into collection development, when I realized that I was five minutes late for a meeting with Linda Friel, one of my fellow-attendees!! Did I know where I was? No. Was I able to orient myself to find the Wilson Web booth? No. Yikes!! I finally did find my way out of the maze of vendors, but it was no easy task.

The exhibits here in Anaheim provide as much of a learning experience as attending attending sessions. Do you want to find a new way to decorate your library? Are you looking for a new automated library system? How about collection development? Everything is here, from all of the major publishers, to many of the smaller publishing houses, as well as featured authors reading from their publications, to author signings, etc. Print, audiobooks, eBooks, reference titles, databases, federated search tools, automation systems, etc., etc. are all here for your browsing pleasure! Sit in on demonstrations of online databases and ebooks, play games for prizes (one vendor had a wonderful puzzle suitable for all ages - put it together and it is yours to keep - problem is that it is not so easy - only five winners a day), listen to audiobooks, browse through print, and see the latest from National Geographic and the Audubon Society, two of only many book vendors.

This year the vendor hall holds special exhibits called "Pavilions". What feasts for the mind! Included are: Assistive Technology Pavilion | ALA Professional Area | Booth Events and Author Events | Closing Reception | DVD/Video Pavilion | Games Pavilion | Graphic Novel Pavilion | Green Pavilion | International Pavilion | Library and School Instruction Pavilion | Library Product Spotlight | List of Exhibitors | Live @ Your Library Reading Stage | Meet the Authors/Illustrators | Poster Sessions | Silent Auction | Small Press/Product Area | Spanish Publishers Pavilion | Swap and Shop | Technology Pavilion | University Press Pavilion |

Strolling around the exhibit floor can be overwhelming, but it can also be a very inspiring and professionally uplifting experience. With each aisle you visit, something new is learned. Returning from the conference with free books, give-aways, bags, etc. can be fun and add just that little extra spice to your library back home.

An ALA conference is truly a great experience. Included in your registration are:

* Over 300 educational programs covering a variety of hot topics
* Over 2000 committee meetings and events
* Entrance to the Exhibits, including the Closing Reception
* The ALA President's Program
* The Opening General Session and Closing Session
* The Auditorium Speaker Series

More later!

Councilor-at-Large Orientation

I was elected as an ALA Councilor-at-Large in the May election, and today I had my orientation session. It was exciting, albeit a bit intimidating. When I attended ALA in Washington, D.C. last year, I picked-up a bright pink sheet of paper at Affiliate Assembly that was seeking AASL members to run for a position as Councilor-at-Large; the idea was to provide AASL with a larger voice in the Council. I had recently been appointed to several AASL committees and task forces and thought that running for this position made sense. I received encouragement from my colleagues on the MSLA executive board, filled-out the online application with detailed information, and then wrote a brief statement. I eventually received an e-mail from the nomination committee chair informing me that I was approved to run in the election. This is one of the ways I am giving back to my chosen profession, and my time is my own, as I am retired and my children are grown.

I am sure that some of you might be unsure what the Council does, and I will attempt to explain. I have to admit that the Council's role in ALA was a bit fuzzy before I attended this orientation session. The ALA Council is ALA's governing body. There are approximately 185 members of the Council; a hundred of those members are Councilors-at-Large who are elected by ALA members. The 11 divisions of ALA each have one Councilor who is elected by that division's membership. There are also 53 Chapter Councilors, 12 Executive Board members, and 10 Round Table Councilors.

The Council meets four times during Mid-Winter and four times during the Annual Conference. Its duties revolve around determining policies for ALA, although the Council does delegate some of its authority to the Executive Board, the divisions, and other ALA units. There are also numerous other Council duties that I will highlight in future posts. I will be officially seated during Mid-Winter, 2009, and I am looking forward to an interesting and challenging learning experience. Stay tuned, as there is more to follow.

Play Ball

Remember that great teacher or professor, you know the one, the class where entertainment tax would be charged except you learned so much while having that great time? That was this session!

Andy Strasberg obviously loves baseball, loves “Take Me Out To the Ballgame,” and loves telling the story of this song -- the third most played song in America, he told us. Only “Happy Birthday” and “The Star-Spangled Banner,” in that order, play more often.

So how do you write a whole book about one song? And how do you fill an hour and a half presentation telling about it? For Andy Strasberg, easy, and fascinating.

After handing out king-size Baby Ruth candy bars to everyone, well, almost everyone -- attendance was larger than Andy anticipated (I sat in the second row and cherished my treat) -- he told about the history of the song, the culture of Tin Pan Alley, the lives of the composer and lyricist, events of 1908 -- the year the song was written, controversy about the correct lyrics, singers who sang the song and styles of music it has been played in, how it came to be sung during the 7th inning stretch, and more. Andy projected photographs, showed film clips and of course, played music, some for all to sing along.

