Sunday, July 12, 2009

Of Audiobooks and Websites

One of the reasons (beyond getting lots of ARC's for my voracious readers back at Wilson) I came to ALA was to keep up to date on the latest and greatest in technology for the SLMS and get more info on audiobooks. Today was a big for me in both those areas.
My first session was lead by Pam Berger and an amazing committee who created a list of the top 25 Websites for Teaching and Learning. As this is the first year for this award, they also included a list of Landmark Websites . Both lists can be found at All of the websites are free and mesh with the AASL standards. Check them out! There is a downloadable PDF version to share with your teachers.
My next session was with members of the Oddessey committe, who choose the best in Audiobooks for ALA's Oddessey Award. This is the second year for this award. The presentation entitled "Evaluating Audiobooks" reaffirmed my belief in audiobooks for all learners. A great resource to learn more about this genre would be Mary Burkey's monthly column:
I also found a vendor, Tantor Audiobooks that has a series of MP3-CD Audiobooks that includes the ebook as well.

As a middle school Librarian (grades 5-8) I have been concentrating my efforts on the exhibit floor scouting out titles that will interest my boys in particular, and also new books from popular authors. Here are some that I think will be hits with my kids:
A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck 9/09
The Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda 9/09
Piper Reed Gets a Job by Kimberly Willis Holt 8/09
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins 9/09
Pop by Gordon Korman
Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko 9/09
Also Known as Harper by Ann Haywood Leal
The Witches Guide to Cooking with Children Keith McGowan 9/09
There are many more, lots of good reading to look forward to!

So much to little time!

Lynn is right about the full schedule! This is the first chance I've had to gather my thoughts in a couple of days - and only because I didn't allow enough travel time from one venue to the next and missed a session I had planned to attend. That's my only complaint with Chicago as an ALA conference venue - the sessions aren't all based at the McCormick Conference Center. Many events take place at hotels that are a good half an hour bus ride away.

With this unexpected time on my hands, I'll try and recap how I spent my day yesterday, which was a pretty typical conference day...

There was no time for breakfast before boarding the first convention center shuttle of the day to hear Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked, speak. It was especially important for me to be early for this session in order to get a front row seat to take photos. Gregory has dedicated his latest book, Matchless, to our MSLA president Gerri Fegan, and he had told her he would be introducing her during his talk. The book dedication was first prize in a contest for people who pre-ordered Massachusetts library license plates. The dedication reads, "To Geraldine Fegan and all school and public librarians who keep the library lamps burning during difficult times." After Gregory's humorous and energetic talk, we stood in line at the Harper Collins booth to have him sign the free copies of the Matchless gallies provided by the publisher.

A celebration of the publication of the new AASL guidelines for school library programs, Empowering Learners, followed with cake that served as breakfast. Following the celebration, the AASL president's program offered three authors - Laurie Halse Anderson, Jacqueline Woodson, and Alan Lawrence Sitomer - who spoke movingly about how school librarians impact students' lives.

I spent some time in the exhibit hall, watching demos of new products and just roaming around watching all of the activity. A couple of vendors had refreshments - champagne at one booth, wine and cheese at another - so that was lunch.

The final session I attended was a panel discussion hosted by ALA President Jim Rettig called Coalition Building for All Libraries in a Tough Economy. Gerri Fegan impressively presented about MSLA and MLA's joint legislative and advocacy efforts.

The Scholarship Bash was the major event of the day, held at the fabulous Art Institute of Chicago and kicked off with a VIP reception sponsored by ProQuest. There was plentiful food, drink and entertainment in various locations throughout the museum. Before we called it a night I enjoyed viewing Winslow Homer's famous American Gothic along with many Monet, Gaugin, Van Gogh and other Impressionists' works, including George Seurat's fascinating A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.

I've finally come to appreciate Twitter at this conference and find it preferable to blogging in this type of situation. You can follow me on Twitter (@mslalowe) and on FaceBook if you "friend" me. I, long with some of my colleagues, have taken lots of photos that we have posted here on Flickr.

My ALA conference visit so far.......

I've just been too busy to post! I arrived mid week and spent a few days sightseeing with a friend who grew up in Chicago. What fun we had - we saw so much - too much to go into now. But let me say - I LOVE the city.

