Monthly Archives: December 2010

Tempted to Cry Uncle but Also Want to Brag

I admit it: I have overextended myself this year.  I committed myself to far too many things professionally and personally, and the random wrenches that get thrown in the works of life have not stopped popping up.  I have had many days where I was tempted to cry “uncle.”  I have definitely learned my limit of professional commitments , both in my job and in the ALA/YALSA world.  I really needed this winter break to catch my breath.  It’s been good already, and I know I will see everything to term.  Yet, I can’t let myself forget that feeling the next time I need to say yes or no.

Despite all of that, I am proud of the work I have done so far this school year.  Literacy has been a larger-than-usual initiative in my school this year, and teachers have come to me for assistance with this.  In the past three years I have been at my job, I rarely had the chance to work with an entire class on book selection.  I would do no more than two book talks a year, and everything else was done via walk-in reader advisory.

This year, I started with one teacher and the word spread.  By the time we left for break last week, I had done book talks for all five to six sections of grades 9 – 12 English for six different teachers, and for one of those teachers I have done two sets of book talks.  That is a huge increase from the past!

I have been trying to tailor the books to each class by doing a pre-visit survey asking about their interests, books they liked, books they didn’t, etc.  Then, based on info the teacher provides and my surveys, I pull books currently checked in to highlight.

It is the “currently checked-in” that gets me.  I have not been able to use some really great books because they are never on the shelves.  Some of the teachers have told me not to worry whether it is available or not, but I feel like I am doing a disservice to the students if I say, “This book is AMAZING, but you can’t have it today. We’ll have to put you on the waiting list.”

I’ve been trying to add variety to the talks by using book trailers, pre-written intros, reading a few pages,  and improvising what I say if it is a book I know well enough.  (Often, even if I have read the book, I need to write notes before  so I don’t get thrown off.)

How do I know I am making an impact?  Sometimes I have the students fill out a ticket to leave to assess.  But I have found other methods provide more information.  What did not get checked out by the time the students return to class?  Circulation is another piece of data.  Leviathan did not circulate well last year.  This year, it checks out every time I mention it.  If I talk a series, are the books further in the series circulating more?  The Looking Glass War series used to sit on the shelves, but this year all the books rotate in and out.

Nothing can top the personal feedback I have received, though.  I have one reluctant reader who now comes in every two weeks to check out two Orca books now that he knows they are written on a lower level but aimed at teens.  I hope that later in the year, I can get him to try something more, but in the mean time he’s reading steadily in a way he had not before.

The teacher who I have done two sets of talks for emailed me after I completed the first set.  She wanted to tell me that when her classes returned to the room after the talk, everyone was happily reading.  She said that in her 20 years of teaching, she had never seen so many “at-risk” students find books that they were excited to read.  One male teacher who team-teaches with her for a class that has a lot of special education students stopped in a few weeks ago to tell me that I really inspired those students to read.  These students had previously dug in their heels and refused to read.  A lot of them had never been exposed to the books they could relate to and just thought all books were boring.  Now, those same students are finding books written at a level they can read, about teens who are relatable.

That is what makes it all worth it.  That is one of many reasons I love my job.

A teen blogger posted on YALSA’s blog this weekend about what makes a great YA librarian.  While the comments have been quiet on the post, I’ve seen a good amount of discussion on Twitter.  I can honestly say that I don’t have colored hair, and we don’t offer a large amount of activities in our library.  I think it could be debated how many and what type of activities a school library can provide (especially in a school of 2700+ students and only two librarians and one assistant) but I do believe we have worked hard to provide things for our students.  The other attributes do match me, and I believe I am a pretty darn good YA librarian.



Filed under Libraries, Life

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Question

Merry Christmas to those that celebrate it!

Happy holidays to those that celebrate other significant events this time of year!

Happy December 25th to everyone else!

In honor of today, I have to share my favorite Christmas song: Rowlf and John Denver sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

In other news, my camera died right before the holidays.  My husband is gifting me with a new one once I tell him what I want.  Do you have any camera suggestions?  Anything I should avoid?  I hope to have it before the end of 2010 so the advice needs to come soon, if at all.