For Red Sox fans, Andy’s love affair with baseball is lifelong. He attended Ted Williams’ baseball camp. One of the photos shows Andy as a gangling teen standing with none other than the Splendid Splinter himself.

Both content and style of presentation were superb. If you have a chance to see Andy on his book tour, my suggestion is do it.

Washington Office Briefing

Legislation has far reaching impact on the professional lives of all librarians. Issues addressed in legislation determine things that librarians are permitted and not permitted to do as well as the funding available or not available to many libraries for many programs. Two briefings that offer incomparable overviews of current legislation are the ALA Washington Office briefing at the Annual Conference and the briefing in Washington, DC on ALA’s National Library Legislation Day.

Two of the highlights of the 2008 Annual Conference briefing were presentations about the recent report on section 108 of the Copyright Act and about Talking Books for the Blind.

Section 108

Innovations in digital technology make it clear new law is needed in some areas of the Copyright Act. For this reason, the Library of Congress formed an independent study group to recommend revisions to section 108, that is, the section which provides libraries and archives some exceptions for purposes of replacement and preservation. The study group addressed the needs of museums as well.

Representatives of the various interests (libraries, museums, archives, creators and distributers of content, and others) agreed on some issues but not others. For example, Disney and others objected to making copies of graphic materials for interlibrary loan, the speaker said. So the report dealt only with copies of text for this purpose.

The representatives of various interests did not reach consensus on some fundamental principles, for example, on the matter of what is copyright. There were differences in the interpretation of the law on this point.

The speaker indicated that a hardball battle is brewing on section 108 issues. He wondered whether the library community was bold enough in representing its views in the study group. He also asked whether the library community is ready for the hardball offensive needed to protect library rights under the copyright law in order to serve library users and the public interest.

[A Library of Congress News Release about the section 108 report is online at and the full report is available at ]

Talking Books For the Blind

The speaker thanked ALA for its support of Talking Books over the past two years.

The major issues concerning Talking Books are funding, time and technology, the speaker indicated. Talking books are changing their technology for only the third time in their history. They originated as LP records in the 1930s, migrated to cassette tapes in the 1960s, and now are converting to digital technology.

One obstacle to the Talking Book project arose when the government budget office said, “Why don’t you use off the shelf technology?”

There are three major problems with this: first, many off the shelf technologies require vision (can you operate your iPod without seeing it?); second, off the shelf technologies tend to become obsolete relatively quickly, Talking Book technology must remain current for a long time; and third, for copyright reasons, Talking Books for the blind must be encrypted -- off the shelf technology does not handle encryption.

Another problem, the speaker said, arose between May and June of this year. The $76 million in the bill before Congress somehow changed from a 4 year conversion project to a 6 year one. This is another move that creates problems for blind people. For one thing, part of the conversion involves making the hardware that will play the digital Talking Books. Many blind people do not have these digital players, but in 2010 all new Talking Books will be digital. Thus some people might have to wait 4 years (from 2010 to 2014) before they have a player that can read new Talking Books.

The other problem with the longer conversion period is the decrease of Talking Book titles that can be made. Because new books are continually being published, the need to keep up with new material means that 27% fewer existing titles would be recorded in a 6 year conversion project than would be in a 4 year conversion.

The speaker ended his presentation by reading the Gettysburg Address from a Braille page and then saying, “ Lincoln was engaged in great struggle but looked to the future. Blind people now are engaged in a bit of a struggle and like Lincoln look to the promise of the future.” There was applause.

AASL President's Program

Sara Kelly Johns, current president of AASL, opened the program by presenting AASL's Crystal Apple Award to the "Spokane Moms", a group of mothers who took their outrage about the lack of funding for school libraries to the state legislature and were successful in achieving $4 million in first-ever state level support for Washington school libraries.

Incoming president Ann Martin thanked attendees for all that they do and spoke about the theme of her upcoming presidency - leadership - and urged members to follow the example of the Spokane Moms by carrying our mission and vision to everyone we meet.

