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Today – David Gray and a Film Premiere

I’m attending another David Gray concert tonight.  This one is at Merriweather Post, and I have front row seats so I am pretty excited!

Also, a friend of mine, Jason, premiered his short, “Mary Anne Goes to the Market” today in LA.  Well, he was one of the writers and one of the actors.  I’m hoping it went well.  The trailer is so cute!  If you watch it, he’s the one who collides carts with the girl.

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On hiatus

I’m officially going on hiatus for a while.  My husband has a severe enough case of the chicken pox that he is currently hospitalized, and will be there for at least a few days.  Between his pox, following up on tree damage, a toilet that make a weird noise and then quit working, summer school, and a big YALSA committee deadline, I have several other things to deal with.

I swear, this summer has just been too much.  I need a vacation from my summer vacation!

I’ll get back to blogging once this stuff calms down.  Thank you for your patience!

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Will you be at ALA Annual 2010?

I am so excited for ALA Annual this year!  I was talking to a friend about it yesterday and freely admitted that my library dork side takes over for conferences.  While I have yet to experience a meaningful local conference, I always come away from the national ones feeling inspired and rejuvenated, and having learned something – actually, many somethings!

If you haven’t planned on attending but are local to the D.C. area, you might want to reconsider.  Registration is still open.  Even if you just spring for the $25 exhibit hall pass, you can get a lot out of the exhibits: freebies, author readings and signings, cooking demos, networking…check out all the options related to graphic novels alone!  A not-so-secret secret is that some vendors give out free passes for the exhibit hall.  If you are local and are interested, leave me a comment before Thursday morning and I’ll forward you some of the emails I have received.

If you cannot attend, you can always consider the ALA Virtual Conference.

If you will be attending, please say hi!  I am seriously shy in person and am often sitting alone, keeping myself busy by reading or checking my phone, so feel free to come up to me.  Here is a picture of me from last weekend so you might recognize me:

I do have long hair, but due to the D.C. hotness, I will probably have it back or up a lot anyways.

As the chair of the YALSA Local Arrangements committee, I am required to attend a lot of the YALSA events.  You are guaranteed to find me at the following:

Thursday:

7 – 9 pm: Spectrum Scholars Professional Options Fair

Friday:

9 am – 5 pm (will leave early): YALSA pre-con It’s Perfectly Normal

4 – 5 pm: YALSA 101

5 – 7 pm (at some point): YALSA happy hour

7 – 9 pm: Kidlit happy hour

Saturday:

8 – 10 am: YALSA Leadership Development

10:30 am – 12 pm: YALSA All Committee

12 – 1:30 pm: Margaret A. Edwards Luncheon

4 – 5:30 pm: Lights! Camera! Booktrailers!

Sunday:

9 – 10 am: YA Author Coffee Klatch

10:30 am – 12 pm: 2010 Alex Awards

Monday:

10:30 am – 12 pm: Yes We Can

12 – 2 pm: YALSA Membership Meeting

8 – 10 pm: Michael L. Printz Program and Reception

I have many other things I hope to attend, but those are the things I am committed to attend.

I hope to meet people and reconnect with friendly faces!  Please say hi if you see me!

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Where Has Dog-eared Gone Wednesday?

Oh, beloved blog, how I have missed you!  I must apologize to my blog and to any readers I might have. (Anyone? Bueller?)  April, May, and June have been ridiculously busy: work, YALSA committee stuff, personal things, house projects, life in general.  Something had to fall by the wayside and it has been my blog.  (Better my blog than my husband, dog, or job, right?)  I also have barely read anything.  Some weeks I finish Sunday’s paper on the following Saturday.  My magazines are backing up.  I have given up on much of my TBR pile.

There are many beautiful things in the world.  One of the most amazing are fireflies.  I spent the past 10 minutes just sitting here on my deck, watching the fireflies rise from the lawn.  There are so many!  Late they will be up in the tears, looking like summer’s answer to Christmas lights.

Anyways, back to my blog!  School ends this week, and while I am working part of summer school, I will have no excuse to not get back to blogging!  So stay tuned for review catch-ups!  I’ll also share my ALA schedule in case any readers will also be at Annual! I can’t believe that is next week!

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It’s the Testing Center, Not the Library Media Center

The past couple weeks have been really busy.  One reason is because I am taking an agility class with Brinkley.  I had taken one several years ago with Jake, so I thought now would be a good time to try it with Brink.  He’s doing okay so far.  He finds some things a bit scary, but I can tell he’s having fun!

This past Friday was the last day our library will be open, pretty much for the rest of the school year.  AP testing starts today, and that is followed by our state mandated testing (Standards of Learning or SOL).  We conduct all our SOL testing on-line instead of on paper, and we get these done in seven days, rather than stretch them out.  There are many benefits to this method, but the downside is that all our computer labs and large rooms are filled with laptops in order to get the students in and out of their test.  AP classes are highly encouraged in our school, so we have a lot of students who must take an AP test come May.  While AP uses paper tests, the large numbers of students requires that the library be used.  So we operate out of our office/workroom for the rest of the year.