I know I want a point and shoot, but I would like one with some setting flexibility.  Right now, I am eyeing a couple of Canons, but I am open to anything.  Help!

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Filed under Life

Book Catch-Up

I have watched my pile of books-read-in-2010 grow and never have the time to blog about them.  In order to be nice to myself this December, I’m doing a big ol’ book dump.  I will link to full reviews I agree with from bloggers I follow.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins: So many other people had many things to say about the final book in The Hunger Games series, I don’t feel like I can say anything new.  It was great.  I loved the ending.  It had some slow parts; Katniss seemed to spend a lot of time recovering from various things.  But I loved it.  Liz said it all better at A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy.

Betsy Was a Junior and Betsy and Joe by Maud Hart Lovelace: Love.  See Diary of an Eccentric for both.

The Daughters by Joanna Philbin: daughters of celebrities.  Cute, sort of like a cleaner version of Gossip Girl.  See Galleysmith for a more in-depth review.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan: awesome.  Would not expect anything less.  See Abby the Librarian for more.

Nomansland by Lesley Hauge: Dystopian society made up of all-women.  I liked the main character more than the book as a whole.  Presenting Lenore can tell you more.

Kiss in the Dark by Lauren Henderson: third in the Kiss Me, Kill Me series, which I enjoyed.  (Kisses and Lies is the second.)  I have no memory of the plot of this book, so Bookshelves of Doom has to be right on the money.

Fallout by Ellen Hopkins (final in Crank series): Told from the viewpoint of three of Kristina’s children, I sometimes had a hard time telling the two daughters apart.  I really liked seeing the different members of the family come together despite the pain they each experienced.  Carrie’s YA Bookshelf

Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers: a high school girl suffers a downward spiral and no one can help her.  Loved it.  A lot.  Bildungsroman.

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers:  what happens when the mean girls turn on one of their own.  Another great one by Ms. Summers.  Two reviews worth reading: The YA YA YAs and Pop Culture Junkie.

Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft: read on Kindle through NetGalley.  I struggled with this one.  A teen struggling with life after his brother dies.  I feel like it was a decent book.  I just couldn’t get into it.  I did finish it.  You should read a different take on the book at Sarah’s Random Musings.

It’s Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han: decent follow-up to The Summer I Turned Pretty.  I did like the first book more, but I look forward to the third.  The Infinite Shelf feels the same.

Okay, that catches me up on a good chunk of the year.  I definitely have not been able to read as much this year as I have in years past.  I do still have five more that I plan to devote a whole post to on each, not counting what I am currently reading.  It will be noce to have these titles off my plate!


Filed under review, young adult lit

Thankful in 2010

Last year, I was able to list the things I was thankful for the day before Thanksgiving.  This year, I am a week late, but I still wanted to ponder the things I am thankful for this year.  In no particular order (with many a repeat, I am sure):

  • my adorable, patient, loving husband
  • my dogs Brinkley and Nia
  • the time I had with Jake at the beginning of the year before losing him all too soon
  • my family
  • my friends
  • books
  • rain
  • snow
  • wine
  • my home library
  • my home
  • my cozy, warm bed
  • sweatshirts, t-shirts, flannel pj pants, and cozy socks
  • fires
  • my health and the health of the people I love
  • my job
  • Disneyland and my upcoming visit there
  • sushi
  • comfort foods like pasta, mac & cheese, chicken chili
  • Diet Coke
  • David Gray
  • tv shows I love: Fringe, Friday Night Lights, Breaking Bad, Community, Glee, Mad Men
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer reruns
  • ARCs, whether paper versions I receive in the mail like Across the Universe and Wither, or from Netgalley like We All Fall Down and Delirium
  • the holiday season
  • professional involvement through YALSA and other branches of ALA
  • The Beekman Boys and their goats
  • other animals that make me smile like goats, chickens, and bears
  • the good luck one earns by waving hi to cows
  • dogs and all the people who care for them
  • Love Actually
  • my DVRs
  • love
  • friendship

I hope you had a warm and comforting Thanksgiving!


Filed under Life