Illustrating how AASL is working to meet its "BHAG" (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) "to achieve universal recognition of school library media specialists as indispensable educational leaders,” Sara returned to the podium to report on what has been happening in the organization during the past year. She thanked everyone who contacted legislators to ask them to support of school libraries. The year started with the AASL conference in Reno where the new Standards for the 21-st Century Learner were unveiled and the results of the first longitudinal study on school libraries were released. The Digital Institute and e-Academy were launched to provide professional development using 21st-century tools. April brought the revival of School Library Media Month, with online materials for planning local observances. AASL now offers licensed institutes - full-day educational workshops available for use anywhere in the country - on advocacy, collaborative leadership, and reading and the secondary school library media specialist. Planning has been completed for the AASL Fall Forum on Assessment, taking place in Oak Brook, IL next October. The Promotions and Marketing Committee are developing PR, marketing and advocacy tools.

The keynote speaker was Susan Patron, author of The Higher Power of Lucky, the children's book that raised controversy because it included the word "scrotum". Why did she use that word? Patron explained that it was done intentionally as a vehicle for Lucky to demonstrate the trust in an adult she needed to build in order to be able to ask the meaning of the word. She ended by thanking librarians for speaking up to defend the 1st Amendment rights of children.

Following Susan's talk, panelists Cassandra Barnett, AASL President-Elect and high school librarian from Fayetteville, Arkansas, David Levithan, author of controversial books and a member of the American Association of Publishers Freedom to Read Committee, and Katherine Byers, an elementary school library media specialist from LaCrosse, Wisconsin discussed their experiences with censorship. Katherine described a book challenge in her school (she did not name the title because she has been asked by the reconsideration committee not to) and how she hopes to engage her superintendent, who had the book removed from the shelves, in a conversation about intellectual freedom.

Cassandra had the support of the AASL Intellectual Freedom Committee to respond to a challenge by a group of parents who tried to have 57 titles removed from her library's collection. All but one of the books dealt with sex or sexual identity. She read a poignant letter from a former student who spoke about how access to one of Levithan's books helped that depressed, suicidal teen. Cassandra asserts that "We can't let people who are afraid dictate what students need. They need to have these choices."

David Levithan spoke from the author's and publishers' point of view. "Why should the person who is offended have more choice than the person who wants to read the book?" He challenged adults who provide literature for children and young adults to fight our own fear - not the voices attacking us from without - but the voices from within that make authors, publishers, librarians, and teachers pull back if they think someone might object to a book. "Be loud; be unafraid."

AASL Affiliate Assembly Meeting

Tonight was the first time that all the affiliates from across the country to discuss school librarian's needs. It is always a joy to be among the dedicated library teachers that serve us all. AASL Affiliate Assembly began discussing six areas of concern at the first meeting during the ALA 2008 conference. These concerns have an impact on all school librarians, and some have been detailed by New England librarians. I'm going to try to digest these so that MSLA members can comment on these issues.

I – Susan Ballard from NESLA asked the AASL board to establish a task force to develop a procedure to evaluate and act upon the needs of librarians in crisis due to the loss of jobs or school library programs. Because there are many levels of need and a myriad of responses from AASL, it is suggested that AASL create an evaluative process to best serve its members so that action can be taken in a decisive manner. This is a popular concern: Debra LaPlante from Arizona also proposed an organized method of response to those school librarians from the Mesa Unified School District when all the jobs were cut. These two concerns have been combined because the actions requested are similar. Voting results: Approved.

II – Ann Perham from MSLA has asked that a task force be created to promote National Board Certification for school librarians. The rationale is that these credentials would elevate a library teacher's status under NCLB as “highly qualified.” Voting results: Approved.

III – Rosina Alaimo from Region III expressed concern that AASL was not a partner with ASCD, the nation's largest educational administrator organization. She requests that we seek a liaison with ASCD by getting articled published in each other' journals, and that ASCD publish an issue on the impact of school library programs on student achievement. Voting results: Approved.

IV – Cara Cavin, also from Region III, asks that a task force be formed to examine the lack of diversity within AASL membership and to work with other ALA associations to develop recruitment practices. Cara also asks that AASL take on a more active role in larger diversity issues facing ALA. Voting Results: Approved.

V – Annette Smith from Region III is asking the AASL board to form a task force to examine the possibility of a collaborative document between ISTE and AASL. This process was begun in Philadelphia, but ended without a formalized joint statement. Voting results: Approved.

VI - Debra LaPlante's request from Region VII wants an attempt by AASL to work with Arizona administration to require school libarians at all schools. This is a response to the loss of programs in Arizona. The action items here were added to the first concern put forth by Susan Ballard. Voting results: Action items amended and moved to Concern I.

Commendations were also issued to Follett Library Resources for volunteering to collect, collate, analyze collection statistics to illustrate the average copyright date and average number of books per student; to Cocky's Reading Express at University of South Carolina, a collaborative program; to Washington Coalition for School Libraries and Information Technology, sponsored by the "Spokane Moms;" two to North Dakota Association of School Libraries and Youth Services, now requiring library media specialists take two library-approved credits as part of certification and for the creation of a Masters Degree with a concentration in Library and Information Technologies.