SOL testing ends after Memorial Day, but senior exams start that week, followed by the other exams.  Special Education and ESOL use the library during exams for testing accommodations, so we never really open back up.

The need for all this library use is completely understandable, but it is still frustrating to me.  One recent month, we had over 3,000 students sign in to use the library before, during, and after school.  Of course, these are not unique visitors as we only have 2,700 students, but this does not include scheduled classes because students do not need to sign in when they are with a class.  So that 3,000 number is a lot of different individual needs that need to be met outside the classroom environment.

3,000 is a large number of students who lose access to a variety of resources for the remainder of the school year.  Some of these students do not have computers at home and rely on school computer access to complete assignments.  We have a solid number of “frequent fliers” who are voracious readers and come in more than once a day to check books out.  We do continue to check books out via our workroom door and keep a few carts of new and popular books available back there, but the students miss the browsing experience.  The fast readers have already plowed through a lot of the new stuff and whenever they hit the dry spell in between new orders, that is when they browse the shelves to find older books they have not read yet.  If they know what they want, we can go pull it, but often the students rely on the serendipity of discovery, which is not an option during all this testing.

Our space is also popular before school and during lunches.  Before school, we have anywhere from 100 – 200 students sitting at tables finishing last-minute homework and socializing with friends between 7:00 am, when the school opens, and 7:25, when the warning bell rings.  We do not require these students to sign in as the line would never end before the bell rings; they only sign in if they need to use a computer.  Once we close, these students must relocate into the halls and find space that is not already staked out by other groups.  A lot of students come in during their lunch (they do sign in so they fall under that 3,000).  Some come to use our resources, but some come seeking the solitude of 20 library minutes.  Students sit in our reading area with the comfy chairs to decompress with a book or a magazine.  Students find quiet corners where they can sit on the floor, away from eyes.  Others come in to study, work on a library puzzle, or play a game while they eat their bagged lunch.  We have many students who are sensitive to noise and crowds and need that time in the library to get through their day without feeling overstimulated.

Starting today, these students lose this constant in their school day.  They are forced back into the loud cafeteria, where other students have had the full year to claim their tables.  I sympathize for the stress students find themselves under when the end of the school year arrives; class grades and all this high stakes testing brings pressure.  Loss of the library, whether it is just the space or all the resources in the space, cannot make that pressure any easier.

Right now, I do not know what the answer is to all of this.  I have asked about us staffing a classroom to give students the quiet space, but because our school is so full, there is not a classroom that stands empty during a whole lunch period, so I would have to move to different rooms depending on the lunch shift.  I would then have to take responsibility for the teacher and student belongings left in the classroom while they go to lunch.   We borrow laptop carts from elementary schools for SOL testing, so we do not have the option of opening a lab for students to use during their lunch shift.

I know that all this testing is not going away for the foreseeable future, and now is not the time for me to climb on another soapbox to talk about the questionableness of these state-mandated, multiple choice tests.  But when I look at the students and all their various needs, is it really benefitting our school population to take away library access the last month and 1/2 of the school year?  It is a question we ask every year, but it falls on the deaf ears of those who must coordinate testing that is so important to the future of the school.

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11th Anniversary of Columbine

I know I am several days late, but I wanted to point out that this week was the eleventh anniversary of Columbine.  Dave Cullen’s book on that day still haunts me.  If you haven’t read it, you really should – it was one of my top ten from 2009.  My original review can be found here.

The paperback edition was recently published and it contains some things not found in the original hardcover:

  • A 12-page afterword: “Forgiveness.” Vignettes on three victims in very different places eleven years later, and the central role “forgiveness” played in their recovery. Includes startling new revelations about the killers’ parents.
  • Actual journal pages from Eric Harris & Dylan Klebold.
  • Book Club Discussion Questions.
  • Diagram of Columbine High School and environs. (Something I had wished for in my original review – thanks Mr. Cullen!)

A book trailer is available on You Tube, and Mr. Cullen has a great web site of his own.  Take time to read the book, and take time to give thoughts and prayers to those affected by that day.

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99 Things

I found this meme at Library Bug’s blog. Kind of a weird, random list.

99 Things – The ones I have done are bold.

Taken a martial arts class
Visited Russia
Served in a soup kitchen
Sold Girl Scout cookies
Gone whale watching
Got flowers for no reason
Donated blood

Gone sky diving
Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
Bounced a cheque
Flown in a helicopter
Saved a favourite childhood toy
Visited the Lincoln Memorial
Eaten caviar

Pieced a quilt
Stood in Times Square
Toured the Everglades
Been fired from a job
Seen the Changing of the Guard in London
Broken a bone
Been a passenger on a motorcycle
Seen the Grand Canyon (might not count since I was less than 1 yr old)
Published a book
Visited the Vatican
Bought a brand new car
Walked in Jerusalem
Had your picture in the newspaper
Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Years Eve
Visited the White House
Killed and prepared an animal for eating
Had chickenpox
Saved someone’s life
Sat on a jury
Met someone famous
Joined a book club
Had a tattoo

Had a baby
Seen The Alamo in person
Swam in The Great Salt Lake
Been involved in a lawsuit
Owned a cell phone

Been stung by a bee

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