The conference is going well for me . Yesterday I went to Closing the Gap: Making Information Literacy Seamless across K-16 and to the AASL Presidents Program with the three award wining young adult and children authors - that was awesome. All three authors were so wonderful! Very uplifting. Then in the afternoon I went to the Downloadable Technology workshop and got caught up with the new book and music downloadable technologies.

Today I just went to the AASL top 25 websites - very good. I did send a tweet from there. I must confess I am a great Twitter follower and not a very good contributor. But hopefully I will get better.

I feel better that I have blogged to let you all know I am here - and hopefully I will bump into one of you. Enjoy the rest of the conference - and the weather - it finally looks like the good weather might hang around! Onto the Exhibit hall..........


The Read/Write Web

My first Program on Saturday was taught by Susannah Tamarkin a High School NBCS School Library Media Specialist in the New York schoool system. We spent the morning learning how to integrate the the AASL standards into a Read/Write Web Classroom. The tools we used are free and available without need of district appproval for download etc. They include Wikispaces, Google docs and Clipmarks. Sussanah uses Wikispaces a repository for each class, and embeds google documents within the wiki. Each student sets up his/her own wiki and both Sussanah and the content area teacher have access to the students work.

For more information please feel free to look at her wiki at:

the entire presentation that I attendend should be there. There was some great information to take back to our inform our teaching.

Next I attended The AASL President's Program featuring speakers Laurie Halse Anderson, Alan Sitomer, And Jacqueline Woodson. Each spoke about the value of school/public libraians on their lives, The power of books and the impact that they have found that books have had on their readers' lives. It was a very powerful presentation and what we should all take away is that though we in the trenches may not realize it, our students are feeling the impact of our influence every day.

Finally, My afternoon was spent on the vendor floor, checking out new books, new products, and meeting authors. The evening was spent at the Scholarshiip bash, enjoying beautiful art, and then back to the hotel for not enough sleep!!!!!

Saturday Sizzle

Yes, it was a real sizzler of a day! Bright and early at 8 am I reported to the Convention Center for YALSA's Leadership Development session for Committee Chairs. From 8-10, I mingled with other chairs and board members as we negotiated ways to lead and manage our committees. From 10-12, I chaired my Diversity Campaign Task Force as we brainstormed and forged ahead with our agenda and ideas for what needs to be accomplished between now and midwinter.

At 12, I raced to the nearby Hyatt Regency for the Margaret Edwards Luncheon honoring Laurie Halse Anderson. She gave a very moving acceptance speech filled with tears and laughter. Afterwards, we chatted and posed for a photo then I raced to the Convention Center where I began my "author hunts."

I had prepared a list of authors that would be signing and began methodically hunting for each, beginning with Neil Gaiman. I wound up photographing more than I expected, including Chris Myers, Kadir Nelson, Nic Bishop, Diana Lopez, Kate DiCamillo, Lauren Myracle, M.T. Anderson, Jimmy Gownley and Rachel Renee Russell. For those with ridiculously long lines, I skipped the free book and just took a photo for my library. For shorter lines, I hung out and talked to the authors. They were very personable, and happy to talk/take photos.

All this chasing down took from 1-3:30, when I joined up with Laurie Halse Anderson at the Simon & Shuster booth as a huge group of us toasted her with champagne as she was awarded the Scott O'Dell award for "Chains."

At 4:30, I raced for the shuttle to my hotel to freshen up for the opening session which began at 5:30, where pres. Jim Rettig announced a new presidential initiative to raise $1 million for the Spectrum Scholarship Program. As a 2006 Spectrum Scholar, this was very exciting news.

At 7, I speed walked to the shuttles which took me to the ProQuest Spectrum Scholarship Bash at the Art Institute. I joined ProQuest CEO and other Scholars onstage at the outdoor eating area for the introduction to the night and a photo op, then we adjourned to enjoy delicious sandwiches, fruit and dessert which were displayed in 3 large eating areas. We were given free reign of the museum, and I covered practically miles of walking as I traversed every floor. By 9:30 I was dragging and ready to call it a day.

Tomorrow will be another early day, so it's off to the races until then...