Please comment! Let us know what you think about these issues.

Friday Conference Fun

Attended 2 great events tonight. The first was the "Many Nations, Many Voices" program put on by the Office of Diversity. Over 10 Native Americans from both the U.S. and South America read their poems, discussed aspects of their lives and careers, read excerpts from their books and/or performed for us with drum, guitar and song. The highlight of the evening was a very funny talk given by Sherman Alexis, author of "The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian." It was a very inspiring event.

Later on that evening, I "crashed" the party for Camila Alire given in the vice presidential suite by Jim Rettig, ALA president elect. The place was absolutely packed with Camila well wishers. She greeted each of us with a hug and I mingled about the room. There was an open bar as well as lots of sweets and snacks. I renewed acquaintances with Mary Ghikas, Senior Associate Executive Director at ALA. She and I had a rousing time on the rural libraries tour at the recent AASL conference, and have been in e-mail contact ever since. We always make a point to look for each other at midwinter and annual.

There seemed to be hundreds of people there, but we all fit in the enormous suite and balcony with a lovely view of the city from the 19th floor. The AASL presidential trifecta (Cyndi, Ann & Sara) was present, as well as many of my fellow Spectrum Scholars, presidents and friends from REFORMA and ALSC, as well as some of my Simmons professors, including GSLIS Dean and Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Em Claire Knowles and Luis Chaparro.

The Spokane Moms are in town to receive their well deserved award tomorrow at the AASL Presidential program, and were warmly greeted with many coming over to shake their hands with gratitude. They were very personable and humble over their great achievement in Spokane, as well as funny and friendly conversationalists. They kept telling me how they thought that we school librarians have the hardest job they know and that we deserve to be recognized as much as possible for the work that we do. Ran into Bob Roth (MSLA) and Sandy, fellow members of the AASL Legislative Committee.

What a night! It's 4:19 Am Eastern time, and 1:19 AM Cally time. Have to be up and about very early in the morning for the official beginning of conference and the opening of the exhibits. More tomorrow!

Spokane Moms

ALA conferences offer opportunities to meet supporters of libraries and, yes, of school libraries in particular. In this photo the Spokane Moms take a moment to pose with Sara Kelly Johns - AASL President 2007-2008, during the ALA President's Reception. From left to right are Denette Hill, Sara Kelly Johns, Lisa Layera and Susan McBurney.

Lisa Layera, Camila Alire - ALA President Elect, Susan McBurney, Denette Hill and Sara Kelly Johns.

Denette Hill, Sara Kelly Johns, Lisa Layera, Loriene Roy - ALA President 2007-2008 and Jim Rettig - ALA President 2008-2009.

Alma Ramos-McDermott (MSLA) and Denette Hill.

Susan McBurney, Loriene Roy and Sara Kelly Johns.

In this relatively informal setting, the Spokane Moms conveyed the brilliance, strength, courage, determination and sense of humor that enabled their success.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Reading & Secondary School Libraries

I attended the AASL full day pre-conference program Reading and the Secondary School Library presented by Pam Burger. Among the highlights was Pam’s emphasis on the realization, “When you are teaching information literacy, you are also teaching reading skills.” She noted that kids read every day although much of what they read is not what some adults think they should be reading. Using Google or other search engines, text messaging, gaming, using MySpace and other frequent activities involve reading. One challenge is to get kids to realize that they enjoy reading.

Pam said that literacy involves reading, writing and speaking; the distinction often drawn to separate them is an artificial one. She added that development of the skills of reading and the joy of reading are intertwined, the school library bridges both. Motivation, competence and engagement work together; the development of one contributes to the development of the others.

About collaborating with teachers, Pam said library teachers can not collaborate with every classroom teacher. She suggested looking for the teachers who are risk takers and opinion makers. These are the teachers to seek for collaborations.

Overall, Pam presented a useful program well worth attending.

Librarians Overrun Anaheim

The MSLA executive board members have arrived and our involvement in meetings, sessions, exhibits and all the miriad events that are part of "Annual" begins tonight when Valerie and Gerri go to the first meeting of the AASL Affiliate Assembly. We launch into full conference mode tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Tweens & Young Teens

My first Preconference seminar today was put together by Stacy Creel and Teri Lesesne both of whom are professors working in the field of young adult literature. It was a full day learning about the tween set-who they are, why they act the way they do, how we as librarians can reach them in our libraries.
It was a day of remembering who we were as adolescents, putting ourselves in their shoes, those big feet that they haven't grown into, that place of confusion, where every day brings a range of emotions. A time when our friends weremore important than our family, and their approval meant everything.
We listened to popular authors who write for this age group talk about their perspective. Lisa Yee, author of Millicent Min, Girl Genius , (and more) spoke of the middle school years as a time when tweens may start to decide what they want to do in the future. They also are comparing themselves to their peers. It is a place of confusion, and the ones who present the happiest front may hurt the most. The guys don't talk about their feelings. When writing for them, the writing needs to be authentic.

