Monday, June 30, 2008
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.
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!!
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:
- Intellectual Freedom Committee: now have a new brochure entitled "What is Intellectual Freedom" which should be coming to their website soon.
- The Standards and Guidelines Task Force: Susan Ballard of NH talked about the committee's plans to implement the new standards.
- Legislative Committee: Bob Roth spoke of plans for Virtual Legislative Day as well as strategies to support the Skills Act.
- 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.
- Knowledge Quest - editor Debbie Abilock placed an all-call for suggestions for future issues for 2009 - 2010.
Ann Martin outlined her plan of action as new president of AASL as follows:
- Increase membership in each region by 10%
- Encourage all members to vote in all elections
- Discover Leadership in AASL through:
- Professional Integrity
- Innovation: challenge the status quo, make your mark
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
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
Maximizing Your Impact:Classroom Collaboration for Teaching Information Literacy and reading Comprehension Skills
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.
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
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.
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?)
(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 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.
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!
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.)
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?
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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 http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2008/08-063.html and the full report is available at http://www.section108.gov/ ]
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.
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."
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.
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!
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
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.
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
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!!
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.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
This is what I will be doing all day Friday... since I am a Middle School Librarian this is right up my alley!
Got Tweens? Serving Younger Teens and Tweens the issues surrounding them, and how to reach them in your library. You'll meet authors who write for this audience, gain exposure to literature for them through booktalks, hear from a panel of experts in the field on programming for younger teens and tweens, and learn about professional resources to aid in providing library service to this group in your school and public library. (Authors participating: Bruce Hale, Jon Scieszka, Lisi Harrison, Amy Goldman Koss, Ingrid Law, and Lisa Yee).
I'll let you know how it goes!
Our first session was called "Tracing the origins of the Spectrum Scholarship," and featured four women who played a dramatic role in instituting the Spectrum Scholarship program within ALA.
Spectrum is now in its 11th year, but when it was first introduced to ALA by Elizabeth Martinez (currently the Director of the Salinas, CA Pub. Lib.) it was met by heavy resistance. She wrote the ALA policy of equity in the 1980's, under the presidency of E.J. Josey, but equity was not forefront in ALA's mind during those turbulent times.
In 1997, Elizabeth proposed having ALA use $1.5 million of their $12 million in unallocated funds to help recruit librarians of color. This created a storm of protest, controversies and council splits. However, at the end of the storm, ALA gave its approval to fund 50 scholars for a period of 5 years. Elizabeth spoke eloquently and passionately about those early times, and showed the current scholars how hard it was to fight a bureauracracy. My favorite quote was "organizational politics will bring us to our knees, but that's ok because it brings us closer to the earth, where we came from, and closer to prayer...remember librarianship is not just a career, it's a calling...we have a cause, not a career."
Following Elizabeth, we heard from Betty Turock, former ALA president and newly-retired Rutgers GSLIS professor. Betty was president of ALA when Elizabeth finally got the go-ahead to run Spectrum, and she invested much time, money and effort to getting the program off the ground - despite continued opposition. Since ALA refused to fund it past 5 years, she set about getting fundraising committees organized. Her quote of the day was "the life of a librarian is never dull - especially if one is inspired to lead."
Next we heard from Sandra Rios Balderrama, former REFORMA president and former ALA Diversity Officer during these early days. She currently has her own consulting firm. Sandra had to fight negativity and challenges from people putting their own ideas and perceptions into what they constituted "ethnic." The Spectrum program is a recruitment tool to librarianship as well as a scholarship and leadership program. It is a model for other programs to emulate. She reminded us that "our culture, our heritage and our identity is a strength, not a detriment."
Finally, Dr. Mengxiong Liu, Engineering librarian and part-time professor at San Jose State's GSLIS program, spoke. She served on the early Spectrum Steering Committee in 1997 and discussed the many ways the committee tried to use promotional materials to get out the word about the program. Time was of the essence, as in its first 3 years it was important to let people know about the program for it to succeed. She read words from past scholars who noted "becoming a Spectrum Scholar is not just financial assistance, it's receiving support...it's a network of people and opportunities...one becomes part of the Spectrum family."
Gwendolyn Prellwitz, current Director of the Office for Diversity, ended the program by reminding us that the fight is not done. The Spectrum Program does not have a budget from ALA, despite ALA having an endowment of over $22 million. The scholars from the past few years have been funded from an IMLS grant written by the past Diversity Director Tracie Hall, but it expires in 2011.
The yearly ALA ProQuest Bash funds 10 scholars, but that only came about on her insistence that the funds be allocated. She has involved various organizations like the Medical Libraries and others to fund 2 or 3 scholars. However, at $5000 per scholar, and expenses like the Institute, more monies need to be forthcoming. She urged us all to do what we can to spread the word about Spectrum and to get others involved in keeping the dream alive.
Note: In the 11 years since the program was established, we have about 500 former scholars in the world of librarianship. That is just a drop in the bucket, and we have a long way to go. For more information on the Spectrum Scholarship program, go to the ALA Office for Diversity website.
Important tips garnered from the question and answer forum were the following:
- Develop your strengths and what you do well = brag. Remember that quality bragging is a career progression and a career progression means success for you.
- Market yourself; be eager to learn. Get a mentor to help navigate the system; networking is important. Read the literature to stay current, and join committees.
- Develop a personal message. Unpack your title = be prepared to tell exactly what you do in a few short sentences. Develop your story and sell yourself in these sentences. Include your strengths and project your skills out to show how they have improved you.
- Have a professional portfolio at your fingertips that you can use at any moment. Include your current resume, references, letters of recommendation, certificates, degrees, awards, transcrips, professional memberships, and anything you write. It will show your knowledge, skills and accomplishments. The portfolio tells your story.
As a member of the Spectrum Institute committee, I arrived today to spend Wed.-Fri. with the current class of ALA Spectrum Scholars at the yearly Leadership Institute I helped to plan. Last year was my first Institute as a member of the 2006 class, and this is my way of giving back to the scholarship program, to recruit diverse librarians into the field, that has done so much for me.
The Institute began with a welcome from Monique le Conge, (current CA PLA pres.), followed by greetings from Loriene Roy (current ALA pres.), Jim Rettig (incoming ALA pres.) and Keith Michael Fiels (ALA Exec. Director).
Some notes from these speakers are as follows:
Monique: "libraries and librarians have an important role to be leaders - to bring new services and innovative thinking to their communities."
Loriene: "I'm the prez from the rez...the Institute is a good stepping point towards involvement in ALA committees."
Jim: "The Institute develops comraderie and professionalism...ALA is like a big city full of neighborhoods. We find our neighborhood based on our intersts in the field. When asked to join committees, don't even think. Say yes first. There will be time for regrets later."
Keith: He had many careers from a school librarian to public and even 10 years as the MA State Librarian. "Being a librarian is one of the best kept secrets in the world..ALA is not 66,000 people, but the half dozen I meet regularly who share my interests."
Reminder: The program "Many Voices, Many Nations" readings, sponsored by the Office of Diversity, will be held Friday from 5:30-9 PM at the Marriot Marquis NE. Admission is $10, and one does not have to be registered for the conference. A reading by Sherman Alexis, author of "The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian" will be part of the evening, and the first 200 to attend will receive an autographed copy of his book. Light refreshments will be served.