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!