Amy Goldman Koss author of 12 books including Poison Ivy, The Girls, and Side Effects
writes as if she is writing for her 12 year old moody cranky self, hoping to connect with her.

Lisi Harrison author of the fantastically popular Clique series gets alot of her material from her years working at MTV. The behavior of her colleagues mimics the behavior of many of the behaviors of her characters. She finds that her readers understand the satire. Lisi maintains a blog through which her readers talk about bullying and insecurity.

Jon Szieszka focused on connecting with boy readers, and talked about expanding the definition of reading. It may include magazines, non-fiction, comics. Jon read from his umcoming book title Knucklehead - stories about growing up with 5 brothers. It is hysterical! I would reccomend it to everyone.

Bruce Hale talked about the importance of getting the right book into a tweens hands. and the final author of the day Ingrid Law, read from her first and new book, Savvy.
A panel spoke about programming in the library, both public and school libraries.
There were booktalks interspersed and the results of student surveys on what would make them want to read more.
An amazing day

Friday June 27th: Last day of the Institute

At breakfast, we listened to Camila Alire, ALA president elect, give her top 10 list of what to see, do and be as future leaders in the library profession. She was very entertaining, as well as gracious and inspiring. She remembered me from our meeting last year in DC, and we shared laughs and hugs. I told her we Scholars were invited to crash the party Jim Rettig, incoming ALA president, was giving her and she laughed at the thought and said I could join her in dancing in the hallway as there would be tons of people there.

We sat together for part of the next program, and spent a little time talking. She is a very humble and generous hearted person, and really liked my new business card, which looks like several $100 bills and proclaims that I need a school library job in MA and that I have school loans along with experience and my MLS. BTW, yesterday, on the spot, I was offered a job as a children's librarian in Salinas, CA by its Public Library Director. Ann Martin of AASL also offered me a job as a librarian in Virginia where she works. However, since I recently married and relocated to MA, that is where my home now is, so I'm holding out hope there, which is what I told the bearers of these gracious offers.

The next session was called "RadRef & beyond: Calling out injustice in the library and in the streets." Various librarians on this panel talked about their interest in social issues and how the field of librarianship lends itself to being radical with our knowledge and the issues we defend. The RadRef site disseminates information on social issues, including information from independent journalists and activists.

The Institute will end with a session titled "Keeping the Spectrum legacy alive." At that time, various scholars will talk about what Spectrum has meant to them and ways the current cohort can continue to stay involved in the Spectrum program. After last year's ending session was when I was inspired to volunteer myself to help plan the next Institute - and here I am!

Following the Institute, I will check out of this hotel and check into another closer to the convention center. ALA - here I come!!

Thursday Institute part 2

Whew! What a day! In our afternoon session "The real low down: LIS education vs. your first LIS job and what you need to know before you get out there," the speakers had a wealth of advice for the Scholars.

I liked Tracie Hall's analysis (Ass't. Dean at Dominican Univ. GSLIS): "In your job, if there's no friction, there's no motion...when sand gets in your shell, move on or deal with it...if a little of your talent is going down the drain at the workplace, that's too much...have a sense of what you want to accomplish and don't leave until it's done...we are not to be Gatekeepers, but Gate openers."

Later on in the afternoon, the Scholars had a time for their resumes to be reviewed by various professionals in the fields. After dinner, we attended a 2 hr. "Professional Options Fair." Over 50 professionals from all types of libraries and ALA groups were represented, including 6 from AASL. The trifecta of presidents was there: Cyndi Phillips (past pres.); Sara Kelly Johns (current pres.); and Ann Martin (pres. elect.) Also in attendance were several AASL council members, including Hilda Weisburg.

I glued myself to their table for most of the evening, and we had a wonderful time of discussions regarding Spectrum, as well as the current state of school libraries, how to combat problems in the workplace, our husbands, family and other fun stuff. In between, we entertained various Spectrum scholars from across the country who were interested in school librarianship and had questions.

Tomorrow, the Institute ends with remarks by Camila Alire (ALA pres. elect) as well as the Institute Closing Ceremonies. The last day is always an emotional time.